Author Archives: sara

About sara

running, yoga, cats, knitting, books and gardening. textiles, tea towels and knits. classic films (of all eras). glossy magazines (although i never buy them). the details of life and seeing silver linings, good luck, and synchronicity and patterns everywhere. going where i have to go, getting up, dressing up, showing up no matter what. living life deeply and responsibly. good food and open windows. birds and hot coffee and mornings. moonshine and campfires and capturing memories and moments in photographs. red hair and classic styles and warrior women and fairy tales. castles and kings. tulips and ivy and brick cottages and sheep.

book fair week

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Book Fair week was an exercise in misery. My bronchial issue morphed into a full blown illness on Monday; my face swelled up and I began sneezing and hacking as though possessed. There was little sympathy to be had, and no one seemed concerned when I asked in vain for replacements for my Book Fair shifts; “Those little things are germ factories, don’t worry about it,” one woman assured me when I said dubiously that it didn’t seem right for me to be working around kids whilst ill. I refrained from saying that I did NOT want to be doing ANYTHING or going ANYWHERE while sick. Frankly nobody seemed to care what I did or did not want. Perhaps if I suddenly burst out with bright red chupacabra gills and began spraying mucus and venom at the assembled children, alien-style, someone would have noticed, but then again, maybe not.

I was exhausted on Monday evening after Day 1 Book Fair and my darling Miss L did the dishes and bustled around industriously to put me to bed with tea and lock up the house. Unbeknownst to me, she efficiently made sure the inside doors were all deadbolted and the knobs locked, and in addition, locked all the outside storm door handles. Including the door that I usually use between the garage and the den. The funny thing about this particular door is that if the knob is locked, from the inside it will still turn and allow you to exit; you don’t know the knob has been locked until you try to get back IN. Put a pin in that, okay?
On Tuesday morning I awoke feeling marginally better but still rough. I decided to take a few hours off for illness, and prepared to take Miss L to school. I wore a hooded sweatshirt, combed my hair, but, willing to take a big gamble that I would not have to exit my vehicle if I dropped her off in the school car line, I kept my voluminous buffalo-plaid flannel pajama bottoms on and threw on a pair of Converse. I looked a fright. I left my cellphone in the house, grabbed my wallet, and Miss L and I were off.
After a successful quick dropoff, I pulled into the garage, hopped out, and tried the door to the house. (Pull that pin out.)

The knob was locked. My heart sank. I tried all the keys on my ring, and realized that I did not have a key to that knob. Okay. I was only feeling a little worried. I ran to the front door, trying to be quick so I wouldn’t be spotted in my bright red pajama pants. Tried the front door. THE STORM DOOR KNOB WAS LOCKED TOO. I scrambled through all my keys and NOT ONE FIT THE LOCK. Dear God!!!
The wind was freezing and buffalo plaid flannel pajama pants are not a match for it. I hacked once and scampered around the side of the house. Please don’t let her have hit the back door too…YEP. All storm door knobs locked. All storm door knobs and inside door locks keyed differently and NOT ONE OF THE STORM DOOR KEYS WAS ON MY RING.
Emmett’s face appeared at the window, watching me dubiously. “Get Sarge,” I yelled at him through the glass. Sarge can open doors and in my weakened state, I thought….don’t be ridiculous. My hands were getting numb as I tried all of the downstairs windows – all locked. I could see my cellphone sitting on my table inside, and I thought, DEAR GOD, I’m going to have to go to the neighbor’s house in my PAJAMA PANTS and ask to call a locksmith…with my nose running down my face and my bright red alien gills squirting phlegm and mucus.
Crowbar the door open? Climb up onto the roof and see if a second-floor window was unlatched? The thought of having my neighbors see me crawling around on the roof in my pajamas made me sneeze with angst.
Just then I spotted the small kitchen window, higher up in the wall – the one over my sink. In a blaze of insight I remembered unlatching that window that very morning to throw a toast crust out to the birds and I was almost certain I hadn’t relatched it. I stood on a wobbling lawn chair, my pajama pants flapping gaily in the wind, and to my exquisite relief, the window slid open, sending all of my potted succulents crashing into the sink. Emmett immediately exploded into a furry puffer fish and dashed away into the bowels of the house, but good riddance, he was no help anyway. Could I fit in the window?? It was small. I ran around to the garage, got the stepladder, and brought it back. Up I went. Head in…shoulders in…gosh it was nice and warm inside the house! My nose immediately began to stream. Bracing myself on the counter, I tried to ease my lower half in – and got stuck. Buffalo plaid pajama pants and Converse tennis shoes sticking out of my kitchen window, breath being cut off from the windowsill digging into my tummy….I could almost hear the neighbor looking out her window and dropping her coffee cup. Then, blissfully, I slid all the way in, and landed on my kitchen floor in a welter of icy cold flannel, mucus and crumpled succulents.
The rest of the week was blessedly less eventful, which was good because I haven’t been this sick in a long time. My days shrank to working, driving, catching a quick nap at home before heading up to the school to work until 9ish every night. But the other volunteers were lovely and it was a great feeling to be able to watch teachers shop for books with profits from the prior fairs. Book Fair is like Christmas, and I love being at L’s school. I often wish I had nothing but time on my hands, and money to burn; I would be there all the time, volunteering every day.

On a final beautiful note, B came to town for a quick weekend visit and despite my illness, we were able to fit in sushi, a lot of companionable reading time together, The Darkest Hour, and brunch with his parents at Cafe Zola (Turkish eggs YUM). It went too fast but any time with him is happy.

I don’t plan on doing anything extravagant for the next several weeks. I am faint with relief that I get to go back to my daily routine – no side hustling, period. I hope that your week has gone well and that you never have to test the security of your ground floor establishment clad in buffalo plaid pajama pants. xoxo

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book fair week humor 😉

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getting out of my own way

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pizza at pagliai’s; hamm’s beer and cheeseburgers at george’s; the haunted bookshop; and street art

B & I had a great visit in northside Iowa City. In my estimation, he picked the perfect neighborhood to live in, and we spent our two days together enjoying it. The sun was shining and the weather was milder than Michigan; we ran down around the University of Iowa campus, ate cheeseburgers at George’s (dive bar extraordinaire) and browsed at the Haunted Bookshop where I finally spotted the other resident cat (I had to go both days).

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We finally watched one of the Oscar-nominated films (I don’t think either of us had seen any of them yet) – Three Billboards. Although the casting was wonderful, the movie itself perplexed and annoyed both of us. Spoiler Alert –> Couldn’t they have just focused on the ensemble cast and the themes of grief and vengeance and foregone the Molotov cocktails and the throwing of people out of windows?

It was a short visit (made shorter by Daylight Savings) and all too soon I was back in my car for the six hour journey home. I picked an Audible unabridged version of Ann Rule’s “The Stranger Beside Me” (about her relationship with notorious serial killer Ted Bundy). Unfortunately, this book is leaving me perplexed and annoyed as well, and not just because Ted Bundy was an evil maniac. It’s making me feel as though maybe I’m just an overly critical consumer of entertainment. I’m not quite done with it yet, so I will refrain from sharing my feelings about it until I am.

Back home; I am plunged into preparations for Book Fair and fighting a sore throat and rampant ennui. I feel woefully inadequate for the tasks ahead of me in the next week and a half and I am trying to focus on a passage I read in the Crosswick Journals by Madeline L’Engle (a battered three-volume set that I picked up for a song at the aforementioned Haunted Bookshop, and which is filled with more wonderful quotes and musings than I can possibly begin to digest – and while I’m at it allow me to confess one additional thing that may prove my point about being overly critical – I am deeply suspicious of the new movie version of “A Wrinkle In Time” – deeply – and not just because it is packed with Oprah and “big names” – although that might be part of it):

“A winter ago I was asked by the Children’s Book Council to write a story, and agreed to do so. I was telling Tallis about it, and said, “I’m really very nervous about this.” He looked at me contemptuously: “You don’t think you’re going to have anything to do with it, do you?” “No,” I retorted, “but I could get in the way.”

Here’s to getting out of our own way. xo

2018 reading challenge update

Every year I set a reading challenge (number of books, book genres) – this year it’s 52 books with at least 10 being non-fiction / historical / biographical. Despite having a lot of mandated reading while I was taking my course, I also (somehow) found time to do a fair bit of reading in January and February. This list isn’t comprehensive; just a few picks that I’ve enjoyed so far in 2018.

Windigo Moon: A Novel of Native America, Robert Downes – I picked this up at the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor over Christmas as they always have a table of suggested books (and they have a great assortment of Michigan history, local authors, etc). It caught my interest because it told the story of an Ojibwe clan and many of the locales were in northern Michigan – places that I know and love. If you like history, and stories of Native Americans, or are specifically a northern Michigan buff, this is a nice read.
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan – I heard a Slate Audio Book Club podcast about this and although they tended to like her prior work better, they had enough kind things to say about her writing in general that I reserved it at the library. I enjoyed it as an eccentric historical novel, about a young woman’s desire to be a diver in New York during World War II; her missing father, disabled sister, and a local gangster play large roles. Her writing is spectacular and  I loved the main character’s sense of independence and determination.
Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami – I think I am destined to love everything by Murakami and want to read his entire catalogue. This is actually #4 in a series but as I haven’t read the previous 3 I think I can attest that it works just fine as a stand-alone. His writing is lyrical and simple and yet deep-diving and I find myself laughing out loud at some of his turns of phrase. The main character describes his work as freelance magazine writer as “shoveling snow” – “You do it because somebody’s got to, not because it’s fun.” “Shoveling snow, huh?” she mused. “Well, you know, cultural snow,” I said.” Since I read this passage, everything that I do that I have to do has become “shoveling snow” and in some cases this applies to actually shoveling real snow. 🙂
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Caroline Fraser – This was my first non-fiction pick for the year. If you’re a fan of Little House, but you want the real story – and to view it in the context of the country as a whole at that particular time in history, this book is for you. Exhaustively researched, this sets forth the true chronology of Laura Ingalls’ childhood travels across the West and paints her family as real people, with human failings. Their travels were considerably more complicated than her famous books depict, more traumatic and at times desperate. The concept of Manifest Destiny loomed large over the Ingalls family, but even in that era where whites were free to take and take, they were unable to gain a foothold. At least one of their moves was so Pa could outrun a debt. Almanzo didn’t have good judgement with money either. Laura was set to work, young, to help provide for her family, working in hotels and as a seamstress in less than ideal conditions. Rose Wilder Lane likely suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder and her relationship with her parents was fraught with codependence and control issues. I found this book entirely fascinating and satisfying.

flowing not forcing

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Miss L and I have spent the last couple of weeks immersed in Girl Scout cookie sales, which means cookie booths and many last-minute trips to Fearless Scout Leader’s house to pick up final orders. Miss L always unabashedly gives me a lot of credit for her sales, and when we delivered cookie orders to Widget Central she told both the CEO and a VP that I essentially sold all her cookies for her. I’m also in the initial throes of chairing the elementary school Book Fair at the end of the month and wondering why the hell I get myself into these positions. I just got the class Valentine’s Day party out of the way.  Don’t I know that I’m an introvert?!

I kid. I am trying to ramp up my involvement in school activities because I’ve realized that she only has a year left of elementary, and then everything will change. I’m not ready for middle school and high school and I want to keep her at this stage- enjoying school dances without stress, exchanging Valentines and selling Girl Scout cookies and letting me be involved in her friends and classroom and life – as long as I can.

We got hit with a first-of-March snowstorm that dumped several inches of heavy wet snow and left many people without power – I’m blessed to say that my power stayed ON despite my fear that I would experience a repeat of last year’s almost-72 hours without it during an unexpected March storm.

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I head to Iowa next weekend for a few-day visit with B. In preparation, my taxes are done, I spent an inordinate amount of money at the Subaru dealership for Finn’s 30k check (only to be told that he’s in tip top shape which did not seem to result in any kind of good-health discount) and I’ve ordered a new pair of boots that were on my Amazon wish list for a long time, waiting for just the right time to splurge. Since I started my capsule closet project, I’ve reduced my wardrobe considerably, and although it’s not a capsule by any means, I am much more aware of what I have, what I wear, and what I need. Most of what I buy is replacement work clothes – it’s very rare nowadays that I buy something just for fun, that I can wear out on a date or casually – mostly I recycle old work clothes that aren’t really suitable for work anymore (I get my own hand-me-downs, so to speak). And I when I do replace, often times it’s ThredUp gently used items – and it’s always high-quality. I like to think I’m done with reams of trendy, ill-fitting clothes that I can get for low prices, in favor of well-made items that are classic and will serve me for years.

But I really needed a pair of casual, well-built boots and these Taos Ringer were just what I wanted. I’m pleased with my purchase and can’t wait to break them in next weekend tromping around the University of Iowa campus with my friend.

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I’m always behind in laundry, but at least I have a faithful companion who thinks being helpful at folding laundry is ALMOST as fun as being helpful with making beds.

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I hope you are all well this first week of March, 2018. xo

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race recap || betsie bay frozen 5k

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Being up north soothes my soul. I love Benzie County and so even though this is only my second time running this race, it’s already one of my favorites.

The Betsie Bay Frozen 5k is a fast, freezing jaunt that starts in Elberta, atop the scenic overlook of the Frankfort lighthouse & dunes. It’s a shotgun start, straight downhill for the first quarter mile or so (maybe less) – which can be super dicey, with a lot of snow and ice patches. The race evens out through the village of Elberta, the second mile goes over the Betsie River and along M22, and then the last mile is a subtle uphill down Frankfort’s Main Street to finish at the American Legion.

This year, the wind was blowing an absolute gale and although the thermometer said it was in the ’30’s, those gusts straight off the lake felt much colder. I was so cold by the time the gun went off that I could barely feel my quad muscles, and the downhill was treacherous – mostly just trying to keep my footing and not bump into anyone. I found a “pacecar” runner ahead of me in Elberta that I could challenge myself to keep up with, but my first mile was disappointing – 9:28. At that point I knew that my hope of beating last year’s run was lost, but I still wanted to show well. Second mile was even and flat and I improved to a 9:12, finally warming up. At the turn into Frankfort, I finally felt my legs again, and saw my parents and Miss L sitting in their car waiting for me to pass them! That put some juice into me and I passed two runners – third mile at 8:59. I saw the finish line and like to finish strong – last tenth of a mile at 7:57. I finished at 28:22 (watch time).

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Last year:  27:18

This year: 28:24 (official)

Which was disappointing since I feel like I’m in better shape this year. But I can reason with myself that last year it was sunny and unseasonably warm, no wind, and the downhill was ice and snow-free. My first mile is what killed me and I can chalk that up to a rough start and a slow warmup due to the cold.

This race is competitive and full of Traverse City race club members – but there are a ton of raffles and giveaways from local businesses, including the Stormcloud Brewery in Frankfort (I parked next to the brewery and watched the guys out prepping the ice on their curling rink, which is extremely popular on Friday and Saturday nights under the glow of string lights). I never qualify for anything but it’s always a good time anyway!

 

thanks for waiting

The side hustle is done! and I am waiting for my grades on my last exam and appellate brief before I start celebrating! I’m happy to have some free time to do some other things that I am passionate about (including blogging). In the meantime, here’s some photos that I’ve missed sharing while I’ve been immersed in Westlaw searches and Statsky 8th Ed.

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we had a couple of whomper snowstorms –  my little battery powered Snow Joe did well but when the snow plows came thru i had no choice but to resort to manual efforts. 

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very quick trip to queretaro, mexico for work

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more than one snowy run but mostly relegated to treadmill.

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My house is still full of love, Miss L, cats, unfolded laundry, stacks of library books and incomplete jigsaw puzzles, bags of yarn. There are some new essential oil additions and a couple of new occupants in Miss L’s aquarium. The even-toed ungulates still come to raid the birdfeeders and there is still a hole in my ceiling – and I’m still a happy girl. B, my summer friend, is now my long-distance winter friend and I will be traveling back to Iowa City to see him in March for a long weekend.

I’m excited to start ramping up my running miles (I’m hanging in there at about 10 a week) and get started on some new knitting projects. A sweater is still a goal for this year but I really feel that I need a new pair of Jaywalker socks for myself as a present for getting my certificate. And this little sloth on Craftsy caught my girl’s eye, so I will tackle that first, too. After those minor distractions, I will start researching patterns and yarn for my sweater.

I’ll be back soon with some updates on what I’ve been reading, a race recap of the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k, and another major resolution that I’ll be tackling in 2018. I hope you’ve been well.

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a bit belatedly

2018.

This is it – this is the year.

This is the year I get my paralegal certificate.

This is the year that I lose that extra 10 pounds that’s been bumming me out.

This is the year that I run my 5th half marathon and don’t give a single fuck if I PR or if I’m slow.

This is the year I meet my mileage AND my book reading goals.

THIS IS THE YEAR I KNIT A SWEATER.

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