This year I . . .

  • rediscovered the magic of Harry Potter. Read books five through seven and went to the midnight showing - all in November.
  • learned about lacto-fermentation. My favorite concoction so far is the shredded beets with apple. So good in a veggie wrap. The sauerkraut was okay, the pickles were awesome, and I've been enjoying a fermented peach slice or two in my morning smoothie. Yum.
  • gave my dehydrator a workout. dried pears and mango = candy.
  • fit in my skinny jeans (as of today. Happy New Year to me!). I'm now in the best shape I've been able to manage since the great thyroid disaster of 2008.
  • read a lot of books. Wallace Stegner and Anne Tyler top the list of new favorite authors.
  • made a new e-friend (Hi, Miri!).
  • cooked eggplant Parmesan for the first time. Made up my own recipe. The secret's in the sauce . . . and the Japanese-style breadcrumbs.
  • ate roughly a million pounds of Swiss Chard, the most prolific plant in my garden. Still eating it in smoothies.
  • quit drinking cow's milk and gave up cheese and ice cream most of the time. My body has been throwing me a party ever since.
  • worried a lot about the present and the future, felt despair, then did some hard things.
  • danced in a studio for the first time in five years. My soul needs it.
  • didn't blog very much. I just didn't feel up to it a lot of the time.
  • celebrated my fifth anniversary. It's hard to believe. Harder still: believing that I first met Clark over ten years ago.
  • found   lots.  of.  new-to-me.  music.  I.  love.
  • learned to play a little ukulele. (lol!)
  • ate a lot of tofu sausage. and a lot of healthy bread.
  • freed my skin and hair from the tyranny of sulfates, parabens, and silicone. So what if my hair smells like a salad?
  • watched all seven seasons of The West Wing, again . . . and two seasons of Lois and Clark (yes, the new adventures of Superman - from the 90s). 
  • considered trying to find more recent sources of entertainment, then gave up and read more books.
  • sold some junk on craigslist for the first time. I'm pretty sure all your home lacks is a black futon frame that my husband pulled out of a dumpster and refurbished. It can be yours; price negotiable.
  • directed the yearly primary program - with some kick-butt dynamics.
  • learned to really like those little boogers in primary. Loving them was easy; liking them took some work for me.
  • handed my calling off to Clark. Every week I sneak a peak at him singing with the nursery kids; it's hands-down the cutest thing I have ever seen.
  • grew my biggest garden ever, thanks to neighbors who let us use part of their open field.
  • made some new friends. Really new. I'm excited to get to know them better. It's amazing what happens when I don't spend all my time hibernating, commuting, or studying.
  • didn't take my grad school comps. I was near catatonic in October; it just didn't happen. The new goal is March.
  • got a new, seemingly free heater. the old one was an oil furnace that gave out several times before we gave in. Last Christmas, Mom and I huddled under blankets for two days watching Cranford because no one was available to fix it. This year we watched Return to Cranford in relative comfort. The heater installation was done in September and we have yet to see a bill. I'm a little worried, but for the moment I'm 4k richer. and a lot warmer.
  • was proud of Clark. He worked hard at building walls, installing insulation, and doing other hard things.
  • felt support and love from people who came to help us build walls, install insulation, and do other hard things.
  • was more settled-in at work.
  • spent time alone and liked my own company.
  • taught a short grammar class to a group of sassy legal-assistant students. I hope they now understand the concept of antecedents. ^sigh^t
  • went to my ten year high school reunion. I was a little ambivalent about going, but I'm glad I went. It was a good time, and I was delighted to find all you girlfriends of mine who have grown into confident women are more beautiful now than ever. 
  • kicked out the tenant from our basement apartment.
  • learned how better to screen for tenants for our basement apartment.
  • meditated by a lake at what was possibly the best professional conference of all time.
  • finished my last class some classes for my master's degree.
  • didn't write a thesis, mourned my failure to academicize, then reconsidered the future of my academic career. Yes; I am still paralyzed by indecision.
  • took back Christmas. As opposed to the failed campaigns of 2005-2009, in 2010 we made about 90% of all of the gifts we gave.
  • didn't mail off said gifts before Christmas. There may or may not be something life-changing coming to a mailbox near you. but probably not.

    The best I can say for 2010 is that it's over and I did some things, felt some feelings, and learned some stuff. Sweet success?! I think it might be.

    Here's to next year, my friends. A happy 2011 to you.


      happy solstice

      Enjoy my favorite winter solstice poem - by Robert Frost.

      And my favorite Solstice-Christmas song.

      You're welcome.

      Here comes the sun.


      #reverb10 - One Word

      December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

      This year:

      adjustment (n) (Not adjusted (adj))

      It's true that on the face of it, not much changed this year. I continued my graduate work, I celebrated my fifth anniversary, and, for the first time in my working life, I didn't have a new position this year. But there was still so much adjustment, much of it mental and emotional. I have many seemingly incompatible dreams I am extremely fond of, and I've had to adjust my expectations. It has been a rather painful process. On the other hand, other goals have come into sharper focus and have brought about some joyful anticipation.

      Next year:

      Deliberate (adj) (and, necessarily, deliberate (v))

      I want to remember to enjoy the things we learn and accomplish in the moment, to enjoy the process of becoming and the glory of being. existing. I plan to live deliberately in as many ways as I can.


      Allred for Idaho

      Last week I went to a political rally for Kieth Allred. It was an interesting event* and I was impressed with the diverse demographics of the participants. Except for the 20-somethings. They were decidedly not there, except for us and one other tablefull. But there were lots of teachers and other professionals, independents, Democrats, and a large delegation of Republicans for Allred. It was a good mix and I'm glad we went, even if it meant I learned things about Kieth Allred that I wasn't at all happy about.

      But I will vote for Allred.

      Because he wants to improve schools and he's dedicated to funding education, or rather not defunding education and has good plans about how to make it happen.  If you are an Idahoan, consider voting for Allred. If you haven't taken the time to hear from both candidates, you can read about the most recent debate here.

      I like that Allred is a consensus builder and he has good experience with a number of issues unique to the West. He's an independent running on the Democratic ticket (his story is that he was asked to run despite his unaffiliated status), though in my estimation he's quite conservative, with a relatively open mind about where to find solutions to problems. He's more Bob Bennet than John Birch. And that, my friends, is about as good as it gets in Idaho - at least since the days of Frank Church and Cecil Andrus.

      *My favorite moment from the evening was when one audience member wondered aloud why we can't just store nuclear waste in the ocean. A guy at the next table caught me with my eyes bulging out and we silently commiserated on the state of the electorate. Good times.


      even I can change

      Three facts you should know:
      • Last October, I was asked/called to teach the music in primary at church.
      • I was not at all pleased with this opportunity to learn and grow.
      • I have hated Halloween as long as I can remember, and I strive to avoid the trappings of the holiday as much as I possibly can.

      I love kids, but I love them best in groups of one, so being the primary chorister was not something I ever aspired to. But those little monsters have weaseled their way into my cold, cold heart. And it didn't even take a full year. Their high, sweet, often dissonant voices have melted my resolve. I couldn't wait to see them dressed up as green beans, puppies, pastries, and firemen.

      Which is why I went to the trunk or treat this year.

      But I still did not dress up. Because there is no such thing as mandatory fun.


      dinner conversation

      Emily (6): Why do you have so much kid stuff if you've don't have some kids?
      Clark: Well, we have it all in our house so that when our kids come it will be ready for them.
      Emily: You never had any kids?!
      Clark: No, not yet. But we will.
      Emily: Is your wife prengat?
      Clark: No, she's not.
      Emily: Does she feel like she thinks she's maybe prengat?
      Clark: No, not yet.
      David (5): Maybe if you add some toys kids would come.
      Emily: If you did have kids, they would make a mess.

      According to these two sages, with some more toys and a carpet cleaner we'll be ready for parenthood. Who knew it could be so simple?


      . . . in other news

      • Back in August, I finished my last class for my MPA!
      • Which means I should be preparing for my comprehensive finals (in 6 weeks, and counting).
      • But I haven't been preparing because No Classes = reading whatever I'm in the mood for. So far that hasn't included administrative law, admin ethics, or public budgeting. But it must. and soon.
      • I will be teaching a short grammar course for the students in the legal assisting program late this semester. Prepping and developing the material is so. much. work. Thank you, Ms. Evans, for making me diagram hundreds of sentences and preparing so thoroughly for every class. I know it didn't seem like it, but I was paying attention. sort of.
      • Tomorrow I start training to work as a volunteer coder for the Womanstats project. I'm excited to put my education to work for this cause.
      • If the local food co-op administrators can find some grant sources, I will be helping to write a grant (or more) so it can move to a larger space and install a commercial kitchen. There have been a few hangups, but I'm optimistic that it will happen.
      • The Pocatello planning department is going to let me work on three projects as an intern, pending approval from the city council. Turns out people will let you do cool stuff if you're willing -or compelled- to work for free. I'll be working under one of my instructors who is also the head planner in Pokie. I like his perspective on the relationship between citizenship, cities, and the nature of democracy, and I'm looking forward to learning from him.
      • Last but not least, Clark won tickets to a Tom Petty concert of his choosing for the remainder of the tour. Two words: road. trip.

      three things Thursday - Now with Olive Oil!!!

      When it comes to what I put in my body, I tend to be a purist. Okay, I tend to be a purist about just about everything - and usually to a fault. I'm lucky that Clark is on board with most of it, though there was once (or thrice) a swearing incident over the extent to which I wanted  needed local eggs, not grocery store eggs, even in a pinch.

      I feel like we have found a good food groove these days. I cook, I preserve things, I bake, and I read labels. (And by "I" I mean we. Husband is game for all of these things. Even if his efforts are slightly less enthusiastic, they are still enthusiastic.) While I know there is still a lot to learn, I basically feel like I have a good routine that just needs adjusting according to the seasons.

      Now I'm on to a companion project. Since I came across this, this, and this, I've been on a mission to rid our home of synthetic chemicals. My current plan of attack involves hygienic uses of kitchen staples. Which brings me to three uses of everyone's favorite culinary wonder: olive oil. If you want to try these, you will probably want to get a dedicated bottle for the bathroom. And if you come to visit, you'll now know why I have a bottle of olive oil in the shower.

      1. Shaving aid. It is the closest shave I've ever had, and there's no need for lotion afterward. All excess oil just goes down the drain. I haven't so much tried shaving the old armpits with the aid of olive oil, but if any of you intrepid souls give it a try, let me know how it goes.

      2. Hair conditioner. I've been experimenting with a lot of different haircare combos. I use olive oil as conditioner every couple of days. Just a dab, rubbed on my palms, massaged into the ends of my hair, and rinsed. For fine hair, I imagine a lighter oil (grape seed, maybe) would do quite well.

      3. Face Wash. About two months ago I started washing my face with olive oil.

      "Wash with oil?" you ask.

      Yes, indeed. Turns out good oils don't clog pores as marketing campaigns have led us all to believe.

      Sometimes I use straight olive, other times I use an oil mixture (olive, castor, and essential oil(s)). My face feels great, my skin tone is more even, I have fewer breakouts, and I don't have to use moisturizer - a nice unintended consequence, since most moisturizers are full of synthetic chemicals and fillers.

      Many hygiene products create a need for another. If you ask me, this is a major design flaw. In the case of skin care, face wash creates a need for moisturizer - dry out your skin with synthetic chemicals, then replenish it with more synthetic chemicals that need to be washed off. Granted the synthetics are not always the main ingredients, but they are generally the "active ingredients" that are actively stripping your skin of its ability to maintain itself. It's a nice cycle for the profiteers, but not so much for your wallet or your skin.

      Olive oil also works really well as eye-makeup remover. And those tiny late-twenties wrinkles I was getting? Gone.

      So maybe now you're thinking, "That's nice, Linds. Sounds like your crazy habits might be getting a little expensive." If you were thinking that, maybe it's time to ask yourself why you are being such a pill. And then consider the cost of the following products that you may use on a frequent basis that you wouldn't need anymore if you switch to using olive oil (aka liquid gold): conditioner, face wash, astringent, shaving gel, eye makeup remover, and face and body lotions. One 16 oz bottle of olive oil will probably last you more than a month and costs maybe four dollars. Cha-ching!$!

      I'd like to expand my repertoire of uses, so let me know if you have had any escapades with olive oil.

      This ad paid for by the Tuscany Institute of Olive Oil Awareness.


      stuff that makes me laugh

      1. If you've never perused the Wait, Wait blog, you're missing out. My favorite series is sandwich Mondays. The Wait, Wait team eats some disgusting edible food-like substance and blogs about the experience as it unfolds. Here is a snippet from yesterday's entry:

      Not content to let other nationwide chains be the only ones to commit murder-by-sandwich, last week Denny's unveiled its Fried Cheese Melt. That's a grilled cheese with four deep-fried mozzarella sticks on it. Peter, Mike and I headed out to Oak Park, Ill., to give it a try.

      Mike: This obviates the need for that awkward question, "Have you decided on an appetizer?"

      Peter: Yeah, it's like, "Yes, I'll have the fried mozzarella sticks, and I'll have them encased in bread."

      2. Sometimes Linda Holmes is a comic genius. And David Hasselhoff is "the poster boy for public ambivalence." You might enjoy this if you have any feelings about Dancing with the Stars, knowledge of 1980s stars and music, or a passing interest in politics.


      rodent follow-up

      I moved the toy snakes every other day. I picked as fast as I could. But still, there were hundreds of half-eaten apricots on the ground. I've already eaten or dried all the fruit. Then I ate all the dried fruit.

      . . . and I set the pits outside for my friend, the squirrel.


      Squirrel totally won.