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Friday, December 30, 2011

Washing Clean

It's raining, raining, raining....
Sheets of rain are pouring down outside and the lovely sound on our metal roof lulls me.
So right for the New Year, washing away all that we want to shed...
for me, too many "shoulds", rigid thinking, anxiety that narrows options...

Let's put it all in positive terms, which are easier for our brains.
Flexibility, awareness, exploration for 2012.

Oh how I love that sound. A dull roaring. Buckets of water! It's beautiful.
Two days ago, I went for a morning run with a special friend in just such weather. When I left the house the sky was still dark, and as it turned to deep blue then dove gray the rain poured down. It was exhilerating. By the time I got home it was only drizzling, but I looked and felt as if I had waded into a cold mountain lake from the waist down (my upper body was clad in something that shed the water). It may not sound pleasant...but it was amazing!

Home today, the gift of a "workweek" day at home.
My Tall One (G1) is sick in bed, G2 is dreaming of inventions probably (we saw Hugo last night). and my plan for today is to cherish the sound of the rain, read as much as I can to G2 (we are reading our way through the Little House series as fast as our schedule allows, so thankful to have a 12 year old son who still likes to read out loud and share stories with me), and maybe head out for another rainy run when Minou returns... lets hope it doesn't slow down!

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Trying to hold steady over here, tossed by some tempestuous storms of emotion.
Sound effects: The thunder of slamming doors. The lightning bolts of anger.
I want to be a calm and loving rock. Waves wash against me but I am here, steady, comforting.
It's not easy.

What is it about 12? I'm not sure.
Wanting to still be little, cozy up in the sweetness and comfort of rituals. Bedtime song, stories, indulgences.
Wanting to grow up and be have more independence, more choices, more say.
Not wanting the responsibility that comes with such.
Add in the stresses of homework, of peer pressure, of friends in similar yet different stages of caught-between. Add in a brother who in some ways appears to have left the world of childhood behind (though not really, not yet). Leaving 12 in the push and pull of the in-between.

And then a mama away from home working, working far more than the standard 40 hours a week.
A papa struggling to do his best with the demands of running the home front, running the show, building a business. The solid center of home and family: it's here always, but right now feels like an ache of needing more. We need more time together.

Here we are. Trying. Directing our intentions.
Breathe in kindness. Breathe out peace.

And finding  moments of quiet jogging through the early morning mist while the sky lightens in the east.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jam Packed

The days and weeks fly by. Tuesday, again? How did that happen?
Why does time seem to speed up more and more the older I get?
Sometimes the hours feel too full to accomplish all I want to do.
But what I most want to do is slow down and just be.

Soon. This weekend we're going away.
I'm really looking forward to a mini-vacation together as a family.
I have a big stack of books on CD for the long car trip south through the mountains: Bill Bryson, Car Talk, Dave Barry, This American Life. Something for every family member.

And when we arrive at our destination: walking, cooking, swimming, cuddling, movie watching, relaxing....

But in the meantime: lesson planning, quiz writing, homework helping, homework correcting, working, shopping, packing. Back to it!

Having something to look forward to is so helpful.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I had an odd dream a few nights ago...

We had transformed our little house into a cottage-industry spa. Facials in the bathroom, massage in the living room, and eyebrow-waxing at the kitchen table. Customers were lining up in the garden.


This may have had something to do with the Korean day spa I visited while in SF, but I took it as a sign that we needed a little more pampering. (Though I have never had anything waxed, myself). I forgot to get a picture, but last night there were three green-faced folks sitting on the couch watching the West Wing (G2 declined to participate). The combination of weekly French green clay facial masks and Greek olive oil soap has really improved my skin. A new glow....

When life is too busy, the little moments of self-care feel so good.

What are some little things you do to care for yourself?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mono No Aware

Long silence.
My boys/men came home. Wonderful to have them here, home.
And an adjustment. We had a few unsteady weeks as we all found our new routines--boys jumping right back into school and activities, medical appointments, catching up on missed summer activities while the weather allowed...camping. biking. friends. Me trying to keep up with the new levels of laundry, happy noise, piles of giant shoes and homework on the floor.

Now, we are in a good rhythm. And autumn is really upon us, and as I do every year, I resisted, resisted, and then made peace with it. I do love the beauty of this season. It is also so poignant. When the grey skies and rain settles in and the mornings and evenings grow darker, something pulls at me, a lingering ache, a twinge of sadness mixed with appreciation for the temporariness of everything.

Mono no aware: the pathos of things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

So a day before my boys prepare to fly home...I fly away.

Leaving our newly scrubbed home and not newly scrubbed menagerie in capable hands.

I'm very excited to be heading to the Bay Area for the wedding of a very dear friend.
And so excited at the opportunity to spend some quality (maybe even leisurely?) time with her and another wonderful friend, the person I've known longest in my life outside of family. Not just to dash in for the wedding, but hopefully to pamper C. a little, walk in the city, stay up late talking with K. and C., and help take care of whatever last minute details may arise.

In the meantime...whoo-hoo! I'm off call, and can leave my phone in another part of the house without worry or fear. Not to mention having more than a 3-minute conversation.
Or a glass of wine.

And my sartorial jitters (my wardrobe runs more toward ratty gardening gear and casual business/professional togs than formal wear) were soothed by the unconditional generosity of another very dear friend H., who overnight Fed-Exed me two gorgeous little black dresses and some elegant jewelry as wedding guest clothing options.

I feel very, very blessed with friends. I am not always the best at keeping in touch from a distance, but these individuals (and many others) live in my heart. Always.

As do those three boys/men that will soon be continent hop-scotching back to me.
From southern France, to Paris, to Dublin, to NYC, to San Francisco, then back on home to our little corner of the Pacific Northwest. I can't wait to hold and squeeze them (resistance is futile!) for a long, long time.

Friday, August 26, 2011


There is a hint of fall coming evident in the later mornings--stunning sunrise at 6:15 this morning--and earlier evenings. Dusk fell around 8:15, while I was still chatting with my neighbor and gearing up for some garden projects after work (oops...they will still be there tomorrow). The changing season is also evident in the flurry of back-to-school mailings and requests for school fees and donations arriving daily. This is an expensive time of year, even when trying to live simply. Photos, school supplies (reuse/recycle is the way to go...), program fees...we live in a state with a sadly underfunded public education system. I am very grateful, however, for the quality of the public French language immersion program both my boys are part of. And happy that I've been budgeting for these once-a-year expenses throughout the year.

Other changes on the horizon...trying to find a dress (via beg/borrow/barter) for my dear friend C's San Francisco wedding coming up so soon. Sadly, the one I had hoped to wear no longer fits. 15 years has added 15 pounds--darn it. Luckily, all eyes will be on C., looking lovely as always, so I'm trying not to worry too much.

And finally--can't wait to welcome back Minou and my boys. I'm in a tizzy trying to finish projects, clean our slightly neglected home, pull weeds, and stock the pantry. No time for West Wing episodes now! I have to stop and remind myself that if everything doesn't get finished according to my idealized vision, it's okay. Being together, appreciating each other,  is what is important.

I know that they (the boys) will be excited to be home and unfold their wings, as well as see their friends and (maybe?) return to school, moving on to the adventure of high school for G1. It was not one of my favorite life transitions,  but he has a strong group of friends from many years back and is part of a smaller program within a larger school. There isn't much turnaround time for either one, jumping back into their regular activities right away. They are hoping to get in one overnight family nature outing since we will miss our traditional Labor Day camping at gorgeous and serene Waldo Lake, one of my favorite spots on earth.

Any traditions for the changing seasons?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week, Weekend

Happy weekend, everyone! I really enjoy and feel grateful for the time to relax and pursue home projects. I am happy to say that my home feels clean and organized due to a little company's-coming inspiration this past week. I'm not sure why I need that, but it's effective.

I find myself posting less as the summer goes along. I'm not sure if it's from being busier or...lacking some inspiration with my family gone? I have settled into a groove (and am now sleeping just fine, thank you) but I am so, so, so excited that I will have them back with me in just two short weeks. I would say that I can't wait, but I need the time to prepare! G1 was asking me on the phone if I could have some of his American favorite foods ready for their arrival. Of course! For those vegetarian boys, favorites include tofu dogs and veggie burgers... not standard fare in France. With the garden and berries and fruit trees all producing a lot right now, I have also been trying to harvest, bag, bake, and freeze all I can. (blackberries, zucchini bread, plums for jam and pies...)

This week I....

  • photographed a lovely calendula heart, which I can't take credit for noticing

  • had something delivered for a mystery project

  • had to pull this cute yet sneaky dog off the bed multiple times in the night

(why did I ever let him sleep with me?!)

  • finally said goodbye to the comfy, dusty, old red couch (and then felt sad)

  • had a great dinner and ice cream with some very good friends and my mom, and viewed their work-in-progress bathroom remodel, which they are general contracting theimselves (and which Minou designed!!)

  • No, that's not their bathroom! Just a temporary solution and place to enjoy the full moon.


  • had the pleasure of a dear friend passing through town and getting to catch up with her

  • absorbed some challenging news at work

  • hosted a small dinner gathering

  • Started to watch this TV series from the library and was predictably hooked (the colors!)

  • How about you? Tell one thing about your week or weekend!

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

    Raindrops on Roses and Birds and Blueberries....

    Today I wanted to burst into song! My friend K. and I headed out bright and early for our favorite local, organic, family-owned blueberry patch, where last week we had each separately been greeted by this sign:

    Picked Out

    This morning, however, the patch was open for business...and already hopping at 7:50 a.m.! We found a parking spot right away and commenced to picking. It was a perfect day, a bit overcast and not too hot.

    Look at K.'s wonderful picking contraption! She was faster than me, for sure. We also differed a little in technique. Since I often get lazy about processing and just freeze the berries right in their liner bag (it works), I'm a little pickier about trying not to get stems, green berries and mummy berries (not mommy berries) in my bucket.

    Professional Picker

    Predictably we saw several people we knew at this popular site close to town, and we were both excited to hear at least four other languages spoken besides English (Spanish, French, Mandarin, and an Asian language I wasn't familiar with). The berries were so big, blue, beautiful, and abundant that there was ample picking for all and any competitiveness about finding or guarding the best bushes turned into friendly helpfulness among fellow gatherers.

    For those of you who have never experienced it, I wish I could convey to you the joy of picking blueberries when the picking is good. K. kept saying that she wanted to contact the Oregon Blueberry Grower's Association and encourage them to come up with a song, or perhaps sponsor a competition for lyrics, about the experience. Though we couldn't get very far in our musical endeavor (too focused on picking...and eating! it's hard to sing with your mouth full) it was fun to imagine the entire large, humming-with-people blueberry field bursting into song (and maybe dance) together.

    These pictures make it look like the field was empty, but actually the whole hillside was full of people, and the road below was lined with cars. This patch doesn't even advertise these days. Their berries are so good and so well-known that they don't need to.

    Big Berries

    Industrious Gatherers

    I turned into a Mama Bear (K. said Mama Squirrel, which might be more appropriate since my cheeks were  full of blueberries), completely focused on gathering food for my family for the winter. I achieved a personal picking best: three heaping two-gallon buckets in under three hours, each weighing about 12-14 lbs. For $45 that's a pretty good deal! As we picked, I heard a little one in the next row listing all the things she wanted to eat with blueberries, and I had to smile since I had been thinking about the same thing: blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry jam, blueberry smoothies, blueberry pie....I could go on...

    Now I'm looking forward to baking blueberry things for my boys. I'm also enjoying the smell of the delicious cinnamon-walnut zucchini bread in the oven that's wafting up the blueberries in it because they're all in the freezer already. After all that great picking, I was tempted to just keep going this afternoon and find a farm with green beans, but reason prevailed and I spent the afternoon working in the garden and mulching my own blueberry bushes instead.

    Tonight I am feeling very, very fortunate for food and space to grow food. Also a climate that permits it. It is so basic and so important.

    What are you grateful for today? What fun thing did you do this weekend?

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Water Conservation

    I live in an area with apparently abundant water (it rains a lot here).
    Water is also relatively cheap.
    As a frugal person, I love this, but as someone who wants to protect our environment and natural resources, I think it should be more expensive. A LOT more expensive.
    Though of course, I would also like financial incentives for those who conserve.
    One kilogallon of water--thats 1,000 gallons, folks--costs $1.28. Does that seem a little crazy to you? It does to me.

    This last water bill (July) I was happy to note that I used only 5 KG. This includes watering the flower and vegetable gardens, but it was an exceptionally rainy month so daily watering was not necessary. It was down from 7 KG in June, and down from 18 KG last July!

    I find it much easier to spend time doing little things to conserve while living alone. First, there is the time and thought that goes into building new habits, and then there's no-one to notice or comment that what you are doing seems odd or extreme in their view. However, as I have talked to more people about my water-conserving ways lately, I have found that many other friends, coworkers and acquaintances have similar water-saving practices.

    Could we share ideas?

    Here are some things that I have done.
    • "Navy" showers: Jump in, get wet, water off, soap up, on to rinse, etc. No more lingering under the hot water.
    • Turn water on, wet hands, off to soap up (sing the alphabet song), on at low pressure to rinse.
    • I still wash dishes by rinsing under running water (plan to get rinse tub soon!) but I use low-flow water.
    • Don't flush the toilet every time. You know that old saying for those with septic tanks: If it's yellow, let it mellow (do need to scrub the bathroom more frequently).
    • Wear clothing several times until it is visibly stained or sweaty/smelly to cut down on laundry. For things that are bound to be stinky like exercise clothes, throw them in a distant closet and launder weekly.
    • Drip irrigation system for the veggie garden (thank you Minou).
    • Put out water for the chickens twice daily istead of the constant-water hose to watering tray system (leaks from the hose were responsible for last July's huge consumption, I believe)
    And a trick my friend & neighbor taught me: Gather shower water in a bucket and use it to water the plants in the summer of flush the toilet in the winter.

    What other tricks do you have for reducing water consumption?

    Sunday, August 7, 2011


    Hello, hello...a brief update.
    There's not too much going on in my neck of the woods these days.
    Sometimes that's a good thing, however.

    I'm really, really excited that my boys will be back with me in less than a month.
    I can't wait. Though a month would once have seemed unbearably long, in relation to the time we've already had apart this summer it's short. The weekdays and weeks do fly by. Suddenly, I'm reminded of the ambitious to-do list I had prepared before their departure.

    Garden steps. Sparkling woodwork. Extreme declutteration (if that isn't a word, it should be).

    Hmm...well, I have soaked up the quiet, read several books, and discovered a new TV miniseries from the library that I'm hooked on (The West Wing, which my family ironically just began watching on TV in France). What else?
    • I've started jogging again.
    • I have successfully conserved lots of natural resources--water, gas, and electricity (cutting our standard usage of all these by more than half, and trimming the yearly-averaged bills).
    • I've managed to go an entire month without buying fruits and veggies by eating straight from my garden (hello, delicious blueberries, salad, kale, beans and zucchini!).
    • I've picked up lots of extra shifts at work to help fund my Roth IRA and pay down mortgage principal.
    • I've sold and donated two large boxes of books (I LOVE books, but we really have no shortage...).
    • I've started a little "family fun fund" from egg sales and bottle returns to get us to beautiful Crater Lake, Oregon this year.
    • I've enjoyed spending more time with my mom.
    • I've tried to sleep 8 hours each night (so wonderful).
    • And yesterday I completed a bi-yearly training that always feels good to revisit.

    body count

    sad, sad baby


    Now (as she pointed out) if anyone collapses at my dear friend C.'s wedding later this summer, I will remember exactly what to do. Let's hope there will be no need!

    How about you? What have been the themes of your summer?


    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Oregon in France

    Because I can't resist, here are some little glimpses into the enchanted land my sweet boys and Minou visited with M1 and some good friends last weekend. A hamlet northwest of Montpellier that the boys dubbed "Oregon in France" (for the green & mountainous landscape).

    It never hurts to dream....right??

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    100 Today

    sunflower tower

    Today marks my 100th blog post!
    Rather exciting.

    ripening alley plums

    To celebrate the occasion properly, I thought I would give you all a little glimpse into a topic that has been occupying my thoughts for many waking leisure hours: minimalist-ish living.

    (Also, full disclosure: I am feeling a little sad today, really missing my family far away. I'm so happy for all the adventures they are having, yet feel very distant, and truth be told, a little left out from their overseas experiences. However, I promised myself before they left that I would not mope. So, in the interest of keeping the blues at bay, I'm trying to focus on thoughts and activities that are positive and somehow enhance my life & theirs...)

    neon calendula--it really is!

    I have been lately loving the feeling of space in our little home. I love to think of space as a positive, full of possibility. It feels like there is ample room to dream, write, stretch, dance, draw, spread out a puzzle, cook, wrestle, read, drink coffee, watch a movie, snuggle up...whatever it is you want to do. When I walk into our home and see the airy space, it feels light and free. This sensation has kept me going on my quest to see what else I can live without, or put more positively, to find out how much is just enough for me and my family.

    For inspiration, I have been reading a wonderful book (I checked it out from my public library--request it from yours if they don't have it!) by Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist, titled "The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide". The first part is full of the philosophy of minimalist living, the second a guide to the STREAMLINE method of clearing your space, and the third, which I'm just starting,  is a practical room-by-room plan.

    This process has already led me to pare down a lot, over the last few years, and I must confess that as someone who does not love to clean, it has made the process of housekeeping a lot easier. But more that that, it feels better...more spacious, more organized, less chaotic. Although I still have a long way to go, I can find things more easily, because they have designated homes. It's easier to clean up for the same reason, as well as not having as much to pick up before sweeping and mopping. Having just the amount of linens and towels needed makes a lot less laundry (hooray!). And having only clothes that actually fit and look good on each family member makes it so much easier to find something to wear in the morning.

    We have made a lot of progress. Although I think this process has made my family nervous at times, they have seen that I respect their individual possessions and I think they have benefitted from the increased feeling of calm and organization. (I invite them to weigh in with comments!)

    For me, among the items that have been most difficult to let go of are things from my kids' baby days. Considering the age of my boys, we still have a surprising amount of baby and toddler paraphernalia (clothing, blankets, books, toys...) lingering around our home. Minou and I are equally sentimental on this point, which doesn't help (I'm usually much less sentimental about objects). I rationalize it by the times that we have young friends over and pull out the books and toys (which happens at least several times a year), or by thinking that if/when the boys have kids of their own, they might want those adorable little shoes and coats....and certainly the Playmobils...Maybe, maybe not, but for the moment they stay.

    What I am looking forward to clearing right now, however, are several large items of furniture that will create significantly more empty floor space. At one point, we had two couches in our little living room. It was very cozy, and avoided overcrowding and brotherly elbowing while watching movies, but it grew a little claustrophobic over time. Since the futon couch can double as a bed, I want to keep it for out of town guests. The red couch, on it's way out the door, made a brief stop in the kitchen during the process of furniture rearranging. And somehow it made a good impression there, and was granted temporary permission to stay, with the excuse that it gave our kitchen an artsy coffee-house feel. It was a little awkward for eating, however; the chin of whoever was seated there just barely cleared the table. So eventually the table moved into the living room, and the couch stayed in the kitchen.

    And there it's been for the last two or three months. I'm tired of it. Mostly the cats use it. The couch is so very comfortable, great for naps and sinking down into, but also incredibly dusty and cat-hairish and tends to consume many objects in its ravenous cushions. Once it moves along, the table can return to the kitchen....

    ...and then, just imagine all the glorious space that will be ours for whatever!
    (Ignore that ugly exercise bike--it's on temporary loan for virtuous solo movie-watching). I think I have finally come around to loving the white tiles Minou wanted and I protested adamantly against. We ended up getting them because of a great sale. While they are rarely very clean, they do make the room look light and so much bigger.

    At any rate, I will save the next piece of furniture earmarked for passing along for another day's post. I'm going to go and see if I can rustle up a little help and a truck to take Dusty Red to my local Goodwill donation center. I want the house to be beautiful and feel full of possibility for when my boys return.

    How about you? Do you have anything that you don't use much, but find hard to part with, or something that mysteriously stopped and stayed on its way out the door?

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011


    Oh yeah! Woo-hoo!

    Irrespective of all else I did on my day off yesterday (talk to my sweet boys and sweet Minou, jog, blog, buy a plane ticket, declutter, gather raspberries in M & R's garden)....

    I am MOST PROUD of this.

    I'm a first-time donor to the local Blood Center.  (they don't say Blood Bank any longer). Better late than never, right? There's always a first time to something new. And I was thoroughly inspired by the portraits of the numerous members of my community who have donated upwards of 100 times. 100 times! They call these individuals "Century Donors".

    Maybe one day.

    It was easy, simple, painless, and I feel great. Thanks to my neighbor R who reminded me to eat something with protein and drink plenty of water beforehand. And thanks to the patient phlebotomists who answered my 101 questions.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Wings on my Heels

    When I jog, this is how I look on a good day...

    ...but THIS is how I feel!

    See my goofy, blissful smile? Another small luxury...even better than coffee, and free!

    Do you know this movie? I tell you, I hear the music as I go (gently at 12 minute miles).
    First saw it at age 10, when I got my first pair of jogging shoes from my dad. I love it!


    Monday, July 25, 2011


    Thanks for the sun today and this refreshing green Sun Tea it created

    Thanks for dinner straight from the garden

    Thanks for safe and comfortable shelter

    Thanks for the Lovely Ladies (and their eggs)

    Thanks for splashes of color

    Thanks for borage for the bees

    Thanks for the zucchini they are pollinating

    Thank you for pets to care for and their company

    Thanks for the ability to plan for the future

    Thanks for all that is growing and ready to burst into flower

    Thanks for summer abundance

    Most of all, thanks for family, friends and loved ones, my home and heart
    wherever they may be

    What are you grateful for today?
    Please share!

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Abundant Enough...

    ...or why I bought coffee today.

    This summer, living alone, I have been trying hard to live with less. For the most part, I am enjoying this practice with simplicity. Trying to purchase less. Trying to drive less. Trying to use less electricity and water. Trying to eat more from the garden.

    I like the wording of that last sentence better. We humans seem to respond so much better to positives than negatives. It's easier to start a new habit than to stop an old one (even if the new replaces the old). I realized that while many aspects of living with simplicity feel like more to me, such as the happiness I get from gathering sun-dried clothes off the laundry line or picking salad and blueberries from the yard for dinner, some aspects feel like the annoying pinch of a tight shoe.

    Can you guess where I'm going with this? Not buying coffee. I ran out sometime in late June, and was initially determined not to buy more because the cupboard was full of green and black tea. Have I mentioned before how much I love coffee? With skim milk, iced, hot and black, espresso with a sugar cube "canard"...I generally don't have more than 1-2 cups a day, but the enjoyment I get from it is large.

    What I realized today was that by denying myself something I really want, I was creating a poor-me mentality, leading to a feeling of poverty and not abundance. I don't want to practice self-denial just for the sake of it, and my financial situation does permit the purchase of little luxuries such as coffee. Each weekend morning that I woke up and couldn't have a freshly ground cup, I felt grumpy and it took me a while to get out my funk (tea, though lovely, was just not doing the trick). I also found myself wanting to snack more, looking for some other source of gratification to replace what I really wanted--coffee!

    Thankfully, this afternoon I realized the error of my ways. I am extremely fortunate to not be in a financial state of true need, but want to live simply to focus my time and energy on the parts of life that are most important to me. Living simply is about living with just enough. What enough is will vary tremendously with individual situations, tastes, and temperaments. For me, a pound of coffee a month creates a huge happiness boost--a great investment for a small financial outlay.

    I'm  already looking forward to the smell of those organic locally-roasted on-sale dark French Roast beans when I grind them tomorrow morning, and to wandering the garden to check the size of the growing zucchini with cup in hand. It's the small pleasures that count.

    So how about you? What are the little luxuries that bring you large enjoyment?

    Maybe it's something you can purchase, like chocolate, or maybe something uninterrupted hour in the tub with a novel, for parents of young children, for example...or storing a canoe for trips to the lake.

    Please share!

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Sleep, Glorious Sleep...

    Sorry for my recent silence. Perhaps you can tell from the post title exactly where my spare time has been going!  I don't know why I have been so tired lately, but it's real. This level of fatigue reminds me of when I was simultaneously in the very early stages of pregnancy , planning a wedding, and working in a bakery/cafe that required opening the store at 4:45 a.m (and no, I'm not pregnant now--Minou is in France, plus there's that T). I can remember leafing through catalogs of wedding registry items at Penney's (not yet a minimalist!) and Minou leading me through the home sections of department stores, when ALL I wanted to do was curl up on those lovely display beds with their puffy matching pillow shams and comforters. And sleep. And sleep. And dream, and sleep...

    Part of the problem is that I don't like to go to bed at night. A natural night owl, I get a second wind, or get distracted easily by a good book I'm reading in bed and forget to watch the time. Or sometimes, I don't want to go through the trouble of my nightly teeth and gum care routine, and just put it off. Gretchen Rubin wrote about this delaying bedtime problem in her wonderful book The Happiness Project. However, I do have to get up and be at work in the morning. My start time isn;t too early most of the week, but the dog noses me awake when he thinks it's time to go out in the morning, usually around 6:30 a.m., and then the chickens need tending to. Once I'm out of bed it's hard to go back to sleep for a short hour. So basically, I think I've built up a little sleep deficit. Add to this the fact that I do very well with a full 8 hours, not so well with less, and I have been grouchy and less than sharp...not a great combination!

    I also wonder how much increased physical activity may be contributing. In solidarity with the Minimalist Fitness Challenge, I'm trying to step up my exercise intensity a few times a week. I even started jogging again--so slowly, but with happiness. Although exercising makes me feel much more lighthearted (love that endorphin rush!) and energetic in the short term, it could be that my body needs more sleep time to repair afterwards. And speaking of both fitness and sleep, did you know that not sleeping enough plays a significant role in predisposing toward overweight and obesity? It has to do with the regulation of leptin, an hormone that affects perception of satiety and is produced by adipose tissue. Overweight people consistently have high blood levels, leading to resistance, similar to insulin resistance in Type II Diabetes.

    So I'm allowing myself to nap on the weekends, and sleep in (gasp!) til 8 or 8:30. Decadent! And lovely! And I seem to have and remember interesting dreams when they happen in the morning. Last night, for example, I was eating a big plate of broccoli and cauliflower from a farmer's market. (??) It looks like we are finally out from under the rainy grey skies we have had here in the Pacific NW while the rest of the country sweltered, but I still have two comforters piled on my bed. I love to sleep with an open window, fresh air, and heavy, fluffy covers. Preferably white.

    How about you? How much sleep do you need? How do you like your bedding?
    Are naps allowed?

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Swap, Meet

    My neighbor M. (she of the goddess garden sanctuary) proposed a weekly trade of eggs for bounty from her garden, and I was DELIGHTED to agree! I just saw this movie (after being on the library reserve list for close to nine months) and it renewed my commitment to eating more fresh local food. Not only is trading a great way to eat super-locally (forget about a 100-mile radius, this is a 2-block radius), but as M. noted, it's a great way to get to know each other better. Most of us have fairly busy lives these days, and between working, mothering /caring for family, and maintaining the garden, it can be difficult to prioritize socializing, especially developing new relationships. That's why this is such a lovely arrangement--we can swap and meet.

    We had fun looking around the garden and I loved sampling. M. was happy to share some of everything she had growing, which is a lot! Just being in this green-thumbed woman's garden inspires my inner gardener to start imagining, dreaming, digging, and planting. I'm not sure that this was quite a fair trade this week though--just look at all this glorious garden bounty I brought home!

    garlic--elephant and regular

    strawberries, cherries, snap peas

    greens (tuscan kale and collards) and curious Jamsie

    bouquet of snapdragons, foxglove, nasturtiums, chives, thyme, oregano & parsley

    clustered garden beauty

    Have a great weekend!