341: Wandering

Looking forward

Several posts ago (maybe more than several), Kathy, the fabulous woman who inspired me to take on the challenge of getting outside every single day for a year, asked in the comments if I’d given any thought to what I was going to do when this commitment ended.  I’ve gotten behind in answering comments and didn’t answer her question there, but I have been giving it a lot of thought since she asked.  Those of you who have been blogging for a while understand that giving something in the comments a lot of thought often means a blog post because it’s a) just too long to answer in the comments section, and b) too good to pass up when you get an idea for a blog post.  When you are blogging every single blessed day, an idea for a blog post is a gift from the gods.

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256: Numbers

One peony, many petals

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Numbers.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, and decided to wait until inspiration arrived.  Or didn’t arrive.  It’s okay if I miss a photo challenge since it isn’t part of any of my ongoing commitments.

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107: Commitment. Act 2

(U.S. Capitol Building at sunset.  Washington, D.C.)

I will not include a resolution in this post because I want to discuss resolutions in general rather than something specific.

The disclaimer: I’m not singling anyone out.  Really.  I’m not.  I’m pondering and wondering and, perhaps, wandering while I’m at it.

When I asked about resolutions a few posts ago, a couple of you responded that you don’t make resolutions.  That’s cool.  There was a time when my only resolution was to give up making resolutions.  They are, as many have pointed out, easily made and easily broken.

(Playing in abstract.)

I’ve been traveling to a wide variety of blogs, some new to me, since the new year rolled around and have been surprised by how many people are anti-resolutionists.  (Yes, I know.  Anti-resolutionists is not a word.  I like it.  It fits.  I’m using it.)  Vehement anti-resolutionists.  This caused me to wonder about how afraid we (“we” in the general sense) seem to be when it comes to commitments and making promises to ourselves.

That’s how I see a resolution (whether it’s made on New Year’s day, the Winter Solstice, or a random Thursday in May).  As a commitment or promise to oneself.

I am good at keeping my promises to others. I have not always been good at keeping the promises I make to myself.  Usually that stems from going too big, making a promise that is unrealistic in terms of time, skills, possibility, or readiness.  Judging by the number of anti-resolution blog posts I’ve read in the past week, I suspect that there are many like me who have trouble honoring promises they make to themselves while at the same time being a success at honoring promises made to others.

Now I’m not saying you all should rush out and make a few resolutions.  While a few good resolutions that are honored and kept might change the world, I find it difficult to see that happening anytime soon.  I’m mostly thinking out loud and trying to bring it out for discussion as well.

  • Do you find it easier to keep promises made to others than those promises you make to yourself?
  • Have you given up on resolutions because of past failures?

I know some folks have decided on a word for the year.  I’ve done that too, this year and in the past, although I call it my “theme” for the year.  Same difference, no doubt.  Do you think a word for the year differs from a resolution?  How so?

My theme for this year, as you all know, is De-Clutter.  Last year it was Simplify.  The problem I had with last year’s theme is that it was too broad.  I couldn’t exactly fail at it because I hadn’t exactly focused on anything specific.  However, I do feel as though I didn’t succeed at it because my life seems more complicated this year than it did last year.  That said (and having just experienced a sudden moment of clear hindsight), it’s possible life just seemed less complicated last year because when 2010 arrived I was still encased in a bubble of grief, not yet ready to make my way out.  Simplifying at that moment in time meant getting through the grief process in my own way and at my own pace, and giving myself permission to let life and grief play out as they would without feeling guilty about chores that didn’t get done or spending the day wrapped in sadness.

Looks like there was a success there after all.  Still, I find a theme or word needs some sort of specific focus, but that’s just me.  Your mileage may vary.  I have been working on specifics for my De-Clutter theme.  More about that in a future post.

As the snow flies

I have learned that when it’s in the 20’s, windy, snowing, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to end up as frozen as a popsicle, you can’t be any place other than in the moment.  The body and mind, for once, are perfectly in sync.  My outdoor adventures this winter are almost better than meditation when it comes to mindfulness.

(Waiting for snow.)

Today’s walk was no different.  Snow, cold, wind.  The usual January conditions prevail.  We had a couple of inches of snow since I last posted.  Predictions are for 14 or more inches to fall and accumulate this weekend.  Woo-hoo!  We can go skiing again!

(Bristled.  A lump of grass in the snow.)

I didn’t wander far today.  I’m feeling a little tired.  Truth be told, I want to hibernate.  Sleep in every day.  Meditate for a while.  Curl up by the fire and read.  Stay close to home.  This is the time of year when I normally do that.  In a way, staying close to the house for my walk wasn’t such a bad thing.  It allowed me to look a little closer at things I usually pass by without much more than a glance.

(Fallen branch.)

The daily blog posts are beginning to be exhausting.  More work than fun.  But this too shall pass.  In the meantime, I appreciate your visits and the fact that you’re still soldiering on with me.  Thank you.

The chains that bind

I have mixed feelings about chains and their uniformity.  But before I tell you about my ambivalence, I should tell you what I mean by “chains.”

I’m talking about franchises.  Big box stores.  Hotel and restaurant chains.  Big Corporate Businesses.  The places where we are supposed to be spending our money in order to boost the economy.

The reason I have mixed feelings about them is because M and I have recently started using a certain hotel chain when we travel.  The reason we started to use a specific franchise was because they are in our price range, they are conveniently located, and we can usually rate our stays as “very satisfied” (which is an A+ according to a letter from the manager of the hotel where we stayed in Greensburg, Pennsylvania).  We used to stay at small family- or locally-owned hotels or motels.  But after a series of bad experiences, we gave up.   There are one or two exceptions.  A certain hotel that has been family-owned for a long time in State College, Pennsylvania comes to mind.  Their rates are great, the rooms are small and dated, but they are clean and we have never had any problems while staying there.

The people buying into the small family- or locally-owned places are obviously not too experienced in the hospitality business, at least not in the way we’re used to thinking of it.  Dirty sheets, moldy/stinky/dirty bathrooms, bugs, and glasses that look like they haven’t been washed do not make for a good hotel stay.  Bad attitudes about complaints are a guarantee that we won’t be back.

I suppose that makes me sound like a snob and a complainer.  I’m not.  It doesn’t take much to satisfy me (and I dislike having to complain about anything) but cleanliness ranks pretty high on the not-much list.  Camping is one thing.  I expect dirt when we’re camping.  Staying at a hotel/motel is another.  To be honest, I’d much rather stay at a bed & breakfast but in the U.S. they are often more expensive than a hotel/motel.  When traveling abroad we usually do stay at B&B’s which have often been someone’s spare bedroom blocked off from the rest of the house by a curtain.  I find that much more interesting as it gives us a chance to get to know people.

We have gotten sucked into the chain-hotel system with points and platinum memberships and free stays.  I don’t think we’ll make platinum next year.  Gold is more likely, but we’ll be close to platinum.

The thing is, we have a long standing tradition of trying to support the local economy of wherever we live and travel.  We rarely eat at chain restaurants.  Usually that happens when we’re with family or friends who prefer that style of eating.  I understand the appeal of it.  One of the reasons I understand the appeal of it is part of the ambivalence I mentioned earlier.  You know what you’re getting when you go to a chain restaurant or hotel.  When I woke up in a hotel room on Wednesday morning after having actually slept (something I have trouble with when traveling), I thought, “THIS is why people like chains.”

I like the beds and pillows of the particular chain we have been giving our money to when we travel and are in need of a room for a night or two or three.  I know what to expect for the breakfast that is included in the price.  I can boot up the laptop and get online without worrying about extra costs because it’s included (not the case, by the way, in the more expensive places).  When we were unable to open the in-room safe, someone from the front desk was there within minutes of our call.  Someone friendly.  That’s up there with cleanliness as far as I’m concerned.

Within this one chain of hotels there have been regional differences.  Staying at one of their hotels in New Orleans was a completely different experience than staying in one of their hotels in New Jersey or in Chicago.  Yet the pillows and beds were what we’ve come to expect.  The friendly service was what we’ve come to expect.

And so we have been trapped in that way as well.  We know what to expect.

That is what makes me understand the reason why people will go to chain restaurants.  You know what to expect.  The food is uniform, whether you eat at one of their restaurants in Maryland or in California.  The same is true with shopping in the big box or franchised stores.  Sometimes the layout may be different but the stuff is the same.  Whether you’re buying clothing, towels, or tiles for your bathroom, you can find the same thing though out the nation.  I suspect everyone will have the same decor in some way or another before long because the choices seem to narrow as the chains take over and the smaller businesses disappear.

It’s got me thinking about diversity and how little of it there might be if the consumer world continues this way.  It’s also got me thinking about ways to support the economy on a small scale.  When I try to look at the big picture it’s, well, too BIG.  It’s easier for me to look at things on a community level, the place where maybe we should all start looking.  Perhaps supporting the economy, turning around the economy, begins at home.

I know I’m not the first to bring up this subject.  Other, brighter, better-with-words people have been talking and writing about it for years.  There are probably small movements out there where people have made the decision to stop giving money to the big corporations and to start investing it in their local economy by shopping local.  Foodies refer to it as being locavores.

I have a proposal for you, particularly for you bloggers out there.  If you’re not a locavore in some way or fashion, how about giving a local restaurant or hardware store or other business a try?  Maybe take a trip to your local farmers market.  Then write or post pictures about your experience.  Perhaps it will give them a boost (assuming your experience was a good one).

As for me, I’ve been beaned.  Yellow wax beaned.  A whole bushel of ’em from Hilgert’s farm up the road has been taking up my days.  I hope to finish up the blanching and freezing process today.  Tonight’s dinner will be an experiment in stir-frying the fresh and tender beans  (part of my cookbook adventures which I’m sure you’ll hear all about in tomorrow’s post).  I haven’t been able to keep up with other blogs lately, for which I apologize.  Mother Nature has decided our harvest will be early and abundant this year.  I will be busy over the next few weeks, preserving that harvest.  I will catch up when I can.

In the meantime, I hope life is treating you well and that your harvest is as abundant, whatever you may be harvesting in your life.


(The grass is greener.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

I want to take a long stroll on a sunny, tropical beach.  Or swim and float in a warm sea, drifting in the saltiness.

I want to climb a small mountain (something like Everest would be too much for me) and exalt in the feeling of being close to the sun and the sky.

I want to walk through a redwood forest, feeling small next to giants, inhaling the warm, woody almost lemony scent of the trees.

I want to hike to a waterfall and listen to the sound of the water as it rushes over the rocks.

Or just… go someplace new.  And warm.  Or at least not freezing cold.

It’s February and I’ve got a major case of cabin fever.  I should bundle up, get outside, and take a walk around the pond or the neighborhood or something.

But it’s so cold out there.

See what I mean?  Ice.  Snow.  Cold.


The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics have been, so far, amazing. Spectacular. Dazzling.

And a little bit… Orwellian.

But there’s been a lot of that Orwellian feel going on during the past eight years in the country where I live so it’s possible that’s influencing me more than a little.

Friday thoughts

The weather has been chilly here in the Bogs. It’s finally going to warm up this weekend with highs in the 60’s today and 70’s throughout the rest of the weekend.

It’ll be nice to experience some warmer weather. Warmer, not hot. I’m not a fan of extremes in temperatures, especially when it comes to heat. I’m a woman of a certain age (as they say these days, and I’m not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean other than OLD), and I can generate my own heat.

Our big Party By The Pond takes place next weekend. I’m afraid we weren’t able to give much notice this year. It was a last minute decision to have it and our original date (June 21st) wasn’t working out well so we decided it would be better to have it earlier rather than later. If we had waited to have it on a date after June 21st we would have been inviting the deer flies and mosquitoes to join us. If you’re not familiar with deer flies, say a prayer of thanks. They’re nasty creatures that hurt like the devil when they bite and leave huge welts (on me, at any rate). I’d rather deal with mosquitoes.

I was watching the Today Show this morning and they were prattling on about the millions of Americans who will be traveling this weekend and that got me to thinking…

We should start a “Tour Local” or “Vacation Local” movement.

Throughout our 30+ years of marriage, M and I have lived in a variety of different places. One of the things I’ve noticed is that local people often don’t visit their local attractions. They travel elsewhere to vacation or have fun. For instance, when we lived in Chicago I had a friend who lived her whole life in the Chicago area yet had never been up in the Sears Tower building.

A lot of us these days could be part of the James McMurtry song, I’m Not From Here. It would do us good to get to know the area in which we live, whether we’re local or new or have been there a few years. Think of the money we’d save by not traveling hundreds of miles to go explore another area.  We might even have a chance to get to know our neighbors!  (Ok, that might be taking it too far for some folks.)

Not that I have objections to travel. I think travel is a great thing. It allows us to learn about different people, different places, and broadens our minds and horizons. I’m not suggesting we never ever travel somewhere more than 50 miles away from home. What I’m thinking is that these holiday weekends always bring gas hikes. Rather than continue to contribute to the oil companies’ profits (which are pouring in like crazy these days), rather than sit in traffic because everyone else is traveling, why not spend one of these holiday weekends at home and find fun things to do within a 50-mile radius of where you live?

Since the “buy local” and “eat local” movements are gathering such momentum, I thought I’d throw out the idea of vacationing local.  (It wouldn’t surprise me if someone else has already thought of it and I missed it.)

There are millions of Americans who are forced to do that, anyhow.

While out and about on a grocery shopping trip this morning we saw someone in a very large rental RV. Those things are expensive to rent (about $200 a day). Imagine paying that much for an RV and then having to fill the gas tank on top of that. That’s got to be one costly vacation.

*stepping down from my soap box*

Time for me to get some laundry out to the clothesline. It’s a good day for drying things in the fresh air and sunshine. I’ll leave you with a few photos from the San Diego trip. (I’m determined to get the good ones posted even if it takes me years.)

(From a morning walk on the beach. Pacific Beach, CA. April 2008.)

(Sunday surfing. Pacific Beach, CA. April 2008.)

(Sunday sunset. Mission Beach, CA. April 2008.)

Next up in the San Diego photo show: A Monday with the TorreyPinesGoddess.

P.S.  A big HELLO to my niece Shelby.  I really will email you soon.  I promise.  😀