99 things– #61 through #65

I found a list of 99 things, and I will be bolding the ones I’ve done and explaining a bit about each. Because I have a tendency to yammer on, I am doing 5 of the 99 at a time.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. Oh, my goodness, yes. Technically, I was never a Girl Scout myself, though I did a stint as a CampFire Blue Bird and sold Almond Roca in 1st grade. But I was a Girl Scout Leader for many years and that definitely counts! Yes, the girls do the bulk of the cookie selling themselves, but their parents/leaders are always deputized into bringing the order form to work. (My humblest apologies, coworkers of the past! and I hereby promise to buy your daughters’ cookies, coworkers of the future!)

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62. Gone whale watching. Hmm. I wouldn’t say I have gone on a whale-watching expedition of any kind, but I have definitely watched for whales – successfully! – a couple of times. The first time I saw a whale was on a ferry from Seattle to Friday Harbor, and the second was on a ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC. (While on a different trip to Victoria, David went on an official tour in a rubber raft to see whales, dressed up with all his students in stylish waterproof suits . . . and not a single whale showed itself.)

63. Got flowers for no reason. I am the queen of buying myself flowers for no reason. Unless, of course, you count “I walked past the flowers section of Costco” as a reason.

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64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. I semi-successfully donated blood when I was a freshman in college. I was really excited to have reached 110 pounds, the minimum weight requirement to donate. (Let us all bow our heads and have a moment of silence for those bygone days.) The blood donation went fine, but my blood pressure – which had also just barely made the cut at 90/50 – plummeted down afterward, causing me to faint. I got to lie on a cot for ages, drinking orange juice and eating cookies, until I felt like I could walk again.

I tried donating blood again last year. My weight and blood pressure (both much higher now) were not the problem this time: it was my ridiculously difficult-to-stick veins. They stabbed around until my arm was black and blue, managed to eke out a quarter unit of blood, and then gave up. They couldn’t even use what they’d gotten, because the blood-to-preservative ratio in the bag wasn’t correct. Maybe I’ll try again in another 30 years.

65. Gone sky diving. No, and I probably never will. I’m not afraid of heights – and I’d probably enjoy it – but my structural-integrity-phobic side is haunted by thoughts of parachute failure.

Current score: Four out of five, 31 out of 65 in all. I’m up to 48%!

(Again, if anyone reading was involved in any of these, feel free to add facts or correct my memory… and I’ll keep looking for photos.)

For those of you following along at home:

    • #1 through #5 are here.
    • #6 through #10 are here.
    • #11 through #15 are here.
    • #16 through #20 are here.
    • #21 through #25 are here.
    • #26 through #30 are here.
    • #31 through #35 are here.
    • #36 through #40 are here.
    • #41 through #45 are here.
    • #46 through #50 are here.
    • #51 through #55 are here.
    • #56 through #60 are here.

goodbye, black and white cats

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Jinx and Fu have moved out of the house. The transition was a long time coming, but it was necessary, so one month ago, I posted the following on Facebook:

Jinx and Fu need a new home. We thought we had lined up a home with someone they know and love, but it fell through. They really can’t live here much longer, and I really don’t want them to go to a shelter.

They are sisters and litter mates, and we became their foster parents four years ago, when they were 8 years old. They are super affectionate: Jinx (long hair) loves to be picked up and cuddled and given belly rubs; Fu (short name, short hair) loves to curl up and nap on you and adores being brushed. They both love to play and are vocal when they want your attention. They are in perfect health. They are indoor cats, though we let them out on our back deck since it is so high.

If you or anyone you know would be willing to take two cats who are sweet and beautiful (and vocal and need lots of attention), let me know. (They are bonded to each other, so I’d love them to stay together.) They have their own incredible cat tree/ condo/ scratching post extravaganza, which of course goes along with them.

Luckily for us, the person they know and love (at the home that had fallen through) decided to make it work rather than lose the cats to someone else. I feel incredibly blessed that they are now in a place where they will be cared for and appreciated.

Because, frankly, they were not receiving that appreciation while living here with us.

We knew it was a mismatch from the very beginning. David is super sensitive to noise – as anyone who has ever brought their kids over to play can verify – and these cats never stopped meowing. Ever. Well, unless they were asleep (or, apparently, posing for pictures). So when they were happy (meow!), or sad (meow!) or frightened (meow!) or mad (meow!) or excited (meow!) or glad (meow!), their interjections never failed to let you know.

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Since we had made a commitment to take the cats in when their owner moved overseas, it seemed to me that we should find a way to make it work. We had the cats sleep in the garage at night (as they would literally meow all night long), which solved one major problem: we were incredibly sleep deprived the first few months. Fu, especially, was so noisy at night, it was like having a newborn in the house. But, of course, it didn’t solve the whole situation.

As soon as the former owner returned to Portland, I asked him – multiple times – to please take the cats back, but he didn’t. That was fair – he had no responsibility to do so – but it was disappointing.

David lived with the noise for four years. Many, many times over those years, he expressed how hard it was for him, how he was avoiding coming home after school because the noise was getting to him so much, how resentful he felt towards the cats and – ultimately – toward me for insisting we get them and keep them.

I realized that because the noise didn’t affect me the same way, I hadn’t been taking his discomfort seriously enough. He was more than just annoyed by the cats. He truly hated to be in the house with them if he had to listen to them. Although I loved the cats (Fu, especially) and felt responsible for them, I had to admit that their ability to live in our home should not trump David’s ability to live here peacefully.

Still, it wasn’t easy to let them go. Although David felt we could just open the front door and let them out to fend for themselves – I think he was kidding – I wanted them to go to a home that was as good as ours, if not better. (I mean, heck, they weren’t all that fond of Bones, so they might consider it a boon to get out of here.)

It was easier said than done, though. I didn’t want them to go to the Humane Society or to some random stranger on Craigslist, as I feared for their lives with either of those options. No cat re-homing agencies I found would take cats of such advanced age. I asked anyone who complimented their beauty, but got no takers.

I finally resorted to the Facebook post, which inspired Addison to welcome them in. I have visited them a couple of times in the last month, and they all seem to be doing well. I felt like a non-custodial parent coming for a visit, arms full of toys and treats I thought they might like. I was amused a week later by a photo that showed a puffy pink bed lying empty, right beside a very-comfortable Jinx reclining in a cardboard box.

I’m so glad they are feeling right at home. I miss them around here.

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Inspired by this week’s Challenge Prompt: “Animal.”

bullet journal / GTD hybrid weekly

I’m still plugging away with my bullet journal, but I have recently added a two-page spread to plan my week.

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I’ve taken what I’m learning from the STEP program at learndobecome.com – a fantastic method of teaching David Allen’s Getting Things Done system – and incorporated it into my bullet journaling. See the six little sections across the middle of the page spread? Well, the far left one is my “Brain Dump” for random thoughts and ideas, but the others represent contexts for tasks: To Discuss, To Call, Computer, Home, and Errands.

Listing my tasks this way serves two purposes for me:

  1. I know how to plan for my time at each locale. For example, if I am leaving the house, I can look at the Errands list and see if there are any errands I can take care of while I’m out.
  2. By breaking my weekly To Do list into five little lists, I am much less overwhelmed by what I need to accomplish.  This is huge for me, as “overwhelm” is a major contributor to my procrastination habits. I get so freaked out by the sheer mass of a task that I pretty much flee from it. This helps.

I’ll post later and show you a filled-in version of my weekly spread, so you can see it in action. I’ll also explain the points chart and sleep tracker, too. In the meantime, a quick tidbit from my life:

Q was watching me create this spread yesterday, and he was agitated by the way the colored pens (Zebra Mildliners, which are amazing) made the black ink run if I didn’t give it enough time to dry before coloring right over it. I told him not to worry about it; he was like, “But it is smearing the ink!” Little did he know that I was now embracing imperfection. (Okay, maybe I am just kind of “putting my arm around the shoulder of imperfection.” Having to squeeze in the missing “V” in the Hamilton quote did give me some heart palpitations.)

the artist in residence, updated

A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of Quinland with this title and promised I’d come back to tell the story.

Once upon a time on a deep dark Sunday night, as I was reading the daily emailed school bulletin, I came across this little nugget:

Wilson Students’ Artwork on Exhibit

Three Wilson art students have artwork in the Heart of Portland exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, a showcase celebrating the visual and performing arts produced by PPS K-12 students. Congratulations to Quinland (Photography), Gina (Ceramics), and Emma (Drawing). The opening reception is Monday, April 4 from 6:30-8:30 pm. All PPS families and teachers are invited to attend the reception, which is free. The show runs April 4-16.

Monday, April 4th? Why, that was the very next day! I asked David if he knew anything about this; he did not. Q was already asleep, so I couldn’t ask him until the following morning. He was blasé about the whole thing:  Yes, he had a piece at the Portland Art Museum. No, he didn’t submit it; every art teacher in the district could choose one piece of art for the exhibit, and Mr. Carlson chose his landscape photo book. Yes, he was thinking of going to the reception that night; could I give him a ride?

GIVE HIM A RIDE?! OF COURSE! I’M GOING, TOO! I WOULDN’T MISS IT! THIS IS SO EXCITING! ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DRESS UP? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?  IT SURE IS A GOOD THING I READ THE BULLETIN!  AAAAAAHHHH!

(I suppose I shouldn’t really wonder why he felt no urgent need to tell me about it in advance.)

Here’s the story of the piece: All the students in Advanced Photography were assigned to a) make a book with b) text and c) photos, using knowledge they had gained in class. That was it; the kids could define that any way they wished. Quinland made an accordion book of six black-and-white landscape photographs which he printed and then – I am sure I am going to describe this badly, but bear with me – he covered the images with gum arabic and inked over them with a brayer. The gum arabic makes the light parts resist most of the ink, while the dark portions of the photo get darker. I think. That’s the general idea, anyway. It made each photo look antiqued.

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So here he is, in front of the glass case bearing his accordion book. Most artwork was hung, but since Q’s was very long (this shows only half the length) and two-sided (there were three panorama photos on each side), it got to be in a case, which I thought was cooler anyway. Q’s text was the longitude and latitude of the place each photo was taken: Wilson High School, the Hawthorne Bridge in Downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, the Grand Canal in Venice, and (dagnabit, I’m going to have to look up the exact details of the other two European locations when I get home, but I will edit this as soon as I do). Mr. Carlson was proud. Q was quietly proud. I was demonstrably proud.

David, sadly, could not be at the reception, as it was the very night that he and the kids from the India program were doing a presentation about the trip to the kids’ families and the school community. He was represented in spirit by the Free Tibet sweatshirt he brought Q from McLeod Ganj, the city in northern India that is home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. (This shirt is not to be confused with our friend Jon’s shirt, which reads, “Free Tibet with the purchase of another Tibet.”)

One more special treat about that night: Q’s friend (and my former Girl Scout) Emma was the one chosen for the Studio Art piece, so my friend Jennifer and I got to be excited Art Moms together! (We also went to Pastini’s afterward and ate my all-time-favorite Lemon Pudding Cake, so it was pretty much the best time ever.)

treading water

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Raise your hand if you know what a riptide is! You may know it as a rip current (the official term) or an undertow, but we called them riptides when I was young. These are strong, sneaky currents that pull people away from the shore. If you try to swim against it, no matter how strong a swimmer you may be, it will tire you out and you will drown. Kids who grow up in beach towns, like I did, are taught that you don’t struggle; you just let the rip tide carry you along as you float or tread water. Ultimately, it will release you and you can swim back to shore (or, often, walk out; riptides usually circle back to shallow water) and make the long hike back down the beach to your towel and your friends.

Anyway, the moral of the story is this: I have spent much of the last few months caught in the riptide of life. To conserve energy, I have either been floating or treading water most of the time, but as August draws to a close, I’m starting to feel the old riptide loosening its grip on me. I need to be careful about how I get back into the swing of things, since my two speeds seem to be “off” and “reckless endangerment,” but hopefully you will start to hear a bit more from me in the coming weeks!

Hope all of you had a restful summer!

“Undertow” by versageek CC BY

bujo or bust!

imagebujo = bullet journal

I have no idea how I stumbled onto the concept of the bullet journal. Something, somewhere, caught my eye. (If it was you, I am forever grateful.) I Googled it. I watched Ryder Carroll’s video. I was fascinated. I, the girl who can never seem to use any planning system consistently – even one of my own design – began to see the possibilities.

A bullet journal is simply a notebook that is used as an all-in-one planning system. You use it as both your calendar and your to-do list, but you also use it to keep track of every little thing you might have jotted on post-it notes, scratch paper or napkins in the past. The beauty of the system? Its complete flexibility.

Tired of the layout? Change it tomorrow or next week or next month. Skip a day or two or twelve? Just continue on – no wasted pages! Wish you had a  [insert awesome planner/tracker feature here]? Simply add one in. A bullet journal can be as simple or as fancy as you want, because YOU are the one designing it.

I raced out in the 100-degree heat of Palm Desert to track down a notebook. I found a gorgeous soft-covered Moleskine in “Underwater Blue” with dot-grid pages and a set of pigma colored pens, and I was good to go. But first, I set one guideline for myself: “No rules, no ruler.” I am as perfectionistic as they come, and I knew that if I started to get hung up on straight lines, I’d be in big trouble.

Of course, by the third page, I needed another guideline: “Embrace imperfection.” Mistakes are a guarantee in life, especially when you combine permanent ink with a bound notebook. I’m just acknowledging them, tweaking if I can, and moving on.

Bullet Journal, Day One
Bullet Journal, Day One.  (I decided right away that I hated writing with the colored pens. I wrote over the brown, but scribbled out the green; this looked even worse, so I turned it into a doodle. Hence guideline #2!)

This sounds a lot easier than it is in practice. The lack of straight lines does bug me, but I’m powering through. If I decide I want a graph-paper ruled one next time, I’ll get one, but this one is it for now. When you make a mistake that takes up two full pages (by designing an index you don’t like, for example), it’s hard to swallow, but – again – I can change it next time.

If you decide to start a bullet journal of your own, I must give one bit of advice: beware of Pinterest (or even Google images)! There are some incredible ideas out there, some gorgeous layouts, some seriously talented artists — and all this beautiful input can lead you into danger. You’ll either a) start feeling totally discouraged by the talent you see, or b) you’ll become enthralled by it, and spend all the time you should be using your own bullet journal to drool over other people’s. I did both, and it really slowed me down. I’m still navigating the fine line between working on my bullet journal and working from my bullet journal. I want to enjoy it, I want it to be beautiful, I want it to be a creative outlet, but – most of all – I want it to be a tool to help me have an enjoyable, beautiful, creative life.

he him his

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From now on, you will hear me referring to Quinland with masculine pronouns: he, him, and his.

We’ve been using them since September, when Q let us know that he identified as male, but here on the blog, I was dancing around the subject by using no pronouns for Quinland at all. (Did you even notice?) Not because I am ashamed of my child or who he is – anyone would be proud to have such a happy, funny, kind, creative, talented, smart, enthusiastic kid – but because a blog is a public space and, frankly, I just didn’t want to get into it with any random haters.

But, phew! I realized I’ve been avoiding posting anything new to the blog because I felt like I wasn’t being honest or authentic, so it’s a relief to set the record straight. (It will also be a relief to no longer have to reword my sentences for pronoun ambiguity.)

I will almost certainly make mistakes in my writing and drop a “she” here and there, so bear with me as I continue to re-program 17.5 years of linguistic pathways in my brain, and feel free to bring it to my attention so I can correct myself.

(Please note: Q and I have discussed my bringing this up on the blog, and he is comfortable with me sharing my own perspective on this transition, but not his. That makes sense to me; it is his story to tell if and when he sees fit to get his own blog.)

Sing Street – the best movie I haven’t seen

Here’s a St. Patrick’s Day riddle for you:

What’s Irish and has Lori spending hours on the internet every evening this week?

If you answered “Hudson Taylor,” you would be incorrect. It’s hard to imagine, I know, but since Harry and Alfie are not touring in the US (and are hard at work on songs for their second album), I have had to find a new obsession.

Luckily, H & A once mentioned that the little brother of their violin player was starring in a new John Carney film, and I was intrigued. I loved Once, I loved Begin Again (I mean, come on – Keira Knightley AND Mark Ruffalo? It was a no-brainer), so I’ve been following news of his new film for months.

Then I saw the trailer:

I started getting excited.

Then I started reading the reviews from the Sundance Film Festival. Apparently it was a crowd favorite and got ovations and people dancing in the aisles. (As well it should – I mean, 80s? Dublin? Cool music? It’s the perfect formula.)

And then I started watching further clips of the film, music performances by the lads, and interviews of the cast. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, the aforementioned little brother, seems very impressive in the lead, especially as this was his first acting role ever and he walked in off the street for an open casting call at 14. He is only 16 now, but he seems to interview like a pro.

The lucky, lucky Irish get to see it starting tonight, which is only right and proper. The Weinstein Company have it scheduled for “limited US release” starting April 15th, but I can only hope that the raves coming out of film festivals (it just played at SXSW and recently in Toronto and Glasgow, as well) will get it a broader release sooner rather than later.

Because I need to see this movie. Soon.

P.S. When it is a huge hit and is nominated for Academy Awards, remember that you heard about it from me, first.

quickening

I’ve had a crazy on-again, off-again relationship with tracking my finances.

I’ve owned various editions of Quicken for about 10 years, and I go through spurts of using it diligently, interspersed with long periods of piling things up to enter into Quicken someday and frequent times when I completely forget that such a thing exists.

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This is silly. From the time I was 16 until the dawn of my personal Quicken Era, I balanced my checkbook with pen and paper – religiously. I tracked down every last cent. Far be it from any bank to mess up any transaction by so much as a nickel! But then Quicken came along, and somehow, in the ease of having a computer take care of my money for me, I got lazy. It seemed like something that could be done so quickly that I could get to it whenever I had a few free minutes. But in that oh-so-familiar way, things can become so easy in theory that they never quite happen in practice.

Until now.

You see, for the last three days, I have been sleeping at a proper time and forbidding myself from collapsing into bed before 9:30 pm. This new stricture – combined with my new rule about only being able to use electronics on the main floor – has caused a newfound interest in personal computing as a way to pass the time. I sat down before my laptop the other night and thought, “Hey! Quicken! I remember that!” Of course, starting up again was no piece of cake, thanks to the dastardly way I was forced to upgrade to Quicken 2016 if I wanted to keep downloading transactions. But I persevered and I’m up and running again. If you want to know how many times I’ve eaten at Wendy’s in the last 10 years, I could now tell you.

(I could, but I never will. There is reason to fear that the number would reflect no credit on me.)

groundhog blog

You may wonder what shenanigans I’m up to when there is a long gap between posts. More often than not, the answer is simple: more of the same. I’ve been feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, reliving the same days over and over.

  • More fatigue and spending time in bed? Check.
  • Lots of photos of my pets taken from my bed? Check.

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  • Not enough time with my friends and family? Check.
  • More need for home organization? Check.
  • Not enough home-cooked meals? Check.
  • More time management schemes attempted? Check.
  • Need to get on a better sleep routine? Check.
  • Addicted to reading Jane Austen fan fiction on my phone? Check.

On and on it goes, ad infinitum. This state of affairs tends to hamstring my motivation to write, since I figure nobody wants to hear me endlessly repeating myself.

I can only hope that, like Phil (Bill Murray’s character in the film), I’m incrementally improving at each of these things, and that someday I won’t need to keep coming back to the same lessons over and over. Someday, I’ll get it right.

(Don’t worry – I know that I won’t ever get everything just right. I’m perfectionistic, I admit, but not delusional. Usually.)

don’t give up

It’s Ash Wednesday, the traditional day of giving things up. “I’m giving up chocolate,” you hear people say. “I’m giving up watching TV. I’m giving up fast food.”

Not me. Not this year.

I’m not giving things up for Lent this year.

I’m not giving up my dreams. I know I can be more, do more, have more. I’m going to spend time in reflection during this Lenten season, clarifying just what it is that I can best do for myself and for this world.

I’m not giving up my forward momentum. I’m going to keep working hard to make things happen and asking for help when I can’t do it alone.  I’ll keep breaking things down into the smallest possible steps — and then taking those steps!

I’m not giving up on myself or anyone else. I’ll keep giving the benefit of the doubt, believing in others’ best selves as well as my own.

I’m not giving up on my relationships. I’m going to spend Lent with the people I love, finding ways to share in their lives instead of making them find a place in mine.

I’m not giving up my faith. I want to turn away from the things that have drawn me apart from making God a part of my daily life. Lent’s emphasis on prayer, fasting and giving to the poor will help me look at the ways I’ve strayed from the path of Love that I have willingly chosen.

I’m not giving up.

planner envy

It’s happening again.

I’d resisted buying a new planner this year. I have been working on creating a 5.5″ x 8″ version of last year’s planner so that it would be more portable. It’s already February, though, and I don’t have it ready to “go to print” yet. I’m still tweaking it. Darn perfectionism raised its ugly head. Again.

But then I ran into this beauty in Target today. So simple, yet so practical. Very classy looking. I really, really, really wanted it.

sugar paper signature planner

I bought it. Now I’ve been sitting here trying to decide if this is really the way I want to go. My heart says to stick with the one I’ve carefully created for myself (and to just hurry up and get it done). But the little voice in my mind is saying, “But this one is here! And done! And easy! And close to what you wanted! Keep it! Keeeep it!”

Argh. I’m not going to keep it. Why do I succumb in the first place?!

Stay the course, Lori. Stay the course.

culling cookbooks

Whew!

That’s the sound of a long, long day of culling our cookbooks.

David thought it would be a good idea to clean out the pantry this weekend. We’ve got a small walk-in pantry closet with shelves on two sides, which is a boon as we have a pretty small kitchen (10 ft x 10 ft) for a house this size. The pantry serves all kinds of purposes – it even holds brooms on the back of the door! – and has a pretty well-defined setup.

  • Top left: Extra bulk-purchased supplies like paper towels and ziploc bags, as well as our raclette cooker (and a coffee maker for guests)
  • Left shelf #2: Beverages! Besides hot chocolate mix, Ovaltine, and Torani syrups, we have enough flavors of tea for a variety of tastes.
  • Left shelf #3: Canned goods
  • Left shelf #4: Spices, spice mixes, etc.
  • Left shelf #5: Lunch boxes and water bottles
  • Left side floor: Reusable shopping bags and a tub of dog treats

I am fully aware this is more detail than anyone desires. I’m going to continue recording this for posterity, though!

  • Top right: Snow cone maker and supplies, milkshake maker, giant tub of cookie cutters
  • Right shelf #2: Pasta, rice, baking mixes
  • Right shelves #3 & 4: Cookbooks
  • Right shelf #5: All Q’s baking doodads (cookie cutters, food coloring, icing bags, etc.), as well as the pancake griddle
  • Right shelf floor: Basket of paper plates and cups, paper bag filled with paper bags

Now, back to the cookbooks! I love them, because as you all well know, I collect books on areas of my life that need improvement, as though the books themselves will miraculously change me. Our cookbook collection was purged ten years ago when we moved here, and again about four years ago before we went to Europe. Today, however, we got serious.

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After cooking with Blue Apron for the last six months, David and I have realized the difference between cookbooks we would use and those that just collect dust. We like cookbooks to have photos, step-by-step directions, and suggested side dishes. David, especially, likes recipes that are a little different. We like to use fresh ingredients, rather than start with, say, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. We sorted out those types of cookbooks and ended up with one shelf of books we’d look at to plan regular meals.

The second shelf is more “specialty” stuff: various foreign cuisines, desserts (cookies, especially, for Q), party cookbooks (tapas, fondue), and cookbooks of sentimental value.

David has been “mathing it up” all day, telling me that we still need to get rid of all but five of the cookbooks since we have more recipes than we could ever need, numerically. I, on the other hand, am quite pleased with myself, as I have culled an entire shelf and filled a box to take to Powell’s to sell. It was difficult; I got rid of quite a few I thought I couldn’t part with, and there were quite a few times today that I wanted to quit. This kind of purge stresses me out quite a bit. But I persevered!

Next step: meal planning and cooking. Let’s see if we can break away from the support of having food magically appear à la Blue Apron and make it happen all on our own.

word of the year: practice

Archery Target

There has been a movement lately toward focusing on a particular word each year that sums up what you would like to achieve or have more of in your life.  In a sense, it is like boiling down all your New Year’s resolutions into one.

Last year, I tried to focus on a specific Bible verse (Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!). I did a really good job of keeping it in mind through January and into February, but then I let it slip, along with the books I was going to read daily, the journals I was going to keep, and the letters I was going to write.

But THIS year, I was ready. I had a word: BALANCE. I figured I needed more of that in my life in order to get out of bed and start living. I’ve been focused on it for six days and had a blog post going about it… and now I’ve completely thrown it out.

Riding home from the doctor’s office today, I was listening to the Blazers pregame show. Antonio Harvey, a former Blazer, was talking about how coach Tim Grgurich taught him to shoot free throws. He insisted that it was all about muscle memory, so he made the players make seven two-foot shots from a single spot on the court, then move slightly and make seven more two-foot shots. After a bunch of these, Grgurich had them take a step backwards and repeat the process with the same technique (just adding a little more power in the legs to shoot a little farther).

I started thinking about how this was like my cottage idea; once I got good at taking care of my little cottage, I would add rooms to it.  It was also like my running plan, where incremental steps would help me run farther and farther, until I get to run first one mile, then two, then three.

I realize that what these plans have in common is PRACTICE. Practicing an easy skill until it becomes second nature and then adding on a bit more difficulty. Building up that muscle memory. Making those new habits stick.

I have spent my life in search of the next great scheme, the one that is going to make all the difference. This year, though, I’m not going to put my energy into figuring out a way to reinvent the wheel. I’m just going to get down to basics and practice.

Okay, I’ll probably hatch a new scheme or two. I just know myself, and I won’t be able to help it. But I’ll try to put most of my energy into practice.

After all, practice makes perfect.

practice, v.   To act, develop, engage in, put into use, prepare, rehearse, sharpen.

practice, n.   Method, process, repetition, routine, system, training, workout.

Archery Target” by Alan ParkinsonCC BY

excessively fond of a cottage

I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to get rid of everything I own and move to a tiny house.

When we lived in Europe in 2012, I fell in love with so many of the places we stayed. They were perfectly equipped with everything you could need but were gloriously uncluttered.

I read a P&P fanfic on New Year’s Day that inspired me to try some virtual small-scale living this year. In the story, the new husband of a selfish and lazy Lydia Bennet moves with her into a tiny two-room cottage with no servants. She has no housekeeping skills, but she manages to learn how to keep her little home neat and clean. Ultimately, she learns they are actually rich and moves into their grand estate, but she manages well because she started small and built up her skills.

I decided that I am going to try something similar and start 2016 in a “cottage” of my own. It’s a slightly bigger two-room cottage consisting of our kitchen (and breakfast nook area, so we have somewhere to eat) and our master bedroom (and bathroom, for obvious reasons). That’s it.

What’s the point? Just to give myself a focus, as well as a mental break from stressing about this big house. If all I have to concern myself with is this little “cottage,” that will be easy to clean and keep clutter-free.  Besides, it’s fun! I’m still allowing myself to use the rest of the house, of course, but those rooms have new designations: the laundromat, the scrapbook store, the game store, etc. (My guest room is currently “one of those places you can take things to get someone to sell them on eBay for you,” since that’s where we’ve staged the huge pile of stuff to sell that had resided by our bed for about five years.) I’m jokingly calling the rest of the house “the village.”

I know it’s a silly notion, and I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ve been smiling for the last few days whenever David (who is totally on board with this plan) talks about what we can do to fix up the cottage. It’s so much nicer to think of than “we need to do a lot of work around the house.” Semantics, I know, but hey! Whatever works, right?

Now I’m off to do the dishes and tidy up my little cottage kitchen. A place for everything and everything in its place, you know!

I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me and be happy.
Jane Austen

2016 – a year of answers

3 366 There are years that ask questions and years that answer. Zora Neale Hurston

There is a famous quote that seems appropriate today:

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
— Zora Neale Hurston

For me, 2015 was a year that asked questions. I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering about the state of my health. Why have I been spending so much time in bed? Why have I missed or avoided so many social engagements (and not hosted many of my own)?  As a worried David asked me a month or so ago, was I getting sicker? Was I depressed? Or had I just given up on life?

Whatever the cause of my lethargy, are there ways to boost my energy level? If not – and if my energy is so limited – am I using it in the best possible way? Why have I spent so much time sleeping or reading instead of enjoying time with my family? (For that matter, why can I not seem to sleep without taking my phone – ie, my Kindle – to bed with me?)

At the most basic level, what kind of life do I really want to live? In what kind of environment do I want to live it? With whom do I want to share it? What could I accomplish, if I figured out how best to do it and really put my mind to it?

I’m trying to look at all my questions with curiosity, not reproach. (Just in case I am depressed, there’s no point in beating myself up for everything I have failed at over the last year!) But I want 2016 to be a year of answers, a year that shows me who I can be and what I can do.

I mean, it is the year of the big 5-0. The year my only child turns 18. The year I will run my first mile (in April) and my first 5K (in November). I might as well make it a year of exciting self-discovery as well!

3/366: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston ~” by theunquietlibrarianCC BY

put the shoe on the other foot

My week has been truly bizarre. I thought I’d share a bit of the craziness with you guys.

Here’s a little photo I shared on Instagram a couple of days ago:

“Just took off the shoes I’ve been wearing all day. Luckily I didn’t go to work like this! Oh, wait… I did. They are going to think I take Causal Day a bit too seriously.”

image

For what it’s worth, I was attempting to wear two of the black shoes, as opposed to the ones with the *bright pink* laces.  (I didn’t notice that one zips and one laces because these darn shoes are stretchy and I just stuck my feet in them in the dark. They are also different styles of the same shoe, so they didn’t feel any different.)

I guess I was lucky I got one right shoe and one left shoe! Of course, the other alternative would have clued me in more quickly. As it was, I never looked down at my feet once and didn’t realize it until I took them off, so instead of a day filled with mortification, I got a good laugh out of how ridiculous I am.

Please let me know if you’ve ever done anything like this. Hopefully, I’m not alone!

sharing some love with the Portland Timbers (MLS champs!)

image

Here’s the thing…

I’m not really a soccer fan. I’ve never been to a Timbers game. I’ve never watched an entire Timbers game all the way through. (I’m not even sure if I should call it a “game” or a “match.” I’m not sure how much of English football terminology is used over here.)

I am, however, a rabid Portland Trail Blazers fan. I love my team; I can name all the guys and identify them by sight. (Okay… maybe not Luis Montero. I need to get on that.) I understand basketball, love the nuances of the game, listen to sports radio in my car to hear people talk about the team. I get mad when my husband wants to fast-forward through timeouts and halftime reports.

I can only imagine how I would feel if the Blazers won the NBA title. I’d be going INSANE. I might meet them at the airport. I would definitely be attending the parade. The Timbers Army are at least as fanatical as Rip City; it was madness at PDX today, and I imagine it will be crazy downtown tomorrow.

So to all of you out there, a million congratulations on your record-breaking win. (A goal in the first 27 seconds? Fair play!) See that photo up there? It’s the tag from the scarf I bought at the Blazer game the other night. It is green on one side and red on the other, but both sides sport an axe and a pinwheel. I’m not jumping on your bandwagon, but I sure can appreciate your achievement.

Way to represent Portland, Timbers! I can’t wait until the Blazers get another chance to do so!

plan #24 – have a wonderful day

My birthday was a very good day.

I woke up slowly and luxuriated in checking social media on my phone before I even sat up. There is something so nice about waking up early but not needing to be anywhere!

We picked up Addison and headed to Original Pancake House for breakfast, then came home and played a few hands of Dominion. I won the first hand, David won the second, and I crushed both David and Quinland on the third. I don’t even think they let me win!

I then spent a leisurely afternoon cuddled in bed with my dog, just reading story after story on my Kindle. I recently got a trial of Kindle Unlimited, and I am making the very most of it. I suppose all the latest and greatest bestsellers are not available that way, but self-published fan fiction seems to abound!

When David asked me how I wanted to spend the day, I had proposed all sorts of things: going to the Woodburn Outlet Mall, eating lemon cake at Pastini, working on the scrapbook room. The first two went out the window when I decided to read all day, but once I got up from that, we made awesome progress on the scrapbook room. A lot of that involved moving boxes onto the guest room bed, but now there is free space on the floor to start sorting things out. I can’t wait!

image
No, I’m not burning everything from the scrapbook room, although sometimes I think it sounds a lot easier.

After David made us a lovely Mexican meal (kind of tapas-style, with little plates of everything), Quinland made a fire and we played a very relaxed game of Outburst with Q and Addison. Bones curled up in his dog bed and we were all warm and comfy.

I got some special gifts, phone calls and texts, and a zillion Facebook birthday wishes over the course of the day, so I felt very loved. It was a perfect birthday in every respect. (Just ask Quinland, who will attest to how many times I loudly proclaimed the sheer goodness of my birthday over the course of the day!)

plan #23 – stop feeling guilty

I didn’t post on Thursday (Thanksgiving), as I spent the whole day with family and friends and decided to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

I didn’t post on Friday, as I spent the whole day in bed. I swear, I was narcoleptic. I couldn’t even read, as my eyes would just droop shut and I would drop the phone on my face. Instead, I had a sleeping cat on my chest and a sleeping dog on my legs and there we stayed until late in the afternoon. I did get up and get dressed to go to dinner with Mitch and Nicole (at a fantastic but very spendy restaurant called Xico on SE Division). We played a game called Wordigo after dinner, and, again, I decided to sleep after that instead of blogging.

Still… I was frustrated with myself. I’d made a commitment to post every single day in November! I couldn’t just casually miss two days in a row! But I snapped back to rational thought and decided it is better to do what I need to do to take care of myself than to arbitrarily set a goal and pursue it blindly. My whole plan is meant to be motivating, not punishing! I want to end this month excited about blogging, not feeling like I have failed.

Because, honestly, I enjoy this blog a lot more when I post often but without guilt. I’m aware that it is just a rambling monologue about my life, but that’s okay; some people will be interested, some won’t. But if I’m not interested in coming here, we have a problem!

Right now, I’m very interested. Love you all.

plan #22 – give all the thanks!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’m so, so thankful for so many blessings:

❤️ For David and Quinland and the joy they bring me every single day.

😘 For my entire wonderful family! I’m especially lucky that I’ve still got all my parents. I know so many people who have lost theirs, so I never take this for granted, and I am thankful for every moment I get to spend with them.

😎 For incredible friends: those who are as close as family, those whom I’d like to know better, and those who only know me “virtually.”

🏡 For a roof over our heads (and the ability to repair that roof if we need to).

🍗 For such an abundance of food that I have to worry about my weight.

🏃 For the fact that my health has stayed so good for so long. I definitely have better days and not-so-good ones, but every day that I am walking around is a gift.

📑 For steady employment in a job that gives me the time I need to rest so that I can stay this healthy! The difference between my quality of life now and two years ago is drastic.

👍 For all the people who work all the jobs that make all the good things in my life possible.

And, of course, I am thankful for the God who gives us all of this! May we always show our gratitude by being good stewards of what we’ve been given and by making choices in our lives based on love for others. May that love drive out the fear in our world!

💝 Oh, yeah – I can’t forget how thankful I am for this guy, who loves me unconditionally, constantly wants me in his presence, and always wants to cuddle:

 

image

🐾 Happy Thanksgiving, Bonesy! See you on the track bright and early for the Turkey Trot!

plan #21 – find photos of 80s bathing suits

First, I suppose, one has to determine if they say “bathing suit” or “swimsuit.” Apparently I say bathing suit; David does not. Now that we have that important discussion out of the way…

Reminiscing about growing up in Huntington Beach got me thinking about high school bathing suits. There are a couple of styles that stand out distinctly in my mind, but as far as the internet is concerned, they did not exist. I, of course, am quite sure that they did.

bikini bottomsFirst: the classic two-piece of my high school days. It had a fairly standard top, and fairly standard high-cut bottoms (which I think were usually shirred down the front like the ones shown here, actually).  The important distinction is the length of the strings on the top. Instead of just tying behind you, as a normal bathing suit would, these strings were extra-long. You would criss-cross them behind you, thread them through the sides of your bottoms, then bring them around and tie them in the front.

Did this only happen in a tiny part of the world? How is it that the entire internet does not have a picture of this? I am usually an excellent Googler – no, seriously, I am; you can ask anybody – and I have not figured out a way to describe this suit that Google can understand. I am embarrassed to admit how much research time I invested in this in the wee hours of the morning today.

Second: my all-time favorite one-piece suit, circa 1983-1984. OP made these one pieces that were actually skimpier than a two-piece in some ways. This particular one was actually my sister’s, although I coveted it. It was black with white pinstripes that came to a V in the center; the straps were white. The classic OP details – besides the little “op” on the front hip – were a) that the back and front were connected at the hips by three strings and b) that the front was a very deep V.

I don’t know what I was thinking, borrowing that suit from Gina. She had way more of a figure than I did, at that point; instead of showing cleavage, that deep neckline probably just showed each of my ribs. (I’d had a terrible case of mono my junior year – got hospitalized, had parades of medical students in to study me, couldn’t eat or drink – and I was down to 93 lbs.) But every time I wore it, I felt perfect.

Yeah, that bathing suit doesn’t seem to have made its presence felt on the interwebs, either. I found one pretty close to it:

80s-summer-brands-op-swimsuit-1
Source: a fantastic site called liketotally80s.com, which you should go to because it is amazingly comprehensive and super cool.

I never would have worn these bright pastels, though, and I remember the neckline as much more drastic. Whether it was actually different or not we may never know, but the black-and-white suit of my memories was way cooler.

As long as we are on the subject of 80s bathing suits and the beach, I suppose I should be required to put up photos of myself from that era. I could only find ones from my trip to Corfu in 1988:

on the beach
Lori and what must be an Irish or English woman, working on our tans.

I only had a one-piece when we got there, which was not conducive to tanning, so I think Deb and I skipped eating for a day to buy these old, stretched-out bikinis at a local shop. (I have no idea why I have my foot on a piece of paper. I may not even know it is there.)

What’s hilarious is the difference between how I looked and felt before and after we spent each day on that Corfu beach:

Lying in the hot sun for hours makes me a wee bit cranky and disoriented, but you do what you have to do to get that beautiful bronzed look. Then you get melanoma and are forced to stay out of the sun for the rest of your life. It’s definitely a trade-off.

plan #20 – contemplate where I’m from

I consider myself a Portlander. I moved here 32 years ago and I’ve lived here for all but three of those years. I’ve had an affinity for this city since my dad moved here when I was 12 and we began to spend summers here. See, that’s how Portland sucks you in: you come during the wonderful, beautiful, warm summer months and decide to live here… but then you get to live here through the grey months, too. Luckily for me, I don’t mind the rain. I’ve seen what it’s like to live somewhere that does not have consistent moisture, and it’s not pretty.

My “hometown” is Huntington Beach, California. I was not technically born there, but I was brought from the hospital to a home in HB, so I think that counts. I lived there for twelve of my first 17 years:

  • HB from birth through preschool (at 4 different addresses);
  • moved away for kindergarten through 2nd grade (2 different addresses);
  • HB for 3rd grade (1 different address),
  • moved away for 4th and 5th (2 different addresses),
  • back to HB for 6th through high school graduation (2 different addresses).

Yeah, I’ve been around the block (and I’ve lived on most blocks, too). I also abbreviate Huntington Beach fairly often, a habit I picked up from years of frustration over scantron forms that never have enough boxes or bubbles to fill in a long city name or forms that say “City: _____________” where the lines are far too short to fit anything beyond eight letters. (Hmm… and what other city is eight letters long?! Coincidence?)

It’s blasphemous in many circles to say so, but I don ‘t find much of Huntington Beach very attractive. Yes, the old downtown area is surfer-cool and has tons of charm, but North Huntington Beach, where I lived, was largely a land of housing tracts enclosed by concrete-block walls with a school and park in the center of each one, the houses themselves a series of  cookie-cutter ranch models with a tree planted in the parking strip out front. At every other major intersection or so was a shopping center and/or gas station; the differences were fairly few. Was the market a Vons, Alpha Beta, or Lucky? Was the drugstore Sav-on’s, Thrifty, or an independent? Was the gas station Shell or Texaco or 76?

Believe me, it was not a bad place to grow up. It was flat, so we could ride bikes everywhere; there were plenty of amenities;  the schools were good; and our parish, St. Bonaventure, had an amazing carnival. What more could a kid want? It was just bland, or worse. There was a “moat” (a flood control channel) around my high school, a Naval Weapons Station at the end of my street, a large industrial park just around the corner. But I had good friends and good times and it was all I knew.

Of course, the proximity to the beach elevated its cachet immensely. I mean, this is Surf City we are talking about. Miles of gorgeous shoreline (only some of which is across from extensive oil fields); great surfing; warm, sunny days. I absolutely love the beach and I am sure I always will. It gets into your blood, and a windy stroll on a cold Oregon coast just doesn’t cut it, beautiful as it may be.

Lifeguard Tower 10

I spent hours and hours on the beach, rotating my towel to get a better tan, listening to the radio with friends, body surfing (I was not a surfer, though a few girls surfed), taking romantic walks on the sand with boys or hauling kids we babysat in and out of the water. It was a short bus ride to Bolsa Chica, or a transfer and a longer ride down to the pier. (Either way, you’d get off the bus at a Jack in the Box, strangely.) It was fantastic.

But still.  Still, this town that I spent the first third of my life in never got the grip on my heart that Portland did. I came up here and I knew. This was my city. That other place, the place I grew up, is an interesting place to visit, to drive around and see what’s changed. But I don’t love it. I don’t miss it. I don’t wish I were there.

(Okay, okay. Sometimes I wish I were just a short drive from the beach. That will probably never change.)

plan #19 – host a dinner party

Blue Apron

I just realized I have not written a single thing about Blue Apron since I started doing it this summer.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, Blue Apron is a company that sends you a refrigerated box filled with everything you need to cook two fabulous meals (including the farm-fresh, pre-portioned ingredients), as well as the recipes to go with them. Katie Bower had written a few sponsored blog posts about Blue Apron (how does one get sponsorships like that?! This is definitely not sponsored in any way…) but I hadn’t paid much attention because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO COOK. So there wasn’t much point, right?

Ah, but then she wrote a post about how Blue Apron’s recipes were so easy, even her husband could cook them.  That put a whole different spin on things. A non-cook could do this? Hmmm… Maybe I should give it a try. I signed up for the meals-for-four plan, where they send you two boxes a week, just to give it a try.

Oh. My. Gosh.

You guys, it was like going to cooking school. The recipe cards break down every single step so clearly (and you can go to their website or phone app to watch videos of the steps if you want more clarification). They even teach you how to time things so they come out together. Imagine that! Your main dish, side dish and salad course all ready at once?! For me, that would be a miracle. I mean, Lori + cooking = smoke alarm, most of the time, since the timing thing is soooooo hard for me.

But take away the stress of meal planning, the stress of shopping, the stress of not having skills, the stress of not knowing what to do when, and suddenly I am a whiz in the kitchen. You wouldn’t believe me now, with the chopping and the coordination and the making salad dressings from scratch. I am amazing.

Right this second I am on a Blue Apron hiatus as we actually got backed up on food because a) their portion sizes are generous, and b) we were getting the meals for four, and there are only three of us. (I planned one to be a next-day lunch for David.) Taking a break is no problem, either. I just go into the app and click “Skip This Delivery” and – bam! – it is skipped.

I was wishing I hadn’t skipped this week, though, when Q unexpectedly had three friends over (my little Hannah plus two newbies) and I invited them to stay for dinner. We didn’t have the ingredients for a proper meal in the house, but I knew we could make pasta, so I ran to get salad makings, some garlic bread, and something for dessert.

It wasn’t a fancy menu. What was cool, though, was that I made a separate vegetarian pasta sauce (complete with fresh sauteed veggies) from scratch.  Scratch, mind you. Because that’s how fancy I am. Pasta, two different sauces (meat and vegetarian), Caesar salad, and garlic bread, with pie and ice cream for dessert. We all ate our fill, everyone liked the food, and we hung out and swapped embarrassing childhood stories. I got tons of compliments from the kids about the food. It just made me happy to be able to serve a meal to strangers and friends and have it go well. The vast majority of my stories about entertaining end badly.

(To be completely honest, I did leave the garlic bread under the broiler a little too long, and I had to scrape off the burnt parts. But it was still good, and I was able to laugh at it. Just as I am laughing at myself now: I just fell asleep with my hands on the keyboard and typed “m” a thousand times. Apparently I need to get even more sleep! Good night!)

First #healthy #food delivery from Blue Apron. All locally grown. #learningtocook #chef #gettingmyeaton#supportsmallbusiness  by Jon Lee Clark / CC BY

plan #18 – keep planting seeds

seeds

On the 4th Sunday of each month, Quinland and I teach Sunday School to the preschoolers of our parish. We’ve been doing it for about three years and it is a highlight of the month for me.

The kids are amazing. They are between the ages of three and five, and this year they are almost all boys. One is very shy; a couple are very enthusiastic; one is just plain adorable, with his big eyes and his tightly-clutched stuffed animals. We fall in love with them every year and are so bummed when they get promoted to the next class.

The hour goes by incredibly quickly. We say a prayer, sing a song, listen to a very basic version of that Sunday’s Gospel, do an activity together, eat a snack, say another prayer, and go back to the pews to sit with the parents.

I love sharing our faith with these little ones. They are so eager to share what they already know about God, so excited to talk about their lives and their families, and so interested in learning new things. The fact that they are cute as can be (and hysterically funny) only adds to the appeal.

My very favorite thing about teaching this class, though, is getting to teach it with Quinland. I love to listen to Q read the Gospel, watch how the little guys look up to Quinland, see how easily Q can run the classroom. The last few months, Quinland has asked to bring friends along to our class. None of them go to church with their families, so it’s cool to give them a peek at what we do. (Our classroom is behind the altar, next to the sacristy, so it really feels like a behind-the-scenes tour.)

Best of all, I love the fact that teaching the preschoolers has boosted Quinland’s enthusiasm for coming to Mass. I think it is common for young people to start to question their beliefs, to work out for themselves how faith fits into their lives. I love seeing that faith transmitted from the Big Kid to the little kids and to see that spark kept alive.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15

apparent plan #17 – catch up on sleep

I came home at about three in the afternoon and went straight to bed. I woke up a few times – spoke to David, took my meds, petted the dog – but mostly slept. I finally got up at 10:47 the next morning. 

Long story short, I didn’t post anything on Friday evening since I slept right through it! So I’ll owe a good catch-up post to achieve my goal for the month. 😊

I’m posting this note because I didn’t want anyone to think I’d mysteriously disappeared or slacked off. Sometimes I just have to give the body what it needs! 

xo

99 things – #56 through #60

I found a list of 99 things, and I will be bolding the ones I’ve done and explaining a bit about each. Because I have a tendency to yammer on, I am doing 5 of the 99 at a time. (Again, if anyone reading was involved in any of these, feel free to add facts or correct my memory… and I’ll keep looking for photos.)

    • #1 through #5 are here.
    • #6 through #10 are here.
    • #11 through #15 are here.
    • #16 through #20 are here.
    • #21 through #25 are here.
    • #26 through #30 are here.
    • #31 through #35 are here.
    • #36 through #40 are here.
    • #41 through #45 are here.
    • #46 through #50 are here.
    • #51 through #55 are here.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.  没有  According to Google Translate, that means NO. I have never actually traveled in Asia.

57. Started a business. Heck, yeah. I am a serial direct-sales business starterperson. None of these businesses have ever come to anything, though. (Of course, the only time I really put out a ton of effort on a home-based business was during the first few years I was a Creative Memories Consultant back in the early 2000s, and even then I was in the Consultant Protection Program. That kind of put a damper on the making of all the money.)

58. Taken a martial arts class. Not unless I get credit for watching Ross do ka-ra-tay on Friends.  No? I thought not.

59. Visited Russia. Nyet. Someday I will, though! David and I have seriously considered it a couple of times.

55. Served at a soup kitchen. Not technically a soup kitchen, no, but I’m going to count volunteering at Potluck in the Park. Potluck in the Park serves hundreds of free hot meals every Sunday at O’Bryant Square in downtown Portland, rain or shine! We went as a Girl Scout troop a couple of years back; I’d recommend the experience to anyone who wants to volunteer in the community, whether as a group, a family, or an individual. (I helped serve food for a while, but I spent the bulk of my time washing out coolers like the one you see behind the truck in the picture.)

Potluck in the Park

Score: Two out of five, 27 out of 60 in all. Still holding on to 45%!

plan #16 – get those photos stored safely!

Forever

Photos. They are an incredible joy; they can be an incredible pain. I have so many photos stored in so many places: On my phone. In my email. On my home computer, my work computer, my laptop. On SD cards. On CDs. Slides and negatives and prints, in boxes and bags and piles and – believe it or not – scrapbooks.

Over the years, I have been organizing my digital photos using a product I love. It goes by Forever Historian now, though it was once Memory Manager from Creative Memories. It lets you sort your photos into “Albums,” tag them any way you like, and search for them easily. It even recognizes faces after you label them once! You can rank your photos, write notes about them, edit them, and share them, all from one program. I’ve been using it for years now, and I really like it. (I’ve also used their Artisan program for photo projects for years as well. In fact, all my blog headers have been made on Artisan!)

I still have had two little problems with digital photo storage, though. First, I am not good at backing things up. I have known for ages that I should be backing stuff up online, but how?? Kryptonite? Dropbox? One of the photo services like Snapfish or Shutterfly?

Apparently the people at Forever have got our backs. They have integrated Historian with a permanent online storage program, so now all I need to do is upload the photos I have in Historian right to my Forever online account. In fact, I even got an app for my phone that automatically backs my phone photos to the storage account without my even having to think about it. I have just barely started using it, and I already love it. I’ll keep you posted as I transition the photos to that account and learn all its ins and outs. I’m totally psyched to get up to speed.

Now, if only I could get Forever to organize my future scrapbook room for me, I’d be set!

plan #15 – start being a friend

Friend Requests

I have been terrible about accepting friend requests on Facebook. I don’t delete them or anything; I just let them sit there, unattended.

I’ve tried to rationalize over the years (yes, some have been waiting for a response from me since at least 2010) that I can only manage so many people on my Facebook feed before the whole thing spirals out of control. But perhaps I am just trying to feel like less of a horrible human being, since – as I think more carefully about it now – every reason I can come up with sounds shallow at best and resentful at worst.

Sometimes I’ve thought, “Well, I hardly know that person!” What, so if you don’t know them well, they can’t have anything to say that you’d like to hear? This could have been a way to get to know them better. Worse still, I admit that I’ve thought, They want to be my friend? HA! They wouldn’t have given me the time of day back in junior high!” Seriously, Lori? Perhaps they have matured since they were twelve… and perhaps you have not. Have you honestly held a grudge for that long?

But maybe it’s not a grudge at all. Maybe I haven’t let go of the insecurities I had way back then. I am famous notorious for my willingness to share my faults and failings with the world; perhaps the people I was worried would find fault with me then are the same people I am worried will judge me now. For what, you ask? Well, mostly for not living up to my potential. Back in the day, I felt like I was going to be someone. I was going to do something amazing with my life. I didn’t know what that was, exactly, but I was going to make a difference in the world.

Instead, I have lived a pretty quiet life. With the exception of the years I spent teaching, I’ve worked steady but unchallenging jobs. I haven’t found a cure for anything or solved a world problem, nor have I written a novel or even managed a team of people. Most of my successes are more personal. I have a strong, long-lasting marriage; a fantastic child; incredible friends; a loving, close-knit family. I’ve seen the world, made people laugh, and been an extra mom to a tribe of young people I adore. I don’t undervalue any of these things, which are more important to me than fame and fortune. I guess that deep down I just expected myself to get those, too.

Anyway – do you want to know why this whole friend request thing is on my mind so much today?

Believe it or not, two different people I know had teenaged sons die this week. Both had been sitting in my queue of friend requests for ages. (In both cases, I only realized I had not accepted their requests when I went to offer my condolences. They’d showed up in my queue periodically since they were “Friends of Friends.”) For all these months, I could have gotten to share in their lives, and instead I feel I popped in opportunistically at the last minute. I am, of course, devastated to think of the pain they must be going through, but I’m also feeling regret for not having shared more of their happy times with them before I shared in their loss. I might have gotten to know their children in life if I’d made the effort when they reached out to me.

So tonight I went through and accepted a ton of friend requests. I skipped the people I have never heard of; I’m not sure why they want to be friends with me, anyway. I’m a little concerned that I still skipped over some people on the list that I do know. Apparently I have a little more soul searching to do!

plan #14 – run some errands

Are you like me? Do you get “pick-up amnesia”?

I swear, if I drop something off at a local business, that thing ceases to exist for me. The pants I dropped off to get hemmed? Gone. The film that is being developed? Forgotten. The package that I am supposed to pick up at the Post Office? What package?

The few times that a fleeting thought of the item hits my consciousness, it is after midnight, the place is closed, and I wouldn’t be able to get the stuff anyway.

But November is the month of executing plans! So today I made a list of all those neglected errands and decided to knock them off, one by one.

First stop: Action Fast Photo. Got some absolutely gorgeous pictures that Quinland had taken in Europe… almost five months ago. (Disclaimer: I took pictures of these pictures with my phone. The original quality of the prints is much better. I still love them, though.)

Chiesa

Doges Palace

Next stop: the Post Office, where I picked up a pair of shoes I’d ordered from eBay a few weeks back. They put the notice on our door quite a few days ago. There was postage due (damn you, eBay seller and your claims of free shipping!) so we had to pick it up in person.

Then: the dry cleaners, where I picked up a pair of jeans I’d had hemmed for Quinland. Honestly, I can’t tell you how long ago that was. Months and months and months.

I also took back some stuff of other people’s that had gotten left at our house. I didn’t make it to Powell’s (to sell that box of books that has been sitting there since August) or to Goodwill (to return some stuff and drop off a huuuuuge box of stuff we are getting rid of, or to Fred Meyer to return some key hooks, or…

Yeah, I still have my work cut out for me. But thanks to today’s errands, we have some excess stuff out, some useful stuff in, and some lovely places to remember. Hooray!

Gondola

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