21 January 2011

A present from the past

17. Family - past and present

My dear cousin found this sweet little photo and shared it with me yesterday.

I am this old.

16. It is not always a curse to live in interesting times.

This was on in the waiting room, I understand.

Darkest before the dawn OR Quit whining, already....

I had a rough day on Wednesday. It was hard to count good things during a countdown to a decade change. I worked hard. I got a bunch done, but so what...

And then I had to shut up, because:

13) I have work.
14) I have shelter and food.
15) I have health, and where I am imperfect I can regroup.

Fortunately, Thursday was better.

18 January 2011

Taking and Marking a Holiday

I'll cut to the chase. It was a Holiday. I took it. I marked it.

11. Watched a rerun of the six hour series King while I knit. I am just, just old enough to have been alive for the full, brief term of Kennedy's presidency. I have heard the stories of my aunt's bus ride to an interview during the grief-filled riots that burned down areas of Chicago when Martin Luther King was assassinated. But I was little, too little to know. I like to hear the stories, to watch the retellings, to see where we've been, to recognize where we still are, to see where we might go.

12. I stayed home. I wanted to go in to do some work. I didn't want to go in to do some work. Was kind of in a stay-in-pyjamas funk. BUT. I stayed home. Cat was pleased. In the end, I expect this was a good thing.

I packed up the blanket knitting for a little while. Cross training. Cotton knitting works the wrist a bit, it does. Will return to the navy sock.

At Home

9. I am very much at home in my city. And I enjoy being a traveler at home.

I really like living in the Chicago area, for all its flaws.
It has complexity. It has down-to-earth and over-the-moon.

I grew up learning about neighborhoods through a lot of bus and el riding. I continue to work my way through all KINDS of neighborhoods. The city is on a grid and there are a few diagonals derived from old OLD stage coach and trading routes as well as more recent modes of travel. However, most places you go, you have to turn a corner somewhere. This allows for all kinds of interesting paths, if a body is inclined to seek them out. I typically do. For example, there's an excellent fabric resource near Little Village and Pilssen, where there are also excellent taquerias -- and more.

I drove to church Sunday and failed to get there. I was really late, and then I realized I NEEDED gas well before I WOULD get there. I jumped off the highway, found some place manageable, and found a new plan for the rest of my morning. Went instead in search of a Ukrainian bakery and deli I hadn't been to in awhile. Came away with a great loaf of still warm rye bread.

Spent the rest of my Sunday enjoying the comforts of home AT home.

10. Soup and tea and cat and blankets

With the amount of washing I currently need to do for the house of cat, cotton is just the thing. And as I shook my fist at my too-large quantity of yarn one weekend in summer, I am more than sure I have enough to make a cotton blanket. Worked for a bit on this while thinking about what I might want to knit next for more portable and wearable knitting.

While the cat watched me,

I watched the home team.

Next week also at home? Go Bears.

Time on Saturday

I wasn't free for all of my Saturday, but I did get to treat myself to some good use of my time.

5. I had very wisely taken a few moments earlier in the week, while cooking some oatmeal, to assemble a weekend breakfast. call it what you will - Cheese strata, company eggs, breakfast casserole, savory bread pudding - it was ready to go, thrifty yet indulgent. Even though I had to go to a workish thing, I had time for a bit of weekend breakfast. Once in awhile, I get the domestic goddess timing right.

6. I'm starting to get the hang (again) of a simpler, decent looking professional "uniform". I can stand. Please note the uniform permits unfinte variety of socks and scarves. I dressed without drama and felt okay about how I was dressed for the afternoon thing. I am slowly managing to keep just enough ahead with laundry, and a very little bit of post holiday sale shopping increased the success rate odds.

7. With my large pocket of morning time saved with these two schemes, I took time to mop my bedroom floor. Moved furniture. Flipped mattress and springs. Changed bedding. Unpacked new white-sale pillows. Time WELL spent.

8. Left the afternoon event without staying later to do things and without bringing a slug of things home to do. I never really respect my personal time as I should. Gave myself permission to pick up a small bit of indulgent takeout, and knit that evening. Not too long, though. I went to bed early - an excellent use of my time.

(I type this, of course, to remind myself that I ought to take this kind of time for myelf more often. These are not remarkable things, and perhaps I could hit them a bit more often.)

This Thing About Counting

Three days in. Last things first: unsurprisingly, I should never have given myself this kind of challenge. Not my bag, neither the track-keeping part of counting nor the other part, which is really the first thing, but I'm starting ... Well, you know.

So this counting thing is perhaps crazy making. Counting for activity, fine. I can sing the bottles of whatever songs. I will count like objects in a physical space if I am stuck there and bored. This lovely tendency was reinforced in early grade school when learning that there were significant numbers of objects in church: 12 of these, seven of those, etc., each corresponded to significant songs or groupings of names or sayings or prayers. You get the drift. So I counted instead of fidgeting. It wasn't to remember, though. For remembering numbers, I have to fidget. Rotary dial. Touch tone. I remember those. Bake something repeatedly, and I'll remember proportions. Retain measurements in my head? Only if I'm using them. Remembering a just-taken measurement only long enough to right them down? Three is my limit.

So I may bail on this aspect of the activity. It may just get me down

As for the first part - enjoying or doing or indulging or remarking or taking in a bunch of good things? I may not have enough Pollyanna left in me. We'll see. Stories may trump counted lists. If, of course, there are actual stories.

Will this count?

Fujiyamamama is right. I will need more chocolate.

15 January 2011

Remarkable gifts - Tucson Tribute on NPR

4. Woke up in time to hear NPR Weekend Edition's Scott Simon share a touching and remarkable tribute to the people of Tucson.

Will try to link it here later, if I can find it.

Remarkable gift, that Scott has.

Remarkable gifts in Tucson, those who are mourned, those who sacrificed or gave aid, those who continue to give, and the community that gathers itself in support.

14 January 2011

10 Days, 50 Good Things (sorry, Martha, you'll have to share)

So here's the thing: I got my first piece of AARP junk mail just before the New Year.
Responses are mixed: a choreographer friend said "Mazel Tov"; I recycled the junk mail.

This is the week I've dreaded and rehearsed for months. As it happens, it would typically be something I would try to ignore. I wasn't going to entirely hide from it, but I could easily have given it the cold shoulder. Then over dinner with my cousin and a friend a suggestion of a weekend trip to mark the occasion surfaced. While it was an entertaining thought, logistics and timing didn't line up, but we're going to do a nice theatre evening instead. Looking forward to that.

Then tonight I thought of something. I need to treat myself better. In fact, I could do a lot better at that.

I'm giving myself 10 days, wrapping both weekends into the package.
I'm challenging myself to 50 good things. Do them, enjoy them, something.

Tonight begins it. I'm giving myself a proper cozy "early night" Friday night.

1) A somewhat decent spinach pizza

2) A glass or two of Cabernet

3) Knitting time - enough to finish a gift scarf.

Day one begins. Three good things.
I might have a piece of chocolate, but I'll throw that in for free.

02 January 2011

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Happy New Year!

I enjoyed a quiet and relaxed holiday break. I steered clear of obsessing about making ten million things - no Santa's workshop for me this year! Didn't travel - until yesterday, that is - and completely by choice. Stayed away from the workplace for a few days here and a couple days there. Also kept myself away from working, giving myself time to rest and nest a bit. Shopped very little but effectively - a few gifts bought, wrapped, and mailed. Did a little rare wardrobe shopping for myself: walking boots, sale trousers and shirts to replace unwearables which leave home this week. I cleaned a little, mended a little, cooked a little, knit a little, read a little, and socialized a little.

This weekend proved a thoughtful one, notions swirling about beginnings, middles, and ends. I liked reading about mittenfarce's challenge to finish projects and to cast on a fresh start to the year. I read several references to cleaning the decks, the house, the slate. Couldn't find the steam to do the full clean sweep of any particular realm, though, not the home, not the project queue, not the office, the closet, or the slate. At the same time I found myself fascinated by the notion of "starting as you mean to end" - or perhaps to start as I mean to carry on.

The truth is I like all three places. I like the fresh energy of a start. I love the mess, focus, and process of the middle - even if that sometimes gets bogged down by despairing of progress. I'm silly enough to be amused by counting or measuring productive progress and distractable enough to keep from obsessing over the numbers. And like any properly inconsistent human, I love, hate, rejoice, sigh, celebrate, mourn, and mark endings of various stripes.

A good story, it is said, has a clear beginning, middle, and end, however it is packaged.

I confess, I'm not always a linear beginning, middle, and end person. And this is where I find myself at this turn of a year. I rather enjoy that there are so many stories underway. I have beginngs, middles, and ends to tend to. There will be more to come.