Tag Archives: successes

February: Storytelling

I am a storyteller.

I suppose that’s part of why I started this blog, to share the stories of my life, of the things that happen to me, and of the interesting happenings that occur when you’re not paying attention. I tell stories all the time – to friends and family, in small talk, to co-workers and acquaintances. Essentially everything I say is a story; it’s a side effect of being an introvert, I think, that small talk does not come easily, so everything I say is part of a bigger story, or an experience I’ve had. But stories are hard, and take time to develop, and can’t be jotted down in a few spare minutes here and there. They are molded and shaped and whittled until they can be repeated and passed on and shared.

This past Christmas I found myself telling a story. I was frantically finishing the gifts for my nieces and nephews while the rest of the family played board games. Sewing and cutting and gluing at my own little table in the corner of the kitchen, here come two little heads, up from the back room where they were supposed to be “watching a movie or falling asleep.” My niece and nephew, three-year-old twins, certainly didn’t want to be left out of the merriment upstairs.

Now, I so throughly dislike surprises that the fact that the twins had effectively spoiled their Christmas surprise did not bother me in the least. But having three-year-old twins at a table with scissors and glue and needles and thread, that was a trick. So I told them a story.

Outdoor Chapel

A real story, one that has been passed down, that I learned as a child. A story from summer camp in the Adirondack mountains. When the mountain thunderstorms stymied our evening outdoor games, we would trek back to our cabins, gather pillows and stuffed animals and blankets, and hunker down on the chapel floor, fire crackling, as staff and counselors wove tales of “a long, long time ago” and “far, far away.”

Chapel at Night

I loved these stories, but more than that, I loved the story telling. That you could stand in front of a rapt audience of 10-year-olds, repeating tales that required nothing but your words, your actions, and their imagination. Especially now, in a landscape saturated with technology and media, to capture attention with the spoken word, to weave a tale, to spark the imagination – what a wonderful thing.

The story I told my niece and nephew was by far my favorite. It’s a story of the innocence of childhood, of treating things simply and not over-thinking. It is about a very large bubble that visits a kingdom and traps the king inside. All the knights in the kingdom can’t free the king, but the day is saved by a little child. It was told by the great storyteller Jay O’Callahan on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood many years ago. And though I never saw that episode, I’ve heard the story many times and it has stuck with me.


This little adventure reminded me how much I love storytelling. It reminded me about the power of the spoken tale, the beauty of imagining a story for yourself, and the immediacy of telling a story. The story is told once, then it drifts off into time, perhaps to be told again and again, but never again to be exactly the same.

So I started searching for other stories. I’m not sure I’m ready to craft my own, but perhaps I will add to my repertoire – so that the next time little not-sleepy heads pop over the side of my work table, I can take them to a new kingdom – one I haven’t told them about yet. And the stories can go on.

Most of the photos in this post are of the camp that is inextricably linked to stories in my mind. And the Christmas cacti were successful, despite their being revealed before their time.

Most of the photos in this post are of the camp that is inextricably linked to these stories in my mind. And the Christmas cacti were successful, despite their being revealed before their time.

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January – Goals and Resolutions

New Year's Decorations

New Year’s Decorations

Ahhh, January. The month of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of plans and goals and motivation. Of post-holiday depression, of dark mornings, of bleak weather (yes, even in Arizona). It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

We’re a whole month into the new year, and I’ve had plenty of time to think about how successful I was on my resolutions for last year (surprisingly successful!) and what I want to do with the year ahead of me.

Last year was about the little things – the minor elements of daily life that tend to pile on top of each other to put me in a foul mood. With a few little adjustments, I started chipping away and the things that stressed me out the most. I took a test, tried to be on time to work (which worked out until the time changed), flossed my teeth (sometimes – I guess, slightly more than usual), started running, and compiled and began reading a very long book list. And then, as with everything else in life, huge gigantic upheaval entered and I was worried that all my work was for naught.

Arizona mountains in December

Arizona mountains in December

Turned out that was totally false. As far as helping me achieve my goals, moving has been one of the best things that’s happened in a long time. Of course, I’ve always loved moving. Yes, it’s hard. It continues to be hard every single day. But talk about new beginnings! I wrote a little about how moving has changed very basic things about my habits. Since getting our stuff back and moving into a new place, those habits have changed again, and not necessarily for the better. But I have the unique chance to re-organize my life, basically from scratch.

I have big plans for 2013. This year is about the big things, the goals that will pay off in the long term, but will take some work today.

In 2013 I’m going to:

  • take all my architecture tests. And hopefully pass them all, too, but let’s set reasonable goals, OK?
  • get an architecture job
  • move to a long-term house
  • continue my reading project: my goal is 52 books this year, 30 from my classics list. so far I’ve read 2 – both from the list!
  • grow a garden and start composting again
Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

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Coffee #15: A new approach

Of the many things I believed I could go without for these months without our stuff, I believed that I could go without my coffee maker.  For a while, I was quite successful.  There is coffee in the community room of our apartment complex (if you get there early enough) and I often used getting coffee as an excuse to leave the house.  The final straw, however, is that I have been becoming less and less able to consume massive amounts of caffeine like I used to!  I don’t know how this happened!  In college I could drink gallons of coffee and never have a problem.  Now, I have one cup too close to bed time (like, noon) and I’m up until 3 am.  It might have to do with how much more well rested I am now than I was while pulling all-nighters in college.  Perhaps.

So the apartment coffee was out – they brew only full strength, which I don’t blame them for.  But an inability to handle caffeine has not squelched my need for coffee.  At. All.  And since we’re trying this new thing called “living on a budget,” I was getting tired of how much money I was spending on fancy-coffee-drinks-without-caffeine at fancy-coffee-places.  Harumph.  Plus, they don’t have free refills, and I refuse to get anything besides “tall” or “small” (which, somehow, are the same size…) and sometimes I still need a gallon of decaf.  Necessary.

I have been talking about trying a French Press coffee maker for some time.  They look fun!  And classy!  And, since I already own a perfectly good coffee maker, I didn’t want to buy another just like it.  So I decided to try out the French Press.  Which, of course, also included buying a coffee grinder (it requires course ground coffee, as if I know what that looks like, but you can’t just buy it off the shelf), and coffee beans.

Supplies Purchased: Success

Grinding my coffee beans – mmmm they smell good!

Does that look “course ground” to you?



Sludge at the bottom of the pot

The Final Product

Verdict: the coffee was super weak.  I’ve since upped the amount of coffee beans I grind, and I’ve gotten better at grinding them.  If you look at the sludge picture, you can see that many of the coffee beans are still whole, thus not contributing to great coffee.  But I like the French Press as much as I hoped I would! (How often does that happen?!)  It makes good coffee, it’s super easy to use, and I can forget about it without worrying about catching my house on fire.  Because, let’s be honest, we all worry about that when we leave the coffee pot/curling iron/straightener on.

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You ladies are wonderful! When I posted last week, I felt a bit silly. Here I was with everything I could need or want, COMPLAINING about all the opportunities I had! But you were all so supportive! And every reaction I got about that post basically started out “ohmygosh, ME TOO!” Which helps oh so much. So we shall be each others’ life preservers and we will all make it through – even if we’re only treading water right now – and life will be better & we will be stronger & MAN will we have some rockin’ legs to show for it.
So thank you. For reading, for commenting, for chatting.

Over the past few days and even during my yet-another-crazy-busy-but-fun weekend, I did a lot of thinking about how to make my current life more manageable. I made lists (I love lists), set some manageable goals, thought about rewards and balance, and made some tough cuts. But I feel way better about everything now, so I consider it so far successful!
I will keep you updated, and tell you a bit later (when I have a moment…) about what I’ve decided and figured out, the lists I’ve made and what I’ve had to cut to make everything fit.
Thanks again for being awesome and uplifting. This is what the blog community is all about!

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The Empty Reeder


my empty blog reader, Reeder

Ha!  I have finally caught up on all the blog posts I haven’t had time to read!  I know it will be filled again by the time I get up in the morning, but I won’t be reading them.  I also won’t be posting (except for Tuesday, which is already done) for at least a week.  My first architecture text is next Wednesday and this blog has been a VERY effective procrastination technique.  So I’m not posting or reading until after the test.  Then I will be back until the next test!