not new at all

I was rooting around in my blog trying to find my posts on self-compassion.
But there weren't any.

I was flabbergasted for a while. This whole thing I have been doing since June which I totally love -- I haven't written about it.
Seems strange. Why did this happen? I came up with two possible answers.

In the same time frame there was the new garden, also loved, and I talked about it instead.
This could be one of those things that sounds stupid when you try to use words. So I didn't.

I'm betting the second is the winner but I have decided to give it a try today.

Last June I took a wonderful "dealing with shame" workshop. I was introduced to a new book on Self-Compassion. I found much of it completely wonderful. Perhaps it was just the right time or perhaps it was the writing style but although many of the concepts were not new I absorbed them differently and they turned me different colors.

I became aware that although I had thought self-compassion a wonderful thing. It was not something I felt very often. It was not present viscerally in my life. Once I started a self-compassion practice I noticed much more ease around working with habits and patterns. In some cases I moved through difficulties more quickly and when I didn't I could give myself compassion for that as well. It has become a dearly loved tool to help me thrive.

I admit I am not satisfied with my words above, but I comfort myself with the idea the writing about experiences is just very hard.

To sum up: You may like this book [and practice] as well.
Why not get it from the library and find out? Also I learned I love oxytocin.

please come back

Dear Peach Colored Zippered bag,

I really miss you. You were made by a dear friend who can make practically anything! You are subtle on the outside and brilliant on the inside. You remind me of her and many happy chats and adventures.

I don't just miss you, I miss all that you hold. Metal crochet hooks, a needle nest, darning needles, stitch markers, stitch holders and other knitting aids. You are so complex. I miss all parts of you.

I don't just miss you, I need you. I want you back in my life. You are important to me. Do I sound desperate? I don't care if I do. I could perhaps replace you but it would never be the same. It wouldn't be you.

Tell me what I can do? Spend more time knitting? Show you more active appreciation? I am willing to make changes if you will only come home.

Most sincerely hoping for the continuation of our creative partnership, EB

p.s. this love letter is not a metaphor

remember this - massage timing

I need to remember this and I am concerned that the foul headache [fowl headache? a goose of a headache?] I have right now will get in the way. So I am going to put it here.

Massages are wonderful, wonderful things. I love them and I adore the woman who does this for me. But there are after-effects from massages. [grogginess, spaciness, toxicity] If I have to go to another appointment after my massage and sit still and listen intently for 1.5 hours then I will stiffen up. My poor body will not process all the good that was the massage.

I need low key spaciousness after my massages. I would love to remember this the next time I book a massage.


xmas 2011

I have been thinking about this year's xmas and decided what I really need to do is Friday chicken about it. [The link will take you to the explanation of this wonderful ritual on the fluent self.] Even though there is no Friday nearby.

The Grinchy Stuff--

Blue Music --I played a xmas album from my childhood and I was propelled into a cranky and weird place. It took me several songs to realize this and turn the damn stuff off. Then I was sad because I didn't want the music to make me sad. Huh.

Rare insomnia--So little sleep the night before made me much less resilient. [and crabby part of the next day]

The haddock-- not skinned

Meaningless communications from afar--left me feeling inauthentic and grumpy. It also awakened a younger past hurt self which may be why the music affected me so much.

Missing friends who are sick -- :(

Bad Guessing -- Must return present, not the right size.

Pain -- hip, foot, neck, shoulder. Ow. Carrying a lot of pain and trying to be gentle about it. Hating how hard it is to sit.

Breaking -- brand new stuff breaking like mini acceptance reminders. Disappointing but I did remember to be curious about it.

The Sparkly Stuff--

Best Music--some xmas music did make me happy and this version of this song is my favorite this year. Does it make you want to dance? There was lots of dancing in our kitchen. I am shocked to find I like it better than the Chuck Berry version. Any other opinions on best music?

Dinner -- the food turned out wonderful. People ate more pasta than in past years, so next year cook at least 2# and make triple batch of Pollo alla Cacciatora.

Gifts -- The care and thought supporting some of gifts I received moved me to tears of awe. I love that people know me. Also my wife loved the gift I bought for her last June. It was totally worth waiting until now to give it to her.

Weather -- I have been grooving on the brown lawns and clear sidewalks. For once I don't miss the snow. I have been walking every day for 7 days in a row and watching the blackbirds with wonder. They are awesome. Today they all had patches of orange light on them as the sun hit their sooty feathers just right.

Halfway through Yule -- Feeling smooth as I swoosh downhill toward more revision time.

Dharma talks and Play time -- I had space and time for myself to do self-care, nurturing stuff. I was pretty good and hushing my gremlins who tried to tell me to do 'shoulds' instead.

winter solstice 2011

What a wonderful solstice this year! We got a bare dusting of snow yesterday afternoon and it was fun to see everyone's eyes lighting up when it started. Most were hoping for several inches but it was not meant to be. I felt upbeat over the sear, brown holiday vista. It was still solstice.
There were presents and my favorite mock duck rolls and a massage and laughter and hard cider. I opened my wonderful new scent. I chortled over a super drive for my air book. I reread The Dark Is Rising, that classic tale.

A lot of the laughter was generated by HOT CORN! at the Bryant Lake Bowl which has at least one more performance next week. I was also told by one whose taste I can depend on that the Klingons in Chicago still have honor. Through my tears I urge you to see the Klingon Xmas Carol if you have the chance that I, alas, do not this year. I also had tears, this time happy ones, from this story. Opinions can and do change.

All these delightful trappings aside the light is coming back, and in the end that is what makes midwinter celebrations so meaningful. As we start in on 12 days of festivities I hope all can find some joy or peace or ease. Perhaps all three.

no weather grumbles

In the spirit of "everything changes" my attitude towards snow and December has transformed this year.

Formerly I was, let's call it bitter, if we did not get snow in December. For years I saw it as my 'right' for living so far north. I certainly had a strong attachment to snowy Decembers and a whole snow fort full of expectations.

I had many brown Decembers as a child and back then I always yearned for snow. Currently I like snow and cold and all the seasonal fun stuff, and I do enjoy winter coming in with a white blanket. It puts me in a festive mood.

This year though we are brown and green and mild and I don't mind at all! It's like my eyes suddenly changed colors. It seems strange and natural at the same time. I think I got so full of snow last year that my snow cup is still full. Or perhaps I am just enjoying the now that is right here. My thyme is still green in my herb garden? I just picked some along with kale yesterday!

There is no snow on the near horizon and I feel fine. Grumble free! Me but different.

I hope everyone is gearing up for a peaceful week whether you celebrate the holidays, the snow or not. It's all good.

some seasonal things

Has my mental landscape resulted in a few dreary posts this week? I believe so. While the gloom is a true thread it is not the entire story so I want to mention the bright spots that were intertwined with the gloom, three leap to mind.

This week contained the anniversary of the day I met one of my oldest and dearest friends. I am so grateful for this amazing woman and I love her dearly. We spent a whole day together shopping, talking, laughing, eating and remembering. I hope I have many more decades with her in my life. A true sister of the heart.

We put our tree up and the lights on it. It smells like a magic forest. We used red and white lights for the first time and it looks like a giant peppermint. The tree shadows on the walls are delicate tracings of shadow lace.

Not all December traditions were canceled, I'm so grateful for that. The annual food shelf concert by Ellis was yesterday. I have been enjoying this performer since 2003, and this concert is a big part of my enjoyment. She tours so check her out the next time she is your backyard.

It's good to remember the shiny stuff that goes on in my life and to sink into the darkness of this month as a friend not as something to push away. After all the light is coming back soon.

no Klingons

Everything changes and sometimes it's great. Like my best friend just bought a new peridot green bike and I foresee many rides together in 2012. Yeah!

But I want this blog to be authentic and some things suck.

Sometimes change is not great at all. Go ahead click on the link, it's a short notice. Did you see the relevant [to me] part?

The 2011 production marks the 6th time the show has been put up, and the 2nd time in the Windy City.
There are no other productions in 2011.

No Klingon Xmas Carol in Minneapolis this year. [you know it's hard to type when you have a fist in your mouth to hold back the sobbing]

Seriously, really I couldn't be happier for you all in Chicago. They are introducing a new score this year and everything. Wonderful. Look at all those showings through the end of the month. You should totally go and tell me about it. I want them to do well, really. I mean it.

Yeah. Enjoy. sniff

why did I order that pizza?

Why do I keep ordering pizza I don't want to eat?

Background facts:

I love the homemade pizza I had as a child.
I love the pizza we had in Rome
I cannot replicate those pizzas here in the Midwest in my home.
No one else can either.

Dissecting what happens:

I start craving pizza. I haven't had it in months.
I start thinking about pizza and how much I enjoyed it in the past.
I start plotting -- I could have pizza soon.
Then I order some pizza .
I feel a glow of happiness-pizza is coming. yea!
Pizza arrives and it's not the like the pizza from my childhood or Rome.
I am disappointed in the pizza and don't enjoy it.

Wait about 4-6 months and it happens again! and again. and again.
I realize that occasionally I am a slow learner.

Grasping at straws I hope that if I write about it perhaps next time I won't order the pizza.
It's worth a shot, we'll see what happens come May.

Feel free to share tips on how you handle this, because it may not be pizza for you, but I bet there is something.

p.s. why yes this pizza may be a metaphor...

I forget, goodbyes are hard

I have a theory.

Sometimes I forget things because a part of me wants to forget them. That's fine but it's never permanent. Eventually the 'thing' will roll back around and then I will remember all, vividly.

This past month I had to say farewell to a friend and it was so painful. As soon as I felt the pain I remembered past farewells like a scent from childhood.

The combination of present pain and remembering is tidal. It brings me to an inescapable present of heavy eyes and heart. There is no leaving it behind since it surrounds me on all sides. I also remember how it softens -- eventually and then fades a bit and then it's gone. Moved through, forgotten.

But right now - I remember.

before turning

I haven't made it to the Y in what feels like forever and wow can I tell. True it's only been a week or so, but I really miss it.

I'm frustrated that I can't seem to get trips to the Y into my schedule before Saturday, but that doesn't quite explain why I am almost craving it.

Then for the past 3 days I have been also been craving veggies. Last night I actually had salad instead of the fabulous fries I usually get with my sandwich at Sun Street.

Suddenly I want to revise my fiction writing. Did I 'sit' on it long enough to hatch it or what?

This is all fine and at the same time a bit strange.

I feel like I should buckle up for the next turn of the wheel.

Only a week Late

Remember that crazy secret goal I had to not just write 50,000 words for nanowrimo but complete my entire first draft in November?

I didn't make it.

But last night, just under a week late, I did!!

I wrote an entire first draft between November 1 and December 6.

I am happy but my head hurts so it's hard to be too happy right now. Still it feels pretty awesome especially since I did it during a very hard and busy month+.

My next goal is not to collapse in a heap for December but to keep my writing momentum going. So I am starting a serious revision of my first novel. The kind of revision that when I am done I have something I could let a friend read.

I have my steps mapped out. I have found my theme. I have written a blurb to help me remember what it should be about. I have printed the entire first draft out.

Using all that paper was guilt inducing but I think it will be worth it. My old revision attempts did not have clear steps, now I have them.

I want to set a 'revision done' goal. I am thinking January 31.
Too soon? Pushed out too much?

hosting a wedding

Yesterday we did a new thing and hosted a wedding in our home. My writing partner and her true love were married in front of our dining room window overlooking the herb garden. Little did I know last spring when I designed the garden that dear friends would want to get married with that as a back drop.

Naturally one thing went wrong, I broke the coffee maker an hour before the guests arrived. Our neighbors, who are dolls, loaned us their coffee maker for the afternoon.

The flowers looked lovely. My one sister-in-law watched our noisy dog, who is very hard to handle at indoor parties. My other sister-in-law helped out in the kitchen during the most crucial two hours. Very few presents were brought, which is great because it can be hard to keep track of such things at a wedding.

I think it went well, everyone seemed happy, the falling snow happened after everyone had arrived. The food was enjoyed. Every scrap of my artichoke dip was eaten, as well as multiple cheeses, pate, smoked salmon, caviar and other yummy stuff.

My writing partner carried the handkerchief carried by my mother [and me and my niece and...] at her wedding over 60 years ago. For good luck.

The mocha wedding cake [not made by me] was truly decadent yet somehow light. It was the right size, most of it was eaten.

The couple getting married were radiant and their jack russell made an adorable ring bearer.

My wife and I were too tired to go to the after party down the street, which was a shame but we took a short stroll through the snow globe that was our neighborhood last night and slept the sleep of the satisfied.

It was truly a delight. I recommend hosting a wedding to anyone. :)

beautiful blue

Well here it is the last day of November and I won

word count= 58175

but I didn't make my personal goal of complete first draft finished in a month. I am in the middle of the climax scene, so I am close, but not done. I did notice this new goal helped with my focus.

So victory? Not too sure what to call it. Smells a bit like victory.

I do claim victory with the waterfall decorations. We are snow free right now and we decorated the waterfall with a a stream of blue lights and it looks so awesome.

My wife and I just look out the window at it and sigh with delight. It's amazing to be enjoying the waterfall in almost December.

Lots of stuff coming up next month. Shopping trip, hosting a wedding, much baking, mailing, lots of fun cards to send, food shelf concerts, tree buying, holidays. It's all coming soon.

A big grateful sloppy kiss to November and to you all. X

Thanksgiving Report 2011

It was an awesome Thanksgiving. I enjoyed it immensely. We hosted a dear group of friends for dinner and then did the family thing for games that evening at my sil's house. The mashed potatoes and collard greens were outstanding. My persimmon pudding very good. Really the main deadbeat was my stuffing. The brand of seasoned bread was Canterbury organics and it made the most dry stuffing ever. Luckily gravy fixes most things like that on one's plate.

The turkey had a good flavor but also seemed on the dry side. Did the stuffing dry the turkey out? Was the turkey already dry and that contributed to the dry stuffing? I don't know that I will ever ever know the answer but that did not seem to dampen anyone's enjoyment of each other which I think is more important than the food. [did my italian ancestors just roll over in their graves?]

No writing was done Thursday but still my word count is doing well: 49, 897

Since it is November 26th and I have a fiendishly busy week ahead I don't think I'll make my goal of 'complete first draft' done by Wednesday. So I am going to shoot for at least 60K. That seems attainable but still a stretch with the long days I need to put in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Time to write like the wind.

I hope everyone who celebrated enjoyed the holiday and happy weekend to all!

prepping for thanksgiving

So much has been happening in this great week so far. But at the moment I have 2 things on my mind, getting ready for Thanksgiving and writing.

word count= 45,079

I am feeling odd about that word count, winning nanawrimo is more than on track for the month. But finishing an entire first draft is seeming more dreamlike than ever for this year. However after I told my wife about my latest plot the idea for the final climatic scene came to me, whereas before I had no idea how this story was going to end. I knew stuff that would happen in the end but now I have a drama to build up to....

A much easier task is getting ready for Thanksgiving. We are gong to be a smaller group this year which sounds lovely to me. I love the changes from year to year. My wife is picking up our fresh turkey this morning, the celery and onion are minced for the stuffing, which I will put together tonight. I baked my rustic apple tart this morning. I wonder how the crust will turn out, has my crust luck finally changed? It did seem a bit dry to me. When I get home from my lunch with a friend I will make the persimmon pudding, finish setting the table and check things off my list. Hopefully I will end up with time to write as well.

A big thanks to all of you who are reading, seems appropriate to mention that this week. xo

roller derby relaxation

word count = 39763

This past weekend I finally made it to the roller derby and had a blast. It took some effort to get there. We had the first snow of the season that day, a good 2-3 sloppy inches, so that slowed traffic down quite a bit. There was also a hockey game that night right next door which made for crowded conditions everywhere [parking, roads etc]

Still it was great to watch 4 teams battle it out and enjoy all the clever names the women give themselves. There aren't too many bouts in a season but we're hoping we'll be able to go again soonish. Then Sunday morning was full of shopping and later it was all calm with lots of writing. I did manage to find bread stuffing without sugar in it once again.

I didn't write at all Saturday, I just couldn't figure out where to go next, but the story opened up again and I have been clicking away. Since I have the week off from work getting the entire first draft seems possible.

Dinner out with the Bachelor Farmer

But before my restaurant review the updated word count = 35,212

I was a bit surprised when a friend suggested we eat at the Bachelor Farmer last night. It felt a bit out of left field for her but isn't that a great things about friends, they can still surprise you?

I was also a bit skeptical, I had read mixed food reviews and had also read how it was the new 'trendy' spot. That it would be impossible to get in and it's true that when I tried to make reservations at open table there were none free until next Monday. However, Heidi's is booked up even more than that. Since we were planning on eating early we decided to wing it, we could always eat in the bar or even someplace else. The warehouse district is not short on restaurants after all.

We got there early at 5:45, found an inexpensive meter parking right in front and were seated immediately. Although the restaurant was quite full, even at 8pm there were 2 other tables and a booth free so don't let the crowds deter you but go for it if you are interested. The decor was a lot of soft wood, blues and grey with a few bright touches of primary colors. The banquette was comfortable.

None of the entree descriptions grabbed my taste buds, perhaps because that is one part of the menu that has been poorly reviewed quite a few times. We were in a mood for sharing so we ordered one starter and 3 of the 'toast' selections along with a half bottle of wine and that was more than enough food.

We had the scallop starter, which was delicious both the scallops and the potato pancake were perfectly done. The toasts we chose were the roasted beets with farmers's cheese, the duck pate and the baked camembert. The toasts got better as we worked our way down the line. The pate once it reached room temperature very good. The camembert with the autumn vegetables was very, very good and went so perfectly with the wine.

Luckily both my friend and I like dry wine so after we picked out the food is was fairly easy to order the Savignon Blanc '10, Regis Minet, Pouilly Fume which was wonderful. I was sorry to not get to try the Barolo, but maybe next time.

The truth is that being out with good friends is a big part of what makes eating out lovely and that just added to my evening. It was so enjoyable but I don't know that I am dying to go here again just for the food.

I have been enjoying a lot of outings this week, I just realized I haven't blogged yet about Sun Streets new dinner service. Maybe next time. I have to crack down to writing, the fun is great but certainly takes up writing time.

up a wall

word count = 34034

Nanowrimo is going great, I am certainly on pace for the 50K. But I am only averaging 2K words a day and I need to do more if that first draft is going to get done.

Part of writing is sitting or standing still a lot. Too much for my body and I have been getting a lot of leg cramps from it. I thought that I had been vigilant about exercising but no enough to counteract the increased sitting, I'm still having pain.

So the past couple days I have been trying to do my meditation with my feet up the wall, it's helping but it is hard sometimes to stop writing.

Can moderation and a first draft in a month co-exist together?

back to weddings

A bit of exciting news. My wife and I are going to be hosting a wedding in less than 3 weeks.

Not only am I helping out a bit by hosting my old writing partner's whirlwind nuptials but I also ordered their cake for them to today. One of my favorite bakers is fitting in the last minute cake into her packed schedule. She is an artist so I merely relayed the couple's request for mocha and now we'll see what happens. I know it will be fabulous.

Other news, my word count...30,272. Could it be I'll finish a first draft in a month? stay tuned!

weekend writing report 2

Well the weekend is almost over and my word count isn't quite where I would like it to be.

word count = 24,191

I am on pace for Nanowrimo, but I am starting to wonder if I can meet my secret goal of a complete first draft in a month. The month is almost half over and it's filling up with non writing stuff.

Today I made some venison stew with dumplings, I think it's a good one, although I'm not sure if/when I'll have time to write it up.

There is Thanksgiving to plan-- although that's a happy event. There are the other holidays to start planning. And perhaps even a wedding to host?!

Lots of stuff to think about when I am not writing, but when I am writing I plan to
write like the wind! Happy week to all.

get write to it

Word count = 18,618

I actually took yesterday off from writing. it was strange after 7 days of hard slog, but training [at work] has given me nasty migraines and I realized I just needed to turn off everything.

So I did and it helped some.

Hopefully today will be another stellar writing day, the start of a good weekend. Hoping the same for you all.

write on!

My word count is looking pretty good right now, which is great because not much writing got done today. So far less than 500 words and I really need to go to bed soon!

word count=15,929

What a week it has been. My mind is sore from training and writing. And could it be that I had my last bike ride of the season today? I hope not. Saturday may be back in the 50s. It was weird though to have 6:30 pm seem so dark and quiet. It seemed more like 11 pm.

Well I have a 'write' date planned for tomorrow night so I hope to crank up those numbers. I would still love to make that private goal of a whole first draft in a month.

writing it out

I wrote over fifty-five hundred words yesterday. Word count = 12,874

I even got a little writing done at breakfast before training this morning, and I think I'll be able to eek out some more this evening.

Currently I am enjoying my story. It's in the same world I started building a couple of years ago, and I love fleshing it out even more. Some characters I enjoy are in the background. And my new young heroine, Althea, has been a delight. Pretty impressive for a 17 year old, but then I'm not her mother.

I am hiding in my story right now for good reasons. A friend got diagnosed with cancer last week and now we are waiting to hear what stage it is at--it's a frightening time. Enough to make an author retreat far away to a world where sudden illnesses are never sudden if you are the one writing them.

Seriously go hug someone you love, a pet, a tree. Because it's really all too short sometimes. xo

plans changed due to crowds

Word count = 8064.

I am hoping today will be a good for writing, I already have over 1000 words. I got up fairly early and did a quick intense work out at the Y first thing. Then I attempted to go to one of my favorite cafes for brunch and writing but I didn't even get in the door. It was packed!

That was disappointing and I was so hungry by the time I got back home needing to cook myself something. Still post food everything seems to be working out fine for now. I am certainly ahead of last year's pace.

One of the downsides of writing is all the extra inactivity, my body hates that. So I am going to try to insert my mini intense workouts several times a week. It was be especially challenging this week at work. Extra time in the office for training means extra sitting. I'm sure it will work out somehow with some luck.

Oceans of good luck to everyone's challenges!

needing that extra hour

The clocks get turned back tonight and I am really looking forward to that 'extra' hour.

Word count=2849

I had a truly delightful day yesterday, it was a wonderful birthday though not tear free. I was given breakfast in bed. I had a long bike ride and lunch with a friend. [weather was really nice] I even sat out by the waterfall for a bit. I had dinner with my wife and good friends and then went to the burlesque show, which is always a fine way to start a weekend.

On top of all that I got 2000+ words written and really enjoyed in all around. The only downside is how tired all this fun left me. We were up early for another bar mitzvah where I was once again amazed by the preparation and dedication of the 13 year old in question. Truly inspiring.

Although part of me would like to write that extra hour, I'll be sleeping.
The wish of a great weekend to all!

for the third

Just a drive by snippet to check in. Word count is at a paltry 627.
Or perhaps it's not paltry but exciting.

It's certainly miraculous since I did this writing in about 22 minutes over 2 days.
That was all the time I had free. It's of my typical nanowrimo quality, absolute dreck.

But this year I don't have company, I am not cooking thanksgiving [I think], I am not traveling and I have all of Thanksgiving week off. So either I'll get tons done or the lack of pressure will lead me sluggishly to failure.

I have lots of writing schedule for tomorrow as well as fun planned. I'm really looking forward to a three day weekend.

the lovely insanity of nanowrimo

Here it the start of Nanowrimo and I am ready to dive in. Unfortunately work and a meeting will get in the way of writing until the evening, but still it seems enough that the day is here.

And as if the craziness of writing 50K words of complete dreck for the month wasn't enough I have a secret samhain wish. A secret goal.

I would love to write a complete first draft of dreck this month. Not just 50K words but all the way to the end of the first draft. [wow, it was even scary typing that out]

This of course means about 80K words which averages out to another 1000 words a day [or so]. Let's be generous and call it 2700 words a day. That number just wants to make me laugh. Because I am not one of the lucky ones who can take all of November off. And although I have 6 vacation days this month, I also have a full week of training and lots of other responsibilities.
I don't know it it can even be done. I will be happy, very happy if I get to my nano 50K goal seriously, but part of me would love to have a completed draft on December 1? It's good to have goals, right?

Best part of Iowa

We went to Iowa to pick up a car that we had bought. The trip went quite well. The weather was great. The car, though even dirtier than we expected, is great. [saab 9-5 with hail damage] It was wonderful spending several hours connecting with my wife after being gone for 8 days. I usually have great luck finding places to eat, although that didn't happen this time we had snacks in the car.

The best part though was at a rest stop in Iowa. We were walking around a bit, stretching our legs and headed for the building and my wife turned to me and said. 'We can get married here'.
It was awesome to realize that.

Here it is Samhain and I am not sure what we will be doing. I did take the day off but it seems like my long illness that was October really put a damper on my planning gene. We'll see how the day unfolds.

I am remembering those who left this past year, especially Dan. May memories of your ancestors and loved ones be of a comfort to you.

Happy to be Back

At last I really feel like I am home. My trip to CA seemed really long and disrupted my schedule in all ways. Then just I was getting back into a groove I needed to make a quick [read exhausting] trip to Iowa. This morning I am finally feeling grounded and here again.

I am not sure why I keep thinking I will have extra time to write when I am traveling when this has never been proved by experience. Once again my extra tiredness [and weird internet connections] kept me from doing much at all online . I really missed it.

On the plus side I haven't spent the past 2+ weeks blogging about the cold that has been dragging me down. I have been sick since October 3 and it seems to be hanging on. I still have a bit of a cough, but I did notice I could smell things again yesterday! So it seems hopeful that full recovery is arriving soon.

Almost November and Nanowrimo! Are you doing it this year? We start in less the 2 days

fourth second one

A few days ago we celebrated the anniversary of our Canadian wedding with a workout at the Y and Indian take out. We had tickets to go to the final Lynx game that night but that didn't happen since they clinched the championship on 10/7.

It was just a nice evening being with my wife and feeling grateful for my marriage. We chatted about our third wedding which I firmly believe will happen some day and agreed that we would finally have Indian food for at least one of our wedding celebrations.

I spent a lot of this week thinking about people who were coming out for the first time, Frank Kameny, the rights we don't have and how much our society has changed. Yes, I think I will get that third wedding and this time no white!

certainly surreal

The weekend we just spent up at the cottage was incredible and surreal. The weather is what gave created the dream-like quality.

It was warm, gloriously warm for northern WI, for the second weekend of October. It was summer, we wore shorts and sandals and hung out on the deck in bare feet. Over half of the leaves were off the trees, the water was warm, and many of the birds had left. Though we did hear the geese calling out as they flew through the moonlight on Saturday.

The wind kept rushing and singing through the trees and even after the sun set it was still warm all night long. We never used a jacket. The bugs, thanks to the wind and the cold snap in September, were few.

I sat and recovered from my illness. I read and read many of the 'maisie dobbs' series. I noticed connections between the depression of the 30's [the era of the novels] and the times we are living in right now. I rocked in my chair on the deck and looked at the incredibly blue sky of October that did not match the warm temps. The few gold leaves left on the Aspen fluttered constantly. Things looked almost wintery but felt like August.

It was a true gift from the universe. I don't know if the weather patterns are changing so that I'll have an autumn like this again, but it doesn't make me relish it any less. I felt stretched out by the wind and the rest.

fourth first one

Yesterday we celebrated our fourth anniversary. The weather was eerily summer-like similar to 2007. We left for dinner with light shirts and no jackets. I wore sandals. We seriously considered eating out on the patio, it was so warm.

We finally made it to Heidi's, our first time since their opening in their new location [after the fire] I enjoyed my meal but my head cold affected my tastebuds. My healthy wife said it was one of the best meals she had all year. [and remember we ate at Chez Panisse in March]

Parking is miserable over there and we got lucky with on street parking. The new space is lovely and so is the patio. I am fortunate to have reservations there next week with friends hopefully by then I'll be able to appreciate and taste the food.

Besides being happy about getting married 4 years ago to a wonderful woman who I love more each year [so cliche but true] I also thought about this blog. This blog originally from my being engaged to be married and all that entailed for me. In a way this blog is a child of those marriage plans. For the first time I wondered "if I hadn't said yes, would I even be blogging now"?

I can't imagine not being married right now. Barring the unknown, it is where I plan to stay. And in a similar manner I feel that way about blogging, it just fits somehow.

Love to all the unlikely partnerships out there.

not so sure now

I had been thinking that my head cold was a small price to pay for a fun weekend of dancing but now ...

I spent the evening listening to the radio since I could not use my ticket to watch the Lynx beat the Dream in the second game of the finals. Because of this wet germy head cold. Radio was my only option at home since we don't have cable. It was an incredible tight game and I am happy we won it and I am glad we found someone to use my ticket.

I also got some knitting done, it kept me from biting my nails when the game got tense. I am sorry I couldn't be there though. Game 3 on Friday, I'm not sure if my nerves can stand it.

so little time to say so much

So many delightful things have been happening in the past week that I have felt time-squeezed. I am going to try to remember a bunch of them.

Last Tuesday 9/27 it seemed like autumn had really started. It was like a painting as I walked across the office parking lot. The sky was a cloudy, matte grey-blue. The trees lining the drive at work. I think they may be lindens. Were just starting to turn colours and were a glorious combination of every shade of yellow, gold and green. Against the grey-blue sky they seemed to be lit from within. For me it was a perfect melding of beauty and spirit.

Since then we have had lovely autumn weather, in fact this week we are revisiting summer. The best kind of summer with low humidity, no bugs and cool nights. I just sit in the garden and look all around in delight. Riding anywhere on the bike seems like the most brilliant activity ever as does anything taking place outside.

Thursday we saw Catie Curtis perform and enjoyed it so much. It's been several years since we have seen her so we were so glad to make this one. She gave a wonderful show. Her voice, studio recordings just don't do it justice.

Then it was time for the MN Country Dance Weekend. I danced Friday night and all day Saturday, I wanted to go to the ball Saturday night but I fell asleep on the floor. They were doing a Harry Potter theme and I am so sorry that I missed it! It's been a couple of years since I have done contra and it was fun to remember what an incredible workout it is and less fun to remember how boring it can be it it's full of long spins and not much else. It did inspire me to get back to challenge contra again though if they ever offer it again.

The rest of my catch up will have to wait. I have a head cold that I think I caught while dancing. It is worth it though.

so on the first day of autumn

How I spent my equinox.
I wore my brown boots. I started to break in new shoes. I finished a wool scarf, this one, finally.
an aside for knitters:
Seriously it's just silly that it took me so long to finish this. The chill of equinox got me going and it worked out pretty well. Long enough to wear my preferred way and very cozy. One skein was plenty, I have leftovers. But why did I wait so long???

I had a leisurely brunch with a friend. I rode my bike, I worked on my recent creative wind up to Nanowrimo. [how are you getting ready for nano?] I sat by the waterfall[s] in the garden and enjoyed the sun.

That evening I was out with my wife to have dinner down by the river and take in a show. Poor Ellis had lost her voice shortly before the show, it made for a very interesting evening, I think for all of us, and I certainly appreciate her telling us that it didn't actually hurt because it sounded painful at times. It was cool though to hear familiar songs in a new way and the set seemed different because of her 'new' deep voice. I hope she heals quickly. I will always remember her graciousness and ease during a frustrating situation when I have forgotten other shows when all was 'perfect'.

At some point during the night I dreamed that my wife and I were shopping for dining room tables, that was a weird one. All in all a lovely start to autumn and I hope all are having a great weekend. xo

autumnal equinox 2011

It's late this year but summer is now officially over and my favorite season is starting. We are having a mild day here with a bit of a nip in the air. I am enjoying a day off although I had a rocky start due to some vile pizza at work yesterday.

Creativity and biking are in full flow and I feel fruitful and mellow myself. A few trees are starting to turn and the squirrels are ripping down my neighbors' sunflowers and stealing all the tomatoes they can get their paws on, naughty beasts. It's all good and I am grateful.

Now for gardening wrap up #6.

fourth bed NW, the good:
Many different varieties of lavender, french, english, cynthia johnson. All doing well neither the extreme heat/humidity of July nor the drought of August seemed to bother them. Huge transplanted oregano plants also did well as did both varieties of parsley. The subtle shades of the icelandic poppies were a delight.

fourth bed NW, the bad:
Of all the african daisies these orange ones really hated the heat, even their foliage crisped up. They are finally recovering now even though september is almost over. The poppies didn't make it although I coddled them a lot. Perhaps they were just in the wrong location?

I have loved my new herb garden and I am really happy that we made it this summer. There have been many butterflies and dragonflies in the yard this year so it seems our little ecosystem is doing well. It will be fun to dream about the beds this winter and make plans for the spring.

As we move into the next season I wish all a fruitful harvest of whatever you nutured. peace

lots of labyrinths and 5th garden reflection '11

Saturday morning I had the wonderful opportunity to go out to paths of peace and wander the many labyrinths. There are 15 out there but I only managed to walk 7. Such an incredible creative charge from all of it along with one very stiff ankle.

The morning set me up for the planning meeting that afternoon for the 2012 annual international gathering that will be here in WI. It also gave me a creative push for a workshop idea which I am really looking forward to developing for next year.

Third Bed, NE, the good:
The scented geranium was a joy with its variegated leaves. The two colors of osterspernum worked together, the plummy purple in particular seemed so happy. My big experiment of the Cynthia Johnson lavender are in this and the 4th bed outlining the main entrance. They grew well and I am hoping they are will be as perennial as the claims, I can't wait to see them next summer as well.

Third bed, NE, the bad:
Borage, it was a mistake to plant it on the edge near the sidewalk, it attracted tons of bees. Also I just didn't really like it that much, I don't think I will have it next year. Again those calendula needed constant dead-heading, that got to be too much really and then they just looked ratty.

Overall in this bed some things were great and some just eh. I thought of it as my carnival bed it was jumping with so many bright colours.

yeah music and 4th garden reflection '11

Lots of stuff going on = less blogging time.

So lots of upcoming music this autumn and I am looking forward to it. Last Friday I went out with a friend to see Tret Fure at a nearby coffee shop. It was very small and intimate. For me she is one of those performers I enjoy live but their recordings don't really do it for me so I was happy to get the chance to see her again.

It is so fun to see these women performing who started so long ago in the 70s and early 80s I think. I love being reminded of the strong generations of women before us. Beautiful.

Second bed, SW, the good:

Sorrel, I have already waxed lyrical about it here. My tarragon transplanted successfully. The calendula planted here and in bed 3 were cheerfully orange and the summer savory delicate and pretty.

Second bed, SW, the bad:

Those pink carnations with no scent, so disappointing. The calendula need to be dead-headed daily so I am on the fence if I will have those again. The lovage stayed at about 1 foot not the 4 I was told so the background against the fence was never there. Though it is celery like it is too bitter to eat raw, but I am hoping cooked it will work.

change of seasons and third garden reflection '11

Highs in the '90s Monday then today I woke up to temps in the 40s. Before work I was wearing my leather jacket and it felt good. Amazing change. Although equinox is still 9 days away we are getting a pre-autumnal taste. For me it felt great. Like a vigorous refreshing scrub from the wind, it seemed that both my mind and body woke up in a new tingling way. I hope even the summer lovers can enjoy it a bit.

Still lots of sunshine and no rain. Watering happening again today for the plants that most need it. This brings me to my garden notes. Probably because I am a number geek I numbered the four corner beds and that is how I refer to them.

First bed SE, the good:

I had the last minute idea to plant mostly white flowers in this bed and I liked the effect. I will probably do that again. The white osteospermum stopped blooming in the heat of July but the leaves stayed richly green. The yellow of the dill in the background made the cool whites pop a bit more. The white dianthus flourished which is a first for me. I grew chervil for the first time ever and loved it a lot. I don't think it comes back up here so I will be planting it again next year for sure.

First bed SE, the bad:
The scentless dianthus, I hope to find scented next year. The white geraniums were just eh. Need to plant more coriander. Both the dill and coriander need fencing or twine to encourage them from flopping over. The basil that is planted on the edge of each of the four beds grew well, but only one of the 16 plants grew into the globe that as it was advertised...

Enjoyed this bed all in all, attractive and not too much work...

second garden reflection '11

Since the herb garden has been the big new thing this year I am going to organize my notes on it for 5 posts, bed by bed.

Center Bed, the good:
The white climbing rose we transplanted to the center of the center. It loves it's new home and I have been training it up the obelisk. It is gorgeous right now and enjoying a vigorous autumn bloom. All the boxwood I have planted are alive [even the one that was severely munched] and growing, they are the beginning of the miniature hedge that will echo the brick outline of the center bed, I hope they all make it through the winter. Will use more 'rabbit scram' on them. The two english thyme [creeping] are wonderful with a great lemony scent. They have grown well. The sweet alyssum I planted as an annual filler [due to the small box plants] have done well and been a cheerful purple note of colour. They were planted on a extremely hot day, I wasn't sure they would make it but they did!

Center Bed, the bad:
Those Japanese beetles. I spent a lot of time picking them off the rose. They seemed to love it as much as me. Now I need to figure out how to find and kill their larvae this autumn so that it isn't worse next year! I wish I remembered the name of the rose. :( The obelisk may be a bit too short, it's only 5 feet tall. The bunny that ignored all the spinach and greens in the garden and munched my boxwood. Bad bunny! I am a bit disappointed that the thyme which had great variegated leaves when I bought it turned a bright emerald green. Perhaps that is typical for thyme?

no rain and first garden reflection '11

It's been a long time since we have rain, at least it seems long.

Of course all I need to do is compare it to TX or OK and then I realize a couple of weeks or so is nothing. It does seem strange though, after all the rain and rain and rain to be dealing with some fairly severe dryness. When I did some watering today I almost felt like the plants were both happy and rolling their eyes 'geesh, she finally noticed we're dehydrated'.

Anyway I hope they are happy now. I was the mosquito's dinner tonight but if my plants are happy I am as well.

First Garden Reflection:

As I watered I thought more about my garden and realized that there is a lot I would like to remember about this year so I better start making notes.

The good: My new garden seat that my wife built. I love it more than I can say. And the cheap yellow cushion I found for it has been comfortable. The shelf for my drink was an awesome addition. I hope I get many weeks of sitting on it this autumn. The new chocolate vine is doing well. It did not bloom this year but as it is a perennial I am not too concerned about that. I look forward to seeing what it does next year. The transplanted clematis is doing well also.

The bad: The snail vine. I now know there are two 'snail vines' but the one that is also called the corkscrew vine is the one with the great scent and I do not have that one. I have the one with purple flowers that attracts ants. Luckily this is a tropical vine and will die off this winter. I will not plant this again.

As always gardens are a learning experience.

so if it's not an iPad

Wonder no more. It's a MacBook Air 11.

Although it's been a long time the only computers that I have ever owned, not given to me by work, have been Apples.

First impressions in the first 24 hours: I like it. Easy to use, my fingers only took about 15 minutes to get used to the Mac OS again.

Nice keyboard, nice screen. Freakishly light. Dainty even. I am rather afraid I could accidentally harm it. I need a nice padded sleeve. I look forward to traveling with it.

I wonder how I'll do without the optical drive, probably fine... or else a super drive is in my future.

It's rather freeing after 7+ years to have my own computer again. I'll have to check in after a month or so. I am certainly ready for nanowrimo this year.

so I brought one home

So for the first time since 2003 I am typing on my very own personal computer. The last Mac I bought sometime in the 90's....could it have been a performa? Or did I get one after that? I can't even remember.

I have incredible computer patience, I don't like to upgrade often in home computers... And then in 2003 I decided that my work laptop was more than adequate and I used that for almost everything. It was so much less work although I did miss my Mac OS.

In 2007 my wife shared her elderly laptop with me and I started writing a lot more and it worked fine, until it died a buggy death earlier this year.

Meanwhile all the light portable pads and notebooks were coming out. I did look at the iPad a bit but quickly realized that it didn't do what I wanted, It would irritate me for all the same reasons an iPhone would [which is why I don't have either] but the door to having my own computer was opened.

Then today, a good 18 months later, I have brought one home. Any guesses? It feels indulgent to be buying something like this just for me but so far so good. I think we will be happy together. I can't wait to schedule more writing time and find a nice sleeve for this baby

Here's to many productive years and projects!

memories of India

Yesterday I needed two things. Distraction from all the itching and rice. I wasn't feeling very clever though, it felt like I had used all available brain cells on my work during the day.
[I did have a killer office day though]

Suddenly I remembered this article about BZA India's Kitchen and we hopped in the car and went.

Their food was wonderful and really transplanted me back to Hyderabad. Their portions and hearts are large, their prices and menu choices small. We had the lamb biryani and the butter chicken which were absolutely wonderful. The potato samosas were loaded with different veggies and also superb. The mango lassi and bread were average.

One of the soothing things about this place was it's focus, it is not the same as most other twin cities Indian restaurants. It serves up about a dozen entrees and does them well. But they don't do everything and that is a strength. If we lived in the neighborhood I could see us going there a few times a month, it was that good.

We will certainly go back when we are in the mood for that food again. It's a lovely little place.

The weather was brilliant

My extremely itchy case of poison ivy has delayed this party report. But I have been thinking happily about the party since Sunday night.

The weather, so brilliant for the party. It was such a delight for me to have so many friends in my garden enjoying it. As an added bonus my street was closed due to construction all weekend long. But since it was the weekend there wasn't any work being done. This made parking more of a challenge but the eerie quiet of the street was a precious thing. There should have been a huge block party up and down the street to take advantage of it.

There were occasional clouds scudding across the sky so I did keep the food inside and that worked fine. There was a breeze and the insects were not troublesome.

Some food notes:
~I made way too much chicken salad, but that meant I had plenty for my work potluck on Tuesday.
~After making my regular rather chunky chicken salad I pulsed it in the food processor a bit to make it more of a spread, this kept the sandwich together nicely.
~Not sure still if I liked the cucumber-mint-feta sandwiches enough to do again.
~The scones were fabulous, one per was plenty.
~Next time don't think I'll make deviled eggs the day ahead.
~I like how the chocolate souffle cupcakes turned out.

Since it was lovely summer weather the iced Lady Londonderry Tea was wildly popular. That is by far my favorite tea to ice. I have been drinking it for years. I also made Chai, which one can drink hot or cold and we had some fruit juices and fizzy water. If there was any downside it was my new tea pot did not get used since most people were drinking cool drinks.

It made me realize that I need to invite people over to tea much more often. This may be a new goal. I love our garden and terrace so much! I do feel lucky. I was reminded of the stunning weather there was for my wedding shower, some of the best weather of 2007, my best friend's birthday is a powerful charm.

Happy September everyone. They are saying this is probably the last 90+ day of the year. Autumn is one it's way!!

a garden party menu

Today I am throwing a little garden party and so far it seems like the weather will cooperate! I cunningly planned it for the same weekend as my friend's birthday knowing well the weather deities frequently smile down on her.

Hopefully we'll all be able to loll around in the garden enjoying both the food and the falls. Barring disasters here is the menu, which may be a sneak preview for some of you. My goal was to try to incorporate a lot of produce from the garden right now.

Deviled Eggs
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Cucumber Sandwiches

Vanilla or Orange Currant Scones with clotted cream and jam

Thumbprints with a ganache-like chocolate filling
Pecan Tassies
Flourless chocolate cupcakes with mint cream

Beverages are weather dependent...

We'll see how it turns out. It's fun to be cooking for a party again.

negative beside positve, plus ultra positive

I must have mowed over a patch of poison ivy last weekend and inhaled, because now the poison ivy rash is attacking me in odd places.

I know I didn't brush up against any since I had on long pants, long-sleeved shirt with shoes and socks, I was well covered. As well as taking a shower shortly after I finished mowing...

What this means is for the second time in 2011 I have a fine collection of spots and I am dreamy from the benadryl. For a few minutes on Wednesday I panicked that I was somehow getting chicken pox all over again. Chicken pox flashbacks. But no, it's just a rash, almost certainly poison ivy.

It peaks my curiosity that my pleasure in mowing is joined with something not very pleasurable, they exist together yet so far apart. This juxtaposition happens more frequently than I notice it.
I would like to see it more.

Some things though are purely positive right now. My dear friend's birthday is today. As usual she has glorious weather and I delivered the first of my presents, a whole batch of artichoke dip.

Many happy healthy returns my friend! *Mwahh*