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.