Thursday, December 31, 2015

December Pointless Lists

Merry and bright!
Fake it 'til you make it, internet friends.

This month has been hard for me, but I got through, partly because my Holiday Resolutions were solid, and also because Eric is a rock and took it upon himself to do all of the shopping for the girls, get the Christmas tree, and literally stand over me to make sure I got our Walker Family Christmas Form Letter written and Christmas cards out. I suppose that sounds a bit controlling, that last bit, but honestly, I needed the motivation and the support. 

Oh, wait, I did do the stockings and one "random" box of bits for Johanna, and I bought my brother the most awesome Sasquatch shirt EVER, but that was it. Eric said that someone on Abby's basketball team made a joke about how men don't do anything to get ready for Christmas, and he was a little offended. 

As he should be. I'd like to go on record that Christmas 2015 would not have happened this year if not for my darling husband. He takes good care of us, and no, I don't think it's a slap to my pro-Feminism leanings to say so. We all need someone in our corner. Everyone needs an Eric.

Books read:
This is where my list gets even sadder because I read ZERO books this month. And after my great go of it last month, too! One problem is that I got four more books all at once from our city's e-library and I just... I don't know. It depressed me for some reason. I started reading Nick Offerman's "Gumption," mostly because he's hilarious and I thought it would lift my spirits a bit, but it turned out to be kind of boring. I'm sorry, Nick Offerman! I love you and I feel terrible saying that. But I never did get past like the sixth chapter.

Ah, well.

Movies watched:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens. YOU GUYS. I almost let my anxiety get the best of me, but I went to the movie theater to watch this little flick with my family, and it was amazing. Now THAT is a Star Wars movie! Loved the story, broke my heart near the end, loved the characters, the acting was great, the effects were just right, JJ Abrams is a genius. I give it all the stars! Now we're collectively depressed because we have to wait until 2017 for the next one.

Light update:
Ah, light! My idea of using a word to guide you through a year has changed as the year has progressed -- gone from "inspiration to action!" to "just try to embrace the feeling." I've got a new word picked out for 2016, and I'm not planning to use it for anything besides the cultivation of my soul. Wow, that is probably overkill on the drama, but I'm not sure how else to explain it. I will use the word simply to remind myself of what I'm ultimately going for, not to add to my to-do list.

If you'd like to come up with a word for 2016, here's something to help you: Susannah Conway has a free workbook and e-course to help you figure it out.

Project 333 update:
I'm looking forward to another year of P333 and minimalism. I've pretty much got my next rotation nailed down, and to make it more of a challenge, I've decided to stick to the strict 33 count, including shoes and leggings and scarves. I came to this conclusion after wearing the same long-sleeve turtleneck sweater four times in one week without anyone noticing. Let's see what happens when I'm truly pared down...

Have you been thinking about starting your own Project 333? Here's Courtney Carver's website to help you figure it all out. My advice: Start slow. And make edits if you need to. I promise you will not be sorry, and you will never go back to an overflowing wardrobe that contains nothing to wear.

One small announcement:
I'm going to retire my monthly Pointless Lists at the end of the year. I've been thinking a lot about this, because apparently I need more hobbies, and I've come to the conclusion that I just don't need to do them anymore. Four years of pointless lists is enough.

It's been a good run.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A look back at 2015

As seen on a recent walk around town.

Christmas is over, New Year's is just around the corner, and I am trying to make sense of what the hell even happened in 2015. I was talking with Abby on Sunday, and said I knew this year would be hard, but I didn't expect it to be this hard. She said that we just thought it would be hard in different ways and that's why it seemed to be overly difficult.

My kid is so smart.

Well, whatever. This year seemed to be the best of times and the worst of times, but I think that's pretty much how it is every year. You can't have the sweet without the sour. Or something. I think I read that once. I think I'd much rather have all sweet, though, thankyouverymuch. The sour sucks.

Anyway, as I sit here and think about the past (almost) 365 days, these are the things that stand out for me. I'm trying to be all zen and like, there is no good nor bad, it's just our perceptions, except right now zen is alluding me so you get this:

The Good
  1. Our trips to California and Sunriver were amazing.
  2. I got farther in my zero waste journey.
  3. I continued to be a minimalist. And a damn good one. ;)
  4. I discovered the joy that is art journaling.
  5. I learned I tend to be self-destructive, which may seem bad, but that revelation has been a real eye-opener for me. It helps me stay on track.
  6. My husband is darling in so many ways. We celebrated our 20th anniversary!
  7. My girls are smart and make parenting extremely easy.
  8. Let's not leave out Skilly. He's the best. Well... mostly.
  9. I loved my year in the newsroom -- every single minute of it. That's not to say that sometimes I don't want to ram my head through a wall, because frustrations are normal and they happen, but you guys! I get to read and write all day long! That doesn't even seem like working.
  10. I started acupuncture and reflexology, and that has made a big difference in my overall health and mental well-being.
  11. I embraced the light. Sometimes I had more success than other times.
  12. My hair is finally its natural color -- from root to end!
The Bad
  1. We lost Eric's cousin Aaron and my grandfather. We found out that Uncle Bob's cancer has spread to his spine and blood. We learned that sweet Celia, our friend and hairdresser, has cancer and there's nothing that can be done about that. We also lost our kind neighbor and friend, Tom.
  2. Just so many funerals.
The Ugly
  1. I fought anxiety a lot this year. I did allergy elimination through my acupuncturist, and I think with that and my monthly reflexology appointments (just for relaxation), I'm better overall. I still have some general and social anxiety, which can be a pain, but I also have tools to get myself through it.
  2. Accepting that my grandparents are getting older.
  3. Grieving. Grieving is so super hard, you guys.
  4. Just getting through December. But I did it.
You know what, 2015? Thank you for the opportunities, and the good times, and the lessons learned from all the rest. Here's to a more peaceful 2016.

Friday, December 18, 2015

In which I decided to just tune out

These penguins are not worried about staying abreast of the latest news.
P.S. Our neighbors have Christmas spirit to spare.

This week, I've been intentionally not turning on my television.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin would be so proud of me!*

It's not so much that I watch a lot of television and need to curb the habit (I think TV is super boring), but I am known to flip on the news most nights. I like to know what is going on in the world and in my own backyard and get the weather report and stuff and things.

But lately... it's just been dragging me down. All of it. I have enough trouble during this time of the year staving off depression without help from the outside.

And then I read a little blog post called "The Life-Changing Magic of Intentional Ignorance." This in particular stood out for me:
"Sometimes intentional ignorance is the best choice you can make for yourself." -- Sarah VonBargen
And I was like, that is amazing!

Seriously, what a novel thought: You don't have to watch the news (ironic, since I'm The Media), or open all of your email, or read every blog post by every blogger you follow. It's okay to just turn it all off and go do something else.

For me, that something else has been a lot of journaling (both art and written), and trying to sort through the year that was 2015 and think about what I'd like 2016 to look like. It's been rather enjoyable.

I'm still getting the news -- I mean, it's kind of hard NOT to when you write for a newspaper -- but moderation seems to be the key to my overall sanity.

I think I'm on to something with this intentional ignorance thing...

*Boy, talk about a blast from the past. I loved this song in college.

Monday, December 14, 2015

"It's Christmastime and we've got the spirit!"

I've actually been listening to Christmas music this year (well, "winter music" might be a better term for some of it), which speaks well for my mental stability, actually. My holiday resolutions are working!

I have been trying to figure out a way to share my favorite songs for this time of year, but unfortunately I am 43 and not as technically advanced as I'd like to think. So instead of giving you a nice tidy playlist link to click, here's what I managed to find on YouTube. You can click on whatever you think you might like and forget the rest, I guess. :)

Trisha's December Playlist of Awesome:
This year's love: David Gray
Better Days: Goo Goo Dolls
Beautiful Things: Gungor
O Come Emmanuel: John Berry
My<Dsmbr: Linkin Park
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: MercyMe
Silver Bells: Ray Coniff Singers
Christmas in Hollis: Run DMC
Winter Song: Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
Song for a Winter's Night: Sarah McLachlan
Soul Cake: Sting

Happy winter!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Good-bye, Walmart

Ah, it seems like just yesterday I was breaking up with Safeway,* and now here I am calling it quits with Walmart. It's kind of the same ordeal: I go in and I go in and I think about how great it would be to never go in again, but I always do. Until one day the proverbial camel's back is broken, and then?

It's over.

On Tuesday, Johanna and I were wandering around our local Walmart for well over an hour, trying to nail down a fairly modest list: Abby needed a few items, Eric wanted a certain brand of cereal, and I wanted to get Johanna's class obligations taken care of (i.e. canned food drive, class gift exchange present, mittens and socks for a warm clothing campaign of some sort, etc.). Having been going to this particular Walmart since it opened (1993? 1994?), you'd think I'd be able to find everything I need right were I'd expect it to be.

Wrong! Everything is always moving around in that joint anyway, but recently they've begun to really revamp the whole ordeal, putting in a grocery section (g.r.o.s.s.) and... I don't know. Adding self-service check-outs or whatever. But nothing is where it kind of should be, the rows are so close together that you can't have two carts pass each other in opposite directions, and it's so packed that you'd think there was no other show in town.

So as I'm walking down the same stretch of aisle AGAIN trying to find Abby's contact solution, it occurred to me that there is absolutely nothing in this world that I need so badly as to have to come to this store. When you want to punch everyone in the throat, and you are normally a very peaceful person, this is when you know it's time to say buh-bye.

As Johanna and I exited the building (she was getting a headache and I had just had it with finding everything on my list; Kenny Rogers was right -- you gotta know when to fold 'em), I announced that I was NEVER COMING BACK. I'm not going to list out all of the reasons I hate everything about Walmart (like I did with Safeway, which was rather entertaining, but I'm on a time crunch today), but I think it's safe to say that I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT WALMART.

I feel good about this breakup. I'm okay with spending three total extra dollars to get my items somewhere else, especially when it means A) I won't have to go into that hellhole and 2) I'll be able to get in and out much more quickly and C) maybe I'll be able to find what I'm looking for in the first place.

* Turns out I broke up with Safeway in 2011. How times flies! In my defense, I'm at that point in my life where 10 years ago and yesterday are pretty much the same in my mind.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Minimalist (or maybe just lazy) meal planning

"So you see, children, your mother is more than happy
to wait on us all and does not feel imposed upon in any way!"

I don't have many good ideas, but sometimes I am rather a genius. Sundays have become my "Cook All The Meals!" days, and while this means that I don't always have time to take a nap like God intended (day of rest? anyone? no?), it also means that I don't have to worry about feeding the fam when I come home famished and exhausted from work during the week. 

I actually stole this idea from Abby's friends' mom (friends plural because they're twins. Abby is actually the triplet in this scenario, now that I think about it), who casually mentioned one day that she makes three different meals every Sunday so she and her girls can eat a nice dinner no matter what their schedules are like, and I was all, that is BRILLIANT.

Because if you're already messing up your kitchen, you may as well go big.

I'm not really a menu planner, so I just ask Eric and the girls what they want to eat for the week. If they each give me one idea, that week is taken care of. If they don't, that's cool because coming up with one idea is way easier than coming up with multiple ideas.

So far I've been gravitating towards the casserole-esque -- turkey pot pie, lasagna -- and the soup -- pozole and taco. This Sunday I branched out and made hamburger patties (uh, that was almost too easy) and teriyaki chicken. But really, I'm willing to try just about anything. I heard that if you can find it in the freezer case at the supermarket, you can make it and freeze it yourself, so I guess I'm putting that theory to the test.

My other motivation for doing this, aside from the fact that not having to think about dinner six days in a row is the greatest gift I've ever given myself, is that the week of Christmas is going to be insane in the membrane, so if I have a nice stockpile, I can feed everyone WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

I told you I'm a genius. Even if I have to rip off my good ideas.

Hey, it's occurred to me that you're wondering about side dishes. Well, let me tell you about this beautiful thing called salad. You make it and then you let people pick at it all week! And when that runs out about Thursday, you just start cutting up apples and calling it a day.

We just want people fed, right? It doesn't have to be pretty. ;)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday resolutions

See how Santa is already burned out? METAPHOR.

I follow quite a few simplicity blogs (which you have to admit is kind of ironic because how hard can simplicity be?), and over at The Simple Year a couple weeks back, Tracy posted this:
Today it occurred to me that New Year’s resolutions are improperly timed. Resolutions are more necessary at this time of year. Then, when the new year arrives, you didn’t eat too much or spend too much or drink too much.
You know what, Tracy? Word up.

And, then, like the Universe was actually trying to teach me something, I read THIS from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less:
Things build up day after day, week after week, and month after month. A new year offers hope for a clean slate, but we sometimes forget about the opportunity of a new day. Why do we have to wait for January 1st for a fresh start?
(You should actually read this entire post, which is entitled "Create the Promise of a New Day with a Clean Slate." Go ahead, I'll wait...)

Reading Tracy's post inspired me to make my own holiday resolution list, and Courtney's reminded me that every single day is an opportunity to start over, no matter what has happened the day before. My mother likes to say that we choose to have a happy heart; why can't we choose a daily clean slate?

The holidays are, traditionally, kind of a rough time for me. My introverted, minimalist heart does not like all the commotion and chaos and advertisements telling me I need to buy this or spend this much so the people I love know that I love them. Add to that the sadness I feel this year after losing my grandpa (you guys, how can he be gone? I still can't wrap my mind around that, even after six months), and... let's just say I don't really look forward to December at all.

Which is kind of a dismal way to look at what is supposed to be a magical month.

So I took this whole notion of holiday resolutions very seriously is what I'm saying. What did I want out of this month? This holiday season? From myself?

Not the complete list, but here are some of the (better, perhaps overly optimistic) intentions I came up with:

1. To survive. I don't have to get through this ordeal prettily; I just need to get through. Pressure off!

2. To remember that this time with my family is a gift. It's easy for me to forget that I love these people more than anything in the world. Abby is already a junior in high school; Johanna turns 11 in just a couple of weeks. Eric is the rock on which my world is built. We're in the golden era of our family. This is the time to enjoy it.

3. Is this XYZ self-destructive? If it is (staying up too late, eating that eighth cookie, forgetting to introvert, not exercising, forgetting to be kind), then I will NOT DO THAT THING. (This is actually a new life resolution, now that I think about it.)

4. It's okay to feel sad and miss my loved ones. I'm not likely to forget that we lost Gramps this year, and I always miss my Grammie M something terrible this season too. Oh, and the anniversary of my miscarriage is Dec. 6, and Grandpa M's death Dec. 12. I will remember them, I will send them my love and hold them in my heart, and I will be sad when I am sad -- and happy when I am happy. Hey, it goes both ways.

5. It's okay to be frustrated but it's NOT okay to be a jerk. Yeah. I'm not actually all that great of a person to be around sometimes. But there's no reason to lash out when I find I'm not surviving, remembering to enjoy time with Eric and the girls, feeling self-destructive and sad and overwhelmed. I can choose to have a happy heart and make my Mommy proud! ;)

BONUS RESOUTION:
6. Take all the naps! (I think that's pretty self-explanitory.)

...And if I fail at any of these (and, let's face it, I will), I can start over the next day! Or even that next minute. (Courtney is a genius.)

Besides keeping these resolutions in mind, I'm also making time for a couple of other activities that are just good for my soul: Courtney's 31 Gifts You So Deserve (can you tell I'm a big fan of this woman?) and Bishop Robert Barron's Advent Reflections. Both are delivered via email each morning; I try to read them when the house is quiet, but if the world is against me, I wait until lunchtime. I've been making journal pages based on Courtney's gifts (it's not too late to sign up, by the way... there's a nominal fee, but it's totally worth it), which has been both a great way to not only appreciate them, but be creative, present in the moment, and open to the magic of the season. The same goes for Bishop Barron -- I copy passages that resonate with me so I can look back and be reminded of what Advent is about, not just in December, but always.

My journal is getting quite the workout these days, actually. It is AWESOME.

So that's the roadmap I'm following this month. I am hopeful that this will be a peaceful December in my heart and soul because of it.

What would make your holiday resolutions list?

Monday, November 30, 2015

November Pointless Lists

iPad art by Johanna. She certainly knows
the way to my heart.

Today is, true story, Eric's 45th birthday. Which begs the question: How did he get so old? Luckily I am as young and blooming as ever. Or maybe just immature. Yeah, I totally do better with adult supervision.

Kind of lost the thread of my thoughts here already, but what to the ever.

So. November. Pointless list time?

Books read
I read too many (never!), so you can see all of that ordeal HERE.

A Thanksgiving rant
You guys, when did Thanksgiving turn into thanks-getting? We had shops open at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, which I was horrified to learn, except then I found out the grocery store didn't even close until 4 p.m., so really, whatever, I guess. But it just depresses me to no end.  It's like we're saying, I guess I'm thankful for my blessings, but what I really need is this XYZ and then I'll really be happy! Just... where does it end?

So we didn't buy anything on Thanksgiving Day, not even a cup of coffee (of which I was sorely tempted by, I won't lie, but I held strong). And we had a very nice day with family and Mom's homemade stuffing, and you know what? It was perfect.

Light update
I'm just trying to be kind to myself. I had an ah-ha moment at the acupuncturist's office earlier this month when my stomach was a wreck -- she said something about being self-destructive when we're stressed, and I was like, WHAT? Because I've never thought about it that way before: I do things that will make myself sick, but I justify it by saying that I'm just giving in to what my body wants (my mind?). But I have never, ever thought of myself as self-destructive.

You guys, I'm self-destructive! So now when I'm faced with a decision when I'm stressed / hungry / angry / happy / unhappy / anxious / depressed, I think, Is this self-destructive? And if I answer yes, then I do not do that thing.

I'm channeling Dwight Schrute, now that I think about it:


Project 333 update
I guess I kind of already did this one, too, HERE, but anyway, the other day I wore a pair of leggings that I have literally worn to work once a week since I got them (in September? I forget), and everyone was freaking out about my "new" outfit. I was like, uh, no, and they were all, we've never seen those leggings before! And I was like, huh, well, I guess it's true that no one really pays attention to what you wear.

I was quite comforted by that, actually.

Skilly update
Skilly is not amused by 18-degree temperatures. (That's Fahrenheit, by the way.) He goes out, then he comes back in, then forgets that it's cold and goes back out, then immediately wants back in. That's kind of how he is when it's hot too, though. Cats are jerks.

Never mind. He's perfect.

Johanna update
This past weekend, Eric and Johanna made her a pair of nunchucks in Eric's shop. It's probably fine. What could happen?

She's also on a traveling basketball team (not her idea) and is ... doing okay, I guess. She's a natural athlete, but she lacks, shall we say, determination, confidence and drive. (Well, me too, so I mean this in no way derogatorily.)

Abby update
Basketball season has also started for Abby, which means if I had a social life, it would be over between the two girls' schedules. Good thing I don't, then. She's on varsity, is a tower, and has enough determination for the entire squad.

Minimalism and zero waste update
Minimalism is easy. It's easy to discard and it's easy not to buy anything when you're forced to think about A) What you just got rid of and 2) How you're going to eventually have to get rid of this.

I don't know if the kids always appreciate this mindset (Johanna wants a huge stuffed monkey for Christmas, but what in the world do you do with something like that?), but I like to think eventually they'll thank me for it.

Or at least have something to talk about in therapy when they're adults.

Zero waste is harder. I really, really need to start planning our meals and such around what is available to us without packaging -- I think that would take away a lot of my frustration and my tendency to fail. A nobel goal. I will try harder.

I also don't know if Eric always appreciates this, either, since I don't care what anyone says, most of the time package-less items cost more than their prepackaged counterparts, and he's all about the bottom line...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pre-November Pointless Lists: Books read


It's been almost too good of a month on the book front, so I'm breaking away from my usual Pointless Lists format to give you this little review of everything I managed to devour this month. Irony: After three months of nothing, I had three e-library books come up. Like, all at once. Add to that a book I've had preordered for a year, and it was a whirlwind of words.

Whatever. Spreading things out is highly overrated.

Books read
Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I actually read this as a book (Abby's copy, to be precise) because after reading the second via my e-library account, I discovered the third one isn't offered. You guys, I just can't even see the logic in this. Readers have needs! You've got to complete the series, The Man! That's just good manners.

I liked this book much better than the second -- it was just a fantastic, action-packed ordeal. I also like how Riggs incorporates old, bizarre pictures into his stories. Thumbs up!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This was the first of my e-library riches that I decided to tackle, since it's the one I'd been looking forward to the most. I wanted to read it as a library book, though, because I've seen mixed reviews -- some people love it, some people hate it -- and I didn't want to shell out $10 and just be disappointed.

I shouldn't have worried. This is just a great read. The premise is that 99 percent of the earth's population is wiped out, and with it, all internet, electricity, phones, transportation ... you get the idea. It's like Little House on the Prairie except with crazier people. Which makes sense -- how do you go from having all those things to NOT? Really, it's mind-boggling. So you've got doomsday cults and theater troops and people just trying to survive all thrown together. You can read the summary and reviews for yourself, but you guys, I totally recommend this one. I'm tempted to buy it just so I can read it again...

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Oh, Judy Blume, author of my childhood! How could I resist a book for adults, then? Another of my e-library books (why did all the good ones come up all at once?! I like to read things twice, and I didn't have the chance...). Another fantastic read. This one is based on three plane crashes that happened in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the early '50s. It's a fictionalized account, but it's really compelling, especially in this age of post-9/11 terrorism et al. Loved the characters,  loved the ending where everyone is scarred but okay. Highly recommend.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer. THIS is the book I've been patiently waiting for FOREVER, and preordered it from Amazon the minute I was able to. The Lunar Chronicles are amazing, you guys -- they're fairytales with a twist: Cinder (Cinderella) is a cyborg who kicks ass, Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood) is a pilot who kicks ass, Cress (Rapunzel) is a hacker who kicks ass, and Winter (Snow White) is an insane princess who kicks ass. Do you see where I'm going with this? You cannot go wrong here.

This was the final book in the series (sigh), and it was worth the wait. I love Meyer's writing style, I love her characters, I love her storylines, I love that I think I know what is going to happen and then she takes me by surprise. I would read this woman's shopping lists. If you haven't read this series, you need to drop everything right now and do it. I'm serious. You're welcome.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I read this one on Abby's recommendation, and it was a good read. It's got an interesting premise, even if the storyline isn't new (you know, the whole "throwing off the oppressor" ordeal. Three of my five books this month were along those lines. Huh). Easty-to-read writing style, believable characters, and again, I like it when I think I know what is going to happen and then it turns out I didn't after all. (Screaming OH NO YOU DIDN'T at my Kindle is fun!) It looks like this is the first in a series, so... I've got something to look forward to.

***

As it is only Nov. 23 and I've got seven whole days before the month ends, you might think it premature for me to write my finalized list. It isn't. My plan is to reread Winter (slowly, this time) and enjoy the fact that I know what happens and I don't have to worry about the characters anymore. ;)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Project 333: November update

I can't seem to figure out how to keep a P333 wardrobe for an entire three months in the fall -- I'm always editing items out because, as the weather changes, I just can't see the point in keeping some of these things in my closet. My favorite navy blue flowered t-shirt? I love you, darling, but you're outta here. You're not going to get much use when the weather has turned to this:

Exhibit A

And Exhibit B, in case it didn't translate in the first picture: We're getting
our first snowfall of the season!

It makes me kind of sad. Summer really is over.

But it also makes me kind of happy. We desperately need the rain and snow, especially on Mount Hood. So you know what, clouds? You do what you need to do.

Unfortunately, for all my editing, I've been adding, too. This is partly because I have discovered the joy that is leggings (I never really saw the point before) and partly because a co-worker has started selling a certain home-party type of clothing line and I've gone to way too many events. But mostly it's because I lack willpower when it comes to cuteness.

I mean, come on! How am I supposed to resist something like this?

Which explains why I'm down to just three pairs of pants, I guess.

Well, whatever. Here's my updated list in case anyone cares:

Grey (4)
Santa Clara long sleeved t-shirt
Hooded long sleeved t-shirt
Cardigan
Scarf

Black (18)
Turtleneck sweater
Long sleeved t-shirt
Cardigan
Sweatshirt dress (I LOVE THIS THING)
Little Black Dress
Skirt
Slacks
Black/beige skirt
Black/white polka dots button down
Black/red/blue leggings
Black/blue/teal leggings
Solid leggings
Black/flower scarf
Solid scarf
Boots
Ankle boots
Maryjane's
Coat

Beige (4)
Long sleeved t-shirt
Jacket
Slacks
Beige/orange scarf

Burgundy (1)
Pullover sweater

Purple (1)
Skirt

Teal (2)
Peasant
Zip up cardigan

Green (1)

Leggings (shown above)

Blue (7)
Blue/yellow maxi skirt
Denim jacket
Navy cardigan
Navy long sleeved t-shirt
Denim jeans
Blue/navy/black scarf
Navy leggings

So... that makes 38, which is five more than technically allowed, but I don't feel too bad because I've never counted leggings before (well, my tights -- those are underwear in my world) AND my coat.

Justification! That's where it's at, you guys.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Zero waste!

Source.

Oh, you guys, I've made some great strides on the zero waste front that I am so happy about. I'm officially that weird tall lady with all the jars. I've been very frustrated in the past with my zero waste efforts because honestly, sometimes it just feels pointless. Zero waste is impossible -- there's no way to get to zero! -- and the world is kind of against us when it comes to packaging. Packages come in packages! It's insanity on a stick, and it's been easy for me to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Whatever that means.

But then I interviewed a woman for the newspaper who has been in town for just about a year, and she is such a zero waste advocate that she even organized a zero waste meet-up group. I was like, I want to join that group, and was soothed by her philosophy that you just do what you can do. Every bit helps and all that.

So yes, there's all this stuff I cannot buy without packaging, but look at all this other stuff that I can!

That's just been good on my mental stability.

So here's the thing about my new friend Inge: She is kind of great about making you believe you can actually succeed in your zero waste objectives. She is inspirational because she's so honest and open about the pros and cons, AND she's got two little kids and a husband -- meaning she knows the struggles that brings to the table, too.

So after our first zero waste meet-up (which I was kind of disappointed in because a couple of people hijacked the meeting with their own agendas, so it was less about learning options to reduce your own waste and more about how they wanted to control everyone else's waste, if that makes sense), I was ready to step up my game. It was nice to see that I'm not the only one interested in the concept, and reassuring that people from all walks of life were there: Young, old, rich, poor, but, weirdly, only one guy out of the 12 of us.

Anyway.

It's really just a matter of organization. Which, confession, I am not an organized person (I only look like I would be), so this is where shit gets real in the Walker household's waste reduction efforts. I have a thousand jars (that is probably not really true; it's more like 500), and it's just me taking the time to see what we need and make a list and match needs to jars.

P.S. I heard Bea Johnson, the queen of zero waste, say that the biggest mistake her family made in the beginning of their journey was trying to find bulk alternatives to the things they were used to buying instead of embracing what is actually available package-free. That was a light bulb kind of moment for me, but I'm still working on the execution. It's mentally challenging to go at it from a different perspective when you're used to getting whatever you want in a package.

I've kind of lost track where I was going with this.

...Oh, right: I have managed to collect a decent jar collection, and have gotten into the habit of making sure I take them with me to the store. Since some trips are unplanned, I make sure I have a smaller kit in the car for those occasions, as those are the times I'm just going in for, like, a couple things for lunch or whatever. I also have an old orange Tupperware container that I bought from my grandma when we were cleaning out her house. This thing is perfect for the meat counter:

Like this, minus the cute decal and wooden fence.

Bonus shot: Jars!

So it's easy to get stuff from the bulk bins, obviously, because you're just helping yourself. Ours has everything from shampoo and conditioner to chocolate chips to maple syrup and herbs.

The meat counter is another story: You're basically asking someone to do you a favor. I've done this five whole times now, and I've had different people each time -- the lady that didn't give it a thought, the teenager who thought it was insane, the guy who got flustered and forgot to take off tare, the girl who gave me the paper wrapper used to get the meat into the containers, and then this last guy who plopped Grandma's Tupperware on the scale, loaded it up, and said there were a lot of us who do this and he wishes more did because it's easier on his end.

So that made me happy. I always feel like I'm causing unnecessary work. But if I'm making it easier, yay!

I've also had lunch meat put into a jar at the deli counter and taken cloth bags to my favorite bakery for bread. The latter was when Eric was hunting -- he likes a certain kind of packaged bread, but I knew the girls wouldn't care either way.

Actually, when he was hunting I had my best zero waste cart ever (too bad I forgot to take a photo), having only milk, eggs and a bar of soap that were packaged out of everything I'd purchased for that week. I learned the hard way, though, that just because veggie chips look like they'd be comparable to regular chips, they are not and my kids won't eat them.

So back to packages for that kind of thing is what I'm saying.

It's been kind of ... well, not exactly fun, but it's been good for my self-esteem and my frustration level to see that I can have such successes. Our grocery store is awesome about tare, though, and I pick checkers who have been there a while and I know won't get flustered when a wave of jars et al comes down the line. Most of them say that they wish more people would bring their own jars.

I think that's kind of unexpected and also nice to hear.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mostly just a whole lot of nothing

All right, you guys, I'm back. I think. My stomach and I are friends again, our household has re-established its routine (I dearly love routines) since Eric came home from his hunting trip, and I've actually got a bunch of post ideas.

It's just sitting down to write that's the trick. ;)

ALSO. I went in for an eye exam and am happy to report I have new glasses! They're just for reading (so it's super weird to look up quickly and try to see something across the room) because it was either that or bifocals, and I was like, come on, Doc, I'm only 43! I don't think I'm emotionally stable enough to handle bifocals before 50.

Although I might not have a choice for much longer.

See?!

Well, details are boring. I am excited about the readers because, aside from being navy blue and pretty kick ass (Johanna says they make me look like a receptionist or a librarian), I can SEE: the small letters on my phone when I send a text, the page when I read, the details I've been missing. It's amazing! Just don't look up, as I have already established...

Since this post has dissolved into a whole lot of nothing, let me tell you this little story from Thursday: Johanna has been telling me all week that we had a parent-teacher conference on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. So on Thursday, quite dutifully, the two of us set out with 10 minutes to spare and found ourselves outside the teacher's shut door in no time at all, mainly because we literally live three minutes away.

So it's kind of weird that the door is closed, because all the other teachers' doors are open, but that's cool, maybe Mrs. H just wants privacy. At 7:30 on the dot, I was like, I'm going to just peek in so she knows we're here, and that's when we discovered the room was dark.

Oh, Johanna says, maybe the conference is in Ms. Celia's classroom. It's a joint conference, apparently. So we go down the hall and to the right, and are confronted by another closed door.

We're no dummies, so we tried it and ... the door was locked. Johanna looked at the door, then looked at me, and then got bright red. It might be NEXT Thursday, she says sheepishly, and you guys, how do you not laugh at that? I'm an idiot for not double-checking the time myself. So we went back to the car, drove home, and explained ourselves to a rather confused Eric and Abby.

So yeah, we wasted a half-hour of our lives, but we got this story out of it, so win-win, I guess.

And that's where we're gonna end this. I'll be back Monday with a real post. I've made great zero waste strides that I'm excited to share.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (?)

Hey there, internet friends! Long time, no see. It's been an interesting week-plus here in the Walker household, mostly because Eric went hunting in Wyoming and that made me sad, and then he got back early from hunting and that made me happy, and then we had a funeral to go to (getting mighty tired of funerals), and then I got sick right smack when the newspaper went to bed Friday at noon, which I guess was good timing, all things considered.

There's nothing like sitting at your desk and realizing that something is rotten in the state of Denmark your gut and being 15 minutes from home.

So I spent Friday night in bed instead of with friends (Girls Night!), and then Saturday roving between the bed and the couch instead of being at a zero waste meet-up I was very excited about, and then later at a Fill Your Panty event (all local foods sold in bulk to get you ready for the winter. YOU GUYS. I've been looking forward to that for a MONTH).

This morning I'm still pretty shaky but I figure what the hell -- I'm going to be shaky no matter what, and being sick is boring. I'm so sick of my iPad and even my Kindle (Paperwhite isn't as easy on the ol' eyes as the Keyboard). I'm sick of pillows and blankets and being afraid to eat.

I'm whining.

The end.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Honoring my dead

There's something that I like very much about El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It's not a big stretch for me, since as a Catholic, I'm well versed in All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Except our observances aren't quite as hands-on.

Since my grandpa passed away on June 15, I've been thinking of "my dead" a lot. My list isn't long, and it's mostly made up of grandparents, but it's kind of a relief to have a day where it's okay to actively think about them and not feel like you're bumming everyone out with your sadness.

I don't really have anything else to say about that, except that I decided to make a couple of art journal pages dedicated to the souls I'm thinking about, not just on the Day of the Dead, but every day. (I know only one is showing, but the other is for our little peanut, and that's not something I want to share.)

Grandpa, Grammie, Gramps, Aunt, Uncle.

Friday, October 30, 2015

October Pointless Lists

I was going to write a really witty and thrilling introduction to my October Pointless Lists, but I find that I am not feeling witty nor thrilling, so that's kind of a struggle.

Basically I just want to pump this out so I can go do something else. Sorry.

Pointless list time!

Books read
I started October rereading Eleanor and Park, which I had checked out from our eLibrary system and, ahem, hadn't returned yet (well, don't turn on wifi and they can't go away, okay? Cheating). But then my Kindle BROKE.

That screen is NOT a good sign.

Here's a tip for you, kids: When your Kindle breaks, you can call Amazon (google "Amazon Customer Service" and an 800 number pops up. You're welcome, America!) and they'll send you to a techie and then when you turn it on and off again and it's still broken (why is turning stuff on and off supposed to be a magic fix? Dumb), they'll give you a discount on your NEXT Kindle.

So I really had no choice but get a Kindle Paperwhite sans ads, which costs an extra $20, but I think it's worth it not to have to look at that kind of thing. P.S. I'd have gotten another Kindle Keyboard because I loved and adored mine, but they don't make them anymore. Downside: Those word games I played while waiting in offices for appointments to stave off anxiety no longer work on the new machine. :( Upside: I can read books in any light! That's kind of amazing.

The old and the new.

I was depressed because I thought it would take a week to 10 days to get my new Kindle, but lo and behold, it broke on a Friday and I had my replacement by Monday, so you know what? I love you, Amazon.

Anyway, that meant the end of Eleanor and Park, so I decided to reread The Hunger Games because ALL THE FEELS, so that was a fun week, and then I saw that Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger had finally been released as an ebook (YESSSSSSS) so I bought that. 

It's just a great book, that's why. If you read it and you're confused, just remember that Henry time travels but Claire does NOT. Then the storyline makes sense. It's one of my all-time favorite books. No joke.

Anyway, mid-way through that whole ordeal, I got an email notice that one of my eLibrary books had finally come up for check out! I've had it on hold since July 30, whatever, two months isn't that long of a wait, right? (Why did I think eLibrary was a good idea again? I have needs, you guys!) I can barely remember what I even reserved at this point, but it turned to be Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the second in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series.

So it's been a few years since I read the first one, and I didn't reread it before starting the second because I was kind of on a strict timeline, cheating abilities aside, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense all the time, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I remember enjoying Miss Peregrine's, but I soldiered on. It was fine. Fine enough that I thought I'd reserve the third in the series now so I can read it sometime in February (HA HA HA! That's slow checkout humor for you), but eLibrary doesn't even have the third book, so whatever. I guess if I want to continue I will just read Abby's hradbound copy even though actual books are such a pain.

I just like my Kindle, you guys.

Anyway, that's the whole sorrid affair. I'd apologize for this long, drawn-out update, but you're the one reading a blog called Pointless Ramble, so that's on you. I meant to write about my Kindle ordeal earlier, but then I got depressed. Ah, well.

Light update
I was not feeling the Light this month. I have no idea what I will focus on next month, either. Maybe just reminding myself that this is a thing I chose: Feeling light.

That's a lot harder than it should be.

Project 333 update
Not enough time has gone by for me to have any sort of update, now that I think about it. Ignore this one...

Abby update
Abby was going through my closet the other night looking for something to wear for Halloween. In her AP US History class, if she wore a historical costume, she'd get extra credit. So she's digging around, trying to decide if she's going to be Hillary Clinton or Mother Teresa -- but either way, perfectly confident I could provide the appropriate clothing.

I still have no idea how to take this.

And then, in the end, she just went as herself. So that was kind of disappointing.

Johanna update
This kid has had an interesting month. She's been thinking about her Halloween costume for weeks, vacillating between a ghost and the Grim Grandma (in case it doesn't translate, what Death would be if it were a grandma). Then she thought maybe she would be a detective. Or a geisha.

I'm kind of hoping this is our last year of dressing up and trick or treating, to be honest.

She's also started her own art journal, and it's awesome. If I were feeling more motivated right now, I'd post some of her pages. Maybe another time.

Eric update
How is it that even though the weather has been cold and rainy, Eric is STILL able to find excuses to work outside and thus avoid cleaning the bathroom, which is HIS responsibility?

Mysteries, you guys. They're everywhere.

Supernatural update
I am sorry to say that Abby cruised through Season Nine without me and is who knows how far along in Season 10. She is basically a terrible person. The end.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The mystery continues

So remember how, in April, Johanna and I came home to find a surprise Easter egg hunt in the yard?

Our mysterious benefactor has struck again:

Exhibit A

When we were pulling into the garage last Thursday, Johanna noticed right away that this cute little owl mug was sitting nearby. "I'll get it, Mom!" she said, and barely waited for the car to stop before hopping out to retrieve her present. (Possible accident aside, this is actually preferable to waiting for her to get out of the car on a regular day, as it's five frustrating minutes of watching her gathering up her backpack and lunchbox and then pleading to climb out the window.)

Our new owl friend contained a hot chocolate packet and some candy corn. Fun fact: Johanna LOVES candy corn AND hot chocolate. And owl mugs.She tried to get me to buy her a similar mug at Walmart not too long ago.

But P.S., if you come to the house expecting to use said mug, forget about it. Johanna has made sure we all know it's hers and has gone to such lengths as to hide it in the cupboard so no one else can get to it.

Thanks, mysterious holiday joy-bringer! You are awesome.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Well, I thought it was funny


I put together the "yesteryears" column for our newspaper, which is basically a run-down of all the things that happened in a particular week in history. Sometimes it's entertaining  to look through the archive books and sometimes it's boring. I swear the 1950s were the most mundane decade ever.

But sometimes I run across little gems like this, which appeared in our paper in late September 1925. I was totally excited by the awesomeness, but I wondered if the greater reading area would understand why I had chosen it (namely: We've come a long way, baby) or if they would think I was serious.

But then on deadline day it came about that one of our ad reps forgot to place a Very Important Advertisement on my yesteryears page and this thing had to be cut to make room.

That's life in a newsroom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Project 333: Fall 2015 edition

I've been putting off getting my fall P333 wardrobe together, partially because I'm hella lazy and also because the weather has been oddly warm and I didn't want to put away my t-shirts and tank tops too early.

Global warming: Ruining fall wardrobes everywhere.

But I finally bit the bullet last weekend, when the weather forecast predicted mid to high 60ºs as high temperatures. The Pacific Northwest is actually really hard to forecast, apparently, but sometimes you just gotta have faith.

Here's what I came up with, and before anyone states the obvious, yes, I am over 33. But I feel okay with that because Courtney says it's not about a specific number but rather YOUR specific number. This is why I am a big fan of hers, by the way. :)

(Most of) The Whole Shebang.

So here's what we've got. I sort my closet by color, so this is actually what it looks like in real life even:

Grey (4)
Santa Clara long sleeved t-shirt
Hooded long sleeved t-shirt
Cardigan
Scarf

Black (17)
Turtleneck sweater
Long sleeved t-shirt
Cardigan
Sweatshirt dress*
Little Black Dress
Skirt
Slacks
Scarf
Black/beige skirt
Black/white polka dots button down**
Black/red/black leggings
Black/blue/teal leggings
Black/flower scarf
Boots
Ankle boots
Maryjane's
Coat

Beige (6)
Long sleeved t-shirt
Skirt
Jacket
Slacks
Beige/orange flower peasant
Beige/orange scarf

Leggings. I'm branching out in my old age.

Burgundy (1)
Pullover sweater

Purple (1)
Skirt

Teal (2)
Peasant
Zip up cardigan

Blue (10)
Blue/yellow maxi skirt
Blue/various t-shirt skirt
Short sleeved navy peasant (with bonus tank!)
Denim jacket
Navy/orange et al flowered t-shirt***
Navy spiderweb leggings****
Navy cardigan
Navy long sleeved t-shirt
Denim jeans
Blue/navy/black scarf

I have actually added a lot of new and/or new-used items lately and I'm feeling some guilt about that. On the upside, I look amazing. ;)

Notes:

*This dress is new to my closet and it's the best thing I've ever worn. It's a dress. It's a sweatshirt. I'm probably never going to take it off.

**One of the few long sleeved blouses to make it in my closet. Actually, the only one to make it.

***It's probably past the season for this thing because the sleeves are very short, but man, it's one of my favorites and I'm not ready to let it go.

****Dumb to count and dumber to add because they're clearly Halloween-themed and I'm probably not going to wear them much past Oct. 31.

P.S. Fall marks my third year with Project 333!

Monday, October 19, 2015

At last!

Once upon a time, like when I was 41, I decided the most rebellious thing I could do at my age was just look my age. So I stopped dyeing my hair.

I thought it would take about a year or so to actually grow out, because my hair grows really fast and I am optimistic about all the wrong things. Turns out it took a year and 10 months, and I can tell you this with authority because I just got the last of my dyed ends cut off last Tuesday.

Observe:

Looks not so grey from this angle.

But it's there. Trust me.

It's shorter than I would have gone otherwise, but I was so damn excited about just getting it over with that I went a little nuts.

So that's that.

The end.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tall people need friends, too

Once upon a time, like a couple of Sundays ago, Johanna and I were in the bulk section of the supermarket, lamenting the absence of sucanat sugar, when this rather tall man in his 50s comes up to us and says to me, I see you're tall.

And I'm like, well, good eyes, I guess, because I'm 6-feet so yeah, I tend to stick out there, but I could see he was kind of uncomfortable -- embarrassed -- and so what I actually did was laugh and agree.*

That's when he pulls a card out of his wallet and begins to tell me about the Portland Skyliners Club.

 

I actually had no idea a club like this even existed, but anyway, according to the card, my social life is looking up! It's for men 6-feet 2-inches and over, and women 5-feet 10-inches and over. He said he could see I made that requirement fairly easily, and that it's mostly a service organization with all of the meetings in the Portland area.

I am not in Portland, but as I've never been invited to join any club before, I am feeling kind of proud of myself for managing it.

Even if it means apparently I need help making friends.

*I am, perhaps, a little over-sensitive about my height, so my first impulse is to be snippy yet self-efacing if anyone calls attention to it. It's kind of weird to be always towering over everyone, and I've even had people act like I'm some sort of menace (like that grandma who locked her car door when she saw me coming down the street ... as if, grandma!), but on the upside, my community service is just going to the store and helping people get stuff off the top shelf, so silver lining.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another round of 7 Pointless Updates with bonus memes!


1. I didn't mean to take a week-long blogging break, but sometimes the world is too much with me and I just can't get my act together. Plus I've been a little depressed. I'm trying not to be. I think that's the best I can offer at this point.

2. I am not leaving my house today. I simply refuse. I meant to sleep in this morning to get the day off to a good start, but I woke up at 6 a.m., which I decided to just embrace because that means I can take a nap in about an hour and not even have to feel guilty about it. My plans for the day include puttering around my house, tackling Mt. Laundry, and pretending the world does not exist outside these walls.


3. Yesterday I spent the day in Longview manning the cash register (well, figuratively, since we didn't have a cash register) at my grandparents' estate sale. It was depressing as hell, but my Aunt Ann was there and she's awesome and we had a good time together on the front lines. I guess the good news is that we did better than we thought we would, when the predicted downpour came the crowds had already thinned, and Johanna had plenty of cousin time.

4. It occurred to me, when we told Gram the total and she just kind of looked at us blankly, that she doesn't really care how well she did -- she'd rather have her life back to the way it was six months ago, before Gramps fell. I don't blame her. I'd like that life back for her, too.


5. Last night was Homecoming for Abby's high school. She and her friends did a bit of a dress exchange in preparation for the thing, which I would like to point out is both zero waste and minimalism and really fairly awesome. She's lucky to have tall friends. ;) I'm also 100 percent sure that zero waste and minimalism were not on the top of her list when she decided to participate.

6. Tomorrow is Columbus Day, but apparently it's not a real holiday since no one gets it off except for the federal government. Fun fact: Abby is no fan of Christopher Columbus, but she has to write  about him every year for the DAR history essay contest. It's kind of amusing hearing her rant. Plus also: Free money for her college fund.

Well, I thought this was funny, except for the fact that
whoever created this forgot to capitalize "day." That is just sad.

7.  I'm not really sure what to write for my seventh pointless update, but I'm committed to the number in sort of an arbitrary way that defies explanation, so here we are. The sun is shining, it's cool but beautiful, and I just decided to add "reading on the deck" and "taking a walk" to my list, even though both will technically mean I have to leave the house. I'd also like to add "eat a doughnut," but that would require not only leaving the house but going into the belly of the beast, so forget it. I'll stuff my emotions with an apple instead.