josephine

Trust me when I say that I really didn’t need anything else to take care of at this exact moment in my life. The end of summer is always insane. I’m trying to keep up with new responsibilities at my job, I have a summer friend who is coming home soon and no doubt expecting to find a girlfriend who will be able to spend time with him, Miss L and birthday festivities, book club, yoga class, a family wedding and charter fishing trip, and the usual trying to keep a house clean / yard trimmed (“Not the Best Lawn On the Block but Not the Worst”), and two cats. Also trying to carve out self care time. So when L and I rocked up to PetSmart last weekend, it was intended to be a quick pit stop to grab some kitty litter before heading to Home Depot to buy a replacement furnace filter as I realized at some point that the existing filter had likely not been changed since my ex-husband moved out.

The best laid plans.

I wrote on Facebook that sometimes true love happens at the most inconvenient and unexpected times and this was true for Miss L. The minute she laid eyes on the tiny striped ball of fluff in the cage in the adoption room, she lost her heart irretrievably and that was that. I am a pushover and I love animals too and two hours (yes it really did take that long to fill out paperwork with some bighearted but organizationally and administratively challenged rescue ladies) later we walked out with Josephine.

My cats are two big boys and they are not particularly nice even to each other sometimes. So we are taking the introduction period very slowly. We’re also relying on Jackson Galaxy to provide instruction. Josie has taken up residence in a spare bedroom that has morphed over the years from unused business room to unused playroom (and is really just a receptacle for stuff I don’t know what to do with). L and I did a psycho cleaning session to get it kitten-ready. She is an intrepid little thing and hates being locked away from the rest of us so we try to scent-swap,and let her explore rooms when the boys are elsewhere. We do feeding sessions together with the boys on one side of a pet gate and Josie on the other (the pet gate is not entirely effective unless she’s preoccupied with a bowl of kitten slop, though – she can squeeze through one slat that is just a teeeeeeny bit wider than the others). And we’ve done some play sessions, and the boys have generally been very good. There have been some hisses and growls, but not nearly what I expected – and when it happens, it’s sort of understandable as Josie is quick and tends to charge at the boys (tiny tail straight up) and try to rub against them and Sarge will have NONE OF THIS. I think it’s mostly just them figuring out their hierarchy and she has to learn manners and learn the pecking order, so I’m encouraged and pleased by their progress.

I know that school starting isn’t necessarily going to put an end to the feeling of being overwhelmed and I certainly did myself no favors by getting a THIRD CAT but sometimes you just have to roll with it and realize that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Wish me luck as I navigate the next few weeks and try to keep all the plates spinning.

xo friends and happy weekend.

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gratitude, politics, and some random links

Good morning and I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far. I don’t have much to share today except an article of interest or two and some expressions of gratitude for the past week!

Firstly, I am so grateful for the yoga studio that opened up a few blocks from my house. I’ve taken two Saturday morning classes there so far, and it’s been a huge pleasure for me to get back to a practice. Twenty years ago, I took yoga at a great studio in the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta, and loved it. I haven’t done any yoga classwork since, and being able to re-engage my body in that area, in addition to running, is happy. I’ve also re-engaged with my meditation practice this week, using it in the mornings when I wake up to boost my confidence and gratitude, and at night to gear-shift into a safe space for sleep.

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I’m also grateful for the right to VOTE in the Michigan primaries this week. There was record turnout and a remarkably diverse Democratic ballot. In the gubernatorial race, we had a female candidate, Gretchen Whitmer; Abdul El-Sayed, a Muslim American (who called himself a 215-lb “middle finger” to Donald Trump), and Shri Thanedar, an Indian-born entrepreneur. Gretchen Whitmer won the nomination, and will be facing down long-time Michigan politico Bill Schuette (also known in Michigan as “Shady Schuette”) for governor. Unfortunately the post-election was marred by an unpleasant incident when a Virginia Senate candidate with past ties to the far right unleashed an uncalled-for and completely ignorant Twitter slur against Abdul El-Sayed (say what? don’t you have enough to fight about in Virginia? stay in your own lane and STFU. And while we’re at it, just quit with Twitter. Jesus. We get enough of that from 45).

Corey Steward Tweet Calls Muslim Candidate Abdul El-Sayed “ISIS Commie” (Washington Times) Gretchen Whitmer did not let this stand, however, and responded:

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No word yet on whether Whitmer will take the advice of many of her constituents and ask El-Sayed, who was stridently endorsed by Bernie Sanders, to be her pick for Assistant Governor.

Couple of other great articles I read this week that might be of interest –

True Crime story involving an uncanny intersection between the unsolved “Lady of the Dunes” case, the filming of the classic “Jaws”, and Stephen King’s son…Shark Thriller “Jaws” Holds the Clue to an Unsolved 1974 Murder (Washington Post)

And a Michigan oddity that I’d never before heard of; The Religious Sect that Became Baseball’s Answer to the Harlem Globetrotters (The Guardian)

I have some other big news about a recent four-legged addition to my already-crazy house so stay tuned or check my Insta account @sixtenpine for a preview!

I hope your August weekend is full of sunshine, sunflower bouquets, goldfinches in your coneflowers, farmers markets, steaming coffee, and firefly nights. xo

 

july goals || august goals

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good lord that’s a lot to remember.

My July goals were:

1) Improve my housecleaning process via the Clean Mama protocol (blogged about here);
2) Dry weekdays;
3) Target 10,000 steps a day;
4) Run 50 miles;
5) Participate in Plastic Free July.

I’m pleased with my results. I fell off a bit with the cleaning at the end of the month, but liked the overall process (and my new tools) so much that I’ll be carrying that goal over into August. Dry weekdays did NOT happen and I have no intent of trying to continue that ūüėČ But I hit both fitness goals, restarted Weight Watchers, and feel like I’m on a good trend of keeping my eating clean and my body moving.

Plastic Free July was one of my favorite initiatives and I’m proud of my progress. If you want to read more about the initiative, some tips to help, and a great article about WHY this is necessary, here are some links for you to check out:

I wanted to be efficient in my targeting; I very rarely use plastic single-use bottles, as I have a great reusable travel coffee cup (link to buy here) and several stainless steel and glass water bottles at home that I use constantly, so I knew I didn’t need to improve much there. However, it’s almost impossible for me to avoid plastic packaging at the grocery store, so I sat down and thought about it, and targeted four areas that I knew I could improve.
1) grocery bags – I used ZERO new plastic grocery bags in July. I either remembered my reusable bags, or I used paper bags if I forgot them in the car or at home. As a result, I’ve significantly dwindled my stockpile (which I reuse for cleaning the litter box and lining wastebaskets).
2) single use silverware – I made a great investment with bamboo utensils (link to buy here).¬† They’re washable, lightweight, I can carry them in my purse or lunchbox or work tote, and where I used to use a plastic fork or spoon almost every day at work to eat my breakfast or lunch, in the month of July I only ended up using ONE plastic knife (before the bamboo set arrived and I needed to slice a banana into my oatmeal at work).
3) ziploc bags – I bought no new ziploc bags and instead washed and reused old ones that come with my Blue Apron boxes for food storage. I used fabric (link to buy here) or washable, reusable bags from Grove Collaborative (link to buy here) for my sandwiches and snacks and smaller food storage.
4) I used NO plastic straws in July. I eschewed straws altogether, in fact, although my bamboo utensil kit comes with a straw and a tiny straw cleaning brush. My new boss at work (whom I love and who resembles Judy Greer and whom I shall now likely call Judy on the blog) recommended glass straws that she purchased at the Ann Arbor Art Fair from Strawesome (link here). I might get one of these as well as she said they’re washable, have a great “mouth feel” and are a nice gift idea.

Flush with my July success, and with the intent to continue the strides I made, here are my August goals:
1) Continue with Clean Mama and Plastic-Free successes from July; carryover.
2) Run 50 miles &  begin training for October half-marathon.
3) 10,000 steps a day;
4) Track food with Weight Watchers every day;
5) Attend Book Club that I’ve been invited to but haven’t made yet;
6) Try out the new yoga studio downtown with the eye to expand my fitness regimen beyond just running.

What are your goals for August? xo and good luck with them!

meanderings

On this last day of July in the year of our Lord 2018, welcome friends! I hope all is well with you and yours. I’ve returned from a whirlwind but always-lovely weekend in the Up North area of Pure Michigan. We looked at the wonderful old houses left over from the days when wealthy folks would take a ship up from Chicago to their expansive summer homes to catch a breeze.

We toured the Benzie Area Historical Museum which was so well done and interesting – especially for a museum of its size, it’s a treasure trove of old photographs, displays, furniture, books, boats…and a tiny sawmill that actually works.

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And of course there was a lot of outside time under the sunshine and big sky.

I just wanted to say hello as I segue back into the work week. Today is dusting day on my cleaning protocol but I am baking some chicken and sitting with Emmett instead. I have a full day of meetings tomorrow for a new gig at work that I’m taking on in addition to my consistent paralegal / governance tasks – I came home hoping my Goody Box from Thred Up had arrived with a couple of nice new-to-me work outfits carefully curated by a stylist at my favorite consignment website. (It’s such a cool service. Give them your Pinterest style board and sizes, they’ll select a box of goodies for you, keep what you like return what you don’t…love it.) The box was indeed full of great stuff but only 2 things really worked. Sadly, I’ve gained a few pounds in the past year and have not been entirely consistent with my Weight Watchers. I’m back on it now, and hoarding blue dots, but I have a ways to go until the clothing that I favor can look good on me.

I’ve been running more but my eating hasn’t been on track so the extra few miles aren’t doing much, although I’m really happy to say that I’m feeling healthy and strong, with no pain or injury, which is something I don’t take for granted. B and I did a neighborhood 5k last weekend when he was home and it poured down rain like nobody’s business. We ran it anyway! Our time wasn’t much to write home about but you do the best you can when you are drenched to the skin.

As I type, it’s still raining, which is good news for my yard and plantings – what is left of them, that is, after the nonstop assault by the mama deer and her two fawns that I have squatting in the hedgerow (I live in a suburb, have I mentioned?) And cozy, knowing I have nowhere to be and nothing to do except eat and watch Netflix and maybe do some reading. I hope you are equally snug and content, until next time.

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check in part three: entertainment

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ann arbor art fair – a summertime staple

I gave up my cable television several months ago because the only thing I tended to watch was the 6:00 news – I haven’t missed it. I’ve had a very lucky summer in terms of great books, podcasts, and original series on Prime & Netflix – so here are some of my favorites!

Books 

I’ve read several “just meh” books this summer (One Thousand White Women and I Was Anastasia spring immediately to mind) and yet in strokes of good fortune, these were balanced out with two of the best books I’ve read this year so far – Flat Broke with Two Goats and The Punishment She Deserves.

Going in reverse order, Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers are back together in the most recent Elizabeth George British mystery series installment The Punishment She Deserves and they’re as entertaining as ever. Lynley and Havers never seem to get old to me – their interaction is comfortable and funny and also refreshing and touching, all at the same time. I love stories of men and women who work together, will never have a romantic relationship or sexual tension, but truly love and respect each other nonetheless – I think that’s a hard dynamic to write well. And Elizabeth George always does it. Add in a typically convoluted case, complicated by a colleague dead set on bringing down Havers while struggling with her own secret alcoholism – and you have a beefy, satisfying read that ticked all the boxes.

In a totally different vein, Flat Broke with Two Goats is a mostly-lighthearted true story of a couple who lost it all during the 2008 recession and moved to a ramshackle cabin in North Carolina to try to get their finances and lives back in order. I love homesteading stories and by the time they’d acquired their chickens and the titular goats I was hooked. This has led me on a homesteading book spree and I’m sure at least one in the current stack by my bedside will end up in a future post.

Podcasts

My Favorite Murder, Criminal, and Thinking Sideways are perennial favorites that I’ve mentioned here before, but I also want to recommend Slow Burn, which is a Slate podcast with Season 1 about the Nixon Watergate scandal. It’s amazing to listen to the total fuckery that was Watergate and hear how Nixon’s supporters defended him – much the same way 45’s supporters defend him – by deflecting criticism back to Democratic candidates. During a lunchtime walk, I laughed out loud on the woods trail around my office when a scratchy old recording caught an indignant Nixon supporter screeching, “WHAT ABOUT CHAPPAQUIDDICK?” the same way today’s Trumpster might be heard to screech, “WHAT ABOUT CROOKED HILARY?” ¬†Days or weeks before, of course, Nixon was forced to release his tapes and was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a criminal. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This podcast is also equal opportunity! Season 2 will be about Crooked Hillary! (well, okay, don’t get all Putin Passionate on me, my conservative friends, it will be about Bill’s impeachment.)
In the same socio-political vein, The RFK Tapes has been fascinating, too – an in-depth look at Sirhan Sirhan and the response to RFK’s assassination. This one is a bit more steeped in conspiracy theory – why did the actual autopsy not bear out the statements of eye-witnesses? Who was the girl in the polka-dot dress? What role did the Rosicrucians play? Was Sirhan the original Manchurian Candidate? But equally enjoyable and educational.
And Karina Longworth is back with the new season of You Must Remember This – Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon. I love old Hollywood and this season, Longworth deconstructs Kenneth Anger’s book “Hollywood Babylon” to examine the roots of many Hollywood myths. Recently released (and the accompaniment to a couple of my recent short runs) – Fatty Arbuckle and Virgina Rappe.

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street art by david zinn at the ann arbor art fair

Series 

My brother is famous for a few things – his hatred of crockpots, his affinity for chickens and Oreos, and his teenage confusion over states that start with a letter I, to name a few – and one of them is his propensity to drop into my life after a few weeks of radio silence to recommend a new series on Prime or Netflix that will ruin my life. I say “ruin my life” in a tongue in cheek way, meaning my productivity levels and desire to do anything except sit in front of the TV. He did this first with “Narcos” and I lost hours and hours of my life to ¬†Pablo Escobar. Then it was “Bosch”, and I am ignoring everything else from him until I finish season 2 of “Marcella”. Which is good, but she fucks up so much that it’s hard to feel a lot of compassion for her…except when you stop to ask why her ex-husband is such an intolerable douche. And I actually really love her style. Great sweaters, messy-hair-don’t-care-I’m-solving-a-horrific-crime, cropped pants and brogues, great coats…

Honorable mention in this category to The Forest on Netflix, which is originally French, I think, so the subtitles made it hard for me to knit to – but suspenseful and interesting nonetheless, they sold it a bit as a sort of foreign Twin Peaks – a girl disappears in the forest and to find her, all her secrets must be revealed. Not in the Twin Peaks category or even close, but an absorbing diversion.

I hope you are well wherever you are – here in suburban Elysia we received a lot of rain this past weekend, which put a damper on the 5k that B & I ran on Saturday morning (my running shoes are still squelching). It did not, however, spoil our trip to Ann Arbor’s Art Fair on Sunday, as evidenced by the photos above. B is back to Iowa for a couple of weeks, then he will be back with me for a long vacation and to wait for his next assignment.

Summer sweeps past. xo

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camp

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Taking a break from playing catch-up with you fine folks, last weekend was oppressively hot and humid here in the Mitten. Even with our A/C on, it was uncomfortable; but Miss L and I were busy. She was going to her first summer sleepaway camp and there was a lot to do.

I never went to sleepaway camp when I was a kid – I was a fairly anxious child (and teenager…and adult, come to think of it) and the thought of a forced separation from home and family, even to ride horses and swim in a lake, would NOT have been fun for me. It would have been traumatic and I have no doubt that I would have ended up in the infirmary begging to go home. My daughter, though, I am happy to say, is cut from a different cloth, and for days her excitement over the adventure absorbed her every waking thought. She picked out all of her own clothes to pack and stacked them into neat piles, labelled. We scoured Amazon for a battery operated clip fan for her bunk, and a plastic mess kit for her chow. There were flashlights to compare and consider, extra batteries to pack, new goggles and a new swimsuit and cover-up, the purchase of travel size toiletries for her shower bag, and pink shower shoes. No tablets or electronics allowed; once she got over her bogglement over that, she bought two new books and put them into her tote so she wouldn’t be tempted to read them before she left. We went back to add playing cards, a sketchpad, notebook, pencils, and a tiny reading light.

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emmett oversaw the organizing and packing process with his usual attention to detail.

I dropped her off on Sunday; perhaps the hottest day.¬† That morning, I’d written five letters to be delivered to her every day of her camp, secreted away in my bag to drop off at the trading post before I left her; I also made sure she had spending money on account. The camp boiled under a blanket of oppressive heat and battering flat sunshine. The cabins were stifling; I was more anxious than she was, wanting her to get a good bunk, to be near her friends. But the air under the pine trees was cooler and smelled like summer; cicadas droned, and down the hill green with foliage, the lake broke into a million tiny glimmers of light and dragonflies.

Being divorced, my daughter isn’t at my house for a fair portion of her time; I thought the separation of camp would feel like dropping her off at her dad’s house. It has not.¬† I feel a strong sense of waiting, of life suspended until she gets back to me, a feeling that I know will recur in waves throughout her growth to adulthood and independence, through every flight she takes from my nest until at last she flies alone, strong and not looking back.

I know this is an important part of my job as her mother, to prepare her to fly strongly, to meet the challenges of her life with the knowledge that she is capable, she is fine, just fine; I just never anticipated that this process would break my heart a little bit each time, no matter how glad I am to see that beautiful swallow’s flight.

The heat broke with a thunderstorm on Monday night, as I sat on my overgrown patio in my pajamas, grilling corn and a turkey burger, reading “Flat Broke with Two Goats”. I thought about Miss L and whether she would be excited to hear the thunder and feel the first fresh drops laying down the dust in the path between cabins. I check the camp Facebook page and find photographs of her, at the opening night bonfire, in the mess hall, her dimple showing as she pats her horse.

There are a few tomatoes to pick and my basil has gone crazy, so I bought a ball of fresh mozzarella and can eat myself sick on caprese salad. Summer is good and I am proud that my girl is confident and fearless enough to go into the world without one of us holding her hand. But I am counting the hours and stalking Facebook until I can rocket north to pick her up tomorrow night.

xo friends.

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check in part 2 – home care

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emmett LOVES clean sheets.

My house has never been what I would call immaculate (I’m a full-time working mom with 2 cats, yo) but when I was getting my paralegal cert, housekeeping took a decided back-back-backseat. For years my cleaning routine has been to haul out a plastic bucket that originally was purchased holding 20lbs of kitty litter (clean of course) – it ¬†was full of old rags, plastic cups, rubber gloves, and a welter of half-used chemical cleaning supplies. I would also push a Kenmore around that weighed as much as I did, but which I hated to use because it was very heavy and bulky, so vacuuming was never as frequent as it should have been.

Recently, though, I discovered an Instagram account called Clean Mama and was inspired to try her protocol for a month. I encourage you to check out her blog and Insta – I won’t reinvent the wheel by explaining it ALL in detail, but essentially she suggests breaking up cleaning tasks by doing a handful of certain quick things every day – decluttering, wiping down counters, making beds, etc. – and a larger task every weekday.

I invested in several new purchases to facilitate this process, and have some recommendations from my “cleaning makeover”!

Monday is wiping down all bathrooms. I recycled the old kitty litter bucket and replaced it with this caddy. I also chucked my toilet brushes once I’d used up the last of my cleaner and now use the disposable Clorox system in all of my bathrooms. I use old wash cloths that have become too ratty for personal care use as rags – I have many of them, so can use one clean one for wiping down toilets, one for sinks, one for countertops, etc in each bathroom – they wash up in hot water on the Sanitize setting. I’m still using up some old spray disinfectant, but in a happy coincidence, Grove Collaborative advertised on a podcast I listen to (Thinking Sideways) and I got a free kit of Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning supplies with a $20 purchase. (HUGE BONUS – Mrs. Meyer’s is also cruelty free!!) Grove also threw in some free gifts with my order and I’ve been super thrilled with everything. I plan on transitioning fully to these more environmentally friendly options as I use up my old supplies!

Tuesday is dusting day. Luckily my daughter enjoys dusting so she was happy to help me out with this – especially when I showed her this new Full Circle microfiber and bamboo duster (the microfiber is removable, washable, and replaceable!). I also invested in a set of microfiber cloths from Amazon.

Wednesday is vacuuming and although the Kenmore was not cheap, and works great, I bought myself a Shark on the recommendation of many people in my life. Not to be melodramatic – but it has CHANGED MY LIFE (lol). It is lightweight, super suction, quick, maneuverable, with a dust cup that I can empty and rinsable filters and I LOVE IT.

Thursday is the day for washing floors which I can tell you apart from using a wet pad Swiffer, rarely occurred at my house before this protocol. Not anymore. I invested in both an O-Cedar EasyWring mop and bucket AND a O-Cedar refillable spray mop – with the O-Cedar I can use my own solution and I don’t have to buy their chemicals (ahem Swiffer). For mopping I use the solution of hot water and white vinegar that Clean Mama recommends, with drops of essential oils – lately I love a mojito-esque combo of lime and spearmint. I plan on doing a full mop with the O-Cedar at least once a month or as needed, and using the wet jet for other weeks or when I’m short on time.

Friday is a catch-all day on the schedule; Saturday is for washing sheets and towels – which I tend to do throughout the week with the rest of my laundry – Sunday is an “off” day to relax so I end up with three days without chores except for larger tasks or things I didn’t get to throughout the week. Leaving me free to do my outside yardwork, go for a run, or just lay on the couch and watch Netflix!

Although I’m usually tired when I get home from work, I’ve been pretty successful at following this. For years I felt resentful that I had to spend hours of my precious 2 days off a week cleaning. Especially after I got divorced, when I also had to take on all the outside yard and garden work too! Dividing the chores this way – and doing a few bigger chores monthly, like washing rugs & quilts, cleaning filters and appliances, etc – has been¬† efficient & manageable for a working person. Most tasks (except maybe mopping) take under a half-hour to finish. My house is definitely cleaner and feels / smells / looks better. Clean Mama also has printable checklists and schedules – I print out the monthly schedule and put it on my fridge and add other things that I need to do (such as clean the litterboxes) – and I check them off as I do them so it’s easy for me to keep track of what’s been done, how often, and if something hasn’t been done, I can get to it on one of the “off” days. I also feel pleased that I have new tools that are easier on me and on the environment – so it’s a win-win-win! I look forward to continuing to transition my cleaning supplies over to more gentle alternatives.

Next time – part 3 – I’ll look at some of the fun things I’m absorbing this summer – books, podcasts, shows, etc. Hope you’ll be back! If you have any other great cleaning tips or environmentally friendly supplies and / or sources, feel free to comment or message me!

xo friends!

 

|| this post is not sponsored – it’s just stuff i like! but may contain a few affiliate links.||