IMAD 2009

It's been a wonderful roller coaster week + since I managed to post. I really missed the blog. So now I have all kinds of things to report and since they won't all fit in one post --- well I'll try my best.

Did you all know that yesterday was IMAD? This is a international holiday. The acronym stands for "international Mary appreciation Day". This was founded by myself and my dear friend. It's a day devoted to the care and appreciation of those women named Mary or Maire or Marie or Maria or Maris or Mara ... well you get the idea. Any version of the name Mary is welcome. Those with mary names as their middle name are honorary participants and included as well. You can see that this encompasses a vast number of women.

IMAD, a history. My friend and I have a delightful tradition of not buying each other winter solstice gifts. Instead we take a day off in December, spend the whole day talking, shopping for others and eating nice meals together. It's fabulous. We noticed that some years the having fun parts got bigger and that much needed holiday shopping was not getting done. This made us feel bad which was contrary to what we were trying to create. So we created IMAD, a holiday for the dark and dreary time of the winter [end of February beginning of March] and we take a Friday off and spend the day having fun, indulging ourselves, eating well, seeing others, seeing art/beauty and practicing extreme self care. And December shopping gets done as well on it's own day.

Many wonder 'hey when is international Brian/Cynthia/Scott/Carolyn/"some name" appreciation day?'
Our reply is whenever you and your like-named set it. This is not a tradition that we are hoarding to ourselves. If you have a name that is widely used and you feel the need for your own appreciation day go to it!

But back to IMAD 2009. Basically an outstanding success. We got 8 inches of snow the day before so extra work and care driving were needed but fun was still had. We didn't try to meet for breakfast since just getting out of my driveway was going to take extra time.

We had pedicures [Ladyfingers in St Paul] at 9 am and perogis at 11:15. Ah perogis oh yummy bundles of potatoey [or prune] goodness. Museum at 12:30. We love to visit small museums on IMAD. That way we can really see the place, not feel overwhelmed and have plenty of time for the talking we love to do. ASI had a wonderful knitting exhibit and a glass exhibit. We also enjoyed touring the mansion. I love functional art and the 11 Swedish tiled shoves just blew me away. It was my first time there in 20 years. Quick shopping followed with fruit break, dinner at 6:00 with 10 other people. My sweet wife even got the VCR working so I caught the third episode of Dollhouse later that night.

All in all a stellar IMAD, just what I needed after the intense full week I had. I hope that people can be inspired to set aside a day for fun, play and cherishing for themselves very soon.

reading list

Reading has been such a big part of my life. I don't remember ever learning how to read it seems that it was always there. [now figuring out what 'x' meant in an algebra equation I remember] I feel sad thinking that reading literature for fun, may be vanishing. Oh well. I have to wonder where on earth this list came from, I skimmed the report but didn't find the list source, this seems to me to be such an odd collection of books. I am amazed I have read less than half of the entries, and I am what most would consider a voracious and fast reader.

Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain. They say the average American has only read 6 of the following:

Key: Bold the books you have already read; Italicize the books you intend to read;
(Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles); if I had to read it for school I underlined it
and just for fun I colored it purple if I have reread it 10x or more

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare [all of them? are they kidding]
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18 ) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 ) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38 ) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48 ) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (may be the funniest book in the world)
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58 ) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68 ) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78 ) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt (when I realized there was a lesbian suicide in it I refused to finish it)
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White
88 ) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 ) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

So what if anything does this all mean? I have no idea. I reread a lot of children's classics over and over. I still love to read children's literature. How exciting to think of the new kiddies in the family to which to read.

falling back on shoulds

You know there is a lot I could write about. A bunch of things happened in the 5 days I didn't blog like a lovely valentines day but mediocre dinner, my guilt over eating tuna, driving up north and narrowing down a list of cabins to view in the future, and an irritating 4+ day headache that peaked last night into a killer migraine.

But instead of chatting about all that I find myself pondering the "shoulds" that come up in my life. Sometimes I can see the should peeking over the shrubbery and I avoid it triumphantly.

However I am starting to realize that sometimes I actively seek out shoulds. I believe I use shoulds as convenient short cuts. When I have a decision to make and I don't feel like I have the time to even think about it I fall back on a should. The only problem with this is I feel uneasy afterwards, inauthentic. It may be the right decision but because I have all kinds of shoulds tangled up in there with it I have no clarity.

Writing this all out has reminded me of a fairly quick decision making technique. Not my original idea. I think I first read about it as a child in Anne of the Island. An indecisive character started to make decisions based on 'just to do what I would wish I had done when I shall be eighty' this doesn't always work but when it does it works beautifully. The resulting decision ends up feeling very authentic and right somehow. Now I just need to remember to do it.

Brow furrowed no longer I go back into the world.

JW is back

I did something different this evening, I watched TV. This, of course, is not a big deal for most people but for me. Well I don't normally watch "TV".

I do watch my TV at times. DVDs and the very occasional sporting event, though I don't think I watched any sports in 2008.

I did not see one political commercial in 2008, that's what not watching TV did for me. Not to mention all the time it frees up that I use for...I have no idea. Sometimes I wonder how I ever managed to watch TV back in the day, because I don't seem to have any extra time now so where did all that previously watching TV time go? Not to the gym unfortunately.

Anyway I actually watched network broadcast TV tonight. Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse. I think it is a very odd show. Disturbing for sure. I mean the kidnapping sub plot was disturbing for me, but the fact that these actives are being used, mind wiped, treated like things is just creepy. And why do they have them sleeping in weird coffin type things?

The back story was just barely hinted at but I am a rather paranoid person. How do we know just who has been wiped and programmed? I mean we see people who are not called actives involved with the dollhouse but maybe they have also been wiped and programmed to be a geeky technician, a doctor, a ex-cop handler and the 'boss ma'am'. It reminds me of Prisoner a bit, at least the creep factor does.

I have no idea where this show will to end up. But I am signing up because I am curious. Mysteries hook me in, we'll see if Joss disappoints.

oh yeah, and commercials are totally different from how I remember them

An Issue of Knitting

I recently cast on a '5 hour baby sweater' for a workmate whose baby is coming any minute. I knew it would probably take me longer than 5 hours but it would be quick enough. These are done on US 10.5 needles. I was using a double strand of sport weight yarn. [past tense indicating spoiler[

By the 6th row my hands were hurting, left more than right. I switch between continental and english styles of knitting, didn't seem to make a difference what style I was using. I was reminded of the bulky weight simple scarf I cast on last October when we had our weekend away. My hands started hurting then too, but then we came back to all the holiday hoopla and I promptly forgot all about it.

Within a 24 hour period I only did 12 rows and my hands were killing me, in fact my left thumb tingled for hours afterwards after quitting. Sunday I pulled it all out. I am totally bummed. First I have to let go of the idea of getting a sweater done for her. If I can't do it the quick and easy way it's just not going to happen. Second, I bought specific sale yarn in a color I never use [sage green] just for this project. I feel bad about 'wasting' the money. Third, why on earth do my hands hurt so much from trying to knit with bulky yarn?! Fourth, why do I feel bad about waste, when I had pure intentions and heck I cannot know the future. Fifth, I hate it when I am hard on myself, you know for being human.

I wasn't having this knit issue in 2007. I have a charity shawl on 13US needles that I work on occasionally, no problem. Heck I knitted about a dozen bulky novelty yarn scarves as favors for my wedding shower. My body has just changed. *sigh*

What else happened today? I had a 3 Novocaine shot visit to the dentist. Steady decluttering of CDs. Toseed some old make up which may not count as decluttering since I treated myself to some of my new favorite eye shadow. Still can't believe I have not only fallen in love with an eye shadow but I blog about it.

I had a great, yet surreal yoga class this evening [probably due to said novocaine]. I have managed to journal the past 2 days and it feels great. I am feeling a bit hopeful that since change will happen perhaps it will include me creating some patterns I earnestly desire. We'll see.

Is it really only Tuesday?


The sound of my life passing very quickly.

See if any of the following applies to your life:

-your 'to do' list is very long or
-it feels too overwhelming to make a list of all you have to do
-your life is full of wonderful things
-sometimes you can't "find" the time to be grateful
-you have trouble making time for the stuff that feeds you
-you want to complain about your workload
-but you feel guilty because you are lucky to have work
-the thaw is exposing vast amounts of dog poo in the yard
-add your own

The thing that is bothering me most on this list is, after the poo, is the doing the stuff that feeds me. Why is it so hard to get in the habit of treating yourself well in practical ways?

Intellectually I know and believe that if I took, say 1/2 hour in the morning, to journal and do qi gong the rest of my life would be better. Those 30 minutes would ripple down in a positive way to me, my loved ones and heck, out to the world. So it's a no brainer right?

This isn't about a 'should', it's about loving myself enough to change habits, stand up for me and do it. I have even managed to implement it at times in my life. But not right now. I feel basically good, although very overwhelmed. I feel fairly willing. But the practice is just not following right now.

Which at this moment seems so discouraging. So it's off to take the fish oil before I forget.

Out it Goes

As some may know, I have a bit of an anti clutter bug. It started in 2002, when I realized my 'stuff' was all too much and I started, systematically, going through everything I owned. The free flylady system was a big part of this. I trimmed down my possessions by 75% and reaped huge benefits from it. There is only one item, an old journal, that at times I wish I still had. Mostly because my memory can be so bad.

For the past year though I have felt like my clutter level was off. I know that clutter is something you have to deal with on an ongoing basis, and I thought I was but I was still feeling bogged down and overwhelmed in many areas of my life. It was a puzzle.

I have largely increased my de-cluttering over the past few days enough so that I am really starting to feel back in balance. I also now realize why I got so off kilter -- it was mostly the wedding.

It seems to be a common thing that weddings involve lot of stuff flowing in and not all that much flowing out. We invited over 100 people to our wedding and that generated a lot of gifts. Also throwing that big of a party took a lot of stuff, even with rentals. I think there were a 6+ months where stuff just kept flowing in and in to our home. We also had weeks of wonderful house guests and that also increased stuff levels. My usual clutter maintenance never got adjusted for this huge influx.

So I spent a year wondering why I felt so out of balance but not realizing what was happening. [Should I feel bummed that it took me that long or just grateful I finely bought a clue?]

Then the holidays rolled around again and yet more stuff in the form of presents came in. Luckily right after my wife went on her first major, throwing things away, getting sorted, binge. It now is so clear to me, I feel like a snake that finally digested a big meal and I don't want to take this metaphor too far but things are now going out in an equally big way.

I have gone through my cd collection and pruned and pruned, at least a third gone. I have gone through my shoes and got rid of a third. I even gave away my wedding shoes and purse which I have no interest in wearing again. I went through my sweater collection and released a third there as well. As well as my clothes closet. I plan on doing more, a bit at a time. There will probably be more sorting updates in the weeks to come.

Winter just seems like the perfect time to me to declutter, I am love, love, loving it. My productivity level is going up and I feel great. I just took my stuff to ARC for donation so it is already out of the house.

There was another two wonderful surprises this week. We got 2 written thank yous in the mail for our dinner party! They are so charming and old fashioned in the nicest way. It's like time-traveling to a more elegant, genteel and idealized time. And how great is it to get something that isn't a bill in your mail?

Now more of my secrets are out, I am that easy. To make me happy just slip me something nice in the mail and help me take out my loads of trash.


Wow, it was quite a weekend. It warmed up nicely on Saturday, I think I heard it was in the 40's. [of course it is 4 right now but we shan't speak of such things] We got up and went cross country skiing first thing in the morning. I lasted twice as long and went twice as far. I really enjoyed it. It's nice to have something winter specific to anticipate.

Then we got ready for our dinner party on and off the rest of the day. It was great fun. The stew was fabulous. It was interesting serving it over potatoes but I am not sure I would do it that way again. The beet salad was ok. I had the wrong type of goat cheese, creamy not crumbly and that made it less good.

The apple tart was yummy and a relief to me since I had an awful fight with the pastry while making it. The fact that it didn't turn out as tough as shoe leather is miraculous. The cinnamon ice cream yummy, but it was a bit soft. A bit longer in the freezer would have been ok, we'll remember for next time. The crostini were edible but need some major tweaking, the spiced nuts and olives fine. The wines and juices thirst-quenching.

Basically just a great time with friends old and new. People didn't leave until after 1:00 am and we were sooooo tired but happy that everyone seemed to be having fun.

The next day was spent in clean up, of which there wasn't much and some rest. It's strange but I love cleaning up after a party, it's my favorite type of cleaning. Putting things back in order after arranging them for my guests seems fun. Hand washing silver and glasses is darn right enjoyable. I seem to be alone in this quirk though, at least I have never found someone who felt the same but for all I know there is probably a website devoted to it somewhere.

I celebrate Imbolc on February 1st so I went out with 2 close friends for an early quick dinner before we all enjoyed a lovely evening english country dancing to live music. That was quite the work out. We are starting to learn the dances for the Ball in the spring. So far not one that I dislike.

So a lovely weekend and now I am feeling worn out and ready for some downtime this evening. I want to be awake for yoga tomorrow. I realize I have the energy to report but none to reflect, oh well. basic blogging, I guess.