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

Black (18)
Turtleneck sweater
Long sleeved t-shirt
Sweatshirt dress (I LOVE THIS THING)
Little Black Dress
Black/beige skirt
Black/white polka dots button down
Black/red/blue leggings
Black/blue/teal leggings
Solid leggings
Black/flower scarf
Solid scarf
Ankle boots

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

Burgundy (1)
Pullover sweater

Purple (1)

Teal (2)
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!


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.


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.


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.