Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Seven

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Roman statesman, philosopher, and playwright from the 1st century B.C.) said, "The primary sign of a well-ordered mind is a man's ability to remain in once place and linger in his own company."

I am not sure I can attain to these heights of mental orderliness, but I have to think that successfully remembering to floss my teeth 22 days in a row (Item #62) must count for something.

On the other hand, by Seneca's definition, the interestingly attired lady on the corner downtown who was engaged in an extended and highly animated conversation with herself must have had a very orderly mind indeed. So I think perhaps I will just walk verrrrry carefully around Mr. Seneca and try not to make eye contact, and if he starts philosophizing at me, I'll just smile nicely with my sparkly clean teeth and keep walking.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Six

For Item #85 (print and frame 10 photographs), I actually painted a room for the first four pictures. Finally got it all painted and the pictures put up tonight - I'm pretty happy with it. :)

These are from a trip to the Oregon coast last summer. My daughter helped me pick out a soft shade of grey (the trim is a very clean, crisp white) to go with all four pictures, which was more challenging than we expected! Now I'm excited to take and frame some more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Four

Talk about multi-tasking - today I worked on Item #63 (spend 15 minutes a day outside), Item #56 (lose grumblety-mumble more pounds), Item #48 (train for a 10K), and indirectly on Item #99 (wear that green dress which I love, love, love and want to fit back into at some point).

Which sounds so much more optimistic than "I went for a run and walked most of it and came home with shin splints."

I think today I'll go with optimism - the sun is out, and I don't feel like being Eeyore. (Even though I love him all to pieces, he is just a bit too glum. Sorry, little fellow!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Three

I'm having another go at Item #63 (spend at least 15 minutes outside every day for 100 consecutive days). When I first chose that goal, I was envisioning myself sitting on the front porch on an autumn afternoon, the golden sunlight spilling across the pages of my classic novel. Perhaps I would go on long hikes through the beautiful woods and valleys of Oregon. Maybe I would lie in the dappled shade under my beloved oak tree, eyes closed, drinking in the sweet scents of summer.

I was not envisioning having to scrub the residue of three years' worth of half-decayed oak leaves out from under my fingernails.

I love this tree, I really do. I love its stark skeleton in winter, the tiny leaves in spring, the full glory of its green canopy in summer, and the gentle fading to brown in the fall. I don't even mind raking the thousands (millions?) of leaves that fall on the yard every October and November - it's good exercise, it smells nice, and it's a good excuse to go outside.* But I do not love the way its leaves get into my flowerbed.

I use the term "flowerbed" loosely. The previous residents adhered to the one-of-everything gardening philosophy. In the rose border, the grandiose Mr. Lincoln's deep red petals and long stems tower over humbler unnamed varieties, which surround a single inexplicable mini rosebush. There was one blue primrose, one yellow primrose, one butterfly bush, a single random red tulip, one yellow tulip on the far side of a decorative rock, one pink hyacinth, one white hyacinth, and a rhododendron. I ask you, who plants ONE tulip?! In the deep bowl-shaped flowerbed which surrounds the tree, vinca and ivy (presumably originally one of each) have taken over much of it, and they serve as excellent leaf traps. In the places I have managed to beat the vines back, the leaves have simply settled. Every year. When I say "three years", I may be flattering myself.

I meant to rake them. It was just that the leaf bin filled up so fast with the leaves on the yard, and there was no room for the ones in the flowerbed. I would intend to come back and rake them out as soon as the leaves all fell off the tree, but then it would be raining, and wet, and cold, and sometimes it even snowed, and I could hardly be expected to rake leaves in the snow, could I? Well, there were many good excuses, and I used them all. Today, though, they all expired at once, and I set to work.

I cleared approximately 12 square feet before filling the yard bin so full of rotted leaves and sticks that I could barely pull it back up the hill. At this rate, this should keep me entertained well into March. On the other hand, hauling all those leaves has to burn off at least a few calories, wouldn't you think?

* Little-known fact about me: There is one extra reason that I like raking leaves. I was on color guard for a year in the high school marching band, the ones that wore the little purple and white cheerleader outfits and twirled flags and threw them in the air and tried hard not to have them land across the bridges of our noses and knock us out. It turns out that the balance and weight of a sturdy rake is surprisingly close to that of a performance flag, and if my kids are around and the neighbors aren't watching, I can still do quite credible twirls with right and left hand, the figure-eight two-handed twirl both front and back, and the horizontal overhead twirl that looks SO cool from the stands. I can do the overhead throws from the figure-eight pattern, but I seem to have accidentally forgotten the horizontal overhead throw that could (theoretically) land on my nose. Oh well ... it's not like I'll ever really need it in my current line of work. (The overhead throw, I mean. The nose, I'd like to keep.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Two

I am suddenly devoid of motivation, feeling lackluster, disheartened and blah.

I guess it's a good thing I have 869 days to get it back.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Nine

Today I did a whole bunch of work on Item #65, organize all sheet music and music books. I think I can safely say that the books are organized, since the only books that aren't in folders in the file cabinet are the horrible dusty things that someone gave to me years ago in a fit of philanthropy. (Or, as I suspect in my less charitable moments, in a fit of housecleaning.) I am going to give them to Goodwill and let them have a guilty conscience for throwing them into the recycle bin - hurrah, problem solved!

I also got the sheet music partially organized, but even with the work I did today, there are still many more hours of work to be done before I can cross this item off my list. I suddenly find myself fantasizing about flamethrowers...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day One Hundred and Nineteen

Item #13: Homework? There's homework? I forgot about homework. (frowny face)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day One Hundred and Eighteen

As promised, a few of my new pictures of windows, doors and stairs (Item #80).

U.S. Customs House, Portland, OR

Apartment in the Pearl District reflected in puddle on the street, Portland, OR

Spiral staircase inside the Grays Harbor Lighthouse in Westport, WA

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day One Hundred and Seventeen

I finished another hat, and this time I'm going to have to try hard not to give it to ME.

Here's me (with my unfortunate resemblance to a lemur after having my eyes dilated at a visit to the ophthalmologist), my latest hat for Item #33, and my textbook for Item #13, which I started reading while I was walking out of the campus bookstore and had to stop reading when I realized that I was running the very real risk of falling straight down the stairs to the parking lot. I will try hard not to be one of those obnoxious adults who comes in to audit a course, reads the entire textbook in the first week, and has their homework done every week plus extra credit and an apple for the teacher.

Because, really, cookies are more my style than apples.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day One Hundred and Sixteen

I flossed my teeth (Item #62). I'm counting that as success for the day.

(It's been a long day.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day One Hundred and Fifteen

Dear Julia Child,

When you say to take a chicken breast and flatten it slightly with the side of a heavy knife and quickly roll it in hot butter and season it with salt and white pepper and cover it with buttered waxed paper and put it in a heavy casserole dish and cook it for six minutes and then do this whole thing where you poke it and if it springs back in this particular way then you know it's cooked, and all this stuff about how Americans cook their chicken to death ... honey, you gotta say if that chicken was a 32A or a 46DD. Because I'm tellin' ya, that chicken was still squawking after six minutes.


P.S. It still turned out really good though, so thanks for the recipe. (Item #8)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day One Hundred and Fourteen

Windows, doors, and stairs ... these are a few of my favorite things! (Item #80) I'll post more of these later, because I am TIRED.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day One Hundred and Thirteen

All right, folks. I know somebody is reading this thing, because it shows 653 visits and it doesn't log mine. So I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask you for some suggestions. I've allowed anonymous posting on this, so you don't have to say who you are if we're not technically acquainted and all, but I've also set it up so I can moderate your comments, which means they won't show up immediately.

As you can see below, I somehow managed to repeat myself on my list (oh, the shame of it!) and now I am delighted to realize that I have two extra spots on it, if I leave Item #81 as it is and replace Items #14 and #15. I am now taking suggestions for two replacement goals. The following are not possible items for consideration:

* Anything involving coordination or gymnastic ability. You may think it would be highly entertaining to hear about my attempts to tapdance, but that's just not gonna happen.

* Anything involving space travel. I love visiting new places, but I can't consider anything that costs over a million dollars.

* Anything that involves the purchase of a whole new set of craft supplies, since that would undo all my good work on sorting, donating, and minimizing clutter. Anything that uses the various paper, fabric, yarn, etc. that I already have, though, is fair game.

* I am not going to get a dog, run for office, or have a baby. So don't even ask.

* I am not going to do the 365 Days of Me photo project, either. I am not averse to self-portraits if it relates to something on the list, and I don't even feel like they all have to be of me at my made-up, curled, industrial-strength-undergarmented best. But every day? Nope, sorry, even Julia Roberts doesn't look good 365 days out of the year.

So ... let's see if anybody's actually reading this thing, or if it's just one obsessive-compulsive who's read it 653 times.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day One Hundred and Twelve

I am astounded - truly astounded - that it took me 112 days to realize that Item #14-#15 is the same as Item #81. With as many times as I read that list and edited it and referred to it, how on EARTH could I have not noticed that?!

I guess my one consolation is that apparently you didn't either. ;)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day One Hundred and Eleven

Yippeeee, I'm going to learn to write!

Just got registered to audit the Advanced Comp class I've been wanting to take for so long (Item #13). EXCITED!!! (I probably won't be allowed to use three exclamation points after this, so I thought I'd do it while I still can.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day One Hundred and Nine

I have many wonderful memories of childhood visits to my Grandma and Grandpa Cox's various homes, a series of parsonages spread out over western and central Washington State. The houses themselves varied greatly - a two-story brown house in a Seattle suburb with a "hecticopter tree" out front (Grandma's nickname for the maples that dropped their whirling seedpods all over the walk), a little ranch house near Tacoma, a large farmhouse, a lakeside cottage, an airy little house with a lilac bush by the front porch where I sat and learned to snap beans. In all the homes, though, there were many constants, even if they might be in different rooms or on different shelves in the newest place they lived. My grandparents had frequent pint-sized visitors, and kept a handful of books, cartoon collections and games on hand with children in mind, and one of my favorites that traveled from house to house with them was called "The Hodgepodge Book."

It is exactly what it sounds like - a delightfully random collection of old wives' tales, American folk songs and fables, trivia about the calendar, the weather, American history, instructions for cats'-cradle games, all manner of child-friendly nonsense that kept many of their grandchildren entertained for hours on rainy afternoons. Of all the bits of information that sifted into my memory from this book, the one that took root was the suggestion for New Year's Day. The book said that some people had a tradition of thinking of the things they wanted to do during the coming year, and doing a little bit of each thing on that day. Someone who wanted to read a great deal might start a book, an aspiring musician might sing a song, or an artist might sketch a picture. Nothing huge, no pressure to finish a project in one day, just a little nudge in the right direction.

I was enthralled by the idea, and have done at least some version of this every year since my grade-school days. I have always played the piano a little and read a little, if nothing else, and this year I did both. This year's January 1st was made more entertaining by thinking through my 101 Things list, and getting rather excited about all the fun things I hope to do this year as a result of this project.

Here are the ones that I did at least a tiny bit of on New Year's Day:

* Looked through my new copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in happy contemplation of Item #8 (new recipes).

* worked on my current knitting project (a green hat) for Item #33 (clothes for the homeless)

* wrote in my journal about some of my hopes for the new year, which counts for Item #42 (writing non-emails on 777 days)

* wrote a fan letter to Terry Pratchett for Item #45 - now I have to find out where to mail it!

* went on a hike, not quite sure how long it was - not long enough for Item 49, but I think it was pretty close, and I may increase that minimum number! It took a few hours, which counts for Item #63 (spend 15 minutes a day outside)

* did a handful of sit-ups (Item #60) with my 6-month-old nephew held in front of me - he thought this was hilarious.

* did one push-up (Item #61). Yay me!

* chose the Grieg set I want to memorize for Item #10 and played "Arietta", the first one in the set (Op. 12)

A good start, I think. I am looking forward to crossing off several more items this year!