June was a blur! So fast and I was a little bit wrapped up in taking care of some health stuff, like a grown-up-type of a person. Then all of a sudden it was July. But I accomplished a few things off the list.
#2 Read 42 books: (19 of 42 done) Okay, now I’m 2 books behind. (View books I’ve read this year here). I blame The fact that I keep trying to finish “The Goldfinch”. I feel like no matter how far I get in that book I still have 200 pages to go. Also, I didn’t work as much this month which slows down the audiobooks. And also, Orange is the New Black.
#34 Have an over-the-top Flower box: I don’t have any real outdoor space to speak of in my condo. I do have kind of a glorified fire escape/back stairwell deal. There is enough space for a chair that I keep folded when not in use so that my neighbor (who I share the stairwell with) can get to her apartment. But we do have flower boxes and a little table. And this year we’ve filled up the space. I was imagining more spilling-over-edge-flowers, but it ended up a little differently. I still love it.
Why you so sad, bear? You didn’t ask for the lavender life?
and….. apparently that’s all I accomplished from the list this month!
Halfway through the year is a good time re-evaluate the list and make changes to anything you don’t see happening or are as interested in anymore. I’ve made one change so far:
#18 – when I made the list last winter I hadn’t realized that the Summer Solstice fell on Father’s day this year, so I changed this one to the Fall solstice!
on tap for July:
Getting a garden plot in our Community Garden system happens through a lottery system. In mid-March all the local folks who are hoping for some space gather at the Ecology Center and wait for their number to be called. If your number is called you get to go up and choose your plot from the available sites. This year my number was called! And I got what I wanted – a small raised bed in the garden closest to my home. The garden itself is the largest in town with 100+ odd plots available to community members.
I couldn’t wait to get my bed ready for planting and the first sign of warmish weather I filled it with dirt (dirt is heavy as hell, by the way). And then, way before advisable, I put some plants in the ground! A cabbage, kale, Swiss chard and beets. I checked on them obsessively and walked the garden checking out everyone else’s plots anxiously awaiting everyone else to get started. Well, it’s 6 weeks later and it’s been a very cool start to the season. And my garden neighbors are just now starting to get their plots cleared and planted. Luckily, none of my plants died and I’m already eating from my garden.
The truth is – I don’t really know what I’m doing and don’t have a plan. I am trusting that if I put something into the ground and keep it happy – it’ll grow. So far that is working for me
Gah. It’s all just so pretty. And stop lying to yourself if you don’t think that tiny broccoli head isn’t the cutest thing you’ve seen all day. Okay, cutest cruciferous thing – maybe you have a baby puppy and he is probably way cuter.
I forgot to write-up a ‘Round Up’ from last month. And then I realized…I didn’t do so much in April. Let’s see what’s happened since
#2 Read 42 Books - I’ve finished 18 out of 42 books. That’s 1 ahead of schedule! If you’re on Goodreads you might be able to see all the books and the ratings I gave them here. If we’re not friends on Goodreads – let’s remedy that!
#7 – Attend Plays – Specifically Book of Mormon – COMPLETE!
#13 – Try to get a community garden again (did that in March!) If so, grow veggies. COMPLETE!
Check out the first picks of the season:
I plan to do a few posts on the community garden I’m a part of. I’m enamored and want to share what I’m experiencing there.
#21 See an Art Exhibit once a month ( I skipped April. Whatever, April)
I am lucky enough to live in town near a fancy college with a great arts program. In May I went to see the latest exhibit a the Mary and Leigh Block Museum – The Last Supper
I found it moving to see the illustration of what would be potentially the last enjoyable thing in theses people’s lives.
There were plates depicting unexpected humanity.
There were plates where food was denied by the prisoner and plates were prisoner requests had been denied.
“Request: eat from a vending machine with family members”.
The requests ranged from complete gluttony to the very simple; to, as depicted above, the realization that the meal was the least important thing.
If you find yourself in or near Northwestern University I would suggest taking a wander through this exhibit.
#38 – Have 4 parties. I’ve reprised the Kentucky Derby party for the 3rd year in a row! But I didn’t take any pics as evidence. Here is the link from the first year
Okay, plans for June….
I just learned that Book of Mormon made it’s debut in 2011. That means I’ve been wanting to see if for 4 years. That’s not so long in Broadway-musical-terms! And I know that I am not alone in my love for Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But here are 3 facts you may not know:
Okay, anyhow. My friend Krissy and I made the 13 mile drive in a whopping 1.5 hours. Damn you Friday night traffic in the rain!!! We missed the very first moments of the play, but thank to You Tube I’ve now seen it:
And then we proceded to laugh and laugh and laugh. If you have the chance to see it for yourself. DO IT.
March – I hardly knew ye! It went fast, right?
Here’s what I’ve been up to with the 2015 Life list:
It’s a story of twins and psychic abilities and how an earthquake isn’t always an earthquake. These people were tough to like and I found myself so frustrated with many of the decisions they made. Who was I rooting for? The earthquake.
A story about family secrets, family bonds, and the complicated impulse to protect those people despite their actions. I was swept up in this one – due in no small part to how well McHugh makes setting it’s own character. It’s resolution was rather abrupt and maybe done up a bit to cleanly, but it ended maybe in the only way it could.
I had to give up my community garden last year due to what I like to call the broken-foot-debacle-of-2014. As a result I had to go into the lottery to try to claim an available plot this year. And I got one! I really don’t know what I’m doing having never really successfully grown food before, but I’m doing a little research in preparation and will start small. I’m open to suggestions!!
It was a good month!
On tap for May…
**My heart goes out to the folks who were affected by the recent tornadoes that touched down in Oklahoma**
======================================================================================== #1 – Travel somewhere I’ve never been – Complete!
I’ve taken 4 trips birthday trips in the last 5 years – it’s a thing!
With each trip I’ve been able to either visit good friends or travel with them. I’ve entertained the thought of a solo trip, but haven’t yet either got up the nerve or found a trip I wanted to take on my own. That could still happen.
Tulsa was of the visiting-friends variety. My friend Sara and her family moved from Chicago to Tulsa almost 2 years ago. Oklahoma and Tulsa were a bit of a mystery to me (and pretty much everyone else I told I was going there for the weekend – Tucson or Texas is where everybody thought I went). But you guys, HANSON is from Tulsa, St. Vincent is from Tulsa, the Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma… I hear Brad Pitt was born in OK. So stop thinking you don’t know nuthin about Oklahoma.
But here, I will share a bit more about what I learned…
I landed in Tulsa at just around 11am and headed out the meet Sara and her kiddos. The Tulsa airport is itty-bitty and easy-peasy. I basically got off my plane and walked down one hallway straight outside. You should go there!
They gave me a quick tour of the Tulsa that lies between the airport and their home. Their house is awesome and I wish I’d taken pictures of it to share with you, but maybe that would have been weird for Sara and well, I just didn’t do it. Sara has great taste and lots of art and comfy furniture and the house kept going on and on in unexpected ways til you reached the guest suite (that’s right, uh-huh, you know it). Yes, a quiet suite all to myself. I took 2 naps!
After getting a little settled we headed out to lunch at a great little deli – Trenchers Delicatessen. It’s tucked away at the end of a nondescript strip mall – this place was a gem. I had the “Dutch Crunch” – a turkey sandwich with avocado mayo, bacon, arugula and swiss on housemade bread with housemade chips. It was dang good
(#5. 12 new restaurants in 12 new towns)
Everything they serve they make in house. One of the owners was rolling out dough for their breads while we ate. And they had the best fresh squeezed lemonade I’ve had yet. I couldn’t get enough. I’d like some right now, actually.
Next stop – The Woody Guthrie Center!
This is a great little museum celebrating the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie and it’s inexorable link to Oklahoma. There was also a mini Beatles exhibit. (#21 - see an art exhibit once a month)
And look – I learned to play the drums!
Saturday I woke up and it it was my birthday! I think I did feel a little older. ah well. I wandered into the kitchen to find a birthday card propped up against the coffee maker. It was a card from a friend from home…turns out Sara asked some of my friends/family from home and elsewhere to send birthday cards for me to Tulsa. Sara then had them handed to me throughout the day…one by the coffeemaker, one with breakfast, a store clerk handed me one in a shop we stopped into, one came with lunch and so one…everyone should spend their birthday in Tulsa with Sara and have friends like mine!
Sara took me to do a little shopping and out to lunch. Where I saw, but did not consume the following weird sodas that I think Tulsan’s drink in secret
Lunch was juicy burgers and tasty fries from HopBunz Burgers on Peoria. Their fries are made from Maine potatoes…I didn’t know that was a thing, Maine?
My birthday was unfortunately marred by a headache I just couldn’t shake. Sara had planned lots of treats, but about all I was up for was lunch-movie-nap. So that’s what we did.
Sara, her husband Ari and I headed out for an early dinner at Juniper – a fantastic restaurant focused on local, seasonal foods. We started with the charcuterie board and chicken liver pâté, followed by a romaine hearts Caesar salad. I ordered a housemade ginger ale to drink and had the roasted rosemary chicken as my entrée. It was so good.
Seriously, if you are going to go to Tulsa – even if you aren’t going to take my advice and stay with Sara and Ari – eat at all the places we ate. You’ll be a happier person for it.
My flight out Sunday morning was at the crack’o so it was an early night for me.
I can’t wait to go back and see what else there is to eat and drink in Tulsa!
Thanks, Sara, Ari, Charlie and Lucy for giving me such a sweet and lovely birthday weekend!
I hope this was the coldest month of the year (in that I hope it only gets warmer and not ever colder). It’s this time of the year that I gaze longingly at all of the warm weather items and day dream about sunshine on bare skin. sigh. Next year I’m adding to the list “travel somewhere WARM in February”. Am I too young to be a snowbird??
What can I do from my list when it’s this cold?
Well I can always go out to eat.
# 5. 12 new restaurants in 12 different towns (2 down; 8 to go…this is going to be an earlier finisher, I can feel it)
Lyfe Kitchen (Evanston, IL) – Both off on a Friday this month, I met my friend Sarah for lunch at Chef Art Smith’s new(ish) health food joint in Evanston. Their aim is to make good, wholesome, healthy, local, sustainable food and serve it up fast. You can find vegan, gluten-free and nut free options. I of course went for meat on bread – Grilled Chicken and Avocado sandwich.
It was good, your basic grilled chicken sandwich, but I had order-regret. They have so many other healthy interesting options! next time it’s the quinoa crunch for sure.
Bodhi Thai (Berwyn, IL) – Headed down to Berwyn with my friend Peggy to grab dinner before seeing a play written by a friend-of-friends (see below). Not one to miss out on an opportunity to try a new restaurant we settled on Bodhi Thai. I was a few minutes from home before I realized I’d forgotten my phone. I decided to risk it. We had set plans to meet, I knew where I was going, if she needed to cancel at the last minute – I’d figure it out. All went well until I realized out that I didn’t know where I was going in that I’d remembered the address incorrectly. But – shit, I grew up without a cell phone – I know what to do in this situations, you go to the nearest gas station and ask to use the phone book! Does anyone still have phone books? the attendant looked at me funny when I asked, but then was delighted to find out tucked under god-knows-what behind the counter. Bodhi was listed! I had just switched a couple numbers and was just a few blocks away. It was warm and lovely inside. A very small restaurant, it was packed at 5:45pm.
I’d read about the Sweet potato and corn fritters – so we started with those
And I ordered my standard Pad Thai chicken. It was reliably good – but again I had order-regret. I need to expand some horizons! I need Thai-food inspiration **What is your favorite Thai dish to order?**
#7 – Attend plays
I seem to have left this one open ended…hmmm, I was a little disappointed not to cross if off this month. But I think I will as soon as I see at least one more play. This month I went to see a play that was written by a friend of friends – Stephanie Walker. Her play “The Art of Disappearing” was being performed at the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn. The play centers on an estranged family who have to awkwardly begin to come back together and figure out how to rely on one another when the mother is diagnosed with early onset dementia. The story is real and painful and the actors were brave in their performances. I loved it! The performance in Berwyn has run it’s course, but check out her website above for any future performances of her work.
22. Learn how to use all functions of my camera Complete!
I found a class last week on Dabble.co that would teach me how to use the manual functions of my digital camera. I use to know what aperture and f-stops and ISO and all that stuff use to mean back in the good old days of film cameras, but have completely forgotten. The class was in a little photography gallery in town so I ended up with a two-fer when I stayed to also see their current exhibit. The instructor would lecture a little and then we would get up and practice changing the shutter speed or the f-stop or both or what-have-you. A little bit of my glory-film-years came back to me, but mostly I had trouble totally grasping what you do and when and blah, blah blah. Mostly it’s so.much.adjusting. And now I remember why automatic is so appealing. But I did get this one photo I liked.
This guy was my partner for part of the day and unfortunately I didn’t ask his permission to post this so if I start to feel guilty about it I might take it down. Look at it while you can!
2. Read 42 books (new book list). Current count: 8 books. 2 books ahead of schedule
Do you ever give up on books? I’ve given up on 3 books in the last 2 weeks – I AM PICKING DUDS! Please send recommendations STAT!
But here is what I did finish in February
““Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.”
This is a beautiful story of how people try to make sense and recover from unexpected tragedy. hint: no one walks the same exact path.
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, ‘Hey.’ ‘So damn much,’ he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.” He still won’t meet my eyes.”
A Young Adult novel filled with the lies and secrets that drive wedges between us and how truth can bring you back together.
“Look at Picasso. O’Neill. Tennessee Williams. Capote. Were these shiny happy people spreading sunshine? No. Only the greatest of personal demons can force you to do powerful work.”
A mystery surrounding the death of the daughter of a mythical director of horror films, or “night films”. The book is epic and fast paced and a good mystery. Pessl has created a whole body of work for this fictional director which alone is impressive.
On tap for March…
A bit of a blizzard on Sunday and a ‘snow day’ off from work Monday! Yay! I’ll take it. And a good time to catch up on some stuff.
Like a month 1 wrap-up!
Here is what happened:
#2 – Read 42 books (5 down, 37 to go). According to Goodreads, I’m 2 books ahead of schedule. Oh yeah, uh huh.
“On any given day in Spokane, Washington, there are more adult men per capita riding children's BMX bikes than in any other city in the world.”
― Jess Walter, We Live in Water
Jess Walter is a masterful short-story storyteller. These stories are dark and funny and strange and moving.
“You see my now? I’m attractive now” – Andie Mitchell, It Was Me All Along
Bloggers are memoirists in real-time. Andie Mitchell’s book tells the story of what happened before she began her blog: Can you Stay for Dinner? The book falls prey to a bit of the “This happened, then this happened, then this happened” that I dislike about memoirs and I find bloggers-turned-memoirists struggle with that kind of storytelling often. She’s a good writer though and her TEDtalk is even better.
This is the story of a woman convicted of a crime she has no memory of, who does her time, makes amends and turns her life around. And then has to deal with the truth of what happened when it’s finally made clear to her many years later. The story is sprawling covering decades of time. And as a result there are parts that seem like they should receive more attention that are a bit glossed over. Her time in prison, for example. Her relationships with a few people, including one of the family members of her victim, are hard to understand fully. But you like her and you want to find out the truth.
I loved Laurie Notaro’s book The Idiot Girl’s Action-Adventure Club. This book I didn’t really love so much at all. The ‘tales’ were certainly not Epic. To quote one of her reviewers, “I’m sure Laurie Notaro’s friends got a good laugh when she related these anecdotes at a dinner party. I didn’t.” Some stories are good reads and some stories are better told. Either way, I barely remember these stories. But read the Idiot Girls’ books. I liked that one
“Pay attention, he thinks. Not to the grand gesture, but to the passing breath.”
― Lauren Groff, Arcadia
Now this book is epic. And it speaks to my secret belief that hippy communes are chaotic places that always have somebody who wants to be the king. This story spans the lifetime of some of these characters. There is all the messiness and beauty and loss and love of life. And, interestingly, one of many stories I’ve ready in the past couple years that play around with the possible scenarios of climate change and how people and communities will adjust and get by in a lesser and lesser hospitable planet.
#21 – See an Art Exhibit once a month
Last weekend I set out to see some art art at the Noyes Cultural Art Center. I thought they might have a proper gallery – but the art was displayed on the walls surrounding a large landing and in a lower level hallway. But an art exhibit just the same. AND, lucky me, it turned out one of the artist’s was my friend Liz Tuckwell! I wasn’t expecting to see her work, but loved it as usual.
The artists whose work I saw:
Both exhibits are over now, but check out their websites for future chances to see their work!
#’s 23-27 – The “Streaks”
Longest Meditation streak: 15 days
Longest exercise streak: 6 days
What’s on tap for February?
Have you seen this video?
I love every second of it. Sometimes I’m in the middle of loving it so much it makes me tear up a little.
If you’ve looked at my 2015 Life list you’ll see that 5 of the tasks to complete are various “streaks”
23. Exercise streak
24. Meditation streak
25. Writing streak
26. Running streak
27. Some kind of ‘no Facebook’ streak
The goal here, peas and carrots, is to go for as many days in a row as possible in each. If I stop for a day I restart the count the next time I begin. The idea is not to set a number or a specific goal ahead of time, but to see how it all turns out in the end. Maybe I’ll never get above 5 days in a row of exercise or writing – but maybe I’ll try again every week. Maybe the fact that I’ve meditated every day for the last 14 days will encourage me to make sure I meditate today because I want to keep the streak alive!
I am developing the habit of streak.