the friday 5: joy


What have you done lately for improving or maintaining your mental health? What more would you like to do?
Hey that's two questions.

The best thing I can do for my mental health is a walk or run outside on a nice day. I also like planting things. There is a lot of research to support this. Sunshine, dirt, activity. It can't cure everything, but it's a small kick upwards. And for people like me whose brain chemistry is basically in good working order, a small kick is all we need.

When did you last eat something specifically because it was good for you?
I STARTED to read "The Brain Fog Fix" by Mike Dow. I stopped reading it because it was getting into weird sketchy science and just being too damn picky about foods we eat. The author started talking about how we should reduce carbs, sugar, and processed foods... great! Eat blueberries, strawberries, carrots, fish. Great! But then it went off the deep end. You can't just eat salmon it has to be WILD ALASKAN SALMON and you can't have "organic certified" it MUST say "100% organic certified" and omg we do NOT know what GMOs are going to do long term... that was when I threw the book. Sorry, I'm an engineer. I like GMOs.

But in the little bit of the book I read, I was inspired to eat more blueberries. So that's been my work snack.

These days, what are you learning about, and what would you like to learn about next?

I learn about airplanes every day. I learned that it's hard to say "cowl bow". say it. say it three times in a meeting. say outboard cowl bow.

What’s positive about your physical appearance lately?

Wearing running shoes today so I'm about an inch taller. even as a really tall person, it's sometimes fun to be taller.

What will you do this weekend to bring joy into your life and a smile to someone else?

Taking Josie to the cake store would bring her joy. I might help Marc move rocks in the yard. I might not do anything, that would bring me joy.

late people

I know I wrote last week that the Cosmosphere in hutchinson kansas is one of the coolest places on earth, and I stand by that. But I have a memory that creeps in every time I think about it that I can't shake.

when I was in my early 20s, we had a married couple in our group of friends. they are no longer married. the guy was a chronically late guy. I hate chronically late people. I dated one in college for a short time, and got so sick of the total and utter disrespect he had for... well everybody. I would SEE the reasons for why he was late, and they made me livid. Like, I'd clock out of whatever crappy hourly job I was working to go to lunch with him, and we'd get in his car, and he'd be like hold on there's some door panel not sitting right and vibrating and he'd screw around with it for EVER while I said things like "Dude, I'm hungry" or "Hey, I'm clocked out, this is all time I do not get paid for today" and he'd say "hold on!" and waste SO MUCH TIME on whatever distracted him.

late guys always remind me of him. Late people, and the hopeless significant others who wait for them always hoping they'll change and agree to do something EARLY for once, but they won't, because they are LATE PEOPLE.

Oh anyway back to the married couple... the wife called all us friends together and said "it's Late Guy's birthday and I want to surprise him! Let's all drive to the Cosmosphere after work one day, they have a laser light show movie or something awesome that he will LOVE! It's like a 45 minute drive, right? The movie starts at 6:30 so let's just meet after work. They say they don't allow anybody in late, so we'll have to leave by 5:45 okay? We won't tell him where we're going, he's going to love this!"

I am an anti-late person so I REALLY WANTED to point out that hutchinson is not like 45 minutes away, it's like an hour. and your husband is always late AF so if we want to make it to this thing, we should target departure at like 3 in damn the afternoon.

But I was also a grown up who'd learned that I can be weird and nobody appreciates that, and it's not that huge a deal to me if we miss it or not, so of course we'll get there at the appointed time. I did not voice my concerns at all. I was just supportive.

you guys will never guess what happened.

her husband didn't show up from work until 6. we drove an hour to hutchinson, showed up way late, and they would not open the doors for us while the show was going.

her face was the sad thing that I can't forget, she explained to the staff that we'd driven all the way from wichita and it's his birthday and can't they please make an exception and let us in but they had a hundred signs saying nobody gets in late. she was telling her husband she was so sorry for ruining his birthday she thought this would be such a fun surprise and he was trying to calm her down saying it's okay and I was just looking at the sr 71 blackbird in the lobby of the cosmosphere thinking oh well, I got to relax in the back seat of a car and watch this train wreck happen.

they have a freaking space shuttle right there too! the endeavor! missing a few heat panels but you can get SO CLOSE to it, it's amazing, always.

he didn't really seem to care that much that we'd driven an hour to not get into a show. I guess he's chronically late, he'd influenced her to underestimate times or something? my gosh I cannot live like that. I felt terrible for her, but I also know that none of them would have listened to weird geeky spacefem, they hadn't listened before and wouldn't start now. we just all have to be on our own time.

The Year of Less

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store
by Cait Flanders

This was a really beautiful book. I listened to it on libby while I was outside staining my porch and it really kept me going. The author decides to go on a 1 year shopping ban, I'd say for three reasons:

1) She's sick of the clutter in her home
2) She hasn't been able to achieve any money saving goals
3) She's had good results identifying and stamping out other addictions in her life, especially alcohol

At first I thought I would not be able to relate to her story because she's a single 20-something in the cool startup marketing/communications world. I have a family. This is STILL something I struggle a lot with when I read cool millenial money saving books, I feel like I'm in a weird spot. But I came around and liked the book.

She struggles with serious addictions to shopping, food, alcohol, TV. Alcohol is the first big huge one she's already kind of conquered at the beginning of the book, she's been sober for months, but still talks about the struggles of living in a world where people are jerks about it. She went from being "good at partying" and embracing that identity to realizing she did not want to get blackout drunk every time she had a glass of wine, and friends were not all supportive. She has a lot of good insights - we will all have a friend who's supportive, and a friend who's right there to help us self-destruct again. In all things.

When it comes to shopping, she made a very clear list of things she was allowed to buy - food, toiletries, cosmetics only if she runs out, and she had a few clothing items she knew she wanted to buy that year. She re-wrote her rules a little throughout the year, like allowing herself to buy some gardening supplies and start up container gardens. She snapped one time on black friday and bought an e-reader since the one she had was getting a little old, but recognized the bad place that the motivation came from and cancelled the order. It was a promising moment.

During her year some bad things happened in her life, which I think makes the book that much more genuine because we all have to deal with these bumps in the road, figure out how to be true to ourselves and our new goals.

In the end, she's realized that since she can live on a lot less money, she can quit the job she hates and support herself with freelance, which is great. It's also the millenial dream that happens at the end of all the books in this genre of financial independence. So in that respect, the book reminded me of the Frugalwoods, except a LOT more relatable, a little less advice-y.

I also related to her because she's a blogger and like me, gets a lot of benefits from using a blog to process her thoughts and get advice from comments. In the book she talks about her reports out on her monthly spending, and the feedback she gets from photos of her newly decluttered closet. So I was surprised to check back in and see that she's announced her retirement from personal blogging! She starts feeling like a "content creator", pressured to churn out posts, build community, and it's conflicting with the mindful space she wants to create in her life.

Maybe that's what happens when your blog gets huge and becomes your job, but I see livejournal as $20/yr therapy. I feel so much BETTER when I'm writing entries regularly, and the comments I get add support and advice that multiplies the benefits I get from just writing down what's in my head. It's motivating for me. I'm going to read, eat, fix airplanes, fix my house, save money... if I also blog about it I'm a hell of a lot more organized and intentional. So I can't imagine giving this up, but to each their own.

I think this is a great book about addiction recovery and looking deeper into our values. It's not a criticism of all the evil things materialism is doing to our world, it doesn't take off to a 50,000 foot view of any systemic issues, it's very much in the head of the author. but that's a great place to look at these topics.

Olive’s Birthday

Carl cupcakes
Carl cupcakes

Olive is eight years old and wanted her birthday theme to be Five Nights at Freddy's. It's a videogame. Makes for a pretty good birthday theme really, there's even a character who's a cupcake. The game is kind of about a haunted chuck-e-cheeses where you're stuck overnight with possessed animatronic characters trying to murder you. Olive just adores it.

Anyway, to get candy eyes I had to go to the Official Cake Store on the other side of town, where you can get anything related to cake decorating. Our food coloring is always low from too many kids science experiments so I needed to get food coloring there too, but they didn't have any plain old four-packs of liquid like the grocery store has, their food coloring was these little canisters of gel, all individual colors displayed out like paints. I got a pink one and hoped for the best. well it made REALLY pink frosting! I've made so many gray-ish cakes in my life, I guess fancy food coloring is a serious step up!

She had just a few friends over and her BFF spent the night. Maybe 4-5 kids total? We kept it small. Then my sister's family visited and stayed over too, then we went to mom's for a nice brunch.

It was great to have a birthday party again! Last year it was off, we did a quick zoom call. Olive was starting to plan her 7th birthday right as the pandemic started shutting everything down, and she was making signs for our basement and talking all about her party and started asking me cautiously if she could even have a birthday. I said we'll see, knowing that it wasn't going to happen. I just let the weeks go on, and she slowly put 2 + 2 together and accepted the world as it was. nobody ripped the rug out from under her. it just didn't happen.

we have a good friend who's wedding anniversary is right on top of olive's birthday, and she always comes over with her kid who's a couple years younger than olive. It's always a funny coincidence memory. That year we were all ready to go to her wedding. I was REALLY pregnant... due in days, I think due the 8th or 9th? Funny how that's such an important date then it goes away when there's a real birthday. My strategy both times in late pregnancy was to stay busy and distracted. Have plans for every day, things to look forward to, so you're not going crazy wondering when the baby will be born. And that's what I did in early May 2013, when I was really pregnant with Olive.

BUT I didn't make that wedding... I went to work, went out with some friends for hamburgers, came home, started feeling sick. I think it was a Thursday night. Went to the hospital. Had Olive a little after midnight. Fast labor has an intensity and medical weirdness that I will not recommend, but there she was.

Anyway, Marc and Josie went to the wedding! I told them to go. Not much else going on, somebody should have a good time. I had just talked to my friend earlier in the week about how excited I was, but she walked down the aisle she turned and saw just the two of them. She immediately knew, she went up to marc at the reception and said "Spacefem had the baby didn't she?" Yup. I was still in the hospital for one more day. Maybe we went home Sunday, I don't remember that either. But we were all fine, and she jokingly tells Olive, you know your mom missed a great wedding, you just had to be born before the weekend didn't you?

the last blockbuster

marc pulled up this documentary on Netflix about blockbuster video and we got such a kick out of it! our kids didn't care. they just shrugged and said "awe your childhood must have sucked", because when they want to watch a movie they just turn on the apple TV and pick one out from any of the infinity streaming services we subscribe to... too high a number. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+, maybe more! We ditched amazon prime this year. I'm proud of us.

As long as I could remember we had a VCR - that will date me compared to you Actual Old People reading this.

When I was elementary age, we'd rent videos from the grocery store. You had to find the VHS section not the betamax. the grocery store video rental section was probably two aisles wide, about 40 feet long? It was up front in a special section. You had to walk past the horror section to get a bunch of other sections. I could not look away. I was so curious, but so scared to get nightmares. I also remember the warped melted VHS tape on the counter with a sign that said "DO NOT LEAVE TAPES IN YOUR HOT CAR!"

What were my favorite movies in the 80s? The Last Unicorn (1982), care bears (1985), flight of the navigator. I remember Beetlejuice (1988) because I loved it SO MUCH I wanted to rent it again weeks later, but mom was like "you've seen it, why would you want to get a movie you've already seen?" sigh.

Childhood memories always get a line through them when the geography changes. When I was 12, we moved to KC, and that's when we'd go to Blockbuster. Nobody can ever express just how exciting our saturdays were when we'd get TAKEN to the VIDEO STORE to rent a MOVIE! Dad would take one or both of us to go to Pizza Hut, walk in and order pizza. Then we'd walk to the Blockbuster a block away and get a few tapes. I didn't like getting new releases, because then you couldn't keep them as long.. but there was a step below the new new releases that was kind of a compromise, they'd still be new to you but not two day rentals or anything terrible like that. By the time we'd picked out our videos and checked out at blockbuster, the pizzas would be ready to pick up. We'd go home and have the best saturday night! popcorn, movies, pizza, we had it made!

The documentary talked about how great it was that video store geeks had a place to work and congregate and nerd out on films. personally, my exposure to new movies increased a LOT in the 2000s when I got netflix by mail and could get ANY movie. foreign films, independent, documentaries - these were all tiny sections in blockbuster. and when you paid per movie, you hated to take a risk on not liking one. but when netflix was mailing me three DVDs at a time, I could send one back immediately if I watched half and it wasn't for me. the selection was so much better and the format so much more convenient, I don't even think I had a blockbuster card by the time I moved to my own apartment in 2002.

apparently blockbuster got too big, too mismanaged, and then a guy who was sick of late fees started Netflix and disrupted their whole business model and then they died. Netflix went seamlessly from mailing DVDs to streaming online, they were able to change models. Blockbuster was just behind on every change. Lesson learned. So now they're gone, and all just live in the past.

the friday 5: can we travel yet?

I kinda got out of the habit of doing the friday 5 when I became mod over at thefridayfive, how's that for support? Gotta get back.

1) What's the furthest place you've traveled to in the last 12 months?
Topeka, Kansas! About 90 minutes away.

2) What's the most interesting small town within driving distance?
Independence Kansas is charming. Park, zoo, Little House on the Prairie. We should take the kids there. We also liked the children's museum in Enid, OK.

3) What's the coolest tourist attraction in your city?
The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS. Shoot just thinking about it makes me realize we have to get out there again.

4) What was your favorite road trip you took as a kid?
I loved visiting state capitol buildings. I still do. Jefferson City, Topeka, Springfield. And I've been to the Georgia capitol. I love the architecture, and they make me feel hopeful.

5) How often do you feel like you've got to get away?
I'm there. I didn't even think of myself as a travel person but I miss it so much. I especially miss work travel! The awkward conferences, hotel breakfasts, striking up conversations, unfamiliar rental cars in unfamiliar towns. Time to myself away from the family. I am ready to go someplace.

workouts this week

Last Saturday I ran an actual 10 kilometers, which I haven't done since early January, and it was my fastest ever according to my run tracker! 1:10:48. Very far away from my 1 hour goal... but that might not be a real goal. After all I think my fastest 5K is like 32 minutes. I swear I remember being a hot young 20 something doing races all the time and finishing 5Ks in WELL under 30 minutes, like 27 or something, but my goal is Overall Fitness and I don't need time goals for that.

It was an excessively beautiful spring day. No clouds, no wind, 60-some degrees. I did something I almost never do... ran the first 3K with no music in my headphones, just listened to birds.

Then Sunday I felt like I'd been run over I was so sore, so I went out for a 90 minutes but it was almost all walking and only a little running. I caught 200 pokemon. I am level 40 pokemon go, and have enough xp to level up but they make you do a few special things that I have been in NO hurry to do, one of them is catch 200 pokemon in one day.

seven days...

Last Wednesday 5K
Thursday probably took a day off because it was rainy and crappy and I worked late.
Friday gym, lifted weights
Saturday 10K
Sunday 8K walk/run
Monday 1 hr yoga at the gym
Tuesday morning 5K

while an occasional gym yoga class is great, I think strength training is more important and I don't want to distract from that so I probably won't do too much more in classes. maybe saturday, I can attend a long class and lift weights? but saturday is so nice for running.

morning runs certainly open up my after work schedule. Tuesday morning when I ran it was 66 degrees out. downright hot! no stars, it was too cloudy, and the full moon looked weird through it all, but it was nice to be out again.

my hamstrings have been a lot better since I started running MORE often. I was doing a strict every other day thing, or even every three days. I changed to try and do something almost every day. on gym days I still do 10-15 minutes on the stair climber thing. even if I run 3-4k, I'm out, and it makes a big difference. maybe that's what I learned... I can't run 8-10K if I'm running 3 times a week. It's a roller coaster, it'll kill me. I need small things throughout the week to keep the blood flowing, then I'm better. And I still stretch a lot.

Happy birthday Judy!

My dog is 10
My dog is 10

According to Humane Society paperwork my dog Judy is 10 years old today.

Is her birthday truly April 28th, 2011? I will never know, I wasn't there. All I know is she's been part of our family for all the other birthdays, and that's good enough.

We were told that somebody found a skinny puppy missing spots of fur somewhere on a country road and brought her to the shelter. She was placed with a foster family who got her back up and healthy again. Then one day we walked in — I had never had a dog in my life but always wanted one. I finally had a house with a yard because we had a baby. Everybody told me NOT to get a dog when we had a newborn. Fine then. We waited until the baby was a year old, and went to the humane society. I wanted a dog that would not eat babies or guinea pigs, preferred 2-4 years old, a nice calm age. I saw a basset hound on their website that I wanted to see, but it wasn't in the showroom that day for whatever reason. They said well here, this puppy has cute ears, and a very waggy tail.

She was so darn cute we couldn't resist. She was the same size as Josie, about 20 pounds. Her name was Judy which is a really strange name for a dog so we figured we'd rename her. But we didn't ever think of anything else that stuck.

Baby Judy
Baby Judy

Over the next year, the dog quickly doubled in size and the toddler didn't, it was an all out war between them trying to catch the other one off gaurd for knock-downs. But we all survived. Josie got a little more stable, Judy got a little more calm, and a decade later here we all are.

Here's to many more years, Judy! You are a good girl. 


birthday in a month

My birthday is a little less than a month away which got me thinking about last year's questions... I posted an entry asking people for lj inspiration and andrewducker asked "what would you like your 41st birthday to look like?"

I didn't answer it because I was afraid to hope. I knew what my 40th birthday SHOULD have looked like - a house full of people, margaritas, music, food! but in the height of the pandemic I was afraid to even say that I wished for it, or thought it could happen for my 41st.

and now things have changed.

I am going to have friends over. we'll probably be outside, because our yard is nicer, because I spent furloughs ripping out brush and planning a fire pit. we can celebrate that, along with my birthday.

I've lost some friends. I mean, I was probably losing them anyway, I'd just eye roll when they went off on how Trump isn't so bad. But they became anti-mask assholes, too. I have realized we have nothing in common. If they can't show some basic interest in caring for people, I really can't deal with them.

We're drinking less, because we drank too much. We're spending less, because we learned how. We have better takeout connections, because we got a lot of takeout. I'm in better shape than I thought I would be. I am more peaceful and appreciative of friends than I thought I would be.

I couldn't picture what would happen in a year. I didn't believe we'd have vaccines. Deep down, I think I believed we'd all just get the virus, and I hoped I would be around. It's a miracle of privilege and science that I never got it, and now we're all vaccinated.

I couldn't predict the future at ALL and didn't want to try. And now I see that if I had tried, I wouldn't have gotten it right.

april spending report

I'm reading "the year of less" and the author starts out by saying she'd report out on her spending by posting to her blog every month. So I'm trying it. I tend to download a YEAR of credit card stuff, once a year. in between I just always look at the "purchases" totals on the statements to make sure I'm on track, but taking a monthly breakdown and writing about the totals might help me too.

Before I get into it, I want to acknowledge that I am coming from a privileged place when it comes to finances. steady office job that I really enjoy, healthy enough to work, my family is healthy, debt-free, we have no huge expenses outside of our control. If you see how much I spend and can't relate to me or just feel frustrated, then don't read these posts. I just don't want to be so afraid of alienating people that I avoid talking about money. we do that too much in our world, and silence means we miss out on good advice.

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