The Great Work of My Life

Why am I here?  Why did I incorporate into this body, this family, in the time, in this place?  How can I best use my skills, abilities, knowledge and idiosyncranies to serve humankind?  What will light my fire and keep it burning?  For what am I willing to be “used up?”

Are these questions you have ever asked yourself?  They are questions I have been struggling with answering for the past few years.  Tired of thinking myself in circles, I met with a psychologist/yoga therapist to get some outside feedback. I needed some help getting out of my head.  As I explained my quest to her, she informed me that I was looking for my dharma (aka sacred duty).

This was a word I had encountered briefly in the past, but I never really knew what it was.  Based on her recommendation, I read The Great Work of Your Life: A guide for the journey to your true calling by Stephen Cope.  It is a beautiful, beautiful book that provides lots of guidance (some of it divine) about finding your calling and purpose.

I won’t write a review of the book, except to say it’s really good and you should read it post haste. 🙂  But I do want to highlight some of the passages that especially struck me (I love the word “passage” to refer to sections of a book – gateways to expanded thought!).  Page numbers are taken from the 2015 Bantam Books Trade Paperback Edition.

  1. Page xviii (Introduction). Regarding writing his books, Stephen says that “It seems that it was the effort required to bring them forth itself that saved me.”  Having written his books did nothing for him – it was putting that work into writing them that was truly satisfying.  DOING the work (not necessarily the end product) is the important thing.
  2. Page xxiv – “People actually feel happiest and most fulfilled when meeting the challenge of their dharma in the world, when bringing highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity for which they have a true calling.”
  3. Page 11 – “It increasingly begins to dawn on her that in order to find the next expression of dharma she is going to have to take a leap of some kind.”  Page 38 – “…Dharma always involves, at some point, a leap off a cliff in the dark.”
  4. Page 16 – “Success and failure in the eyes of the world are not your concern. “Better to fail at your dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else,” he says.”” The “he” in that sentence is Krishna (aka God).  Smart guy.
  5. Page 32 – “We have a responsibility to The Gift.  The Gift is God in disguise.”
  6. Page 36 – “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference.”
  7. Page 42 – “We only know who we are by trying on various versions of ourselves.”
  8. Page 44 – “”Be resolutely and faithfully what you are,” said Thoreau – not who you think you should be.”
  9. Page 46 – An explanation of Indra’s Net.  We are all jewels on an interconnected web, shining forth onto others and reflecting all the other jewels in the net.  “The action of each individual soul holds together the entire net.  Small and large at the same time.”
  10. Page 47 – “Our actions in expression of our dharma…are infinitely important….They create the world.”
  11. Page 56 – “Careful attunement to dharma will demand that we reinvent ourselves periodically throughout life.”
  12. Page 62 – “…(ambivalence, it turns out, is an unavoidable companion in the search for a new dharma).”
  13. Page 64 – “Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. It tears at our hearts.”  “This little corner of the world is ours to transform.  This little corner of the world is ours to save.”

Well, I will stop at Lucky 13. This covers my highlights from the first 1/4 of the book.  I will write more starting with The Second Pillar:  “Do It Full Out!”

What do you think your dharma is?  Have you found it?  If so, how?

 

 

Teaching my first public class & a list of recommended reading

Last night I taught my first public class through Indigo, the studio where I am doing Yoga Teacher Training.  When we first started YTT, I honestly could not imagine myself teaching. It seemed completely overwhelming and nerve-racking.  All those eyes, looking at you,waiting for you to tell them what to do, trusting you to make them feel better and not hurt them, watching, waiting…  It seemed so intimidating.

And then we did our first adjustments to our fellow students – how could I get comfortable touching people I don’t even know???  And then we taught our first Sun Salutation to 5 other classmates.  I couldn’t even remember how to do a Sun Saluation.  Mind. Blank.  Then we took turns teaching ONE asana at a time to a group of beginner students.  I think my first pose was side plank.  Super easy asana, but Shannon had to give me little cues to get me started.  All that is to say, it was hard to imagine myself standing up in front of 15 people teaching a sequence of several asanas.

But I did it.

And it was awesome.

The class went really well!  I followed the template that I posted yesterday.  Overall the sequence flowed fairly well. I left out a couple of asanas in the interests of time.  I had 3 friends who attended the class, and I’m going to follow up with them today to see what they thought of the pacing, the volume of my voice, the clarity of my instructions, and the difficulty (or easiness!) of the class.  Immediately after the class a few students said thank you and that they thought it was a good class.  Hopefully they really felt that way!

I’m so glad that I entered this YTT program. I have learned so much, and it’s helped me to see that I am capable of more than I thought.  I haven’t reach my peak yet at 38. ;P

I think I promised a list of recommended reading from the Dubuque Yoga Conference, so here is that list.  Man, I wish I had more time to read!!!

And that’s it for this morning!  Thank you for reading today. If you read any of these books, or check out any of these resources, let me know what you think.  Have a great day!

Summer Foods

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been going totally off the rails since Saturday.  One hour and 56 minutes of straight exercise does NOT create a caloric deficit equal to beer + ribs + pizza + Chubby Hubby + jalapeno poppers/onion rings/fried mushrooms + nachos + several (and I do mean several) chocolate coconut bars.

Anyway, today is a new day, and I look forward to putting this backslide behind me and getting rid of my volleyball tummy.  I made some bone broth yesterday, and I have some sprouted almonds roasting in the oven.  We ordered another hog, which is going to the butcher today.  We’ve learned some lessons from our prior experiences. We are getting a lot more ground pork instead of smoked hams, for one.  We’ve also requested the bones (for bone broth), and we’re not getting any sausage since we don’t know what exactly they put in that (msg??).  It’s easy enough to turn ground pork into sausage with the addition of a few spices.

My brother’s girlfriend just sent us a new book that will come in super handy too –Good Meat.  It has a ton of helpful information on how to have the pig butchered, as well as recipes on how to cook the pastured pork.  Plus, it’s just a beautiful book, at least if you are into food pictures.  🙂

Before going on the bad-food binge, I did make a great primal recipe: Better Than Fried Chicken with Coconut Aminos Dipping Sauce.  This was a very easy recipe to make, and the results were super delicious!  The skin was crispy, and the flavor was sweet, almost teriyaki-like.  I still have not found a place to buy coconut aminos locally though, and on Amazon, the shipping (it’s not available through a prime seller) is more than the aminos!  Since I don’t have aminos, I used tamari instead.  It has soy in it though.  🙁  The result was still delicious, if not 100% paleo.  We couldn’t eat all of it, so we put the leftovers in the fridge.  The skin lost its crispness (as disclosed in the recipe), but the chicken flavor was awesome cold.

In the midst of binge week, I also tried a non-paleo recipe:  Perfect Summer Basil Burger.  We have SEVEN basil plants growing, 4 different varieties. I pulled leaves from each of them to make the Perfect Basil Sauce.  We also used fresh mozzarella instead of shredded.  To make the recipe slightly healthier, we used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and we skipped the grated parm.  I also made homemade mayo with olive oil.  The results were DELICIOUS!!  I LOVE that basil sauce.  Next time to make it more primal-friendly I will use greek yogurt instead of sour cream, but I think that’s the only change I would make.

And that’s my update.  It’s Friday.  I am off work.  We’re planning on a nice, long bike ride on a sunny day.  Life is good.  Have a fabulous weekend!!

Spring Fever Medley

Yet again, it’s been more than a few days since I’ve posted.  I really have no excuse other than I’ve been both really busy, and when I’m not really busy, I’m really lazy and don’t feel like doing anything.  So…yeah.

I’m sure you’re not interested in the stories of me being lazy, so I’ll enthrall you with the stories of me being busy.

I made FOUR new recipes last week – all from the Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals cookbook.

1. Buttery Eggs & Leeks with Bacon p. 17.  This was simple meal consisting of leeks sauteed in butter over scramby eggs (with coconut milk in them), topped with bacon bits.  Very simple and very delicious.

2. Greek Salad with Lamb p.81.  This was a simple romaine salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and ground lamb mixed with spices.  The recipe calls for fresh spices, but they are too expensive this time of year, so I used dried.  It still turned out very tasty.  Tim LOVED this salad.

3. Pork Chops with Shredded Brussels Sprouts p.95.  This was another ultra-simple recipe.  You shred a pound of brussels sprouts in the food processor and then cook them in a sh!t ton of olive oil.  So easy, but so good.

4. Cauliflower “Arroz Con Pollo” p. 109.  This recipe was more work than the other three, but since you can chop everything (onion, jalapeno, garlic, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and cauliflower ) in the food processor, it goes pretty fast.  This made a TON of food, and it turned out really tasty.  The recipe calls for saffron, which was $12.99 for a tiny bottle at HyVee, so I subbed paprika and turmeric for it instead.  From what I’ve read, nothing but saffron will give you the flavor of saffron, but I wasn’t willing to spend $13 to test that out.

That leads me to an observation I’ve had after being paleo for 2 years.  At first, I felt as if I had to go out and buy all these expensive ingredients (ghee, sesame oil, coconut aminos, spices, avocado oil, etc. etc. etc.).  However, as we’ve settled into our pattern of eating healthier, we’ve found that as long as we have olive oil, some meat, and some veggies in our fridge, we can eat pretty good!   Eating this way can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

And, as I mentioned on the outset, life is starting to get busy again, so I’m trying to go with the more simple recipes that make leftovers.  On the docket this week is Coffee Ancho Short ribs (which are currently slow-cooking in the Nesco and making our house smell amazing), cowboy breakfast skillet, brats & homemade kraut, paleo meatloaf and salmon with salad (FYI – Target has wild-caught frozen salmon on sale this week for $9.99 – $3 cheaper than normal!).  Oh, and I’m going to be decadent and make Paleo Fudgy Brownies.  I’m kind of scared to make them because I think they are going to be crazy delicious, and then I will have to eat them all.

Now on to what’s been making me busy besides making and eating food.  Let’s see.  Work is busy, which takes away my mental energy to do much of anything else in the evening.  BUT I have gotten some things done.  I’ve been making water kefir, for one thing.  So far it hasn’t been turning out – the water is still too sweet after the fermenting process.  However, the instructions say it can take up to 3 weeks for the grains to really get activated, so I just need to be patient.

I also finished Mindset which was an awesome book that really made me look at myself and my abilities/talents in a new light.  I don’t want to write a review because this post is already getting too long, but take my word for it and read it.  It’s a good perspective-shifter.

I also went to an official yoga class for the first time in 6 years!  I’ve been using the yoga app on my phone, but going to a class is so much better.  It’s great to get teacher feedback. My iPad can’t tell me if my form is bad.  I really enjoyed the class.  Even though it gave me a good workout for my core, legs, and back, it was still very calming.  Maybe it’s just psychological, but after only one class, I already feel as if I stand up straighter!  We are going back on Monday.  We are scheduled for Wednesday too, but Tim and I might try a spinning class instead.

We’ve been trying to swim too, to prepare for the tri in 4 months.  We joined the Y, and it’s been really difficult to find times where there are open lanes.  There are a lot of water walkers at the Y, we’ve found.  It’s getting frustrating.

And, well, that’s about it.  Tim and I are doing a 4 mile run in about an hour, so I should go get ready for that.  Hope you are having a great Sunday!

The Hunger Games

On the recommendation of a countless number of people, I read The Hunger Games.  I just finished it up on Sunday, and I’m still trying to figure out what I think of it.  Please note – spoilers will follow, so don’t read this if you want the entire book to be a surprise.

The book reminded me of Harry Potter and Twilight, in that it’s a quick, engrossing read.  You don’t want to put the book down until you find out what happens.  The language is easy to follow and fairly simplistic.  The concepts are more complicated however, as the book is about a gruesome fight-to-the-death and 1984-like government oppression.  It’s very gruesome, in point of fact.  One of the participants in the “Hunger Games” gets attacked and eaten by a pack of wild dogs that are really resurrected former Games players.  Dark.

The true thread of the story though, is the story of Katniss, the girl hunter who wows the crowd and makes everyone fall in love with her, including the fellow tribute from her home district, District 12.  This boy, Peeta, has been in love with Katniss since the age of 5, a fact that the organizers of the games choose to exploit for viewership and interest.

Despite the history and actions of Peeta over the course of the 10 years they’ve known each other, Katniss prefers to assume that he is just “acting” in order to win the games.  I can’t believe that a 16-year-old girl would be that dense.  She is conflicted by another sort of love interest, her hunting partner, Gale.  They never were anything but friends, but the faux romance with Peeta (for the benefit of the games) makes her contemplate her relationship with  Gale.

A movie is being made of the book.  I read a review/preview, and the writer was lamenting that it seems as if the love triangle (ala Team Jacob/Team Edward) was going to play center stage.  In my mind, however, that IS center stage.  The relationship between Peeta & Katniss is the main motivating force of the story.  Without that, it’s just a death match.

Which brings me to my point, that this is really a love story, which is not what I thought it was going to be.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  I love a good love story.  But, this one annoyed me.

Katniss is so mean to Peeta.  She is cold, and he is sweet and caring and self-sacrificing.  Sure, Katniss puts herself on the line to save Peeta, but it seems as if the ONLY reason she is doing it, is to survive the games.  The Gamemakers make a rule-change stating that unlike past years, this year two tributes can “win” the games, as long as they are from the same district.  Once that announcement is made, Katniss is all for playing up the romance with Peeta and taking advantage of all that means.

I really did not like Katniss very much.  Of course she will do anything for her family – she volunteered to be tribute in lieu of her sister, in fact.  However, she seems narrow-minded and harsh – disingenuous even.  And she hurts Peeta in the end.

I haven’t read books 2 or 3, so maybe things turn out all right, but I don’t seee how they can, if Katniss remains true to the character developed in the first book.

All-in-all, the book is good, especially for a young adult book.  The theme is very timely – oppression by the government and the desire to remain true to oneself in the face of that.  Those concepts are good.  I just was not a fan of Katniss, which is unfortunate, since she is the main character.  It is nice to see a strong, female lead – a girl who can take care of herself and others in her life, however.

Read it, and tell me what you think!

Crucial Conversations

So…I’ve been trying to read this book.  It’s been sitting on my nightstand for nigh on 4 months, just staring at me, saying “Heather, you really know you should read me.  Put down all that interesting science fiction and read a nice, important, New York Times bestselling book.  Come on, you know you should…”  I finally caved and started to read it.  The book is Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high.  I won it in a sort of lottery at a business seminar I went to.  The speaker said it was a good book. Since I finished business school over two years ago, I haven’t picked up one of those suckers, and I felt it was time to get back in the loop of business speak.  That was until I got to page 23 and this quote, “The Pool of Shared Meaning is the birthplace of synergy.”  That sentence just sucked away my will to live and all desire to finish the book.  Sure, sprinkled among the jargon may be some good points about how to have those conversations that no one likes to have, but I just cannot force myself to read one more sentence about synergistic pools of meaning.  Man.

I’ll go back to my Ursula K. LeQuin and sentences like this, “Sacrifice might be demanded of the individual, but never compromise: for though only the society could give security and stability, only the individual, the person, had the power of moral choice – the power of change, the essential function of life.  The Odonian society was conceieved as a permanent revolution, and revolution begins in the thinking mind.” (Quoted from The Dispossessed).

They are both getting to the same thought – that you have to speak your mind and stand up for what you see as truth to get anything accomplished.  I just much prefer Ms. LeQuin’s way of saying it.

Memoirs of a Geisha

I just finished Memoirs of a Geisha this week.  I have to say, I don’t know what all the fuss was about. Learning about the training of a geisha and their lifestyle was interesting, but the main charactor, Sayuri, annoyed the heck out of me.  She described everything using metaphors.  I think the author was trying to make her appear poetic and deep, but they were so overused that it seemed forced.  Here is an exaple,

“But now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however, we suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.

She uses two separate metaphors to describe the same thing!  Enough already!!

Geishas are also supposed to be clever conversationalists.  Her examples of “clever” conversation all involved a geisha talking about being naked with her skin exposed to breezes or what not.  That didn’t strike me as “clever.” One does not need to be very clever to arouse drunk males.  I didn’t read one example of clever conversation in the whole damn book.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, but I just don’t understand the whole geisha thing.  They aren’t “prostitutes,” but they do sleep with men for money.  Kinda sounds like a prostitute to  me; albeit an expensive, high-class prostitute.  Watch Mal’s take on “Companions” in Firefly, and that’s pretty much my impression of geishas.

The main story thread also aggravated me.  *SPOILER ALERT*  Sayuri encounters this man, The Chairman, one day as she is crying by the river.  He speaks a few kind words to her, gives her money to buy shaved ice, and a hankie to dry her tears.  Of course, she immediately falls in love with him in that instant and spends the next 15-20 years yearning for him.  Eventually, after a series of unfortunate events, he ends up becoming her “danna” and paying her Okiya for the pleasure of sleeping with her a few times a week.  How romantic.  Oh, and he’s married and has a family.  I just don’t get it.  I understand that she was essentially sold into the lifestyle and had very few options, especially in those times (the book takes place during the Great Depression/World War 2), but still.

I did enjoy reading about the culture and the kimonos, however.   In my opinion, if the book had been written about a truly clever Geisha, it would have been much better.

 

Beauty and reconnection on the weekends

Work has been really busy lately.  I know that millions around the world work 50+ hours every week without a second thought, but I’m not used to it.  Not used to it yet.  I feel as if I wake up, drive to work, work, drive home, eat supper, read for 15 minutes and fall asleep.  That is my week-day life.  So, like everyone, I really look forward to the weekend.  I get to see my husband again.  I get to see what my house looks like in the daylight.  I get to spend time thinking about things that don’t involve numbers.  It’s quite pleasant.

On Saturday Tim and I finally made it back to the gym.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in the blog, but Tim came down with an “acute viral infection” a couple of weeks ago that landed him in the ER for 6 hours (his family practicioner was worried Tim had menningitis).  It took several days before Tim felt well enough to go back to the gym.  I was off my normal schedule due to the NY trip and the long work-days, so I didn’t go all last week.

It felt great to go back to the gym.  I did my leg weights and the Precor.  I could tell I was out-of-practice because I was sooo tired afterwards.  I have reverted back to the fitness level where working out exhausts you instead of giving you energy.  But I know it’ll get better.

After the gym we headed to 11th Street Precinct for some grilled pork T’s, which were delicious as always.  It was a beautiful, weird fall warm day, so we took a walk along the bike path after lunch, admiring the river, the geese, the lily-pads, and the mansions overlooking River Drive.  We crossed River Drive, so that we could get a better look at the houses on the way back.  They are so huge and beautiful.  One even has an English telephone booth (it looks like the Tartis) on the front patio.

The rich and privileged even get better moths on their grounds than do us lowly peons.  Tim and I saw the most beautiful moth.  Its wings had blue ovals on them that looked as if they had sunsets hidden in them.  This is the closest picture I can find on Google.  It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in weeks.  I don’t know how people can truly believe there is no God, when beauty like that exists in the world.

Today Tim and I have been warding off the back-to-work blues.  So we are making the ultimate comfort food – autumn harvest soup and double corn corn bread.  Cutting up vegetables while listening to a Tim-engineered mix of Modeselektor, Radiohead, and Nightmare Revisited is my  idea of a perfect Sunday.

For desert we bought some Banquet fruit pies.  They were only $ 0.60, so even if they are extremely terrible, it won’t be devastating.  The ingredients actually look fairly good – fruit, wheat flour, brown sugar – heck, these might even be good for us!  Tim and I figure these are the perfect pies for us.  We can never eat a whole pie, nor should we.  These should be perfect for one piece each.

While it’s back to work tomorrow, at least we have next Saturday and Sunday to look forward to.  We have no plans yet.  Maybe I’ll finish my Mom painting.  Maybe we’ll start on our novels.  November is National Novel Writing Month. I’ve read that one should write about what one knows.  Since I know very little and lead a quite, unassuming life, I’ve always believed that my life provides little fodder for writing.  However, I’ve been listening to Romancing Miss Bronte on my way to work, and it’s helped me realize that having an active imagination and un-lazy mind is more important than living an adventurous life.  Emily and Charlotte Bronte grew up in a parsonage and traveled very little, yet they wrote two amazing books that shattered the literary world of their time.  If they could write books out of minds that were raised on fecal-laced water and rotten rice pudding, I should be able to write something worth reading on a mind raised on Iowa goodness and autumn harvest soup.  Unfortunately, I lack inspiration.  I enjoy the actual physical act of writing – of scratching a pen across paper, of filling up pages and pages in cool notebooks.  I just need a good idea…  I have 7 days to think of something.

Catsup? No, Catch Up

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Not sure why, precisely – probably a combo of being busy at work, not doing anything super exciting, and just generally being lazy.  I talked to my dad today on my way home from work.  He is 60-some years old yet somehow still finds the energy to actually get stuff done on the weekends.  I am proud of myself if, on a Saturday, I make it to the gym and read a chapter of a book not written on a 10th grade reading level.  He spends his Saturday mowing and fertilizing the yard, insulating barns, replacing basement windows, and chopping up 15-foot stacks of hardwood.  He’s fueled by copious amounts of sugar, though.  Maybe that’s his secret.  Anyway, his activity really accentuates my lack of it.

But over the past couple of weeks, however, I have started taking some strides in the right direction.  First of all, I read a book that required some mental effort, Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty.  It’s not a deep book, really.  Or maybe it is, and I just wasn’t getting it.  But the style of writing takes a lot of focus to slog through.  Maybe the book is written in a Southern style, and what with me being born and bred inIowa and all, I just cannot comprehend  the winding, obtuse prose.  I’ve never lived on a bayou or with folks named Bluet and Pinchy and women named Jim Allen.  I just don’t get it.  I prefer precision in my language.  I get annoyed when I have to figure out what is being said.  But, I finished it!  I persevered and didn’t give up.

After finishing Delta Wedding, I jumped in on The Singularity is Near, right where I left off.  This book I also find hard to understand, but only because I’m not a futurist, not because I’m an Iowan.  The book is super interesting – all about the combined evolution of man and machine.  I can’t wait to see where that takes us.

I also did a little art last weekend – nothing fancy, just a little somethingto get back on the saddle again.  I used my favorite drawing subject again, Mr. Lucent Longoria:

I was just playing around, so it’s pretty quick and dirty, but it was also fun, which is really what counts.

While Tim was making delicious burritos for supper, I also worked on my Mom sketch:

I’m going to paint it with watercolors.  I think it will look smashing when it’s done.  I need to work on my spacing, though.  I ran out of room for Mom’s hair, but oh well.  These are really practice pieces anyway.

At least I’ve been a little productive lately.  I haven’t holed myself up to re-watch all of the Firefly episodes again or anything.  It’s been tempting to do that, too, with all this annoying rain we’ve been having.  Tim and I couldn’t bike at all weekend before last, and we only made it out on Sunday last weekend, and then only for a super quick ride to Emeis Park and back.  I was trying to show off for Tim and burnt up all my energy in one little, fast burst.  I need to start training on my own, sans Tim, so that I can keep up with him when we ride together.

Hope you all had a pleasant, fruitful weekend!

A case of the Sundays

It’s been another lovely weekend in the Longoria household.  Not that it hasn’t been without its faults.  I re-potted two plants yesterday morning (and froze my fingers off during the process – literally.  Just kidding.  Not literally.  I figuratively froze off my fingers) but not before I dropped them three times.  One plant, the rubber tree, was actually dropped by Mother Nature.  A freakish and evil gust of wind blew the plant off our patio table, and the plant crashed to the ground.  The pot was a complete loss, but the plant seems to be okay.  The next plant I repotted was our beautiful jade.  The leaves seem to be falling off quite easily, so I postulated that the plant needed more breathing room.  As I shook the plant out of the existing pot, I noticed that the 14-inch tall plant was completely root-bound in its original clump of soil.  The circumference of this base was maybe 3 inches.  I broke up the root ball a little bit and then repotted it.  As I was taking it in the house, the top-heavy jade flipped right over and sprayed soil everywhere in our kitchen entry-way.  I clean it up, repotted the plant, and then cleaned the outside of the pot, which was completely covered in soil.  I walked 5 steps into the living room and promptly dropped the whole pot.  Dirt sprayed everywhere.  I was still looking at it mournfully when Tim returned from the grocery store and helped me clean it up.  Hopefully the jade will survive.  It lost many, many leaves.  It looks…curly, somehow.  I don’t think it’s supposed to look curly.  I hope it perks up.

That was pretty much the end of the tragedies for the weekend.  Although today when I was jogging, I did get glanced by bird poop.  It hit my sunglasses and the edge of my shirt.  It could have been much, much worse.

The good stuff that happened this weekend consisted of me making super delicious chocolate chip cookies, Lucent’s ear infection improving dramatically (thanks to Tim religiously cleaning his ear and putting meds in it daily), me purse-shopping and not buying anything, getting a tremendous deal on A Brief History of  Time and The Universe in a Nutshell book duo at Borders, finding nice folks at BWW who shared their table with us and relieved us from a 40 minute wait, and watching Shaun of the Dead.

Timmy Tee is ill, though.  He has a super bad chest cold.  I need to start sending him to work with a face-mask and rubber gloves.

I watched 500 Days of Summer on Friday night.  Gotta say, I’m not a fan.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was good in it, but I found Zooey Deschanel to be affected and unrealistic.  They made her out to be some sort of guy fantasy.  I guess any girl with huge, blue eyes and a penchant for The Smiths is irresistable.  Maybe I’m just too used to seeing her sister on Bones.  Maybe one can only like one Deschanel at a time.  It’s interesting too, how being an architect is so often held up as being this laudable achievement.  I enjoyed architectural drafting as much as the next person, but I have to imagine that being an architect in real life is all sorts of tedious.  Drawing beautiful buildings would be awesome, but having to know thousands of building codes would not be awesome.  What’s wrong with being a greeting-card writer?!

I also finished I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (author of 101 Dalmatians).  I really enjoyed it up until the point that Cassandra (the 17-year-old girl who is constantly referred to as a “child” – is a 17-year-old really a “child?”!) falls in love with her sister’s fiance based on a single kiss.  Suddenly she is completely devoted to him.  It didn’t seem like realistic behavior for a girl her age, especially a girl who is continuously presented as being wiser than her years and more mature and insightful than her 21-year-old sister.  I liked the movie more, I think because you don’t get to know Cassandra as well in the movie, so her behaviour is less nonsensical.

I also attempted to do some watercolor painting.  I discovered that any talent I may have had has completely deserted me.  This is all I have to show for my attempts:

I decided to give color a rest and pick up my old standby, sketching.  I used a 2H pencil to sketch out Lucent, and then darkened it up with a nice charcoal pencil.

I think I need to find a good house to paint – maybe then I will find my mojo again.  If you have a good house photograph – one with interesting light and shadows (and uncomplicated detailing), please send it my way.  Maybe if I am beholden to an outside entity to do another painting and to do it semi-well, I’ll actually stand a chance.