Saturday, January 30, 2010


It's been a challenging January. January is the kind of month that can be hard all by itself, but this one's been especially tough.

But just as things were poised to end on fairly ugly terms, the skies have suddenly brightened.

First, I found out yesterday that I won the most delightful tote bag over on a blog I'd just recently discovered -- doe-c-doe. When she posted the photo of that bag I just fell in love, and now I've gone and had the good luck to win it. It is also just the kind of blog that I love, so it's cause for celebration all around.

Next, and I don't want to get too far ahead of things on this one, but I had an email from someone at a reputable publisher who's working on an alphabet book (digital photos taken by all levels of photographers) and -- see my "D" above? -- she's considering my image for the book! I'd participated in ABC-Along 2008 by taking 2 photos during roughly every 2 weeks that year. All my photos were taken outdoors, of natural things, and one was the letter form itself and one was something beginning with the letter. I have a free account on flickr and weirdly not all the images I originally posted are still there, but this D has survived and now apparently has some level of chance of ending up in a book.

Whether it pans out or not, I'm just so pleased to know that I was at least being considered.

And that's a pretty delightful way to say 'farewell' to January.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rather than focus on the facts

On a day when we will be lucky if it warms up to 0 degrees f. with wind chill, I will carry this image in my heart to keep me going. And I will wear my warmest socks....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it me?

I am perennially interested in how things change, and especially in how things subtly, over time, change in ways that are fairly imperceptible at the time but when you look back you think -- yeah, wow, right! things really are different now!

I was thinking about this on a recent trip around blogland. I was thinking about how you really couldn't manage to blog not all that long ago without being tagged to do some kind of meme involving a list about yourself. I think at the time it was the collective realization that: ok, I'm here, I'm blogging, but I don't quite know what to say or how to say it. Being tagged to write a list both gave a sense of community AND something to write about (or at least a legitimate excuse to reveal things about yourself as a way of introducing yourself to so many strangers).

And then bloggers kind of collectively found their voices, and found how to reach out and maintain friendships without tagging, and here we are now with nary a tag in sight (or award? those seem to have gone by the wayside too). I think this is growth, I think it is good -- the other way was a good way to start, and now we've grown.

I've also noticed that bloggers, especially the big-time ones, seem suddenly much more thankful for their readers. I'm perceiving a shift from short of an expectation that "of course you're here and fascinated with what I have to say, although of course you also understand that you can't possibly expect me to respond to you" to "I realize how deeply grateful I am to you for being my audience, for helping me publish books/pursue a career/find my voice." I'm expressing this in an extreme kind of way to make my point -- but do you know what I mean? It seems an even kinder and more genuine community now than it did just a year or two ago.

Taking Risk

There I was, well on my way to total world domination (pink), when the boys (Dean, blue, and Ken, black) decided to call it quits. That's okay. As much as I generally have to say about how things are going to be different once I'm in charge of the world, fact is that it's really much more responsibility than I can handle.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thanks for showing us the way, Martin

I had plans.
And they were good plans.

But life intervened, as life will, and here we are in the last few hours of the long weekend (we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. here in the US with a holiday on the third Monday of every January) and I don't have done what I'd planned to have done to show you.

See, I've got this Christmas Club scheme going. It's not too late to join in -- just please leave a comment back on that post -- and anyway here I am in the first month and already just a bit behind where I hoped I'd be. Is it just the nature of Christmas, that no matter what I do I'll always be behind in getting ready for it? I've started sewing (see a picture in this post) and I've got a pretty solid list put together despite some list-anxiety, but it's going to take me a coupla more weeks to get where I wanted to be by now.

Oh well.

I'm in the midst of some very intense and troubling family stuff -- not my own little family here in my house but my wider family. Everyone and everything will ultimately be fine, but it's taking all my time and energy and savings to try to get things where they need to be. I won't say more than that -- partly because everything's going to be ok, partly because it's my nature not to want to get into the family stuff in a public way, and partly because of what could be read here by people I'd prefer not to keep informed. Too cloak and dagger for my taste but there we are.

Let's have some chocolate frogs instead, and see whose card we got this time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The devastation in Haiti is unimaginable to me. I hope you will consider making whatever size donation you can to help bring relief -- the American Red Cross is one organization that's already helping, and that makes it easy for each of us to help.

Monday, January 11, 2010

As free as the wind blows

The last cookie of Christmas.

Last night we watched Born Free. Do you remember this 1965 gem? Based on the real-life story of Joy and George Adamson, it chronicles the raising of 3 lion cubs by this couple who then commits to releasing their favorite (once she's full grown) back into the wild in Kenya. I know I saw this on TV when I was young, and I remember that it was shown at my elementary school. Ken thinks it may have been the first movie he saw in a theater. I believed it to be another key element of Dean's film education -- a compelling story, a classic film, and a song that you've got to be able to break in to when the moment is right.

Meanwhile, I'm forging ahead with my whole Christmas Club scheme and have this to show so far:Cut out felt pieces, waiting to be sewn on -- this is about 8" x 11" or so and I'll finish it as a tabletop piece.

When Bethany said she wanted in to this whole year-long 'let's get ready for Christmas' thing she said she was going to start by making a list. As much as I can love a good list, I've noticed that I've become less of a list-maker these days. Oh sure -- I'll make a list for the grocery store because without it there's no hope, and I'll make my to-do lists at work so I don't forget what I most need to accomplish in a given day or week.

But I've noticed that I've been turning away from long-range lists for a while now. As much as I'm tempted to do something like this (although mine would be things to do before I turn 50 in a couple years), I'm also reluctant. I've carried around notebooks for years filled with lots and lots of lists only to find that I'm over-zealous in the list making department and under-performing in the accomplishing and crossing out departments. They become burdens, those lists of the undone. Want to see everything I failed to accomplish in 2005? I've got that list right here....

But I did make up a list for this Christmas crafting thing -- while I'd still like to blindly believe that I can do so very much in a year, a list (done the right way) makes me appreciate that there are limits. My list has a mix of gifts to give, projects to complete for our house, and includes getting cards done early as well as the wrapping.

As an aside, it has always amused me to no end that Ken will write something down on a list that he's just done so he can instantly cross it off. Maybe there's something to that.

And I leave you with, simply, the whole enchiladas. Before baking and consumption. Yum.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

in the depths of winter, I finally learned

Ken was willing to take a chance on a bottle that had "Torres" on it, in honor of Dean and my football hero Fernando Torres:

It's not that we suspect any relation, but it is just so typical of us to see and celebrate connections like that. I think it's that kind of whimsical outlook that keeps us going -- through the depths of winter, through the less-than-whimsical stuff life throws at us. And of course each glass had to start with a toast: "To Fernando!"

Really the hard part about being back to work now, after our lovely 2 week holiday break, is (aside from the work itself) that there's hardly any daylight time to enjoy. It's dark when I walk the dog in the mornings and dark when I take him out again when we get back home at the end of the day. Some spectacular sunrises, some glorious views of the moon and stars are the little treats I seek out so that I get everything I can from those experiences, although the bitter cold makes it hard to stay out there too long.

I'm looking for the little connections, the funny stories, the unexpected moments that can turn January into a gem and not a hump to get over. I go into the new year newly compelled to make the most of every day, every month. All the talk of the decade just past has my head spinning -- 10 years? Really? Couldn't have been! Four or 5, sure -- that I could believe. Not 10.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Club?

OK. I acknowledge that I'm having trouble coming to terms with the end of another holiday season, and certainly having a hard time with the end of a wonderful winter vacation. Back to it tomorrow.

We'll take the tree down next weekend; I do like to leave it up at least until Epiphany (Jan. 6, the day the three kings arrived, the 12th day of Christmas). Dean is all for celebrating Three Kings Day as his close friend, whose father is from Puerto Rico, does, but I *think* we've all had enough in the gift department.

Meanwhile, though, I'm mulling over how many of us seem to share the "I'm not ready!" panic that hits us in December. We want to enjoy the holidays and we want to give homemade gifts, but the whole thing pounces on us and leaves us focused on how we survive it. What about an informal Christmas Club?

The idea is that we gently remind and encourage each other once a month throughout the year. I'm thinking about the 15th of each month, and my own goal is to make one gift per month. My goals will ramp up in the fall, with an eye to complete any shopping by 11/15 and wrapping by the end of November. Whatever your goals are is up to you -- it's not a competition.

What do you think? Are you interested?

Friday, January 1, 2010


And a glorious, happy, healthy, safe, and creative 2010 to you!

One of Dean's resolutions is to cook more often, so we started right in New Year's Eve with a family-made meal. We'd also cooked all together a few days ago and while it does pose some challenges (mostly me getting over my habits and mindset about how much quicker it can be to do things myself, and being patient with people big and small with less kitchen experience than I), it is heavenly for me. I love not being alone in the kitchen, I love the shared effort to put on a meal, and I love teaching Dean the ropes. This particular evening we were making one of Ken's specialties (breaded and sauteed chicken strips with a creamy pasta sauce) and braised endive, and it was great having Ken in charge of his recipe. A loaf of crusty French bread was picked up at the store that morning for the occasion.

We hope to manage a couple of family-made meals each month.

A toast to the year we've finished out, the year ahead, and every effort we make along the journey to do better, to be better. I resolve to worry less about what isn't and to enjoy what is.