Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Movin' on up

Not to a dee-luxe apartment in the sky (oh, that all the TV I watched in my youth was not burned so indelibly in my brain) but to a shiny new self-hosted Wordpress blog. You can find it here.

It's not all prettified yet, but I'll be working on it over the days and weeks to come. I don't know if anyone out there is reading or subscribed, but now would be an ideal time to update whatever internet thingamies necessary to keep reading or subscribing. Oh, and yes, now that you mention it, I do intend to start posting again.

As my high school English teacher Mrs. Weber used to say, "Come on over!"

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memoir triple header

I have been reading like a fiend again, maybe in anticipation of expecting to have less time for pleasurable reading in the near future.

The first book, Getting a Grip by Monica Seles just caught my eye in the biography section of the new books area in our library. I don't know diddly about tennis, except that my aunts used to play and teach it (it might have been how they met?) and that one exceptional day as a child they took my brother and I to a court and tried to teach us. I was not inclined toward athleticism even then, and the best thing I remember about the day was that the Gatorade we got after trying to hit an entire basket of balls back across the net was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. I still have a fondness for Gatorade to this day.

Anyhow, Monica's book (I feel like we're on a first-name basis after reading her story) was wonderful. Did she really write it herself? Who knows, but who cares? It was well-written, compelling and surprisingly relevant for me. Not that I have ever faced pressure as intense as that to which a world-class athlete is subjected, but her struggle with weight wa the hook for me. I'm not giving anything away, the subtitle of the book is (On My Body, My Mind, My Self), and this line from the jacket: "'s hard to believe that spectacularly fit former tennis champion Monica Seles struggled with binge-eating and depression" pretty much give it away. I saw that and thought, huh, that sounds familiar. Not the spectacularly fit part, the other bit. So I read it. I really gained a lot from reading this book, and I would recommend it to anyone else for whom food is a favorite drug. I am glad that it sounds like she's found a purpose for her life now that she's retired from pro tennis, and it sounds like a wonderful one, at that. And I didn't see her on Dancing with the Stars, but that she was on it at all, I thought that was great. I can't even stand the anxiety of being surrounded by a simple jam circle, much less the eyes of the American television-viewing public.

The next book I read was Mornings with Barney: The True Story of an Extraordinary Beagle by Dick Wolfsie. Hilarious. A laugh-out-loud funny book about a morning newscaster from Indiana and the mischievous beagle (redundant, I know) stray who adopted him. I am a sucker for beagles, and the photo on the cover of this book was irresistable. Still, I've gotten a little quicker to ditch books that I'm not enjoying, but I picked this up on Wednesday evening and finished it Thursday morning before leaving for work. A quick read, very well-written, and so funny that I had tears streaming down my cheek more than once from laughing so hard. Want to laugh? Read this book. You will not regret it.

I stll needed more memoir, so I went back to new biographies and found Breakfast at Sally's: One Homeless Man's Inspirational Journey by Richard LeMieux. The writing was clearly only so-so from the very beginning, but I decided to give it a chance anyhow, mostly because The Professor and I had a heated debate about homelessness on our way home from a weekend away last month, and then not long after my illustrious father was spouting off on the phone to me about how the economy is tanking and the entire middle class will all be living under bridges before we know it. Uh, right. But I digress.

As a memoir, this book disappoints. Only the barest details about how his family abandoned him to his crippling depression after he went bankrupt and left him to live in his van are given, and he refers to his despair periodically, but having withheld enough of his story to help me decide whether or not I was sympathetic to his plight, it cast a rather fishy light on the situation to me, and I honestly spent too much of the book feeling suspicious of his motives for even writing the book. Memorializing the homeless people who have no voice in the mainstream world? Healing his own pain by coming to terms with his past? Just trying to make a buck? Of these possible reasons, only the last seems plausible, and well, that's not a motive that makes for a great read.

The glowing quotes from Salvation Army employees on the cover bring to mind that it's probably great PR for their organization, but still, this book left me feeling like I had been jerked around. Many of the stories he tells are quite moving, and it's hard not to be affected by the idea of a mom and her two young sons living in a storage unit, or runaway teens living in an ever-shrinking-to-development woods near a mental hospital, or two women whose so-called landlady steals their public assistance checks and locks up their shoes before leaving for work in the morning and lures homeless men with the promise of a free place to stay only to demand rent the next day after having "talked it over with her husband." But these stories are not LeMieux's, and his right to use them seems suspect to me, especially when his motive for telling them is so murky. I'm glad he's now off the street (yes, I'm ruining the book for you, but I'm not recommending it, and one rather suspects that having had a book published he's probably out of the van by now), but I don't think I'll be picking up his next book that his bio mentions he's writing. Don't bother with this one unless you've got a mad desire to read anything you can about homelessness, and even then, I'm sure you can find many better things to read first.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happiness is...

...riding your bike to work, wearing a skirt you sewed yourself, giving a friendly wave to a stranger who is out mowing his lawn, hearing when your backpack hits the pavement after falling off the pannier rack behind you so you can stop to pick it up, and still getting to work on time. Yes, I'm feeling quite righteous and wholesome today. Yes, indeed.

I biked to work yesterday, too, to cheer myself up after the itchy walk around the block. For the short time left that I have a bikeable commute and while the weather is absolutely perfect for biking, I'm going to enjoy it.

Happiness is also acing the final exam for the Mickey Mouse computer class that's part of the curriculum at Virginia Marti, without taking the class, and using software that I had never seen before, namely the 2007 versions of Word and PowerPoint, which appear to have been changed for no other reason than to confuse and frustrate long-time users of the software. The man from the school who called with my results was certainly milking the suspense for all it was worth. The tone of his voice said failure, so I was happily surprised when he said "passed," even though I left the test feeling fairly confident of a pass. Heck, I skipped to my car yesterday. That was more because I'd finally gotten a) my first text book and b) the summer schedule, but still.

After work, a weaving guild friend is coming over to help me get unstuck with the piles and piles of stuff clogging up my laundry room needing to be overdyed/dyed/have the color removed/etc. I haven't been able to use my laundry folding table in something like a year or two? It's ridiculous. I find that the more I admit I need help, the easier things get. Even if she can't help me, I'll be that much closer to getting through it all. I've got all the supplies and equipment I need, I just need the moral support and social facilitation (learned that one at Bryn Mawr, hello Psych 101). The same person recently helped me overcome an obstacle on the loom that took approximately 30 seconds to overcome when she was standing there, but which had caused me to leave the loom sitting untouched for months. Yeesh.

Tonight, we celebrate by going to see the Star Trek movie. Okay, we were going to see it anyhow, but it feels very celebratory to me. I can tell that getting good grades is going to continue to be a motivating force for me as I go back to school. It's just such a straightforward way to get an ego boost. The June Sewing Fundamentals class that I'll be taking (oh, I got in, did I forget to mention that on here?) is mainly for them to assess what kind of students we will be. Ha! Stand back, Virginia Marti College. I will be taking you by storm.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I don't exercise

This morning, I woke up feeling happy and positive. I decided to take a little walk around the block to get the body moving. Yesterday I finally finished a skirt, the pattern for which was fit when my tummy wasn't as round as it is now, and it's not terribly flattering. I can make another skirt that is more flattering, but I also want my flat tummy back. Better get off my butt and do something about it.

So I decided to just walk around the block. It's a 1-mile walk. Just a little something to get myself going again. I haven't really done any exercise since my last attempt at walking 4 miles on the elliptical machine with no breakfast before and not enough after left me feeling wretched for a day and a half.

And it happened again. Ever since college, I've had this very annoying problem. I found out about it the hard way when I tried to go jogging with some friends. I got half a block from our dorm and started itching like mad. My legs first but eventually my whole body will itch. It is torture. I can't jog or even do a brisk walk without this all-over itching happening. When I do walk, I have to go pretty slow so I don't get itchy, which means I don't get my heart rate up, which means not the best exercise ever.

I have asked doctors about this problem, I have asked anyone I've met with any kind of sports background, and no luck on finding out what is causing it. Is it something to do with nutrition? I mean, probably, but what? What specifically do I need to eat or not eat to make it so that I can walk around the block without wanting to claw off my own skin?

It doesn't happen with rollerblading or biking, which leads me to believe that something about the impact of walking is part of the problem. It also doesn't happen when I walk on the elliptical, so that's something, but I just wish I could be outside in the fresh air to get my exercise. I could bike, but it's so much easier to walk here. I live in a somewhat non-bike-friendly suburb, alas.

I really wonder how the heck I can find out about what causes this problem and what to do to solve it. If anyone reading this has any clue what could possibly be going on, I'm all ears. Right now I'm going to go try not to scratch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book: Outliers

Subtitle: The Story of Success

by: Malcolm Gladwell

What a fantastic book. Gladwell does it again. I love his writing and the topics he chooses. This book is one that I want to recommend to a number of people I know. Chris, Steve, Ken, Erica and Adi, all of you would dig this book. I even want my dad to read it, especially the part about the airplane crashes, because I think it might help him get over his fear of flying, although who knows, that could backfire and make it worse.

This book's most striking point to me is that one of the biggest determinants of success is just plain showing up. Do something for 10,000 hours and you'll be awesome at it. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I love that how long it takes to master something to the point of virtuosity is quantifiable. I mean, one can keep track of how close one is to 10,000 hours. It's a lot of hours, but it's not infinite. You're slogging away at some skill you're trying to master, and you think Am I there yet? Well, have you been at it for long enough? If not, just keep going, eventually you are going to get there. I like that. It appeals to me. Anyone can succeed if you just refuse to give up.

I also liked about this book the idea that a cultural legacy to behave in a certain way can be with you even if you don't know it. I'm descended on one side from Scotch-Irish Tennessee immigrant stock, and the whole chapter that dealt with how people from that kind of background, even generations back, often react in a predictable way in certain situations made a lot of sense to me. I always just thought it was my Scorpio rising and Pluto-Sun tendencies that made me the kind of person you do not want to piss off, but who knows, it could be some reptile part of my brain that was passed on in my DNA. Maybe it's both. Not that it isn't still something to work on and overcome-- I'd love to be more mellow, less irascible in certain situations-- but the idea that it's maybe not just some random personal flaw appeals to me.

Reading this book over the weekend was so timely, having learned this morning of the death of one of the world's most amazing swing dancing legends, Frankie Manning. Frankie was an outlier, a rock star in the swing dance world who achieved amazing success and the aforementioned legendary status, and a bunch of the factors that Gladwell discusses in his book might have had something to do with that. I'm a little fuzzy on Frankie's history, but I'm sure the 10,000 hour rule can be applied to his life. Opportunity in the form of living near the Savoy Ballroom at just the right age and just the right time in the history of music and dance, and then being asked to come out of retirement and teach dancing again back in the 80s. His own innate joyful attitude about life and dance that came through even to people who only met him briefly, like me, was clearly a factor in his success.

Frankie is a wonderful inspiration to so many people, and I don't know how anyone could look at the story of his life and think anything other than, Wow, I only wish I could touch so many lives for the better. Let's all try to be like Frankie, passionately returning to our dreams and our loves and using our talents to inspire others. Let's all be outliers to the point where there's no such thing anymore.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book: The Spiral Staircase

Subtitle: My Climb Out of Darkness

By: Karen Armstrong

Another memoir, this book was a hand-me-down from my stepmother. I really enjoyed it. Very hard to put down; I was disappointed when I went to pay my cable bill in person the other day and encountered no line whatsoever so I wouldn't have an excuse to get some reading done. The author documents life after leaving the convent in 1969 after 7 years as a nun. What I loved about this book was how she hit so many dead ends and just kept going until she eventually found her way to a life that fit her. This book made me think of so many people when I was reading it that I recommend it to anyone, especially anyone interested in the idea of vocation and how we find ours. I'm looking forward to reading her first memoir next, about the time during which she was a nun, and some of her other books on religion. And if only I could get my hands on the BBC video she did in the 1980s.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Going toward something good

In the back of my mind I've been trying to think of a reason to exercise. The obvious health benefits just weren't motivating enough to me, too abstract, and I've never done it consistently or intensely enough to get addicted to the adrenaline or whatever happens to people who seem obsessed with working out. The reason I had been trying to use was getting rid of these new Ohio thighs that have happened to me (like I had nothing to do with it) since I stopped biking, walking and blading everywhere and started getting around in my car. Oh, and since I started eating more. I honestly never felt like I didn't eat enough before, but I think I must have been skimping, or maybe it really is just the lack of built-into-daily-life exercise that produced this change.

But coming at exercise from that angle, reduce my thighs, was just going away from something I didn't like. I knew this whole program would work better if I could go toward something I did like. Sunday it came to me. I want to go toward a flat belly. I have always been relatively thin, and my figure is pretty much proportional throughout. I loved having a nice flat tummy for most of my life, it made up for what I used to consider to be other deficits in my shape (small boobs, not very curvy/girly). I was honestly a little vain about my nice flat tummy, and well, I miss it. I'm still fairly proportional, so it's not a long way back to my former shape. At least that's what I'm telling myself, so if you know better, please refrain from bursting my little bubble. My legs work just fine; whatever happens with them, so be it, although I can't imagine they won't follow suit. So that's my new fitness motivator: flat tummy. Vain and shallow, perhaps, but if it's getting me to exercise, who cares. The loftier reasons weren't working for me. I want my nice flat tummy back. And I've done 4 miles of elliptical machine two days in a row since I had my epiphany. It's working so far.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big News

Most people probably don't know that my decision to move to Ohio from Philadelphia just over 6 years ago was confirmed by a tarot card reading. It's not something I generally trumpet about, but I do tell to people who I know and can trust not to look at me like I'm too crazy. And it's not that the entire idea came out of a reading and I just ran off and did it; I had been mulling over the idea for about a month or so before I had the reading done by my very cool friend Kelly, who is also an incredibly talented tarot card reader (psst-- Kelly, I wish I could like to a site for your tarot business). And the cards pointed to the move being a great thing in every way: financially, emotionally, spiritually. So my decision to move felt a little stronger under my feet, and I honestly haven't regretted it one bit. Yes, I miss Philly's pulse, all the friends, the great restaurants, but I'm where I belong here in Ohio even if I'm sometimes lonely for Philly. It just means I need to visit more often.

Well, I've had another idea knocking around in my head the past few weeks that I haven't discussed too openly until now, but I had another tarot reading yesterday morning, this time by the wonderful Victoria Pendragon, so I'm going public. Drumroll, please.

I'm going back to school. I recently heard from an acquaintance about the existence of Virginia Marti College of Art and Design and more specifically their Fashion Design program. The first few days after I heard about it were liking walking around with a fresh crush on someone. I was mentally sucking on the idea like a piece of candy. The only thing I could think about is how fun it would be. It's a common theme in Figuring Out What To Do with Your Life exercises to think about what would make you happy, but I had never been really able to shut off the part of my mind that is worried about paying the bills and making sound choices and whether any given course of action is going to give a good return on investment. But when I was first considering this idea, it was just, wow, what if I did this thing just because it would make me incredibly happy? Not to get rich or famous or even have a really clear idea what I'd do with the skills when I got done, but just because I've always wanted to learn this material and here's the perfect place to do it. What a concept. I finally got what every career book and counselor has been asking me to do for all these many years I've been on the hunt for my True Calling, and it just happened without me realizing it.

And then the tarot reading was so very positive. Very positive indeed. Not that going back to school is going to be a walk in the park. I'm quite sure and the cards confirmed that I've got some fine opportunities for personal growth ahead of me, but that doesn't feel like a bad thing. And The Professor is 100% behind me. I visited the school yesterday, met with the admissions rep, Betsy, who was just lovely. I have my application in hand, ready to be completed. So, now I just have to apply, but if I get in, and if I can pay for it, and where there's a will there's a way, then I'm doing it. Zoinks!

To give me a taste of what's in store, Betsy said I could check out the end-of-quarter critique for the students this Saturday morning, so I'm super excited about that, and The Professor is going to accompany me so he can get an idea of what I'm getting into as well. I've told my wonderful boss at my J-O-B, and she's also supportive, even knowing that I will probably have to reduce my hours if not vacate my seat altogether. Anyhow, fun! I couldn't be happier. I haven't had a new crush in a while, so I'm going to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First sign of spring and zipper practice

Well, around here anyway. Remember how we planted that pea? The seed has germinated!

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Can you see him there in the middle? I even forgot to turn the sun on for him yesterday. I think I might be enjoying this grow bulb almost as much as my little green friend here. And I think this is the first time I have grown anything myself since we stuck carrot tops in some water in Sunday school when I was 4. Hooray for new life!

In other news, I had a fun day of zipper practice last weekend. I started out with a mess of inherited 7" zippers (not the right size for the Cynthia Guffey zipper technique, she recommends using a 9" zipper):

I made 10 faux mini skirt back samples, marked tailor tacks and clipped, notched, etc. I did 7 of them, the first 3 using copies of the checklist I made from Cynthia's zipper book so that I could walk myself through the steps. When I ran out of checklists (my print cartridge croaked), I kept missing one step and kept having the same problem, so I learned something once I thought about it for a bit and realized why the steps have to happen in the right order. I also identified which steps gave me trouble and where I need to be more careful to hit it just right. A very good experience. I have 3 more to finish my practice; I'm going to do at least one of them by hand. I have also devised a way to practice waistbands, so that's my next task that I'm setting for myself. Now I just need to make myself a detailed waistband checklist. I love the checklist!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Takin' the Snap Pea Challenge

I am not a fan of dirt. But I have become a loyal reader of Jenna Woginrich's blog, Cold Antler Farm, in which she recently issued a challenge, and I heard the call. Here's what I did this morning in the name of eating local and taking control of our food supply.

I got The Professor to bring me in some supplies. Compost:
Peat moss:
(Not eat moss. That would be gross).

Some rocks and a pot:

I mixed up the first 3 ingredients and got this:

I put it in the pot:

I took a seed from the pack:

Just one little seed:

I laid him on the dirt:

He's there in the middle, can you see him?

I put some more dirt on him and gave him some water:

I built him a ladder:

I installed some faux sun:

And I've welcomed him to his new little home next to me:

Here he is on Day 1.

I'll take another photo when he looks like something. Stay tuned!

And a huge thank you to Jenna, because if she hadn't issued the call, there is no way I would have spent part of my Sunday messing around with dirt on the kitchen floor.


Friday I was working on sewing myself a skirt, again, and even though I didn't finish the skirt, I did have a mess of Useful Insights that I wanted to share. I usually tend to avoid writing about something that feels so personal, your basic fear of revealing the inner self, but I've been so moved by some other people's sharing in this way that I am taking the leap and doing it. Please be gentle with me. I feel like I've made a great breakthrough figuring out what has kept me from sewing more and achieving my goal of a wardrobe of custom-tailored one-of-a-kind clothes that I made myself. Yes, that's my goal. I admit it. I am vain, and not only do I want to look fabulous, I want to reply to all those future compliments with a casual, "Thanks, I made it myself." I chalk it up to my Venus in Leo in the 10th house, but call it what you will.

I haven't talked too much about this goal because, well, did you read it? It sounds awful. It doesn't sound noble or worthy or like it will help save the planet. But you know what? It's mine. It's one of my dreams, so I'm coming out of the closet and telling the world. I want to look great in clothes I made myself. I want to be freed from the depressing shackles of ready-to-wear bullshit clothes that are made to fit heaven knows who. I want to decide the exact colors and shapes that go on my body every day: classic, well fitting and perfect for me. That's my goal, one of the most pressing ones I have these days, even more than figuring out What To Do With My Life, because whatever I do, I'm going to be so much happier doing it if I'm dressed nicely. There, now you know the truth. I feel better.

So, I am working away at this skirt on Friday, a simple A-line skirt, a real beginner project, nothing fancy. And it was No Fun At All. I was not enjoying myself. I kept going because I have a deadline, finally. This wonderful woman who is a Home Ec teacher and who I met at a draping class last fall is meeting with me first thing Monday morning, and by God, I am going to have a skirt to show her. At least most of one, my hope is total completion, as in I am wearing it over there, but I would settle for everything but the hem. The good news is, even if I don't finish it, she will hold my hand and/or crack the whip (or some combination thereof) so that I can finish it when we get together. I am so blessed to have found this generous woman.

In the midst the slow slogging away, though, my mind was churning. And I wondered, do I even like sewing? Maybe I was wrong and I don't even like it? A few years ago I took a bunch of woodworking classes, even made a little wall cabinet and a very nice end table, even bought all the fancy power tools so I could keep making more furniture (confession: I also want to live in a house filled with beautiful, handmade, custom-designed, one-of-a-kind furniture; are you sensing a theme here?). And you know what? That wall cabinet is still sitting in the basement needing to be sanded and finished. The end table is only done because The Professor finished planing and sanding and finishing it for me. Turns out what I like about woodworking is coming up with ideas, designing the exact piece to meet the exact need, with just the right size, shape and features. I'm scared witless of the table saw and want no part of using it. Sanding is just boring hard work, and I'd rather save my wrist energy for knitting or typing. Measuring and assembling, I'm down with those, but they make up so little of any project. Luckily, The Professor has taken to woodworking like a duck to water, so the investment in setting up shop hasn't gone to waste, thank heavens. I was wrong about woodworking, maybe I was wrong about sewing?

But no. I have had loads of fun sewing things that I can sew. I made this sweet little bag a while ago just on a whim, and I had a blast doing it, because it was in my comfort zone and because it didn't require me to follow instructions, just do some math, a little bit of planning and thinking and then go.

But making a garment is a different matter. There is a lot more pressure to get it right, because if I don't, it won't fit, and then it misses the entire point. But also, I don't really know what I'm doing yet. I have only sewn one truly successful garment in my life, and that was done under the close supervision of my mom. She came to Philly for the weekend and babysat me while I sewed a dress for my high-school reunion. It came out great, but with no motherly safety net, I have been scared to take a step. Because even though this nice Home Ec teacher is taking me under her wing, I just don't feel right calling her with every silly question that stops me the way I would feel okay calling my mom.

But I realized Friday it was more than that. I have been classifying sewing in my mind as fun, play. An enjoyable hobby, a self-indulgence. You know what? It's not. It's work. Me making clothes for myself is, at this point, a chore. Because I'm not just sewing for fun, I'm sewing because I need something to wear. It's been so long since I've had a comfortable pair of pants that weren't sweats. My body has changed since I moved to Ohio, and my wardrobe has yet to catch up. It's embarrassing.

And on top of that, I'm not just sewing, I'm learning to sew clothes. Learning being different from just doing, and clothes being different from any other kind of sewing. And not only that, I haven't been learning in the way that's easiest for me so far. I like to learn from a real live human, a person who can answer my questions and help me when I get stuck. I have taken excellent classes, and I have a mess of sewing books and videos, but you can't ask a video questions, and my class notes don't cover every hiccup I encounter.

So no wonder I haven't been sewing. When I am deciding what to do with my down time, I'm just not going to pick an activity that is more work, even if it's only my subconscious that perceives it as work (or perhaps especially if it's only my subconscious). If I treat sewing clothes like the chore it is, I will schedule it for when I have more energy, and it will get done. And if I honor the truth that I am still learning and that I need more support than I've been giving myself to learn this new skill, I bet it will go a lot better.

Another embarrassing truth is that when I have to do something, I just don't want to do it. A rather immature trait, I know, this chafing at authority, even when it's self-imposed, but here we are. And the fact that I refuse to buy clothes from the store because of their overall suckiness combined with not having anything left from my old life that fits means that sewing clothes is one giant have-to. No wonder I haven't been sewing.

Another helpful thought that occurred to me is that a year ago, I didn't know how to make bread. Now I can walk into the kitchen and make a double batch of whole wheat bread without even looking at the recipe. So, it took me a year, but I mastered bread making, and the other night I even tackled pizza dough. I feel more hopeful about my potential for sewing my own clothes when I think about bread. It's just going to take time and practice and patience with myself, and probably a little more outside help than I've been allowing myself. What a burden lifted to realize these things.

And actually, what a burden lifted to write out these thoughts and share them with you, dear reader. Thanks for listening. I sincerely appreciate it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

As promised

Well, I said I would come back and report on what we did for the Feast of Madelyn, so here I am. In the morning I called my godmother, and it was nice to catch up on her life, hearing about her recent visit to my godbro, Jay, and his lovely wife, Andrea, seeing their lovely new house and going whale watching. I also called my Uncle Timmy, who is an adopted uncle and my mom's oldest childhood friend. Tim is always interesting to talk to, and I always learn something new. Like, I had no idea Smucker's jam was made here in Ohio, or that Wisconsin is actually more known for its swiss cheese than its cheddar. Maybe those things were obvious to everyone but me, but at least now I'm all caught up.

As or the evening, well, it was a bit of a bummer. I am so not my mother. With nothing planned and The Professor getting home unexpectedly late, I didn't manage to figure out anything that seemed worthy food-wise (ie, not leftovers). My mom could make a feast out of anything and make even the simplest meal special, but I tend to choke under meal-related pressure and wind up eating standing up at the sink or out of the pan I cooked in. I'm not proud of it, but there you go. Cooking is something I'm trying to get more into, but it's not my most favorite activity the way it was hers.

The Professor did manage to whip up some super delicious pina colada smoothies (anyone know how to get the tilde over the n?), and we're planning to have a belated Feast of Madelyn meal this weekend, perhaps even tonight. I think the best part of the day for me was reading that other people participated and celebrated the memory of my fantabulous mom. Thank you again to everyone who commented on the last post and to everyone who just did something without writing about it. I wish I could hug you all in gratitude.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Your help needed

This year the date snuck up on me, and I didn't plan any sort of gathering or celebration in honor of my mom, and I didn't even realize it until I woke up at 3 am that today was what I've taken to calling the Feast of Madelyn, aka the day seven years ago that my little momelet checked out. So, in that unwelcome wakefulness, the idea came to me to ask anyone who reads this post to do me a favor and join in me in a virtual celebration wherever you are by either:

a) eating a delicious meal or

b) spending some time with a friend.

Food and friends were my mom's big things; she was always organizing parties or book clubs or golf tournaments, and just about everyone who knew her, including me, felt like she was one of their very best friends. Heck, you could just raise a glass of wine in her name, or call someone you haven't talked to in awhile, and that would be enough. Just come back here and tell me about it, to bring all the separate little actions together in one place. Let's celebrate the Feast of Madelyn all over the world. Anyone with me?

I haven't figured out what The Professor and I will do this evening in her honor. The easiest plan would be to go out for a meal, but after unexpectedly having to pay for three new tires yesterday, I think we'll be eating at home. I want to call some people today that my mother loved just to connect with them, like my godmother Joan, who is the one on the left in the photo. I'll come back and report, too.

In other news, I started exercising again today for the first time in I don't even remember how long, which felt great, and in a couple hours, the nice man from the women's shelter is coming to take away the dining room set my wonderful aunt and uncle donated to me when I moved in to the house. We've rearranged things and have a different place to eat now, and someone else who is starting over with nothing could no doubt make better use of it.

Thank you in advance to anyone who helps me mark this day. To Madelyn!