Friday, January 08, 2016

communal circles: kumbaya carol

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Today's prompt: Communal Circles. What new circles have you formed? Any unexpected ones? Did you start a book club or hang out in a tea yurt? Maybe you re-upped with existing friends. Explore your kumbaya moment from 2015.

My kumbaya moment was when my college roommate came to visit this summer from California.

Carol and I lived in four different places in West Lafayette (above Harry's Chocolate shop and in two different houses on North Salsbury Street and an apartment one summer that I can't remember the address).

We worked at two different jobs together (Skate-Away and the Ground Round).

We hosted parties (everything from kiddie pool parties in the front yard to a Dow Jones and the Industrials band reunion in my parent's barn).

I visited her in NYC during her semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology and sneaked into a few of her classes and slept on her floor.

We were liberal with our use of sketchy IDs to get into bars to see music and visit friends.

We shared clothes and cars and food and there may have been a brief overlap of dating the same guy (but we don't talk about that).

It has been about 30 years since I rode cross-country with Carol in her Fiero car to L.A. Can you imagine moving that far in a tiny car? Luckily we were both small and I didn't need to take much more than a toothbrush and some clean undies.

After Carol moved I visited several times, but the visits got fewer and farther in between. She was busy with her family, raising two beautiful children, and career and I had my life goin' on.

When she called this summer to ask if she could spend a week with me and volunteer at Second Helpings I was thrilled! For that week it was like we were back in college - living a one bedroom space, visiting with college friends, borrowing tee shirts, driving to the same job and talking about boys and jobs - although with better wine and roomier cars.

I am so grateful that we have reconnected - cheers to Carol and long-time friendships!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

thicken the plot: thinning down

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Thicken the Plot: We're all writing the story of our lives as we go. How can you make your story interesting in 2016? And if you can't see around the bend, it's okay to dream. Let's make 2016 one of the most riveting parts of our tale, shall we?

I'm hoping this year is the year that I can see around the bend. While 2015 was full of fun, it was also sprinkled with two root canals and two crowns and repairs on the tenant side of my double, not to mention the two months it was empty and no rent collected. I'm working hard at chipping away at my credit card debt and being fiscally responsible.

I've also managed to accumulate stuff....most of it mundane... I've been making a real effort to use up the all of the dish soap, shampoo, canned soup, paper towels, weird smelling lotion, little packets of tissue, and other things that were either purchased on sale, given to me as a gift, or somehow came to to be at my house.

I've also done a good job of organizing and giving the gifts I've picked up for friends and family in the last few years, but never managed to actually get to the person I'd picked them out for. At Christmas I was mostly able to shop from my own gift shelf.

The more brutal project has been spending time in the basement sorting socks and tee shirts and pitching things that should have been tossed years before. I've taken a ton of clothes to the Toggery (resale shop) and the folks at Goodwill are starting to recognize my car and my trash bin is always full.

I look forward to enjoying my cozy house with no major projects hanging over my head. I look forward to looking forward to getting the mail each day - no more envelopes from the dentist or credit card company.

Even though I'm paring down, I promise the quirkiness of Chez Pez will continue - let's not go too far with this project....

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

hear, hear: tilly

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Today's prompt: Hear, Hear, Do you hear what I hear? Tell us about a sound. What do you hear in your house or at work?

My day is full of noise and I love it! I'm one of those goofy people that sounds brings things into focus. Second Helpings is a cacophony of knives on cutting boards, beeping oven timers, laughing volunteers, ringing phones, buzzing doorbells, pallets scrapping the floor, students yelling "yes, chef!," foot steps on the tile floor, hallway conversations - noise, glorious noise! 
I sometimes worry that I'm a noise junky so I've been experimenting with driving to work without the radio and walking the 30 minutes to church with no music playing in my ear and not automatically turning on the record player or queuing up ar Netflix program on my phone. 

That said I added some beautiful purring to Chez Pez in October. I adopted Tilly at the Indy Mega Pet Adoption event. I stopped in, just to look, and was smitten the moment I saw her. She's five and a half and 13 pounds. A big ball of affection. 

It's great to come home to a friendly meow and to hear her "motor" running when she's napping. She's very patient, even when I tried to Velcro a Princess Leia to hear head. 

That said, she is hiding from me right now. I backed up as I was typing and stepped on Tilly's tail. When I leaned down to apologize and pet her I gave her a big static electricity shock. I reached out with my other hand and shocked her again. I'll try to make it up to her - in a very gentle way. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

scratch and sniff: grandma's kitchen

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Today's prompt: Scratch and Sniff! Scents have the power to take us all kinds of places. What smell takes you somewhere else? Where'd you go?

I've been waiting all day to write this post. The second I read the prompt, I knew I wanted to tell you about Grandma's kitchen. 

I loved spending the night at Grandma Leona's and walking into the kitchen to the wonderful aroma of coffee and bacon and muskmelon and unconditional love. 

I'm the oldest of four children (born within six years) so having anyone's undivided attention was pretty darn special. To have my beloved grandmother all to myself was the best thing ever! Grandma and Grandpa lived on the farm house that Grandpa had grown up in. The kitchen was huge - big enough for a giant table that seated at least a dozen, Grandpa's rocking chair (that is now in my living room) and all of the necessary kitchen-y stuff and appliances. 

Uncle Phillip and Uncle Con would arrive their polka dot caps to join Grandpa for farming work of the day. They'd grab a cup of coffee and commence to some gentle niece teasing. The local AM radio station was always playing in the background - all talk; weather, obituaries, commodities reports, and more weather. 

Leona Gremelspacher was known as a saint all throughout the county. I remember pushing even her grandmotherly patience one day.  I was seven years old and followed Grandma around the kitchen chattering about what must have been fascinating second-grade business.  She finally asked me if I ever took a breath - and admitted that she needed a little quiet time. 

I spent hours this evening looking for photos of us in the kitchen or recipes written in her hand. I found lots of her recipes that I'd written at the huge table in my loopy junior-high handwriting, misspellings and all.  I remember feeling so grown up, copying down the details from her recipe cards. 

I was 23 when Grandma died and I am so fortunate to have known her that long. It is rare that I catch a whiff of that particular combination of percolating coffee, frying bacon, and sliced cantaloupe, but when I do, I'm transported to that place of unconditional love - like walking into a warm hug. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

in your eyes: sunset

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year.Today's Prompt: In Your Eyes. Share a photo or paint us a picture with words. Show us something from your year through your eyes. Did you see something that took your breath away? Or maybe you just couldn't look away?

I set my alarm to wake up an hour early this morning in anticipation of writing today's blog. Then I read the prompt and drew a blank. I stared at the screen while I drank my cup of tea and eventually went to work. 

I thought about it all day and started feeling like a jerk. I'd heard and read things that took my breath away be nothing was bubbling to the top of my mind that I'd seen. 

Was I such an unfeeling dolt that nothing moves me? 

I suspect it is the opposite, I get to see so many good and generous things each day, I've gotten a little numb. 

As I walked to my car, feeling lousy for failing to stop and smell the visual roses and remembered this sunset from last month. 

I love this view of downtown Indianapolis at sunset, after a rainstorm. I pulled over to snap some photographs and soaked it all in. As I was standing in the mist, at the side of a busy street, I felt a big wave of gratitude for our city and my little corner of it wash over me. 

Here's to 2016 and stopping more often to soak in those breath-taking moments and feel the wave of awesomeness. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Get Analog: Chop, chop, chop.

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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Today's Prompt: No screens, no technology – what did you do with your hands this year?

This is an easy one! 

I got handsy with a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables in 2015. Chop, chop, chop. 

I took my lunch to work and and ate at home many evenings. 

Summer lunches included open-face veggie sandwiches and broccoli slaw chock-full of fruits and snap peas and carrots and cilantro. Chop, chop, chop. 

Dinners involved sauteed veggies with scrambled egg topped with curtito Chop, chop, chop. 

I've lived in my smallish half of a double house for 20 years and never quite bonded with the kitchen. I love my old appliances but the counter space is nonexistent. This year I learned that all I needed was enough space for a cutting board.

I enjoy the time chopping. Sometimes I spend it in silence, sometimes listening to music, and others watching Netflix on my iPhone.

Who needs a big kitchen when you have a cutting board and a knife?

Chop, chop, chop!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

your 2015, reviewed: less is more

I did it! 
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I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. Today's Prompt: Your 2015, Reviewed: Give us the 30,000 foot view. Or, hone in on a few highlights. Let's bring last year to life before moving on to what's ahead.

I feel like I wrote the 30,000 foot view yesterday. Which was hard for me, I'm not good at the "high-level look" or other things that get bandied around in business and board meetings. I'm a boots on the ground sort of person. Tell me the project or idea and I'll make it happen. 

So, in the spirit of the opposite of high-level, I'll drill down on one aspect of 2015.

I joined Weight Watchers online a few years ago (at 165 pounds) and lost 15-ish pounds, give or take. My lowest weight was 140, but I seamed to hover around around 150 no matter how hard I tried. And this went on for years. Since 2007 at least - I know this because I've been writing down my weight on the first day of each month since then on a giant blackboard in my hallway. 

Last year I realized that I really wasn't trying that hard. Even if I was disappointed in my weekly at-home weigh in, it was just me and I could quickly shove the scales out of the way and ignore my chubby knees. It was surprisingly easy to walk by the chalk-scrawled numbers each morning.

I decided that I needed to treat losing weight like a part-time job. 

I am a hard worker after all. 

I started going to WW meetings in February (at 147 pounds) and meet my goal (135) in July and maintained the weight for six weeks, becoming a "lifetime" member in August. I'm proud to say that I've managed to keep it up...or rather off...for the last six months. 

While it hasn't been easy, I feel great, the new clothes have been fun, and my lab results from my last checkup were lovely. And writing on the board is so much more enjoyable.

I've discovered several things about myself. I like to cook and I especially love the prep part. I spend at least half an hour each day, often more, making my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I spend more time at farmers markets and in the veggie aisle. My cutting board is always within reach and I had to have my French knife sharpened for the first time in 20 years.

I've also learned to my great surprise that I feel better when I exercise. I credit my Fitbit with keeping me motivated. My jiggly elbows didn't bother me, but reaching 12,000 steps and getting those four little lights to flash in my wrist kept me jogging in place in my kitchen. 

Apparently eating less and exercise lead to weight loss. If only someone would have told me sooner...

Here's to another year of eating well and jogging around my 750 SF house - 28 steps east, turn, 28 steps west, turn, 28 steps east....

And if you need me on Wednesdays at 6:00, tough. I'll be at my Weight Watchers meeting. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

first line: no one is more surprised by my life than i am.

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Happy New Year! I am excited to be participating in the Think Kit project again this year. 

Today's prompt: First LinePretend you're writing your autobiography. Give us your first line, a first chapter, or even just an image. What's the story of you?

I'm sure the first like of my autobiography would be: No one is more surprised by my life than I am. 

Seriously. I have an amazing life - an awesome job, loving family and friends, and I'm smitten with my community. 

I always joke that everyday is a new day for me. But it's true. If I go to bed angry or disappointed or feeling like something is impossible, it's all forgotten by morning. Which has worked in the favor of family members and boyfriends and co-workers over the years. 

So, I've got the first few lines and recapping the last 54 years seems 'bout a little slice of last year? 

In 2015 I got to throw out the ceremonial pitch at in Indianapolis Indians game and drive an official Indianapolis 500 Pace Car for two laps around the famed track. 

 Not too bad for an nonathletic chickie who drives-like-an-old-woman lady. 

For the record, the pitch made it to the plate and I used the turn-signals as I drove around the track. 

This year I also celebrated 10 years at Second Helpings, met (and maintained) my Weight Watchers goal, continued to write a column for the Broad Ripple Gazette, attended all 17 days of the Indiana State Fair and blogged about it for NUVO, and kept my two part-time jobs. Oh, and I'm on the boards of School On Wheels and the Indianapolis City Market. 

It's late and I'm ready for bed - and to wake up to a new day of what is sure to be great fun. 

See you tomorrow!