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Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Some Weeks are Like That, I Guess

But if the stars, the gods, the fairies, Them, or anyone else in charge of things out there is listening .... Once Was Enough.

Yeah. It was a tough week last week - and the tougher it got, the more I walked around sighing about how tough it was - which makes me wonder if that helped make it tougher. I never welcomed a Friday afternoon as passionately as I did August 24, 2012.

This week will be better. I am going to borrow from a wonderful friend, who, whenever I see him, twinkles his eyes at me and says "Live as if it's already what you want it to be". My soul has a monumental crush on him. As my pal L would say - he's in my soul group. And now that I remember this, smack in the middle of last week he walked into the library and lifted my spirit - so - it wasn't all bad.

So. What is there to look forward to this week?


Nice weather
One week closer to TheBirthdayMonth
Story Hour
Strength training at the gym
A visit to my mom (just decided this)
A stack of Inter-Library Loan books on how to draw
Following the meal plan I created on Thursday (and shopped for on Friday)
Drawing with R
A 3 day weekend at the end

So you see - even though these are gentle, almost mundane things, they're part of my ordinary life. They are the way I want things to be. Already.

Last week was a crummy week because it was just my turn. And even in the crummy sourness of last week I drew my best drawing yet.

And I turned the heel on a pair of socks.

And this weekend it rained - perfect for cuddling indoors with pencils, needles, movies and a BigDarling.

So. Some weeks are just like that, I guess - and that's not all that bad. Happy Next Week to you all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dancing Around My Weight Loss Goal - a Left Brain Right Brain Conversation

If you hadn't realized, I am a fluffy woman (love that term)
who has spent a lifetime werkin' on it. At the moment I'm again on a downward effort via my own combination of Weight Watchers, Vegan, and ThingsIMadeUpMyself. Yesterday I weighed in at just a few ounces over last week's weight.  That's just over 3 pounds from my WW goal and just under 2 pounds from not having to pay to go to meetings. I like those meetings and plan to continue to go fairly regularly when I reach that goal, even though the rule is only once a month. I like the WW employees and I like the people who attend. But I would rather have the $. 

When I look in the mirror, though, I see that I would also rather weigh 10 lbs less than that goal weight. It's a proportion thing and it's an age thing. The only thing that would keep me heavier would be if my face sagged too much at the lower weight (also an age thing). But way back in 2003 when I first picked this WW goal I thought I'd look and feel better at that lower weight. I just didn't want to work towards it any more. Now, almost a decade later and half an inch shorter, I need to see if this is right for me. 

So. So what's going on? I'm playing around with the same few pounds - or even ounces - again. Time to get my Left Brain Wild Child talking to my Right Brain School Marm and see what we can do to start moving again. 


LB  Well, my friend - we're starting to dance away from our weight loss goal again. Want to talk about it? 

RB   Yes 

LB   So, do you want to get slender? 
RB     Yes but I'm afraid 
LB    What are you afraid of? 
RB    I'm afraid I'll have to work this hard for the rest of my life 
LB    Oh - I understand how that feels. I suspect, though, that if we get used to good habits we might not feel they're such a burden. Don't you love going to the gym now that it's a habit?

RB    Well. Yes.

LB    Okay, so what else? 
RB   I'm afraid I won't be able to live up to our expectations. And I'm tired 
LB    What are you tired of? 
RB   I am tired of having to think all the time. Think about what to eat. Think about exercising. thinkthinkthink 
LB     Yeah - I understand that too. I'm a little tired of it too.  How else do you feel? 

RB    I don't feel free enough 
LB    What would make you feel more free? 
RB   LOL - a cook in the kitchen who made all the decisions for me and they were all good ones. And restaurants that figured out how to make good-for-me food as tasty and cheap as not-so-good-for-me food. 
LB   Well. I'd like that too - but what can I do to help you feel more free? 

RB  Give me a safety net. Make the lists. Make the plan. Plan out meals. Take time to do your job. 
LB   Hmmmm. I can do that. I even like doing that. But it means not doing other things. Time is finite when it comes to this sort of thing. You have to be willing to Not Play with Other Things while I do all this list making and planning. 
RB    When? When? 
LB    How about Thursday afternoon? But you will have to be quiet 

RB    OK - I can be quiet while you're working. 
LB    And we may miss our drawing session that day and have to double up on the weekend

RB    OK 

LB    Anything else? 

RB    I am getting older and I don't know who I am as an old lady 

LB   You're the same person you always were 

RB   No I'm not - I have creaky bones and aching joints sometimes and I have to watch out for my back and I'm scared I'll look bald if I let my hair turn grey but I'm afraid I'll look stupid with an old lady face and died hair. 

LB    Nobody's looking at you that hard 

LB    I'm looking at me 

RB   How can I help?

LB   Oh. I didn't think anybody could help. Can you make a plan about that too? 

RB   I'm sure I could 

LB   When When When?

RB   Well - hmm. How about this weekend? No. Wait. Hmmm. How about Labor Day weekend? And btw, I'm glad to learn you see the value of all my list making and plan writing ... 

LB   I've always valued you - I just don't like it when you forget about me 

RB   Fair enough. Well - Let's work together on this 

LB   Deal 

   emoticonWell. Who knew? I'll be back when I have plans to share. Hope you got a chuckle out of all this.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

That Late August Feeling with some views of the garden

Do you know it? The nights are cooler - even if the days are hot. There's something different in the sunsets - though they still linger till after 8 o'clock. And the music! The sounds! And don't get me started about the fragrance! Ripening scents are everywhere - in the trees, the grasses, the croplands ...

We seem to be having one of those damp cool Augusts. There hasn't been a triple digit day for weeks and we're promised 10 days of temperatures below 90 in today's weather dot com prediction. Right now it's overcast and about 80 and I am wishing I'd done my Saturday housework yesterday when it was not so dank. Now if I mop the floor it won't get dry unless I turn on the oven and bake something ... which I just might do.

I'm reminded of another August that was cool, but wet. LD was moving into his first apartment at the start of his junior year of college. I'd come down with one of those summer cold/wet weather mold allergy things and felt like death - but I was adamant that nobody could set up housekeeping without a cast iron skillet and the only place to buy one was at a serious shopping mall. (Walmart sells them now but this was then - when all they carried was the cheapest of aluminium products) So. Off we went to Fredericksburg to buy New Apartment stuff. I was so tired and dragged out by the time we got home all I wanted to do was to crawl in bed. I told the Darlings to fix their own dinner out of whatever crumbs were scattered in the kitchen. As I changed into pajamas I noticed a car driving up to the house. A foreign car - not anybody I recognized. Two women got out of the car and I thought "missionaries" because they're the only unexpected strangers who ever drive all the way down our lane. I was just about to shout out to someone to go shoo them off when I noticed one of the women pulled a gift out of the back seat and suddenly I remembered. Weeks ago - before the summer cold/allergy thing, before the long spell of dank weather, when I was at work, not in my Last Chance to Baby My Almost Grown Son mode, via that relatively new form of communication: e-mail - I'd invited some seriously distant kinfolk - a daughter and her mother, who were coming to Virginia to do genealogy research - to stop by for dinner.

Right. No food in the house. Me in pajamas. Everything in disarray for getting PreciocusAngelBabyDarlingOnlySon back to college. The house as dim and dank and unwelcoming as it could be. And out of town guests. Come for dinner!

I served them strange mystery meat in gravy over rice for dinner and fortunately, my BigDarling can always entertain genealogists - and they were his kinfolk, mind, so he knew all the lines. Nevertheless - it was an awkward evening. Both of them knew I'd forgotten. It was too obvious to miss. The mother thought it was hilarious and said it was just like something she would do. The daughter - an accountant for the IRS - did NOT think it was funny and has never spoken to me again.

Ah well. Some things can't be fixed. But as summer winds down with that late August feeling, we try to get in the last of whatever is left of the season and ... whatever can't be done does not get done.

Yes. Summer is winding down and it's doing so quickly.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Beginning of the End

I've always said that when TheReunion is over summer is on its last legs - and true to my adage, a big rainstorm swept through Virginia on Saturday evening and Sunday we had cool dry air with just the hint of cricket singing during the last moments of sunset.

I didn't get many photos of the reunion because I was so busy talking to cousins I forgot to get my camera out. By the time I remembered, only the truly hungry were still in the room, sampling from the table. Wonderful BD had gathered up all the children and like the Pied Piper, had led them out into the cemetery to show them the graves of  J T and Hannah Ware - who's wedding anniversary this reunion celebrates. He told them all about J.T. going up to Catlet Station to get the body of his son Tommie, who died in TheWar and about the sisters, and Aunts Page and Gay, and about the hospital they kept in the old school house on the front lawn of Midway, where they nursed union and Confederate soldiers. And about the post office - the first in the area - that was in the front room of the old school house. And about the horses he raised. And how J T was rumored to 'have doings' with the gypsies. And about the Big Fire that took Midway in the 1890's and how glad everyone was to be able to move into the old school house.

I remember the old school house. When I first married into this family the reunions were held at Midway. When that was torn down TheReunion moved to St. Paul's Church, but I remember Nancy Eubank stirring up crab meat in butter on the stove in the back kitchen.

Memories. Even my memories go back almost 4 decades. Sometimes I think "TheReunion can't last much longer. We're all too far apart. The connections are stretched so thin. Too much time has gone by."

But then I see some smiling face coming in from Norfolk or San Antonio or Phoenix and I fall in love again. Next year - we'll gather everyone for a big photo BEFORE we eat - so that nobody gets left out as we drift on out to the cemetery, the car, Hillsborough, Chesituxent ... We'll capture everyone on film. Next year. For sure.

There's something about that second Saturday in August that makes people want to gather. While Hannah and I laid out the supplies for this reunion, my own family was gathering not 60 miles away in Richmond. Were I not one of the hostesses for TheReunion I would have been there myself. But my niece drove by on Sunday on her way home, with baby and papa and you can see that even Jack was having a good time.

Still and all - the weather change nips at my skin and tells me that if there's anything else I want to accomplish this summer - I had better get a move on. It's the beginning of the end of summer and before you can blink an eye - it will be September - and we all know what that means.


So. I best get a move on. Ta.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DRAWING some conclusions ...

So. I have been drawing this month ... if not every day, I am at least up to ten 20 minute sessions. There have been days when I truly couldn't find 20 minutes to spare. But I've persevered and will continue to do so - it's been such fun exploring pencil on paper, line and shadow.

One of the things I love about practicing drawing is how it makes me look at the world differently. Driving in to town I examine the shapes of the open spaces the trees create as they branch over the highway. I notice what the different little black shadow spaces look like - see the blank white spots created by sunlight on leaf tops. With a librarian - it's all about the story. With an artist - it's all about the shapes.

I firmly believe that everyone can learn to draw at least some. My response, when people tell me they "can't draw a straight line with a ruler" (and note - I don't say 'you use a pencil to draw') is to ask them if they can write in cursive - if they can sign their name.  All of them say they can - to which I reply - what is a more complicated shape to draw than a lower case letter K? The truth is - writing is just a speedy type of drawing and if people practiced drawing as much as they practiced handwriting they could all draw - at least as well as they can write. It is the looking - the noticing - that makes drawing so different from writing. It is the incredible amount of time and concentration it takes to fill in all the details that makes a picture different from letter. And it is the fact that words are not being used in a drawing to help explain what's on the page that makes our relationship to art different from our relationship to a book.

Something else I've learned as I've sketched away is that it is much easier to draw from a photograph than from real life. No matter how good or vivid or well angled a photograph is - it's still only a 2 dimensional representation of something, which is what I'm trying to create with pencil and paper. Drawing from real life involves slowing down the part of the brain that speed-dials spacial relationships from eye to brain. My one drawing from a real object is so distorted and did so frustrate me that I have decided to stick with photographs for the rest of the month. One needs successes (or perhaps only modest failures) in the beginning to keep one's confidence up. LOL. At least, TheQueen needs them.

Still and all - I am having a splendid time with this exercise. It's supposed to become a habit, you know - something I do every day. It is also part of another habit I wanted to incorporate into the Life of TheQueen - to take one step every day towards a Big Life Goal - and one of my BLGs is to be able to draw - in fact - to live an artistic life. Art really matters to me and now that my mother no longer provides me with it - I need to make my own.

So. May your own BLGs be achieved - and may you take a step towards one today.

Now where's my pencil ......

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My 12 for 12 August Habit

Yes. It's August and time to add another good habit to my life. Admittedly, I gave a little thought to calling a halt to all this habit forming effort. 7 changes in a year is a LOT of changes - even when they are small, even when some of them aren't really changes but merely expansions of present behavior. Like last month's Charles Schwab List ... which, btw, I followed perfectly and it's a durn good thing, because wooeee. July ran me ragged. July was so durn hot we actually drove down to the home improvement store and looked at air conditioners. Didn't buy - but at least investigated them. And our summer reading program at the library kept us busier than that set of proverbial jumper cables. The kids read 5319 books in 6 weeks plus 2 days. And tonight we host the  Movie Night for the students who made library ads in the animated movie class. And Interesting Things developed in local government. And of course it was our quarterly board meeting month. And we had company and we were guests.

In short - I think I have a string of accomplishments behind me, as per my wish when I wrote about the CSList month, but I'm too busy to look back - onnacounta - there are More Things lining up in August to keep my nose to the grindstone. It is just possible that life will open up come the end of the month or in early September (Birthday Month, you know) but .... well ... I'll just say - thank goodness I'm using that good tool to keep focused at werk.

So - what is my August pick? This month I choose:

8. Draw 20 minutes a day. I will never get any better if I don't practice every day

As busy as I've been all summer, I just haven't felt very creative or artistic. Yes I know - there is creativity in problem solving, creativity in making a work environment where other people can blossom, creativity in organizing (and yes, creating) a beautiful room (I promise - photos soon) out of a cluttered hot mess. But in the traditional, hands on sense of creating, I just haven't been there. I even took a precious day off 2 weeks ago and met up with a girlfriend with the intention of painting au plein air, but it didn't happen - we just used the time to catch up on each other's lives.  But we did come up with the idea of doing a 20 minute sketch every day in August and emailing it to each other. It helps to make a promise to someone else when I try to effect a change and yet, I'm still shy enough about my own skills and talents to go slow with something like drawing and painting. Also - doing artwork play is very difficult for me. I can easily spend an entire weekend scrubbing out dirty kitchens ... but playing with art takes more initial thrust than getting the Saturn Moon Launch up. We need not go into all the reasons why I have such a hard time letting myself do the perfectly innocent things I want to do - suffice it to say that I have to make a duty out of play before I can actually play. At least I do make it a duty - or part of a list - or a public commitment ... and once I get over the initial fear of getting caught out not werkwerkwerking, I sometimes get pretty good at this play stuff. 

LOL - which is a statement that only emphasizes my Fear Of Play. 

 "But what about your knitting?"  you ask. "That's the only reason I look at this this blog."

Eh. My knitting mojo is a frustrated captive of math. Temperatures are too high, time is too scarce, projects are all at tricky places. Some day it will get cool again and I will knit again. That's about all I can promise.

Of course, my August habit is added to the list of Other Habits I've tried to incorporate into my life so how have I done with the previous ones? After all - a habit is supposed to be something you do regularly. Here's a recap of the 12 for 12 to date:

JAN Tracking my food   Yup. pretty much 100% - with the result that I am now 3 pounds away from my weight goal. Give myself an A+ for this. It's a true habit.

FEB Daily Prayer    well, not as good as I would wish - I'd say more like Every 4th Day prayer - and often only when I'm having a bad time. The point of prayer is to put me in a state where I don't think these bad times are so very bad. I'd give myself a C+ and say it's not yet a habit.

MAR Drink enough water Well - I do that very well, but maybe not perfectly. I keep a glass on my desk and of course a bottle with my gym bag - so here I think I've earned an A-. This is a habit.

APR Exercise  I've done really well here too. I'm not a fanatic about exercise and I can certainly spend a day on the couch with a ripping good mystery (Barbara Cleverly's The Palace Tiger) but I do exercise 3-5 days a week and I've kept at it all year. I'd give myself a solid A for this because ... It's a habit. 

MAY Compliment someone every day  Uh Oh. I have not done so well with this.  This is difficult to do because I tend to think that we are all supposed to be trying to do a stellar job all the time. I am not a perfectionist - but I can't conceive why anyone would not try to do his best, all the time. Why try to do something at all if one is not interested in reaching one's own personal best? Not an arbitrary Best or Perfect Job - but one's own best given the circumstances of time, place, environment. Eh. Well. That's the Virgo in me, I know. But I have made some efforts (obviously not my own personal best, right? except ... given circumstances of time, place ... LOL!)  

Okay - okay - I know. I'm unreasonable and skirting close to hypocritical. I will say that whenever I do compliment someone I am made aware of the habit I am trying to inculcate and that is the only thing that keeps me from saying I've failed at this. I'll give myself a D for this habit, try harder to incorporate it into my life and state .. "Nope. Not even close to a habit yet."

JUNE Select a big life goal and  take one step towards it every day.   Well, heck. That one is so easy to view from all angles that just getting out of bed is a step towards a big life goal of living. I know, I was supposed to big a Big Deal thing ... like the Noroway Fjord trip .. which, btw, I suggested to BD and was quite dissapointed to find that he wasn't even interested. Ah well. He did order in The Vikings from Netflix . That may be all the fjord I ever see - but then - he did suggest a ferry trip around Canada's Maritime Islands. I can do that.

And the weight loss thing - well, that's a BLG and I have to take a step towards that every day. At least I am aware that if there are things I want to do in life, I have to plan for them. Especially if they are Big Things that I want to Go My Way. 

Still and all - If I'm honest I have to give myself a C on this and say it's not yet a habit.

JULY The Charles Schwab List - my goodness. I wouldn't have gotten through the month without that. In fact I've been using it all year but this month I really felt the importance of doing it Every Day. I even used the old ratty notebook I've been using all year, though I did buy a new one. Another thing I'd like to do - maybe another BLG even - is to use up what I have before I go buy a new one. Shampoo, bubble bath, notebooks. There's just too much 3/4 empty clutter in my life because I love to shop and I hate to come to closure. 

I've actually left that notebook on my desk, though, in constant view, to remind me to Make A List. And I have. I do. I'd give myself an A for this and call it a habit.

And if I want to make drawing a habit .. and get better at it ... I had best wind things up here and go get my sketch pad. 

Ta. Have a great day. Make it a habit.