Some good stuff

I met my goal to hoop-dance for 24 hours in 2021! While hooping for approximately an hour each day ended up being a bit much, the experience was mostly joyful. My official stats are 1,446 minutes: 24 hours and six minutes of dancing in the spin. One entire day of this exceedingly difficult year was devoted to an activity I love. 

Post-challenge victory photo. December 31, 2021

And if that’s not enough of a WIN for this last day of the year, right before my final hooping session, we took a walk during the first substantial snowstorm of the year for this part of Colorado (which comes the day after two wildfires in nearby Boulder County as a result of extreme drought and hurricane-level winds).

Emma in her sweater, straining to identify an intriguing odor. 

At this moment, I’m focusing on the good stuff. The array of birds visiting the yard as I hoop-danced this morning (Black-capped Chickadee, Bushtits, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-billed Magpies, American Crow, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay) and the glorious feel of snowflakes on my face as we walked three miles around the neighborhood.

Happy New Year! Wishing you much joy. ✨

#HoopDancingChallenge

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, I counted up my hoop-dancing minutes and found I’d danced for 19 hours that year. That felt impressive and I thought to myself “How cool would it be to dance for 24 hours in 2020?” Well, we all know what happened that year and I didn’t hit the mark. Not by a long shot.

Last night I added up my hoop-dancing minutes: 17.5 hours. While that’s fewer minutes than 2019, there are still 8 days left in this year. I’d only need another 389 minutes and, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. 2021 has  been another extremely difficult year–in some ways much harder than the previous–and I really want to close it out doing something that brings me so much joy.

Self portrait December 24, 2021

According to my complex mathematical computations, I’ll need to average 49 hoop-dancing minutes per day to hit my goal. I just danced for 36, smiling the whole time. Now I’m off to ice my recently de-booted foot so I can get back into the spin later today.

Now you sedum, now you don’t

It’s gray and gloomy today, belying the unseasonably warm weather (which refuses to give us a drop of much-needed moisture!), so I went in search of a cheery image to brighten the day. I selected a photo of sedum that’d bloomed in the front yard last summer.

June 10, 2021

I then went in search of a quote to accompany my photo, but was unsuccessful. Instead, I learned that sedum roofs are quite popular in other parts of the world. Sedum has a very shallow root system and not only that, “The metabolism of Sedum differs from other plants. At night, carbon dioxide is absorbed through the stomata and converted into malic acid. During the day, under the influence of sunlight, the malic acid is decomposed and photosynthesis takes place. The stomata in the leaves are only open at night. During the hot and dry day, moisture loss is minimized.” How cool is that?! And how beautiful is this roof?

Image found here

My new dream is to live in a little cottage covered by a sedum roof.

Sunday Confessional: I invited myself over

It was 35 years ago today that Zippy and I had our first date. At the time, I lived in North Hollywood and he lived in Bakersfield. It was a tough time for me and I desperately needed to get away from my tiny apartment for a day or two, but was living in poverty and couldn’t afford anything. I knew Zippy through my brother (they’d gone to college together) and we’d recently reconnected via several  phone conversations, so I brazenly invited myself for a visit.

Bakersfield is no one’s idea of a getaway, but I was thrilled at the prospect of being somewhere else. When I arrived that Friday evening (knuckles scraped and bleeding as a result of my hand slipping while prying a very stubborn lid off a bottle of the engine additive needed to keep my poor old car running), Zippy suggested we go hear some live music. Chris “Hammer” Smith and his blues harp were at Suds Tavern which was located in the Wall Street Alley. The tiny place used to be a fire station and fire horse stable, and reeked of character. And cigarette smoke (of which I was a contributor, ahem). We had so much damn fun, drinking beer and dancing dancing dancing. During Hammer Smith’s break, we ran across the alley to Guthrie’s Alley Cat where there was a pool table and even cheaper beer, then dashed back for more live music.

Guthrie’s Alley Cat

Fast forward: I ended up moving to Bakersfield for two years (before we moved to Anchorage) and we logged a lot of hours dancing at Suds and shooting pool at Guthrie’s. Turns out, plenty of people thought that alley was in  “the bad part of town” and stayed away. To my mind, that scene was one of the shining lights of that hot, dry, and dusty city. I was thrilled when I met a fellow teacher who shared our love for that alley.

Alas, Suds is no more.  It’s apparently now a restaurant called Two Goats & The Goose and, because I couldn’t find a photo of Suds, I’m including this image to show the exterior (with an accessibility ramp that was not present in the 80s).

Turns out, Guthrie’s Alley Cat is still in business which makes me very happy. All these years later, I’m very glad Guthrie’s was part of my introduction to Bakersfield. Mostly, though, I’m grateful Zippy graciously accepted my self-invite.

Just peachy

Per his Saturday morning ritual, Zippy went to the farmers’ market for organically-grown peaches. The man loves his peaches. A few days ago while eating the last one from the most recent batch, he said (with tears in his voice), “This might be the last peach of the season.”

 

Well, he got another week’s reprieve. But I thought I’d best document these because there’s a very good chance this is the final haul of the season.

Seven little peaches.
Sweet dreams are made of  this.

Thankful Thursday: focusing on fun

A friend who knows my love of birds passed along this 500-piece puzzle after she’d put it together. I started working on it late last night. First, I turned all the pieces right-side-up on the table and took a quick pic which I texted to her with “Let the puzzling begin!”

Her reply: “I hope you don’t get addicted like I did and have a hard time stopping.” 😬

I told her not to worry, that even if I did get addicted, it was fine by me.

Welp, I spent more time today working on this puzzle than attending to most other things on my To Do list. But it felt good for my brain and mental health, so I don’t begrudge the distraction. Plus, it’s birds!

Thankful Thursday: improved outlook

Two hours ago, my innards were a mass of writhing anxiety and I (briefly) considered cancelling out on a zoom call with some local activists. I’d signed up to learn about the coalition they’re putting together to help the most vulnerable in our community, but felt so overwhelmed I thought it might be best to bail rather than run the risk of falling apart onscreen in front of strangers.

Fortunately, I joined the call and am now feeling much better. Possibly as stellar as this Steller’s Jay. (sorry, not sorry!)

Photo by Zippy. August 6, 2021

Seriously, the folks I met with are doing good work and I’m excited to join their efforts. The current global reality is layered with multiple ongoing traumas and much of it is outside my control. But this local effort stands a very good chance of actually making a difference in people’s lives.

I’m grateful that today I, once again, learned it’s much healthier for me to choose taking action over wallowing in debilitating anxiety.

Reward: three of my favorite things

Bees, blooms, and butterflies.

Showy Milkweed and pollinators.  July 9, 2021

I’m posting this photo as my reward for all I’ve accomplished today:

  • Exercise (indoor, again)
  • Revised a chapter
  • Healthy (mostly) eating
  • Finished Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES
  • Swept the floor
  • Stayed the hell off Twitter (mostly)
  • Focused (mostly) on things within my control
  • Played with Emma and snuggled with Marcel (and allowed Loki to nap without interruption)

Yes, I’m one of those people who derive great satisfaction from checklists. And they’re especially important to me on days in which I feel very close to the edge.

Well done, Tracy.

Reconnection

Yesterday was spent on the couch reading a book because I couldn’t muster energy to do anything else after the latest mass shooting that took place in Boulder. I am heartbroken and outraged that ten people were murdered and grateful my Boulder friends are safe (although deeply traumatized). One of those friends (from the Sunrise Movement) and I had a video call today. We haven’t had an extensive conversation since last June when he hosted a socially-distanced art build. I still remember the rush of emotions I felt that day when he answered my knock at his door. It was so good seeing his kind face again (through the blur of my tears).

Carl, unmasked. June 7, 2020

When his face appeared via video today, I felt similar feelings. We talked and talked and caught up. He shared his ideas for a new direction he’s considering taking. But it wasn’t until WAY into the call that I clarified he’d already taken steps toward that new direction. As he described the place and position he’d applied for, I got really excited for him because it sounded like the perfect fit. Then, just moments after I said as much, he let out a gasp.

“I’ve gotten an email from them.”

“Open it open it open it!”

They want to interview with him next week!

I’m sharing this here because these days so much feels ugly and difficult and cruel. But not this. Reconnecting with my young friend was wonderful. Witnessing him getting very good news was phenomenal. I’ve been smiling all day.