Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day One Hundred and Six

I missed Day One Hundred ... oh well, there are nine more hundreds to go, so I'm not going to stress about it.

I was thinking today, as I often do on New Year's Eve, about the last year and all it has held, and hoping that I am ending the year with at least a little more wisdom and a few more accomplishments that I can be proud of.

One small and unexpected benefit from this project is directly connected to the nature of the list itself - many of the things on it are things I have never done before, and therefore are things which I do not already do well. This seems fairly obvious, but one of the most challenging things about making this list in the first place was fighting a long-established tendency to only do things that I do well. The flip side is that I rarely start things if I don't think I will excel at them, and quit them quickly if they don't come easily to me. (Which is why I don't play the violin, ice skate, dance, or any number of things which did NOT make this list.) Convincing myself to include a few items that would stretch me was an exercise in humility and hope.

So far, I've tried a few that "press on the understood boundaries of myself" (in the words of one of the authors I need to write a fan letter to, Item #45). I joked about understanding the International Date Line, but I nearly didn't include it on the list since I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to actually do it. I haven't talked much about this here, but Item #55 (go 30 days without alcohol, even Irish cream in my hot chocolate) took a little more application of willpower than I had anticipated - with the result that I've extended it to what is now 67 days, which probably has contributed to the progress on Item #56 (finish losing the 70 pounds I started losing last summer).

I have also discovered that I am not a very good knitter, but I genuinely enjoy it. I have discovered that I have absolutely no natural tendency for a good French accent. Looking at the rest of my list, I am gradually realizing that excellence at all of these pursuits isn't really an option, unless I also discover the Fountain of Youth and a time machine. I think that if I can learn to truly enjoy doing things for their own sake, even if I do them rather badly for a while, I will have gained something worth having. I'm getting better about not stressing out when things don't turn out perfectly, and I kind of like it.

Maybe for my next list of 101 things, I'll decide to learn to dance ...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day Ninety-Three

Another hat for the homeless. I am going to try REALLY hard to get this one to the drop-off point before I accidentally give it away to somebody again. I just like giving people things, though! I guess if you have to have a fault, that's not a bad one to have.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day Ninety-Two

... 11 ...

... 24 ...

... 48,



(This is what it looks like when you do sit-ups in front of a Christmas Tree.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day Eighty-One

I am having some difficulty with Item #33 (knit or crochet 20 items for the homeless). Back on Day Thirteen I started a red fuzzy scarf to give away, and sort of forgot about it. I remembered it last week when I had a recording gig, and yes, those thoughts are much more connected than they seem like.

Rule #1 of Recording Sessions: Something will go wrong with the sound system. Doesn't matter who's doing it, how prepared they are, how expensive the equipment is, something will always go wrong and it will take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours (perhaps more) to fix.

Musician's Response to Rule #1 of Recording Sessions: Bring something to do.

So, just in case, I brought my knitting along. And sure enough, the microphone wouldn't talk to the snorfle, and the snorfle was causing feedback to the globbenator, which was complicated by the inexplicable problems with the snarp. (I lost them somewhere around "microphone".) I got many, many rows done, and eventually we also got three unacceptable takes of the Ferdinand David Concertino for Trombone, which necessitated a second recording session.

Rule #2 of Recording Sessions: Rule #1 applies to the rescheduled session as well.

Musician's Response #2: Bring something to do, and maybe a snack.

I finished the final fringe on the scarf before we even got to the first take, and started a multi-colored hat, and that's where the problem began. I took the hat-in-progress with me when I went to visit my sister, and finished it while I was at her house. She took one look when I finished it and said, "Oh, that's adorable! I love it! Who's it for?" I said, "Um ... you!" Because, really, I can make another hat for the homeless, and she'd had a bad week, and she just needed that hat. And besides it looked super cute on her. So I gave it to her and started a new purple hat, which is about 60% done now.

I took the red scarf to church today to give to the lady who collects them. She wasn't there, so I gave it to her husband, a beloved family friend, and he promptly tried it on ... and proceeded to wear it for the rest of the morning. I laughed and said he was welcome to it.

I think I will hide the purple hat when I finish it, or the homeless aren't going to get a single thing from me.

Here is me in the red scarf before I delivered it. Due to some progress on Item #56 as a result of Day Forty-Three, there is actually a faint hint of cheekbones. Haven't seen those in a while ...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day Seventy-Five

How hard should it be to make a decent batch of cookies from a new recipe? All I really wanted was something nice and chewy with walnuts and chocolate chips in it, as a special finish for an already heavy-laden Thanksgiving table. I looked around online and found one that was a surprisingly complex recipe - melted and cooled butter, very exact measurements, everything mixed in separate bowls and carefully blended. Fun!

They were chewy if you ate one right away.

Otherwise, they were chocolate-chip rocks.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day Seventy-One

Happy Thanksgiving! (A day late, unless you're in whatever time zone is off the coast of Oregon a few hundred miles.) So many things to be thankful for, not the least of which is that I am healthy and live in a country where my 101 Things list is not:

1. Survive.
2. Find food.
3. Stay safe.
4. (Repeat 1-3 indefinitely.)

The freedom to be occasionally frivolous is (and yes, I know how odd this sounds) something I don't want to take lightly.

So, when I post this picture of me doing absolutely nothing useful today except for growing my hair another fraction of an inch, you will understand that it's with a deep sense of appreciation for everything else that is so, so good in life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day Sixty-Seven

I'm not dead yet!

That was not a fun flu, but it's only responsible for a few days' worth of missed posts. The rest has to do with a) I kept meaning to upload pictures and forgetting, b) I did have a couple of legitimate small relapses, c) my music schedule is getting crazy, but mostly d) laziness.

So, let's see ... did I actually accomplish anything while I was neglecting my blog? I did indeed!

Item #6 - I read Dean Koontz's "Your Heart Belongs To Me", since I had never read one of his books. I was only somewhat impressed. He did some interesting things with the character development (you don't even really like the protagonist for a while), and he made you think about a few things as the book progressed. But he got a little silly with the supernaturalism, which irritated me. He got started on some good secondary characters, but then sort of dropped them, which also irritated me. However, the truly unforgivable error was his tendency to use words that were just a tiny bit too big for him. I had the distinct sense that he had just bought a copy of Eugene Ehrlich's "The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate" and was all excited to use some of his new words. I mean, if you know how to use the word "deliquesce", good for you - but does it really go in your pop fiction medical thriller (with ghosts)? And for crying out loud, don't use it twice.

Item #29 - I rode on a train! But I can't post about that until I upload the pictures.

Item #33 - I finished a scarf, but haven't taken a picture yet. (See d), laziness.)

Item #43 - I wrote a letter to my grandparents. That was nice. I will do it more often.

Item #44 - I sent my friend Brenda a postcard with a picture of an ice-skating cow. That is not a phrase I type every day, so I'll do it again: Ice-skating cow. Yep, still funny.

Item #62 - I flossed my teeth, but then I forgot again.

Item #73 - I did a little more paperwork, and it seems to be regenerating itself somewhat more slowly than usual. I may have interfered with its paperish reproductive process.

Item #78 - I actually finished a nightgown for my daughter. Yay!

Since it is 46° outside, I think I will put off #91 (spend a night outside under the stars) and go crawl in bed. Good night!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day Forty-Eight

Or, This Is Getting Really Old

Make that five pounds and counting. Still no appetite, no energy, just blah.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Forty-Three

Or, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Upside to a wretched case of influenza = 2.5 pounds lost and counting (see Item #56).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day Forty-One

I tend to read several books at once, which I maintain is not nearly as weird as it sounds. I'm almost always reading at least three, six is the max, and I try to make sure I'm always reading at least one non-fiction book. To me, this makes perfect sense. I would no more read just one book at a time than I would eat only one food for every meal for a week. I think it's much more pleasant to decide if I'm in the mood for science fiction, deep thought, chick lit, or classics, and read accordingly.

In pursuit of Item #6 (read 10 books by authors who are new to me), my latest non-fiction book came to me courtesy of my friend Heather, who knows I am hoping to get more serious about running during the course of this project. The book is called "Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" (Christopher McDougall). It was, quite frankly, astounding. The author starts with the question, "Why does my foot hurt?" and ends up running with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. The chronicle of his journey is inspiring, thought-provoking, and it challenged much of what I thought I knew about the human body and the art (and science) of running.

If you're a runner, go buy it now. If you're not a runner, go check it out from the public library ... and don't be too surprised if you decide to go for a run after you finish it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day Forty

The flu was not on my list.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day Thirty-Four

I can now locate the African nation of Eritrea on a map of the world (Item #18). Before today, I'd have said Eritrea sounded like a made-up country name out of a fantasy novel, probably of an island that sank beneath the sea and is now populated by mermaids and fishes. I knew there were some gaps in my world geography, but they're big enough to drive trucks through! I'm sure there's some lesson here about humility ...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day Thirty-Three

Today's work on the list involved folding a Mountain O' Laundry and watching a new-to-me movie. I actually went into the video store in search of the next disc of the last season of "24", since I was too excited about what came next to wait for it to come via Netflix. Instead, I got distracted by the rather disturbing movie title "Disfigured." I'm not quite sure what prompted me to try out an indie film I'd never heard of about a fat woman and a recovering anorexic, but I'm glad I did.

It did not have the classic Hollywood plot, in which the women bond over coffee (no cream) and take walks together, and the overweight lady loses 150 pounds "without even noticing" and the anorexic lady gets magically healthy by means of a montage of heartwarming moments of friendship and apple pie against a quirky but inspiring musical background.

At the end, Darcy is still anorexic, and Lydia is still obese. They swear at each other, argue, cry, laugh, and have deeply awkward conversations on the phone - in other words, they're far more normal than any other skinny-fat friendship combination you've ever seen on the big screen. Nobody gets married at the end. It ends on a positive note, but much is left unresolved. Also rather like real life.

Lydia really is that big, and while Darcy is not actually anorexic in real life, she is painfully thin. This gives each woman a believability that is miles from Gwyneth Paltrow and her fat suit. It occasionally makes the movie cringe-inducingly raw, but (for the viewer, at least) the reality of these characters makes it worth whatever each woman went through personally to see her ribs or belly displayed on screen.

I only hesitantly recommend it to men or to anyone who is uncomfortable with onscreen intimacy, since Lydia does have a love scene that is painfully, intensely real. But if any of my readers are women with body image issues and you don't mind seeing a little more of an actress than you'd normally see, watch this and be ready for a fairly wide range of emotional responses. I have a feeling I'll be filling in my movie title spreadsheet with a few more movies that got awards that didn't involve little gold men. This was a good one!

Favorite lines:

Darcy: You take an insecure woman and give her a nose job, a tummy tuck and a boob job, and what do you get?

Lydia: A reality show!

Darcy: An insecure woman in a mask. With scars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Thirty-One

Day thirty-one! Do I get Baskin Robbins ice cream as a treat?

Oh ... probably not, huh, not if I want Item #97 (Little Black Dress) to be a reality. Bah.

I haven't added anything to the blog for the last two days because a) I've been sick and b) I haven't actually done anything productive. Well, other than play for a senior recital, which was a lot of fun, but I mean I didn't do anything from the list. Maybe I should have included "Play for ten college senior recitals" on the list so I could cross them off.

Today I went to the craft supply store and bought four "floating frames" for Item #85 (print out and frame 10 photographs). I'd take a picture, but there's a bit of wall painting that needs to be done first, so hopefully I'll have the picture up on Friday. I am extremely pleased with how they look - my dad gave me the idea since his office is decorated with his own photographs in floating frames, and I'm glad I gave it a try!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day Twenty-Nine

I think that paperwork multiplies during the night. (Items #67, #72 and #73)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day Twenty-Eight


I realized after looking through my list that it would be the better part of wisdom not to photograph Item #59, as such. ;)

All joking aside, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and hopefully this will remind my female readers about the crucial habit of regular self-examinations. Any medical personnel who look at my family history tend to get a little fluttery and worried, since my grandmother, mother, and younger sister are all breast cancer survivors. I haven't always done as well as I should with monthly checks, but a little scare this summer (everything was benign, don't worry) reminded me to make this a lifelong habit.

It's not difficult, and it only takes a few minutes. And a few minutes every month is SO much more fun than a mastectomy.

So, if you have ta-ta's, or if you love someone who does, tie a pink ribbon around your finger or mark it on your calendar or write it on the mirror in red lipstick - whatever you gotta do, just don't forget.

... is a rather entertaining site that promotes breast cancer awareness, early detection, and all the fun stuff that comes along with it. Be forewarned that this is NOT your grandmother's breast cancer awareness site, and it tends toward the cute tank top end of the clothing spectrum. But it's not just grandmothers who get breast cancer, and if a pink baseball cap will save a life, I'm all for that!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day Twenty-Seven

Today ... today was baby steps. I went for a walk, and jogged for ten minutes. I did some sorting of toys, and have many more to sort. I wrote down the names of some interesting-sounding new authors, but didn't read much. I fell off my daughter's scooter (shame on me for not figuring out the brakes first), and landed quite hard on my chest, which reminded me that I haven't done this month's self-exam, and it probably isn't gonna happen today.

A quiet day, where nothing much happened, and those can be good days. There were miles to go before I slept -- I have gone the miles, and now I'm going to sleep.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Twenty-Six

It is harder than it sounds to get 50 good pictures from a photo-taking trip! I may have to edit that one to read "lots of good pictures" instead of specifying 50. I ended up with about 30 I really liked out of the 130+ I took, and even those could be winnowed down more. I am going to call it good, though, and figure I'll probably make up the difference (and then some) when I run all over the neighborhood taking pictures of snow this winter.

This trip started in south Salem and followed Delaney Road to Turner, and Mill Creek Road to Aumsville. I got rained on, swerved around, windblown, muddy, and cold, and had a wonderful time.

Here are a few I liked.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day Twenty-Five

I think I can safely say that I have accomplished Item #87, "join and participate in" I have sent postcards to Germany, Finland, Newfoundland, England, and Germany, all of which have been received and registered. I am waiting for mine to arrive in New Hampshire (U.S.), South Korea, Lithuania, and China. I have received postcards from Denmark, Australia, Finland, Brazil, and two from the Netherlands.

The kids are loving this project, and I'm having fun making them find all the countries on the map on the kitchen wall. Which reminds me, I need to learn the names of all the countries of the world ... hmm, maybe tomorrow.

postcards blowing in from all over the world

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day Twenty-Four

Many rehearsals. Much driving. Got three Postcrossing postcards. Very tired. Going to bed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day Twenty-Three

Today has been very productive! I was the Energizer Bunny, and I'm still not done with today's work:

* ran several errands downtown
* picked up some music for my next gig
* went to lunch with a friend (but not at a new restaurant, so it doesn't count for Item #95)
* resisted the urge for hot chocolate with Irish Cream (Item #55, and Item #56)
* did 30 sit-ups (Item #60)
* picked out and sent some pictures to be developed for Item #85
* received and logged a postcard (Item #87)

Then I fixed dinner (new recipe, Item #8), cleaned up the mess, did the dishes, packed up the leftovers, got the kids' backpacks ready for school, made their lunches for tomorrow, put in another load of laundry, balanced the checkbook to the penny, got the kids through the tub, and put them to bed.

Before I can go to bed, I need to start tomorrow's dinner (long day, crockpot, new recipe, Item #8), sort and start this week's laundry, and get my music prepped for tomorrow. While I do that, I'll work on Item #93, watch a movie that's new to me. I'm watching, ironically enough ...

... The Stepford Wives.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day Twenty-Two

Will someone please explain to me how eating carefully and going on my first run in weeks could result in a three-pound weight gain? And don't tell me that muscle weighs more than fat, or I will have to find a Hershey bar and throw it at you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day Twenty-One

Ow! My brain was apparently more ready to run than my quads were. (Note to self: Stretch more thoroughly tomorrow. MUCH more thoroughly.)

Today I made a good start on #65 (organize sheet music and music books), which looks like it will be a bigger project than I thought. My books, the collected works of various composers, are in a file cabinet with the nice reinforced hanging folders. Or at least that's the idea. At any given time, ten or more of them are sitting on top of the piano in untidy stacks, since they never quite seem to go back in when I'm finished with them. But with them, there's at least a system in place.

The sheet music (single pieces not bound in books) is another story entirely. The biggest issue there will be sorting through it to see which are duplicates, which should be mailed to my sister (whose music unfortunately fed a wildfire along with everything else she owned), and which should just be given away. The problem is that it all wants to be played.

I can see myself, three years later, still working through a stack of music and playing every piece just for fun ... *sigh*.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day Twenty

I runned, I runned!

Jogged, anyway. For the last three years I've done at least three 5Ks each year, and this year I've only done one. If I tried to run 3.1 miles right now I would keel over and - well, not die exactly, but do a really good impression of someone at death's door, until I was revived with chocolate.

So I took a deep breath, went to, and looked up their Couch to 5K program. I got tired looking at the end of it where it talked about running three miles, so I just looked at the first week: Walk 5 minutes, and then alternate jogging 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds, eight times. That much I could do. So I did.

Don't look for me at the 2012 Olympics, but I'll see if I can at least hit the road enough times in the next several weeks to keep my 5K streak going. And now that I've posted here, I'll be really embarrassed if I don't do it, which I suppose is half the point of this blog.

No idea how I'll take a picture of this one, though - just hold the camera while I'm running maybe, and post a picture of the blur? Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day Nineteen

Home sick today, actually canceled rehearsal (which I try to do as infrequently as possible). Sinus trouble, upset stomach, wretched headache, loads of fun. I am self-medicating with lots of steam, hot tea, mild food, and some of my less thought-provoking computer games, to be followed up with two episodes of "24" and some desultory attempts to fold laundry.

On the bright side, I lost a pound. Yay, Item #56!

I think I will go lie down again now ... all this typing wore me out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day Eighteen

Today was a failing sort of day. They happen now and then, but today was worse than most. I guess that's why it's a good idea to give yourself 1001 days. There should be room in there for a couple of duds, don't you think?

Day Seventeen

Today's goals were simple:

1. Stay awake all day. (Check.)
2. Do not spread cold germs unnecessarily. (Check.)
3. Get through three rehearsals and one performance without sneezing or falling asleep on the piano. (Check, check, check and check.)
4. Register received cards in pursuit of Item #87. (Check.)

I'll have to put "stay awake" on my to-do list every day. It's so nice to succeed at something on a daily basis!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day Seventeen

Have you ever noticed that when you're sick, your motivation usually takes a hit too? Somehow this virus is lacking that symptom, with the unfortunate result that I'm oozing around the house like a giant sniffly amoeba, but my brain is still clicking away on all the stuff I really wanted to get accomplished today. I may have to just force myself to watch four consecutive episodes of "24" and work on a scarf for Item #33 (clothing for the homeless) to distract myself.

Sniffle, cough, glurp.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Day Sixteen

Or, How to Understand the International Date Line in 30 Easy Steps

Or, Me, ADD? Surely You Jest!

The allergies that have been hounding me for the last few days have now been joined by a full-fledged autumn cold, complete with a sinus headache and sore throat. Obviously, I will not be doing much work today on things like Item #48 (running a 10K) or Item #71 (completely remodel the basement), but I want to do something, so I decided it was time for Item #16: Comprehend the concept of the International Date Line.

I am, not to put too fine a point on it, a pretty smart cookie. I got an eyebrow-raising SAT score in high school, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa (a national honor society) from college. I think algebra is just a more interesting sort of logic puzzle, and when I go on vacation I bring along a 4-inch-thick dictionary and my ongoing list of unfamiliar words encountered in my reading, so I can look them up and write down the definitions, for fun. I love thinking and learning and stretching my brain. There is absolutely no reason that the entire concept of the International Date Line should completely elude me, but it has served as an excellent reminder over the years that I am not quite as smart as I sometimes think I am.

I understood it once, in 2006, for one brief shining moment that lasted about seven seconds. And then it was gone. How can it be Tuesday in one bit of ocean, and Wednesday in the next, in the middle of the day? Doesn't the new day just follow midnight around the world? [Insert confused wail here.] It seems like it should be so easy.

So, for your entertainment (and for my further opportunities for humility), I will chronicle my attempt to figure this darn thing out.

1. Eat Arby's cherry turnover for brain food.

2. Look up "International Date Line" on wikipedia.

3. Reluctantly admit that I should probably figure out exactly what Greenwich Mean Time is.

4. Go downstairs to get globe. Get distracted and get diet Coke instead.

5. Bring back globe, successfully this time.

6. Get distracted playing computer ball game with kids.

7. Become very confused by apparently random time zone map of Europe. No wonder we declared independence.

8. Discover that I actually already did understand GMT. Phew!

9. Procrastinate by wandering into bathroom to find lip balm.

10. Wonder why hair is so frizzy today. Become intrigued with pattern of light and shadow on hair from Venetian blinds. Take picture. Take phone call. Wish that throat was not so sore.

11. Learn where the International Date Line actually is. (For the most part, the 180° meridian, which is roughly down the middle of the Pacific Ocean.) Locate it on the globe.

12. Giggle at the name "Tuvalu", which is inexplicably amusing to me. Find Ellice Island and recall that my grandpa did work there in the Seabees during World War II. Remember that I haven't emailed Grandma in a few weeks. Catch myself before starting email to Grandma, and remind myself to do it later.

13. Decide on New Zealand as reference point - i.e., "If I am in New Zealand and you are floating in the ocean a ways east of me, what time is it?" (Answer: Time for me to go rescue you.)

14. Succumb to the dreaded wiki-clickies, and end up reading about traditional Samoan tattoo traditions. Catch self and return to New Zealand.

15. Wow - did you know that time zones are unilaterally decided by national governments for their own nations? I never knew that. I thought there was a Time Zone Board or something.

16. Post on Facebook about coining the term "wiki-clickies." I'm so easily amused.

17. Decide that it is time to take a picture of this adorable little globe. Get distracted playing with PhotoStudio.

18. Get intrigued at the Jewish solution to the dateline problem as it applies to the Sabbath (first referenced in a 12th century Talmudic commentary). For the Jew crossing the dateline on the Sabbath, for him it shall be Friday until he meets a local for whom it is Saturday, and then it shall be Saturday for him. Problem solved!

19. Wonder if the Talmud can explain the darn thing.

20. Reluctantly Google "International Date Line kids" to find explanation that doesn't assume you already understand it.

21. How can that BE? How can there always be two days at once somewhere in the world? Isn't there, like, one second where it's Friday everywhere? It doesn't even have to be five o'clock everywhere, that would be asking too much. But can't it be Friday everywhere if it's midnight in New Zealand? Or in Greenwich? Or something?

22. OK. If I am in New Zealand, and it is midnight, it just went from Sunday to Monday. No, let's pick more fun days - all right, I'm in New Zealand and it's midnight and it just went from Friday to Saturday. So for me it is 12:38 a.m. Saturday (because I saw the stars out the window and got distracted and went outside for a little bit), but for my flailing friend in the South Pacific it's ... Saturday? Friday? I don't know.

23. Think about how fun it would be to go to New Zealand and see where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, and maybe go on a little plane ride, and definitely go to the beach, except it's April there. Well, not really April, but spring anyway.

24. One website says, "When it is Tuesday in New Zealand, it is Monday in Hawaii." Doesn't this bother anybody?!

25. Explanation found on kids' social studies website: "Why? Because the earth is round." I guess they don't understand it either.

26. I had this fleeting thought just now, when I was leaning back in my office chair, little globe propped on my chest and my nose a few inches from Moscow: "It has to be Tuesday somewhere." It felt like a clue of some sort, tossed into my brain by my subconscious.

27. Wonder if perhaps my subconscious has understood it all along, but has been hiding it in order to keep me humble.

28. Once more, with fabric! Friday is tie-dye, Saturday is stars and galaxies.

29. Did I get this right? Is there an hour of the day where it's only Friday in one little slice of the world and for the rest of the world it's Saturday, and then when it's midnight in New Zealand it turns into Sunday and the rest of the world it's still Saturday, and the sun stays here, and midnight goes there, and it's noon there and four o'clock here but on different days? I think I did! Don't ask me to explain it again, but I think I got it.

30. Take two Tylenol and decide to visit New Zealand.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day Fifteen, Postscript

"The Road goes ever on and on
down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
and I must follow, if I can,
pursuing it with eager feet,
until it joins some larger way
where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

-- J. R. R. Tolkien

Day Fifteen

So that's another one off the list! Today we accomplished Item #21 (learn to Geocache with the kids). We registered at months ago, after my daughter read a Boxcar Children book that used the hobby as a key plot point. It seemed simple enough, and it is: The website lists Geocaches in or near your zip code and the exact coordinates of the cache location, which you then use a GPS to locate. Once you've found it, you sign and date the logbook in the cache, replace it as it was, and then go home and log your visit on the website. I'd heard from friends that it's a wonderful way to get some fresh air, get the kids off the couch, and see parts of your city that you never even knew were there.

The reason it took us half a year to get started was the discovery that it cost somewhere around $200 to get a GPS system that would serve the purpose, and I forgot about it until I made this list. This weekend it just seemed like a good time to give it a try, and it turned out that a friend had one he was willing to lend us for a few weeks. The first one was less than a mile away, and we very nearly missed it. We parked by the side of the road and wandered over the uneven ground at the edge of the field, reading aloud the numbers on the GPS and triple-checking against the coordinates we'd gotten from the website. When the numbers finally matched up, I found myself nose to pole with a deer crossing sign. (Those are a lot bigger than they look from the road, oddly enough.) I said to my daughter, "Well, if this is right, I'm standing right on it."

After ten minutes of searching, it turned out I very nearly had been. It turned out to be a thin strip of paper (the cache log) sealed in a zip-lock plastic bag, rolled up and stuffed into a hole drilled in the bottom of a rock at the base of the sign. Mary found it and was absolutely ecstatic. We signed and dated the log, returned everything to the way it had been, and eagerly drove to our next location, the Joryville County Park.

We had a lovely walk on a dirt trail through the woods. Then we realized we'd gone the wrong way, and had a lovely walk back. Then we had a lovely walk up the other trail, which became somewhat less lovely the farther we had to climb. Then we had a lovely walk around the woods at the top of the hill. Then we walked through spiderwebs, brambles, and something that leaves tiny stickery burrs on socks. Then we spent forty-five minutes stumbling through a dark grove of trees, up to our knees in scratchy undergrowth, trying unsuccessfully to find a cache that (as we later found out) was a good eighty feet away from the coordinates listed on the website. Disappointed, we trudged back down the hill and drove home.

In the car on the way back, I resisted the urge to pick burrs out of my socks while driving, and thought about the way our minds pick and choose their memories on a day like this. If we had found the cache, we would have gone home triumphant, talking excitedly of the extraordinary beauty of the woods, the thrill of the hunt, the horse we heard on a nearby trail, and the warmth of the sunshine. As it was, all I could think of was how very long that hill seemed to go on, how my son's complaints grated on my ears, and how frustrating the fruitless hunt had been. It seemed like the failure made the bits of grass that had migrated into my clothes itch worse.

We had the same experience, regardless of the last five minutes of it, and as it turned out, there was really no way we could have found it with the incorrect coordinates listed on the site. Even without finding the cache, we had still seen a sunlit meadow, breathed the fresh clean air, explored the green woods, and stopped to admire the tiniest spider (living on a web so fragile as to be nearly invisible) we had ever seen. We still would have been scratched and dirty, even if we'd found it. I tried to adjust my emotions with that knowledge in mind, but I couldn't quite pull it off, even though I recognized that it would be a healthy mental habit to cultivate.

I'm not quite to the level of Zen mastery required to simply enjoy the good memories and let go of the frustration, so I'll take a page from my dad's book of engaging in outdoor activities. I will go back there, soon, with the correct coordinates in hand, and I will Conquer The Hike, even if I come home with grass down my socks and spiders in my hair. A positive mental attitude is a great life goal, but for now I think I'll just take my inherent stubbornness and run with it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day Fourteen

What happened to all the motivation I had this morning when I got up? Does having your hair cut and colored somehow suck all of the organizational energy out of your head? It is baffling to me. I was going to get so much done today, and now all I want to do is lie out in the back yard in the warm sun, and not do anything, because even reading a novel would take too much energy.


Well, if nothing else, I worked on Item #92 (grow healthy, trimmed hair to my waist), because that's not gonna happen unless I keep it trimmed, right? Six inches to go. Perhaps if I sat in the sun and absorbed some Vitamin D it would grow faster.

Grow, hair, grow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day Thirteen

I cannot believe I didn't put anything on that list about the toy-infested craft-swamped book-filled lair that is my family room! I spent a couple of hours on it today, and I can't even cross anything off my list. Oh well ... there are two less boxes in there, and I can find my knitting projects without having to sort through an embarrassing number of half-unwound balls of yarn, so that's good.

I also located two scarves that I made last summer as part of a project to provide warm winter clothes for homeless teenagers in my city. The group that works with them is based at a local college, so they only collect items during the school year. My sorting today reminded me that a) I needed to drop them off now that school has started and b) I needed to start something new for Item #33!

Here are the two scarves I made last year, being worn by our oak tree (which doesn't really need them, but even a tree likes to accessorize now and then). I started a red fuzzy scarf, and I'll post a picture of it when it's done.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day Twelve

Today I stepped outside to get the mail, and all of a sudden it was autumn. The air was crisp and clean from the falling rain, and the pungent tang of woodsmoke from someone's fireplace mingled with the earthy scent of oak leaves. This smell inevitably has an energizing effect on me. On the one hand, it is the first signal of the dying of the year, the first step down the long slide into winter's snow and bare branches. On the other, though, it is a refreshing change from the rapidly fading charms of summer's heat, a breath of fresh air after the hot, damp weight of August.

It makes me want to open a new box of crayons and color something.

However, in the absence of some nice coloring pages or a stiff new algebra book, I am making do with my 101 Things list. (Now that I think about it, I suspect that the promise of rain in the air might have had something to do with my somewhat uncharacteristic motivation to do this project.) I've decided to postpone a serious run at #63 (spend 15 minutes outside for 100 consecutive days) until a time of year when it is less likely to drop rain and wet leaves on my head, but there's plenty I can do on the rest of the list and I'm having a wonderful time of it.

Today I put $50 toward Item #2 (purchase better camera), and had a delightful time this evening encouraging my daughter's interest in the same hobby. She has taken a few quite nice pictures herself, and she announced this evening that she wanted to be "an ocean-o-grapher". With a little questioning, I realized that she meant she wanted to be a photographer who specializes in marine photography. I silently blessed my packrat tendencies (even if they are the root cause of Items #65-73) and pulled five back issues of the National Geographic off the shelf which featured articles on underwater flora and fauna. She spent half an hour poring over the pictures and captions, and I decided that if she continues to show an interest in it, I'll pass along my little camera to her when I buy my real one.

It's been a few days since I posted a picture and I forgot to take one today, so I'll post one of my girl's instead. Hopefully I can save up quickly for mine so she can have her own too!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Eleven

My list is giving me aches and pains today. There's a tweaky little area at the top of my shoulders from #9 (nearly an hour spent on that, which was FUN). I have an ache in my left ankle from the walk I took in pursuit of #56, although that might also have something to do with walking all over a college campus today in fabulous but not-so-practical boots. My shoulders are sore from raking two large-ish piles of leaves to fulfill today's tick mark on #63. And my head hurts from #6.

I didn't have much in mind when I wrote down my goal of reading books by new authors, except to supplement my beloved habit of reading the complete works of John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Terry Pratchett and Robin McKinley every few years. And maybe read (proportionately speaking) a little less chick lit. I certainly didn't expect to get my brain poked at by a suspiciously New-Agey looking title from the health food store. It's so New-Agey, in fact, that I'm probably not even going to give the name and author. Take the silliest parts of the women's movement of the 1970's and stir in a healthy dose of 21st-century pseudo-Eastern earth goddess nonsense, and you'll have the general idea. I'm not even sure why I bought the silly thing, but by the time I'd finished the first chapter I already had six pages dog-eared to come back to later. Among all the talk of energy and ancestors and psychic wounds, there was something that absolutely hit the nail on the head about the careless way women treat their bodies in the neverending pursuit of Doing It All, All At Once, and Looking Good While We Do It.

No wonder we're so tired.

So I guess maybe tonight I will go to bed a little earlier, and eat a better breakfast tomorrow, and try not to run myself into the ground. There are certainly worse goals to have.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day Ten

Today I worked on Item #95 (try five local restaurants I've never been to), and it wasn't even too directly in conflict with Item #56 (get to a weight I haven't seen with both feet on the scale in mumble-mumble years). I have a teenaged babysitter who just loveloveloves The Grind here in town, and I could never quite see the appeal since it appeared to be nothing more than a drivethrough coffee shop sharing a building with the Taco Time.

It's so nice to be wrong sometimes.

As it turns out, The Grind is quite a bit more than a drivethrough coffee shop. It is run by someone who loves it, and you can tell. The decor is eclectic, the seats are comfortable, and you have the feeling that if you stayed for two hours and put your feet on the low table (since they're just the right height for it with the red squashy armchairs), you wouldn't get in trouble for it. Everything from the pictures on the walls to the bamboo posts forming an alcove for wi-fi users has clearly been chosen because someone liked it and wanted to see it there every day. My friend and I stayed and talked for nearly two hours, and I can see now why the high school kids love it.

Given that I have been making wonderful progress on my food-related goals (and not so much on my fitness-related ones), it says something that I'm four paragraphs into this before remembering to mention that the sandwich was absolutely delightful - I have never heard of putting pecans and dried cranberries in chicken salad, and now I can't figure out why everybody doesn't make it that way. Delicious!

So yeah, I guess that turned out to be an accidental restaurant review. I wonder if that good deed might negate a few calories from the chicken and dumpling soup ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day Nine

Inertia is a lovely thing, some days. Today I sort of worked on a few items, and actually accomplished nothing. Normally I would be bothered by the "accomplished nothing" part, but today I am enjoying doing nothing much. (It turns out that doing nothing much is greatly enhanced by a cold roast beef sandwich, in case you ever decide to give it a whirl.)

Here are all the things I didn't really do:

#6, 7 - I looked at a bunch of biographies and novels at Borders, but didn't buy any.
#8 - I thought briefly about finding a new cheesecake recipe, but decided I'm caloried out.
#9 - I sort of glanced at the Chopin Ballade on the piano. (I wonder if learning by osmosis would work.)
#12 - I griped a bit about all the cooking classes being full.
#21 - I found out that my new cell phone has a GPS on it, so this was accidental progress on the list.
#26 - I rued the fact that La Boheme is playing in Portland this week and I will need to get a little farther on #56 before attempting #26.
#34 - I grew my hair out some more.
#41 - I bemoaned the fact that I have been too lazy to write any essays on my main blog for several months.
#47 - I thought briefly about going for a run.
#63 - I sat on my backside and read a book - but I did it outside, yay me!
#65 - I seriously intended to work on my music today, thus laying one more paving stone on the infernal path.
#73 - I stepped over some of the paperwork on the office floor and thought, Dang, I oughta do something about that.
#93 - I opened up and started looking for movie titles, but got distracted.
#101 - I admired someone's naturally strawberry blonde hair.

And I shall sleep well tonight, because every now and then, you need a day of rest.

[picture not included]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day Eight

Quit laughin' at my food, OK? Believe me, I am fully aware that my latest jaunt into the woolly wilds of England's cuisine turned out to be queasily reminiscent of a scene from one of her most beloved authors' books. If you tossed the One Ring into the middle of this dish, you wouldn't be even slightly surprised to see the scorched crust gloop up, swallow the ring, and subside in a coruscating swirl of lava.

Know what, though? It was yummy.

Here, see if this helps a bit:

Well, maybe not so much, but believe me, this is one I'll make again. Tonight I crossed off one more recipe for Item #8, and decided to continue with the theme of "foods I have never made before because they are usually eaten in places I would love to visit but probably never will because it costs a zillion dollars to go there unless you know somebody there already that you can stay with and mooch off of". (It's not exactly ... classic, as far as themes go, but it guarantees some interesting recipes.) I'd read about Yorkshire pudding in books like "A Little Princess" and the Beatrix Potter series, but had not the faintest idea what it was. It seemed like it was often served with roast beef, which would mean that it was neither a) pudding like Americans think of it (bowls full of wobbly chocolate goo), nor b) pudding in the common British sense (dessert). Because if we're talking about bowls full of wobbly beefy goo, you lost me at hello.

A little searching through my Joy of Cooking book provided me with the information that Yorkshire pudding is in fact a custard-like dish quite similar to a Dutch baby, except that it is cooked with beef drippings instead of butter, and served with the roast beef instead of with fruit or sweet toppings. The more I read, the more evident it became that roast beef was, alas, not an optional ingredient in this process, so I was going to have to make a roast as well. It turned out surprisingly well, although I would suggest not using yellow-green cotton yarn to tie up the roast - nothing bad happens, but it looks positively disgusting when the roast is done.

I found that the Joy of Cooking authors should be ignored when it comes to required baking times. The Yorkshire pudding should have come out at least 10 minutes earlier (hence the lava-like burnt crunchy bits on the edges), and the roast ... well, if you ever read a recipe from that cookbook which says "20-30 minutes per pound", laugh loud and long, and then cross that bit out. Nobody died of hunger while it was cooking, but it was a close shave there for the youngsters. It was, however, entirely worth the wait, even with the lessons learned along the way of things to do differently next time.

The one real drawback to this sort of project is that you get up from your lovely, satisfying meal, to find this:

Next time: Beef needs more time. Pudding needs less. Brenda needs a maid.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day Seven

All right, before you say anything, you have to understand one thing: I am a Yankee.

I don't mean I'm a Yankees fan (heaven forbid), or a resident of New England. I have ancestors on both sides of the Civil War, including a great-grandfather who was a Confederate soldier, but that's not what I mean either. I mean "Yankee" in the general, friendly sense that accompanies the statement, "Y'all ain't from around here."

I have plenty of Southern friends, and their traditions and turns of phrase delight me, but when it comes to the kitchen, I am just about as Yankee as they come. I've only ever eaten okra once, I was in my twenties before discovering that hush puppies weren't just shoes, and while I have no objection to eating fried food, the thought of deep frying anything in my kitchen makes me want to reach for a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, a teaspoon, and a large pile of fresh veggies.

This is why I am counting the experiment pictured above for Item #8 (try 20 new recipes). Yes, it is from a mix. No, I didn't use a real deep fryer. No, my lovely cast-iron skillet is not nearly full enough of oil. Yes, I had to measure the temperature by taping my candy thermometer to two bamboo kebab skewers and balancing it across the top of the skillet because I have not the faintest clue how you actually measure the temperature of a pot of boiling oil. (That sounds so medieval, doesn't it?!) And yes, I burned half the recipe.

But it was a walk on the wild side, and I tried it, and they were actually pretty good. And if real Southerners don't eat their hush puppies with ketchup and Tabasco sauce, I don't wanna know.


I'm fairly sure the calories were nowhere near atoned for by today's outside activity (raking leaves), but it sure was a good day for it. I forgot to go outside yesterday when I was sick, so I'm starting over on that. Dang it. I have a feeling it's not going to look like this in three months ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day Six

I am sick today. Therefore, I am pouring my nearly nonexistent energies into Items #93 (watching movies), #7 (reading books), and #92 (growing out my hair).

I am succeeding at all three. Hurrah!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day Five

It is Terry Pratchett's fault that I am tired today. Indirectly, anyway.

I was looking around for new recipes (item #8), and since I've been re-reading all of Pratchett's Discworld novels, I thought I'd flip through the highly entertaining "Nanny Ogg's Cookbook." Among such delicacies as "Bread and Water", "Toasted Cheese Sandwiches" (which involves the invention of at least one war machine), and a recipe for dwarf bread which purports to be edible to humans, I found the somewhat more useful recipe for "Jammy Devils." Small, warm, buttery, jammy, and more dangerous than Lay's potato chips when it comes to eating just one more.

I decided to take a picture, since they looked so delicious, and also for Item #74 (photograph all 101 tasks). I laid them out on a blue and white china plate, and put a pretty blue napkin under them.

Something was missing. Ah, a teacup!

It looked silly with no tea in it. So I brewed some tea.

It smelled very good. So I drank it.

It tasted very good. So I had another cup. Well, two, plus several more sugar lumps than are technically necessary.

Not too surprisingly, the caffeine did what caffeine does. I laid awake until a ridiculous hour, finally drifted off, reluctantly dragged myself out of bed the next morning, and reminded myself once more of just why it is not a good idea to drink strong black tea in quantity after 10 p.m.

Thanks so much, Mr. Pratchett. Let's do it again some time!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day Four

After serious thought and consideration (about 30 seconds' worth), I have updated #9 from "learn and memorize a piece by Frederic Chopin" to "learn and memorize Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor".* I love this piece, and it is absurd that I never bothered to actually learn it. Even admitting that I can't play it properly will probably get me shunned from the cool kids' table of the classical music community.

And that, folks, is your oxymoronic metaphor of the day.

Still enjoying #63 and walking all over the neighborhood. Today's route took me past a little table full of dahlias in jars by the side of the road. There was a little sign saying to please leave the jars, a Tupperware container where people could leave a dollar or two, and fabulous flowers. It was refreshing to see that the honor system actually still works now and then.

* this performance of the C-sharp minor Fantasie-Impromptu by Russian pianist Valentina Igoshina

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day Three

Who knew the local cooking supply store would have all its classes booked out through the end of December?! Everybody's Julia Child all of a sudden. Ohhhh, wait - that's it, isn't it! Everybody watched "Julie & Julia", and now they're all inspired to learn to cook. I read the book before they even made the movie, but since I am a highly skilled procrastinator, I waited a year or so to actually, you know, sign up for classes.

I am enjoying working on Item #63 (see below), although it occurs to me that I might have done better to start this particular item, oh, maybe NEXT MAY instead of in mid-September. I might not be enjoying that 15 minutes outside come December and 35-degree rain. For now though, it's an excellent way to avoid balancing my checkbook.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day Two

The Assumption:

I could do at least 5 correct military-style pushups if I tried. 10, maybe! And I might even surprise myself with 15! Because, you know, I carried my son all the time when he was a (huge) toddler and refused to walk in public for more than about 10 steps, and I'm a professional pianist so of course I'm strong, right?

The Reality:

OK ... let's see, hands shoulder-width apart, feet together, body straight, and doooowwwn we go ... holy CRAP, when did my butt get to weigh 50 pounds all by itself?! Plank position, ha ha, we'll just say it is even though this is more of a bent-nail position, elbows at a 90-degree angle, and did my chest just touch the floor? Hmm. Yes, I believe it did. And the rest of me didn't. Innnnteresting. So, push back up, and ...

... push back up and ...

... I don't think I can really count that as a push-up since there is an "up" rather strongly implied in the word push-up, and that was strikingly lacking in any kind of upward motion.

It appears that I have some work to do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day One

I'm not sure if it's auspicious or just really funny that I'm starting my 1001 days on Talk Like A Pirate Day. (Aarrrr, me mateys! There, got that out of the way.)

I doubt I'll update this every day, but I'll try to check in frequently. Since one of my list items is to post a picture with each completed item, there will hopefully be a minimum of 101 posts and 101 pictures by the end of the project (Saturday, June 16, 2012).

Today's goal was simply to finalize and post the list, so that's one down, one hundred to go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

And So It Begins.

The Mission:

Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.


This idea (more information at comes at a time in my life when I'm ready to change a few things, try a few new things, and do a few things that are just plain fun. My intent is to blog regularly about the process, and hopefully by June 16, 2012, I'll have some stories to tell, pictures to share, and a whole collection of good memories.