Tuesday, January 31, 2012

jan 31st

It's the last day of January. This month seemed appropriately long. What I mean is it didn't seem to flash by me like most do, but it didn't feel too long or anything. It felt like a month true to size (as they say in the clothing business). I was so looking forward to Winter this year. And of course, this year we have the mildest winter yet and I think it may never get very cold.  

Here are a few photos I took with my phone while I was out this last month. I need to remember to take my camera with me more. Hope your January was pleasant and just the right length for you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

good reading

I am currently reading about 5 books. I'm putting off finishing them because I am enjoying them so much, so I read a little from one each night.

One of the books I'm upset that I am almost done with is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. When I first heard of this book about a year ago I dismissed it as a fluff-kind-of- book-that-people-gush-over-but-when-I-finally-read-it-I-am disgusted-with-how-basic-and-condescending-it-is (I won't name names, because I may offend you, but this has happened to me more than once).

A blog I read mentioned that in her project Rubin gave each month a theme and focused on those things during that month. I love a theme and I need focus (so many projects!) so that was enough for me to check it out from the library.

I totally fell in love with this book. Rubin's story and approach was not what I expected at all. In fact I could totally relate to her. She admits her life is good, but felt like she could be doing life better and that was what the book is about. She did a huge amount of research on happiness and the reader gets to benefit from that when she throws in study statistics and quotes from other books on happiness.

For the month of January (do you know I need to look up that word every time I write it? Luckily there is a calendar near) Rubin focused on creating energy and had a plan for doing it with steps like go to bed earlier, clear out clutter and keep a food diary.

I chose to do the same thing for January and have focused mostly on space clearing. All month my day's focus has been on getting rid of stuff.  Since I am currently unemployed I have the chance to really work on this full time right now. I have cleaned out clothes, books, cds, records, and ephemera (which was them listed for sale on The Cedar Chest. I have donated and listed things on Amazon and Ebay. I have gone through some drawers and tackled some things on my to do list.

I am however feeling antsy that the end of January is coming and I still have lots and lots of stuff that has not been gone through. Obviously a lifetimes worth of stuff can not all be gone through in one month and I need to remember I'm being unreasonable to imagine it could. Things are definitely more cleared out and will continue to be.

I really recommend this book, especially if you are the list making kind of nerd, which is totally her approach. Even if you don't do the project yourself, the book on it's own is valuable and can open your eyes to some things. She has a very full website, too, that can give you lots of ideas.

Another book I am putting off finishing is Wildwood.

Wildwood is a classic fantasy adventure book in the tradition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and similar books like that. Wildwood, however, is set in Portland and the magical woods that it takes place in are based on Forest Park.  Wildwood is written by Colin Meloy of the band The Decemberists and is illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. It's a very enjoyable read on a rainy winter night.

What are you reading?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


This illustration is from A Child's Book of Poems from 1969. The illustrator is Gyo Fujkawa.  I was given this book as a little kid along with A Child's Garden of Verse illustrated by Fujikawa as well. They were given to me by a man who worked with my dad making educational films. 

I loved these books. Loved looking at the pictures and later when I could read, reading the poems. The images and style was really influential to me, which I didn't realize until 30 years later. 

There are lots of poems in A Child's Book of Poems about the seasons. Many mention the things you do in winter, spring and fall and most of these things were completely foreign to me. I was growing up in suburban Southern California. There was no snow or ice skating (unless we drove 2 hours to Topanga Ice Rink). There was no nut gathering in fall or long awaited tulips in the spring. I don't even remember that many trees with fall colors.

I longed for these signs of the seasons, especially winter, since that seemed the most foreign to me. Building a snowman in your own yard! Incredible.

In my Southern California upbringing we would "go to the snow". Dad would announce, "Does anyone want to go to the snow today" And my sister and I would hunt down our seldom used scarfs and gloves (mainly brought out for birthday parties in Topanga) and we'd all drive for about an hour or more out to the mountains above Ojai. 

Snow was something you went to, not something that came to you. At that young age I became sort of entranced and awed by these neat happenings that came along with the seasons. I still am. I love anything to do with seasonal things and winter is my favorite.

I moved further north at 18 and further more at 36. I wanted more seasons. Portland is pretty good when it comes to seasons. You get the feeling of each season without extremes.  This year the winter has been very different - dry and sunny. It's been nice. I love sunny cold days, but it isn't normal and it feels more like March than January. The plants have begun to bloom even, thinking spring is on the way.

Today it's raining and I'm loving the sound. I have the windows open so I can hear and smell it better. I did miss the rain. Tomorrow it may snow! Still so excited when I look out the window and snow is falling. 

I love the winter more each year. The quiet of January and February. The bare trees and crisp air. I think this year I will finally do my winter zine. I hope you're enjoying January, too. 

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