I went to the gym once this week and promptly remembered why I hated going to a gym. If I am left to create my own adventure, I’d rather sit down and read a book. Put me in a Zumba class, and I’ll sashaaaaay my way across the floor like a maniac with no rhythm like all the others. Yoga, spin, a master swim team — I’m your girl.
I am, I now remember, no longer the girl who can put in headphones and happily run along for 60 minutes on a machine.
Treadmills make me feel like a human rat trying to beat some caloric experiment. “If I go another 10 minutes, that’s another 100 calories. If I stay on this thing another 30 minutes, that’s a glass of wine. God, I should be drinking less. Or walking more. Probably both…”
As such, I spent considerable time putting together a tutorial on how I pack a gym bag (which I did five days a week for nearly 10 years, without complaint). This week, I did it once and I spent more time putting together these photos than I did at the gym. I’m not going back. Instead, I am begging my yoga studio to add more early morning classes and making an effort to bike to work in April (with heavy help from an express bus.) And walking Nelson 10 miles or so a week. This is enough. My glory days as a spandexed runner are lost, if they ever existed.
Anyway — here is what was in my gym bag, which is now my new yoga bag. At least the yoga studio has hot water. How do you build such a huge corporate gym and not have hot water in the showers? I suppose it was the same genius who decided to let new people in the gym to give themselves a tour. What a mess.
Bright side? I got a cute new workout bag with an REI dividend and a renewed sense of who I am (yogi, one who likes to sleep in) and who I am not (bone skinny, perpetually sore, runner.)
As I’ve told other girlfriends this week elsewhere, I’m leaning in to sleeping in.
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- Get Fit
During the last year, the department I work for has been reduced by more than 30%. The work we are doing has been transferred to a different state agency. The transition, all the same, has been an odd experience. I am the only person left on one side of a large floor of offices and cubicles. When I come in, I have to wave my arms above my head to get the lights to click on. I can hear when anyone on the other side of the floor exits. The elevator dings on occasion, getting my attention.
It’s zombie movie strange.
I miss the voice of friends and colleagues who filled the sea of gray cubicles. I’ll be joining them soon in a different building, under a different agency, a few miles away. I’m one of the lucky ones.
With this transition has come a need for deep flexibility. As colleagues were let go, others found new positions. Still others took retirement. Their responsibilities in many cases have been divided among those remaining. And so, we juggle.
There is an express bus that leaves not far from my house, depositing me one mile from my new office. For now, that mile is a nice morning walk. Soon, it will be a hot slog and I’ll need to keep wet wipes at my desk — but I am going to try to do this as many days as possible. Commuting by bus is new to me; I was pleasantly surprised by how quick the bus gets you to and from. It is comfortable, and full of other professionals headed downtown. The price is great too because as a state employee, the fair is subsidized. It is of course the green option, and as the summer approaches, I won’t be sitting in traffic on the asphalt in 110 degree heat.
The flip side to taking the bus is I have to plan my entire day within walking distance of my office. I can’t go out to lunch unless someone else drives or we are hoofing it. And, going to the gym means hauling an extra set of clothing downtown and on that mile walk each way. I’m trying to make getting to the gym as easy as possible, and carting even the necessaries back and forth each day will hamper my motivation.
Tomorrow, I get back on the gym workout wagon that I rode for so many years in my 20s: up by 5, at the gym by 5:15, in the showers by 6:30, and on the bus by 7. I can leave my gym bag and car at the bus stop — which is within half a mile of the gym. So, I’m only carting my purse and lunch to my desk.
I like having a plan and a routine. And I know having my workout done before I get to work will start my day off on a happier foot. I have more work than ever to accomplish, so getting up earlier as it gets warmer makes sense.
Onward, we march into this new professional life.
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- Arizona, Journal
The people who previously owned our home loved LOVED wallpaper. (And white carpet.) Come to find out, 1980s wallpaper makes a small bathroom seem much smaller. We planned to strip the wallpaper, add a fresh coat of paint and update a few of the fixtures.
And as house projects go, this took way longer than expected and required more repairs than anticipated. However, the new yellow bathroom looks so, so much cleaner and bigger.
Welcome to 1989. Bangs are big, Molly Ringwald is always sad, and Michael Jackson is blaring on the boombox. Why yes, that is two types of border wallpaper glued on top of a base layer of wallpaper. It took a lot longer to get off the walls than we anticipated. (Also, this is the kids’ bathroom, so it is inherently a bit messy.)
Week 2. Yellow paint! Leak fixed. Wall fixed. Kids annoyed to still be taking showers in our bathroom.
Done. The changes other than the paint:
- Curved shower curtain, giving the kids a bit more space in an otherwise small shower
- A new to us mirror I found on Craigslist for $40
- A new catch all for all of their counter items
- Mason jars for their soap and toothbrushes
- New to them art — thanks to Finny
I can’t tell you how much bigger this tiny bathroom feels. The kids are happy, and we are happy to have that much less wallpaper. Win!
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- Heirloom Hacienda
I promised my friend Sue two years ago when she visited that I’d sew her an Amy Butler Sun and Surf halter.
And, two years later — it is done. (This project was so easy. I just dragged my feet getting started and I am so happy it is done because it was easy! And now I’ll make more.)
Do you have tips and tricks to keep yourself from procrastinating? I’d love to hear them.
- CAOK, sew
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The citrus are blooming, covered in bees and making the yard smell like perfume.
We’ve got two types of basil and some lavender going. I’m hoping they’ll all perk up with the increasing heat.
Especially you, lavender. You’re on notice.
The geraniums are going strong. These are some of my favorite flowers to have around because they last so long, and they are such a great pop of color.
A few succulent cuttings for a friend.
These small palm trees are having some sort of weird sexual awakening.
The rest of the yard is screaming in color. All I can hear in my head when looking at this is, “FABULOUS! WORK IT, GIRL!” (Because you know, sometimes the plants talk back.)
And the ‘maters are in and doing well. I tried growing from seed again this year, but they are just too small to produce. So, I bit the bullet and bought some heirloom plants at the local mom and pop nursery. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep these going year-round, like I did the last year in Tempe. A new garden bed is being added soon too. The irrigation is already in. Woo!
And that, folks, is how the garden grows.
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- Arizona, Domestic Art, Flora and Fauna
This pillow is spring on one side, and Valentine’s on the other. And, I’m done making pillows for a while. Time to find a new project to tackle!
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- CAOK, Domestic Art
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about inspiration like she is your best friend, always hanging around somewhere nearby, but also willing to hit the road for greener pastures if you aren’t respectful. I’m wrapping up the final “final” edits on Basket Baby, and contemplating what story I want to tell next. The idea for Basket Baby landed in my lap when visiting Bolivia and hearing about women who abandon their babies at the doorsteps of wealthy homes, hoping the families inside will take the child in permanently.
I spent a year or more considering the different motivations for a woman willing to leave her child in such a setting, and another five years researching, writing and editing this story. I’m proud of it, and I’m ready for it to take wings and fly far, far away from my laptop. (My writing group, editing partner, friends and family are on the same page, so to speak. Everyone is ready to see Basket Baby on a bookstore shelves and outside of their email in boxes with subject lines like, “Please? Just one more read through — I promise!”
This writing game is a balance of vulnerabilities and brazen courage. You have to be able to create a life and spin truth from daydreams, and yet… be tender enough to ask others afterward if your creation rings true. And then tough enough to discern when the edits are helpful, and when they are spiteful.
In the last month, the next novel idea has shown up on my doorstep. She flew in, landing on my shoulder, when I was peeling wallpaper from the kids’ bathroom walls. Piece by tedious piece, I steamed and scraped and was surprised to discover writing on the walls beneath the paper’s old, saffron colored glue. There were contractor scribbles here and there — some in pen, other in fading, barely legible pencil. What secrets could be hidden in a house, papered over for the next generation to uncover? This curiosity, and a recent tour of the Phoenix Indian School has me dreaming of a big, redemptive tale to shine light on a darkness in Arizona’s history: the roundups of American Indian children on tribal lands, starting in the 1890s, for a “civilized education” in government boarding schools.
Schools where children were taught in English, converted to Christianity, sexually abused with such a pervasiveness — you’d be sick, and not permitted to return home to their families during the summer break. Many children in this era left their homes at age 5 and were sent back to their reservations at at 18, unable to communicate with their families. But hey, at least they were civilized.
Welcome, dear Inspiration. God bless you for showing up, being patient, and hanging around. I may need you to stroke my hair from time to time, whispering reassurances.Let’s cast away these shadows together, shall we?
(And not to be greedy, but can this story please take less than six years to create?)
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We are wrapping up marmalade season at our house. I made more than 120 jars, some setting up much nicer than others. By the last batch, I could tell by the color of the jam when it was done. I’m looking forward to giving these away as the year goes by — a bit of canned Arizona spring sunshine.
This week was Jason’s birthday. He eats so few sweets, but loves a small slice of key lime pie. Luckily, I like a large slice, as do the kids.
Are you making bone broth? I feel like I go on and on about how easy this is and how quickly it ups your cooking game. It also makes the house smell comfy cozy when it is cooking. Broth is easily stored in mason jars in the freezer (only 2/3rds full or the glass will break) and then you have your own for soups, rice, etc. I like to make ours spicy — with cayenne and tumeric.
And I’m finally knitting another Abalone sweater. I hurt my back this week and spent several days on the couch. I got this project started and finished the last season of Mad Men. It’s been a long time since I watched an entire show, and I will miss these characters. (I still think of the Soprano family from time to time too. And of course wonder how my buddy Leslie Knope is doing in DC.)
What is cooking in your part of the world?
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- Heirloom Hacienda
Are you noticing a theme? This is what happens when I craft. I find a pattern I love and I make it until I am sick of it. (I’m not sick of these log cabin pillows yet. I’ve yet to make any for us.) This pillow was part of Sue’s birthday gift. (This photo of us was taken the day I met Jason!)
Sue is South African and a world adventurer, now living in southern California with her family. She has a specific sense of style; her house is thoughtful and worldly. The art on the walls is meaningful, the books on the shelves loved and well read. This is one of the many things I admire about her.
When I saw this map fabric in Seattle last summer, I knew I needed it for a Sue project.
Happy birthday Sue!
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- Domestic Art