Sustainable Living.

Last night I attended a workshop about sustainable living. ( I read about the workshop series a few months ago in the Oregonian–there is a link on the site–and was intrigued. Last year, I was introduced to the food philosophies of the Weston A. Price foundation, read the book Nourishing Traditions and implemented a few changes. The whole fermenting, soaking, baking thing has been a bit beyond me. Along comes this series of classes. They include: Introductory Sustainable Living on a Budget; Homemade Dairy Products; Whole Grains and Meal Planning; and Fermented foods and Condiment Making

I was particularly interested in these classes because Monique Dupre, the woman who teaches them, never goes grocery shopping. The article also reported that she spends $65.00 per week on groceries for a family of four. In the workshop she clarified that $65.00 is her base budget, which includes, grains, vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy. She will spend a bit more than that on stinky cheeses because she really enjoys them.

The introductory workshop met all of my expectations and was well worth the $35.00 I spent. One of the first comments she made in the workshop was to not judge. Once you start to judge, you draw a box around that person which puts a box around you and you aren’t able to think outside of any of those boxes. “Oh Monique can do that because she lives on a farm and grows her own food.” (She doesn’t.) “I could never do that because my husband/kids/job won’t support that.” These are not helpful thoughts. She also reminded us to make one change at a time, establish that change, and then move on to the next change.

She then discusses—and I didn’t write down the exact term she used—the “chaos contests” that we like to engage in as Americans. “This weekend, I had so much to do. I did all the laundry, then we went to a soccer game, then I had to this, then there was this, then that, etc.” It’s very popular in the United States right now to be overly busy. I would say this is a true fact in my life and, though I have been working to spend my weekends calmly and restfully, I haven’t really achieved that state yet.

Also not fashionable in the United States right now: organization. I am well aware of this because I am a fairly organized person. I am kind of hard-wired that way, but the Flylady ( took care of the rest. I often find other people drawing a box around me when they see me cart my lunch to work every day. “I could never do that.” they say. And with that attitude they probably never will. I don’t much like the box drawn around me though.

She then talked about the concept of enough. Yet another thing not popular in our country. When do you have enough stuff? Enough work? Enough activities? Enough things to do with your day? Enough money? Think about it. There is seemingly always something in the way of where you want to be, but what can you do right now to have enough?

After those introductory remarks, she then launched in to how she lives sustainably on a budget, walked us through some of her routines (something near and dear to Flylady’s heart) and then talked about saving money and getting off the consumption bandwagon in every room in the house. I’ve got some great ideas about meal planning and attitudes towards my house as well as an idea of how some household products I buy now will be replaced with more sustainable things as they are used up. The thing that I have a big block around is learning to live without my Rubbermaid containers. They are a big part of my success in cooking so much at home. But I don’t have to start that right now. It can come in its own time.

Review of A Drink Before The War

A Drink Before the War A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Here is the beginning of the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro story that I jumped into mid-stream when I read Gone, Baby, Gone. I really like both of these characters. They are good guys, but the life of a private investigator includes so many gray areas it is interesting to watch them wrestle with the moral choices. Kind of like some of Veronica Mars’ quandaries.

Kenzie and Gennaro are hired by a powerful state senator to recover some “important documents” and that document recovery touches off a gang war during a hot Boston summer. As per every Dennis Lehane novel I’ve read, I stayed up late finishing it. The social justice issues, particularly child welfare, that are so evident in other Lehane novels I’ve read, were not as prominent in this one, but that didn’t detract from the story. As someone who does not read mystery novels very often, I can say that Dennis Lehane’s books tend to be enjoyable outside of the mystery waiting to be solved.

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Bike Project Day 24: Sometimes trailer parks have the best views.

This was a short, 12 mile ride. I decided to explore Hayden Island, home of Jantzen Beach, (a mall that seems to be rapidly approaching Dead Mall status) several big box stores and expensive condos as well as some floating homes.

When I think of Hayden Island I think of the woman who wrote a letter to the editor explaining that she was going to do us all a big favor and take public transportation to an event in the Rose Quarter. But she called and there was no bus that came to her house! So she drove. This caused a tremendous eye roll on my part as the idea that the buses come to each person’s door seems to be a very wide misconception on the part of people who don’t use public transportation. Living on Hayden Island there are couple very easy ways to get to public transportation. You can walk or bike over to Jantzen Beach where you can grab the #6 to Portland (it leaves every 15 minutes). That will take you to the Lombard Max stop. You can then ride the Max to the Rose Quarter. If you want to involve your car and at the same time avoid Rose Quarter parking fees (as well as the #6 bus which can be a bit colorful) you can drive–or ride your bike–to the Delta Park Max stop and park there FOR FREE and take the Max to the Rose Quarter.

Suffice to say that I don’t have a high opinion of Hayden Island.

I-5 cuts the island in half. I tackled the right half first. It was just what I know Hayden Island to be. Lots of big, ugly, modern houses on the water, many of them protected by their precious gates to keep the riff-raff out. Side observation: how are the buses supposed to get past all the gates to pick up the hoards of Hayden Island people who are dying to take public transportation once every six months?

The left side (probably known more properly as the west side) held a nice surprise: trailer park! I rode around the loops of various manufactured homes. They were very well kept up–I’m guessing that a lot of active retirees (ones not able to afford gates to keep the riff-raff out) live here. But then I found the surprise of the day.
There is a small asphalt path that runs along the Columbia River for the length of the park. It was quite lovely and peaceful and deserted.
It occurred to me riding home that the other side of the island might also have a similar path, but I, lowly bike rider with no friends in high places, will never get to see it.

Gated communities. Really annoying me since 1974.

Exciting Internet Discovery! From the main page, click on Dead Mall Features. Jantzen Beach is listed, as are two dead malls near and dear to my heart: Mt. Farms Mall in Hadly, Mass, where I went to college, and Assembly Square Mall in Somerville, Mass. I used to ride my bike to Assembly Square Mall to go to the K-Mart there and treat myself to a trip to the always delightful Building 19. Felicia and I, and maybe Jenna? saw the so-bad-it’s good movie Whipped at the movie theater near there.

Review of the Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Being a lazy reader, I’ve only actually read one Jane Austin novel. That would be Emma and to finish it I had to make myself read one chapter per night until I was done AND I consulted Cliff Notes because I kept getting confused as to which character was which. I’ve attempted to read Pride and Prejudice several times without success. I just don’t like to work hard at reading, people.

This book was fun, because I got to read in the style of Jane Austin without working so hard. The premise is that a chest was found sealed in the wall and in it contain the lost memoirs of Jane Austin. As we read we learn of the man she met at the shore and what happened because of their meeting.

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Review of Helping Me Help Myself

Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Twelve Self-Help Programs, One Whirlwind Year of Improvement Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Twelve Self-Help Programs, One Whirlwind Year of Improvement by Beth Lisick

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think the universe was telling me something when the library system sent me both “The Secret” and this book at the same time. I’m not the skeptic that Beth Lisick is; in fact I had already read four of the self-help gurus she consulted: Steven Covey, Suze Orman, Deepak Chopra and Julia Cameron. I also have my own organization self-help guru, the Flylady. So this was familiar territory to me.

“The Secret” lives on the edge of this book. She keeps hearing about the movie, but never actually gets to see it. This is too bad, as I would have loved to hear what she thought of the whole thing.

The book was funny in parts, but reading it I could sense how indifferent she felt; about some of the self-help gurus or writing the book itself, I’m not sure which. I think that is what kept me from really liking this book, though I did enjoy it.

A fitting quote: “This seems like a linchpin of why so many people get sucked into self-help and empowerment programs. They can’t trust that what they are doing is the “right” way to be doing it.”

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Review of Secret

The Secret The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
Okay, I admit it, one of my deep, dark secrets is that I read a lot of self-help books. Diet books, financial books, pop psychology books, they have all been checked out on my library card. While I don’t think they hurt me any, I feel sort of schlubby admitting that I spend a good amount of leisure time learning how other people say I should live my life.

This book is one of those self-help books that I am pretty skeptical about. If everyone has the power to create whatever they want, are we saying that all those people living in poverty around the world are just some creative visioning away from Jack Canfield’s mansion? The friend of friends who just died of breast cancer had the power to make it go away? I don’t buy it–although I’m sure the author would say that this is getting in the way of my own success, worrying about the poor and sick of the world.

But I decided to walk through my day as if all the things I wanted to happen were going to happen. It was quite pleasant, actually and I may spend the off moments of my day (shower, walking to various bus and Max stops) visualizing what I want my life to look like. It can’t hurt any.

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Letters written June 1-10.

Despite my hope to write more often in June than in May, I didn’t start off so well. Half of these first days were spent not writing letters. I think the combination end of the school year (work) and end of the school year (math class) got to me. I got a 92 on my math final, though and I am very proud of that.

Sara once again rocked the letters mailed category, but then I get letters all the time from her. We seem to write enough we don’t have to email which I think is very cool in this modern world.

My friend Deborah’s partner Val was recently diagnosed with cancer and I am going to try to send her a little note every week or so. Everyone likes mail, (at least I haven’t found someone who doesn’t) so perhaps something every once in awhile in her mailbox will be nice.

1 June. Sara
2 June. Sara
**Letter back: LEX re: “college”
**Letter back: LEX Jacqueline
3 June. LEX Jacqueline
4 June. No one.
5 June. Deborah
**Letter back: Sara
6 June. No one.
7 June. No one.
8 June. No one.
9 June. Deborah.
**Letter back Sara.
10 June. No one.

Three sentence movie reviews. Indiana Jones and the Return of the Crystal Skull.

I was incredibly lukewarm about this movie and it met my expectations. Despite months of pre -movie joking, there was no plot line involving Harrison Ford’s wattles and he was super fit despite being 104 and playing an action hero. The middle chase scene went on way too long, but as an adventure-type movie it delivered: the bad villain, the ultra good hero, the long lost love (though she mostly just drove and simpered), the big secret, the return of the crystal skull.

PS. Cate Blanchett’s hair was awesome! As was she.

Miss Nomer Reigns

The day of the Rose Festival Walk dawned gray and cold.

Heidi, Kelly, Miss Nomer and Christi gather at the beginning of the walk.
We saw all the floats lined up waiting to parade.
Walking into Memorial Coliseum where people can watch the parade indoors.
Inside the coliseum where Miss Nomer waved to her first crowds.
For unknown reasons there was an entire Ikea living room in the arena.
It was fun to walk along the parade route. I got to see places where there were still good seats thirty minutes before the parade started. They have been filed away in my memory banks until next year. One big surprise was that there were several announcers along the way. I had no idea they existed until today. They make announcements about the sponsors and tell the parade crowd what they are looking at. “This is the Regence Rose Festival Grand Floral Walk, a four-mile fitness walk…” The first two announces said something to the effect of “They look good now, but we’ll see how they look at the finish.” To which I replied, “HEY! Way to be supportive.” Plus, it’s four miles, not really a marathon. For a lot of walkers that’s an easy day. And, it’s not like we were zipping along.
One of many cute kids being carried.
Walking over the Burnside Bridge. All participants got the bright orange workout bags.
Some people came in workout gear and others were more festive, like these two women in rose hats.
Walking along the route I did my best elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist. It was pretty fun to have people read my sash. “Miss….Nomer. Oh! Misnomer! Honey, she’s Miss Nomer!” Others would say, “Miss…Nomer. Hmmmm.” Or, one of the announcers said, “We now have Miss Homer, walking by. What’s that? Oh, Miss Nomer.” He didn’t get it.

These ladies had very cool crowns.
Another cute kid being carried.
The finish line. (By the way, lame early announcers, I felt fine.) One surprise was that they had chairs ready if you wanted to stay and watch the parade. That was a nice touch.
And there was a very cool drum corps playing.
The real reason I never paint my nails. Not even 24 hours and it has already started to chip.
Grrr. I took it off immediately.

However, the next day my elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, shoulder was not at all sore. I took that as a sign I was meant to be a parade beauty queen.

It takes a lot to be Miss Nomer.

When I heard about the all-new Rose Festival Walk I knew it was the walk for me. Getting to walk the Rose Festival Route before the parade? When all the people are sitting there waiting for the parade to start? Who wouldn’t want to do that? And I knew that I was going to go as my best beauty queen self. So I spent the evening before preparing to be Miss Nomer. Miss Nomer may be a misapplied or inappropriate beauty queen, but she tries her best.

Miss Nomer has to make her own sash. Luckily she has access to a large font in Word and a printer. That made tracing her name much easier.
Miss Nomer put on a mud mask for sparking skin and braided her hair to achieve appropriate “big”-ness.
You too, can make your own crown. All you need is a file folder, stapler, aluminum foil and glue.
After the glue dries, the crown is easily secured with a paper clip.
Miss Nomer even painted her nails. As she was doing this she was trying to remember the last time her nails had been painted. It may have been in college. Maybe. But it might not have been since high school.
Now it is off for a good night sleep for Miss Nomer.