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.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Panic and Calm

for NaBloPoMo

Floating on a cloud of endorphins. Thinking good thoughts. Knowing there is scary stuff out there, but not willing to live there on the "just-in-case" chance that something bad will happen. Nope, not me. There is no down-payment on suffering. Why take out a loan on pain? Why pay extra interest on something that may never happen?

So what, me worry? No! I refuse.

A little trickle of worry. A thin thread of doubt, a little warning sign sends me reeling in a panic. I breathe, pull out the references and confirm the concern. In an instant, I imagine the worst, the hopes crashing down, the pain and humiliation, the endless days of sorrow. I live that life flashed before me, scenes unreeling like clockwork; I can't close my eyes.

I breathe again and fumble for the number.

Voice shaking, I thread my way through the phone system as calmly as I can and find a person who knows their stuff. Thank god this number worked (not like the last one). Blessedly, no one questions whether I should be talking to them (not like the last time).

The person who knows their stuff is calm and compassionate. She asks all the defining questions, ruling out risks and reasons. And then, the verdict: not yet, no suffering for you (just a little taste).

She gives me a list of symptoms that would indicate a worsening of condition. I scribble a lifeline, ask questions, voice the panic and the not-knowing. Dear woman affirms the scariness of my uncertainty and calms my heart.

I clutch the list and assess sensations. No, not yet. Maybe. It's hard to tell. But I have the list and I am not on it.

The panic subdued but not gone, I rehydrate, lie down, and now that I can wait until morning, sleep.

Scary monsters do not visit me. On the other side, they wait and speculate. Her? Or not? On my side, I speculate, I wait. Me? Or not? On her side, my daughter rolls over and yawns.

Fake the calm so I don't live the panic. It's a plan, anyway. Remember the happy place and say "Yay!" It's still good. Panic can wait.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Daily Rhythms and Other Challenges (SWDB)

The Simple Woman's Daybook for NaBloPoMo

For Today...Friday, November 7th

Outside my Window...drifts of willow oak leaves and maples turning yellow and orange. Late sunlight hitting the tops of the trees.

Towards a daily rhythm...I find it hard to keep up with the piles on my desk. I try to put away things as I finish using them and junk the stuff I don't use. It's easy to put away things that have a definite home - it's quick and satisfying - but there are too many things that do not have a home! I am trying to remedy that. I am really tired of piles. Part of the problem is that I still have too many things from past lives, bulky stuff from past careers taking up space. However, I keep at it.

I am thinking...that I have so many projects clamoring for my attention that I don't even time to read much these days.

I am thankful for...a car with good gas mileage! Even if it's not quite as great as the old Honda.

From the kitchen...I'm saving seeds from the heirloom sweet peppers for another season. These are not commercial seeds, although sometimes you can buy them. The friend who promotes biodiversity (who I inherited them from originally) says, "Give them away! Give them to everybody!" So I save the seeds and keep planting!

Second Round of Sweet Peppers

I am wearing...brown yoga pants with a wide waistband and a stretchy aqua top that shows off the belly. And sneakers and earrings.

I am reading...Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg with Peter Rosegg. We'll start childbirth classes in the next couple of weeks, but we are getting a head start by reviewing this reference (which I've owned for years). It was published in 1984 and has a semi-preachy-dogmatic tone, but it still contains lots of good information about the labor process and relaxation tools. Trained observation and relaxation, yu-huh!

I am creating...yet another dance program. It's one of those seat-of-the-pants programs. I have ideas, now to make decisions by tomorrow morning.

I am hoping...that our long traveling odyssey this weekend won't kill me too badly. 2.75 hours, plus 3.5 hours, plus 5+ hours plus a 10-15 minute rest break for every hour plus meals = yikes! On the upside, it won't be all at once.

I am hearing...The Elftones (fiddle and guitar) playing a lively reel.

I am going to breathe deeply...and try to not worry about weird little things bugging me that are probably nothing.

Around the house...putting away or throwing out the remaining Halloween candy. I put favorite candy in a couple of small tins where they are out of sight but stored for future snacking. The rest, I ditch with no guilt!

Bring beauty to my home...a big square feather pillow with inter-nested squares of soft taupes, browns, creams, blues and greens. It'll go great either in the bedroom or with the new living room chair we anticipate buying soon.

One of my favorite things...frozen Mexican palletas (pops) in refreshing and unique flavor combinations. This week's favorite: cherry/red currant. Yummm! SO good! I could rave about this at length! (I would happily eat this every day, but we already tried that last year and it was hard on both waistline and budget.)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...laundry, dishes, travel, play, work, read, practice, an IKEA stop, meeting friends for dinner before the dance, and yet another lesson plan.

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

Cherry-Red Currant

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bagging It

For NaBloPoMo Nov 6, 2008

"I'm used to bagging my own," I'll say with a smile and a shrug, and I'll start in. If the bagger is not charmed, or easily put off or offended, they will sidle away with a barely-suppressed "Okay, lady, it's all yours." If they are persistent, I'll show them my canvas bags and tell them, "This one works better for heavy stuff." This gives them the hint that I can actually tell if they throw squishables in with canned goods. Most baggers are okay with this kind of indirect direction. If they are not, I'll suggest, "Let's put the squishables in here..." This lets them know that they should pay attention, dammit and Not Squish My Stuff! I have no patience with baggers who sling things in with no thought of safe and efficient packing.

When I was growing up, my mother always told the baggers at the grocery store: "I prefer to bag my own." I think that was partly out of being particular about how things were thrown in after she had spent tens of precious food-budget dollars on our weekly trip, and partly new-found assertive directness, still a rarity among women.

Back then, you didn't bag your own stuff. Nobody did. So this was still a radical thing to do, and you really had to assert yourself. This was even before the advent of plastic bags. Brown paper bags all the way, yes, and we *saved* those suckers. So my mother would watch the whole thing go through the scanner (oh, I'm sorry - that was before scanners too, so you had to watch the check-out clerk), pay, and and then she'd bag up the huge pile of groceries in her precise way. Then we'd go to the next store on our list (each item was ranked by which store it could found most economically) and do it all over again.

So as I began to do my own shopping, I saw nothing odd about bagging my own stuff... or letting someone else do it, either. The one Summer I spent in Europe felt familiar to me; there, everyone not only bags their own, but is expected to bring their own bags. "How cool is that?" I thought. But that was around the time of the advent of the plastic bag, so American were all about the disposable. It was like swimming upstream to reuse bags.

In the last decade, as I began to acquire my first canvas bags (my first ones were a surprise gift from my Sweetie), I learned a whole new way of store-interaction.

Bag - Good Foods Bag - Weaver Street Bag - TKAMB Bag of Bags
a bag of bags

Especially in food co-ops or smaller less mainstream groceries, it was typically expected that each person bag their own purchases. My growing collection of canvas bags didn't stand out so much. Even when the canvas was looked at as unusual, I could get by without too much comment, although they were still a novelty to most people.

DH used to complain that baggers or checkers would become angry and defensive when he pulled out his canvas bags, but I suspect that may be more from a perceived superior attitude. if you pull them out saying, "I have canvas bags," like store bags are the plague, I'm not surprised if the store personnel feel slighted.

My strategy is to be more light-hearted about it. "I prefer to use my own bags," I'll say. "I already have enough of a bag collection at home!" I'll joke. Even in the most mainstream store, they will often laugh along. Yeah, we all have too many bags, really.

I simply reset the parameters a little. If I have two sturdy bags, well, surely we can pack everything in without resorting to another bag.

And now many stores have started to offer their own reusable cloth bags. How cool is THAT? Not that I really need any more cloth bags!

But this is not why I started to write this post.

Now that I have become used to bagging my own stuff, it's hard to break the habit. I *like* packing my own bags. I like the satisfaction of doing it well. I have my strategies and preferences for packing the puzzle. I like my varied bag collection.

Bag - TCD-SDR Bag - Greenfields Bag - Omega Institute Bag - Mandala Bag - HT Freezer Bag - AA History Month

I have to admit I love those new self-checkout lanes at some of the major grocers and retailers. Zip, zip, easy, peasy. Especially now that I've learned to alert the monitoring clerk that I will place (for instance) two bags on the bag shelf so they can reset the bag-weight-gauge-thingie. I get satisfaction from my packing strategy.

But some places still have baggers. And they are not gotten rid of so easily. And in some places, why should I get so bent about someone else bagging my stuff if they do a competent job? That is their job, after all.

I've realized that sometimes it's a gift to let someone else do something for you. No, no, I'll bag my own! I don't need to say that automatically. Why not let the baggers feel good about doing their job well (if they do it well)?

Last night, I simply handed the bags to the young man and let him do his thing. I still kept half an eyeball on how he was proceeding, but he seemed to have enough alertness and strategy (keeping some things aside for the top of the bags, etc) that I had confidence that nothing would get squished. And as a bonus, we got to chat a little and enjoy a little social surface-conversation. And I thanked him afterwards, because I have to acknowledge the gift.

Why has this been so hard? To let people do what they can do? As long as I and my groceries don't suffer (too much), why try to control this so much?

I like to think it's more practice for letting my child(ren) practice their competencies without me hovering over them, picking at their performance. It's more practice for me living a more relaxed life with less need for control, less need for perfection, and more appreciation.

Although, still, I love to bag my own stuff.

Bags upon Bags

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After, I can hardly think.

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...Wednesday, November 4th

Outside my Window...leaves littering the grass.

Towards a daily rhythm...sweeping the floor, sweeping the floor, clearing dust and piles of cat hair. Ah.

I am thinking...of what we might do about our kitchen renovation plans now that we can't afford our contractor.

I am thankful for...Wow, where to start? To see so many people come together to make a new story, a fresh direction, fresh hope. Also, I'm thankful for music, fellowship and the softening of hard feelings. We can renew relationships, Yes We Can.

From the kitchen...Cooked up a little garlic and spinach scrambled egg omelet with cheese shavings for myself and starving DH.

I am wearing...maternity jeans that are slowly popping a seam (nothing vital!), and a tan Tshirt. And funky earrings.

I am reading...In the Company of Others by Julie E. Czerneda, on loan from a friend. I think she'll successfully get us hooked in this new-to-us sci-fi author, because this story is goood!

I am meals for future times.

I am hoping...for more patience, and that the new administration has energy left over after crisises to do some good work. I am hoping I'll make it to an area home-studio tour next year because I'm missing it this year.

I am of my cats whining at me, and a little Celtic waltz music.

I am going to breathe deeply...and refocus on my everyday life.

Around the house...One of the side-affects of a rainy Fall is that dried leaves get tracked into the house and end up in unexpected locations. They don't bother me too much - they are nearly impossible to keep up with - but the cats love to chew on them. Every couple of days, I make a sweep to retrieve the most egregious ones.

Bring beauty to my home...getting rid of extraneous stuff in the house that lets our really cherished things be more seen and appreciated.

One of my favorite things...clean fresh cotton bed sheets, especially new ones.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...lunch with one of my politico friends. I've scarcely seen her the last couple of months, so I look forward to hearing election stories. Also, I'm preparing to travel over to a calling gig this weekend, and finding materials from fast food restaurants to help my students learn how to order food. I have plans to make cozy meals this week. Cravings for certain reliable meals.

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

Reflecting Shards

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NaBloPoMo Meets Election Day

I've been so antsy the last day or so, I can barely concentrate on other things unless it's to escape into fiction or a little stress eating.

I voted early this year because I could, because I felt like I should *because* I could.

Everybody 4 Obama

I voted on a sunny fall day in the early afternoon at my closest early voting polling place, which happened to be the offices of county board of elections. The place was hopping with workers and voters of all colors & ages. A short line in front of me to get in the door, I only waited five or ten minutes to reach a check-in station. I looked around, and took a deep breath, finding myself nearly overcome with emotion, feeling "These are my people," my city, my fellow citizens. Poll workers cheered every time a first-time voter finally slid their optical paper ballot into the machine.

So duty accomplished. I even sorted out all the state and local races. Lots to consider this year.

But I miss the energy of visiting the polls on the day itself. I miss not walking around, canvassing to GOTV the way I did four years ago. I'm not so much into walking or standing these days. Waddling slowly is more my speed. So I feel guilty for not doing more. I'm so grateful that the people who can do more are doing it. I know many friends who are (and have been!) up to their ears in activism or community service. All I feel I can do now is send positive energy and encouragement out into the universe and all my fellow voters and Obama-supporters.

Boys for Obama



Here are some sites to help track and predict the results of the election:

FiveThirtyEight specializes in electoral projections. Lots of great graphs and maps and analysis.

MyDD (My Direct Democracy) has a poll watcher graphic tracking electoral votes for Obama. I like this one partly because the size of each state is proportionate to the number of EVs is has. It's even in grid format, one square per EV.

The Swing State Project has a great graphic to help track poll closing times for November 4th, 2008. Note that all times are listed in EST, not necessarily local time.

FireDogLake has a great post compiling loads of election day information, a veritable resource guide. Includes links to find your polling place, polling hours, voters rights links, weather reports, places to report your voting experience, places to report voting suppression or irregularities, and more.

The DailyKOS is always good for pre-, present-, and post- election discussion and analysis.

The DailyKOS also has a cool Electoral Scoreboard.
You can toggle the tags to see results in presidential, senate, house and governor races. You can also look at results/distribution from the previous 8 years of elections.

A couple other sites for progressive election-watching:
Booman Tribute

Crooks and Liars

My Direct Democracy

Huffington Post (now with a big tracking graphic)

As always, the BagNewsNotes has lots of discussion about visuals.

Happy Election Day! May it all go as smoothly as possible! No vote stealing allowed.

Vote 4 Change Now

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gains and Losses

NaBloPoMo Nov 2nd, 2008

I have stuff to post today, it being NaBloPoMo and all, but my mind is not on the post I started last night. With the pre-election jitters ramping up and the recent news of Obama's grandmother's passing, there is more to occupy my mind than generic musings. Or to put it another way, topical events have a way of making other things seem trivial.

It's not that I'm not trying to distract myself from the looming election. It's not that I have the emotional and physical where with all to volunteer much, either.

So election thoughts roll around in my head even while I look elsewhere.

I'm sorry to hear of Obama's grandmother, "Toots," passing. I had a feeling that she might not make it through Election Day... it would be too perfect a universe to have her hold out merely for this historic event.

But I'm so glad that Obama made it over to talk to her before she died. He's clearly a man who cherishes his family.

How proud she must have been, to see this young man turn into someone so impressive, accomplishing so much, and on the verge of gaining an even more historic accomplishment. Even if she wasn't sure that he would win this election, she knew that he had put all his heart and intelligence into making it happen. Even if he didn't win, how can you not be proud of someone who does their amazing best? It must have been a touchstone for her.

And on Barack's side, how bittersweet to go into this last day knowing you had put everything on the line, knowing she might not see the end of it. It seems like one of those O Henry stories in which the sweetest dream coexists with the bitterest loss. And even that is iconic, the archetype of the hero who gains as he loses, loses as he gains.

I selfishly hope that perhaps Barack has already put it all on the line, and so this last day, to lose one of the people closest to him, he is not distracted by what he must do tomorrow, because he's already done it. I hope he will have time to grieve and keep a private space for his family while the election swirls along without him. I wish that space for him, a trust that the campaign and all of his supporters are well-organized enough that they can get along without him for a while, to carry to day as it seems it was meant to be carried. In a sense, the die is already cast. All that is left is for the voters to turn up.

But there will likely be voting challenges. Yucky weather. Vote suppression and intimidate. Challenges and recounts. We can't slack off now. The Dems need perseverance to see this through. We may need to call back Barack from his grief to put another push of personal energy on the line, to push back when things get hairy. OR as the meme goes, leave it all on the road.

JeffLieber says this even better.

And Barack himself salutes his grandmother from the campaign trail, and eloquently ties her in with the average citizen. In the midst of all this craziness, he's still on top of it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

To Find Yourself Living the Impossible Dream

Recent events have had me musing on how I evaluate my goals.

Disclaimer: This is not about becoming a parent! There are other big goals in life, you know. Whatever sparked this particular musing, it wasn't impending parenthood. :) .

One can put a huge amount of energy into a goal, and find at the end of it that it doesn't bring the satisfaction that you expected. That's happened to me on both large and small goals, things I've wanted to attain (buy), things that I've wanted to attain (achieve).

It can be easy to get so fixated on a given goal or ideal and how much you want it, that the reality cannot live up to the sacrifice required to enact it, or to the reality of having achieved it. I have it, and so now what? Am I happier for all of that?

For some reason, I have in my head some friends of ours who had high ideas for how they live their life and what they wanted to accomplish. I first met them more than a decade ago, my husband, well before that.

This couple had spent well over a decade living on their large, remote, rural plot of land, living a minimalistic life, using various renewable energy technologies, and building their house from scratch. The house was the long-term project, not just the part about living in a tiny homestead box. So they milled their own lumber from their own timber/land, the did all their own labor, with the occasional tenant who would trade work for rent for another of their small homestead houses.

Renewable energy was really their thing, so of course, the house and homestead both were designed to take advantage of both passive and active renewable energy. This ran the gamut from a small hydropower dam on their pond, PV (photovoltaic) panels for their modest electrical needs, passive solar collectors, raising much of their own food, growing shittake mushrooms on logs, maintaining bee hives for honey, maintaining all the structures and fields and trails on their land, etc. This was not simply back to the land for its own sake, but with the larger goal of living with a minimal impact on the environment. And of course, to build their house without spending thousands of dollars.

They resisted the label of "Simple Living," though. The truly *simple* way of living, they sometimes said, was to rent an apartment and work a basic job and come home and watch television. But they had higher ideals, and they worked hard to pursue them.

I heard that they often questioned whether living in this way, rather uncomfortably at times, was worth it. Whether they were doing the right thing. They spent a lot of time working to maintain their land. They lived far enough away from the nearest larger small town that they could not always socialize easily. It was hard to stay out late after a dance when they had to drive back home later. So they made numerous large and small sacrifices over the years.

It was very inspiring for the rest of us. It was even a novelty to visit them and stay a while. They are really great people. But myself, I could not live like that (homesteading with only small progress) for long.

Well, it essentially killed their marriage. The progress on the house and such moved so slowly (over years!), that one person said - I give up; I can't live like this; I want out. And she left.

This is not to say anything bad about either of them. I really admire them, even after they divorced and moved on, although one of them is still living that life. But it seems like an iconic example of a goal that is so huge that once you are embarked on the voyage, it's nearly impossible to turn back without ripping the whole thing up from the ground and starting over.

I'm wary of these huge projects that require so much investment. It's one thing to have a dream; it's another to find yourself with a soul-pit of a project. If I finally get that thing I wanted, and it's not as wonderful as I expected, I have to adjust my expectation and say, well, it's still a good thing, even if it's not the bee's knees.

It's like the ol' fulfillment curve. One aims for the peak, not for over the top... which would put you on the downside of the curve feeling disgruntled and disappointed, and wanting the next good thing because the thing you got was ... somehow... not enough.

I spend my life now weighing where I am on the fulfillment curve. When is something worth throwing in everything I have to accomplish great things? When do I dare to be audacious and shoot for the moon? When is "the best'" over the top of the curve? When is the ideal just not worth the pain?

One lesson I learned from our friends is that yes, follow your dreams and shoot for those goals, even if they are out of the mainstream. I have nothing bad to say about being audacious at times. (We have done our own renewable energy projects and we don't regret it!) But stay flexible, and periodically evaluate whether the thing you have wanted for so long is what you still want. Otherwise, you may find yourself suddenly at a dead end, so wholly invested that you have nothing to do but to scale the walls and escape.