Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I'm a fat girl, and that's okay.

I was just sitting at my kitchen table because I'm retraining myself to only eat at the table so I don't feel like shoving food in my face every time I sit down to watch a movie. I was getting down to my last few bites of tuna and capers on toast and I got really sad. I was sad because eating makes me happy and my dinner was almost gone. Then I thought "you know what else makes you happy, bird? Knitting, and reading, and million other things." Then I realized that I would be just as happy doing any number of other things, other than continuously shoving too much food in my face, that are way more productive and healthy than eating twice as much as I need to.

Re-programming one's self takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, and a lot of dedication, but it'll be worth it.

Some of the things I can do other than over-eating:
Cuddling my cat
Looking at fine china sets on ebay
Looking at vintage coffee makers on ebay
Looking at pretty much anything on ebay
Watching YouTube cooking shows
Starting that afghan i've got planned in my head
Doing my hula workout video
Yoga...oh it feels so good
Listening to podcasts
Talking to my friends
Looking through my cookbook collection
Looking at cookbooks on Amazon and putting them on my wish list even though I'm not ever going to buy any of them (cause that's how I roll)
Putting grandma's recipe collection into my Living Cookbook program
Watching a movie
Designing a sweater
Taking a craftsy class
Drawing, painting, sketching, doodling
Cleaning my dirty dirty house (even though the act itself is not so great, a clean house would make me really happy)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A New Year Resolution? Maybe!

Hot damn, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. Sometimes I forget that I even have a blog at all.

In general I don't make new year resolutions. I'm a firm believer that if you really want to make changes in your life, no matter the time of year, the time to do it is the moment you decide to make the change. To put off working towards your goals until the new year begins may be a sign that the changes you want to make aren't important enough to start immediately.

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing. I use to write a lot. I was fairly religious about keeping a journal; I loved writing short stories. I considered it a hobby. For some reason I stopped writing a few years ago. I don't know why. I can't think of a reason.  I made the decision, today, to start writing again; to make it a habit. Since the new year is only a couple of weeks away I feel comfortable calling this a new year resolution, even though I'm starting right now .

I don't know what this resolution will look like, at least not specifically. I've given myself permission to re-form this writing habit slowly, and to let it take multiple forms. I bought a spiral bound artists sketch book in which I can write, draw, scribble, paste, color, tape, etc. I've got various writing utensils to inspire my creativity. I've got art supplies, in the event my writing needs some art to accompany, or inspire it. I've got this blog.

The point here is not to force myself to write so many short stories or journal entries in such and such amount of time; the point is to re-learn the writing process. I'm re-learning how to give myself to permission to be creative again, how let the word-juices flow. After all, I'm writing for no one but myself.

How will this blog fit in the process? I'm also not entirely certain about that either. Maybe it'll be the tool I use to write about the other habits and hobbies I have. Food, cooking, baking, and other kitcheny things, reading, knitting, movies, music, friendly things, and health. Maybe I'll use this blog to write about building skills I don't have yet, like fixing the plumbing and building a shelf; these are skills I would benefit from just now.

Here's to forming positive habits, getting back to the things that make you happy, and getting down to business!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Book Review - Skippy Dies, By Paul Murray

I have to admit that I’m still struggling with whether or not I like this book. Living in Ethiopia, your selection of possible reading material decreases significantly. As a result you learn to read books that you normally wouldn’t bother picking up back home. This book happens to be one of those books, for me. This book was one such book. I chose it for the simple fact that I have a friend we affectionately call Skippy, and the title of the book says that “Skippy Dies”. I figured, I might as well learn how and why Skippy dies.
I’m not giving anything away by saying that Skippy Dies. As a matter of fact, he dies in the very first chapter of the book. Subsequent chapters, until 2/3rds through, are all of the events leading up to Skippy’s death, told from the point of view of several different characters. The last bit tells of the events thereafter.
I would read a little, dislike it, and then put it back down, thinking that I would just stop reading it altogether. But, for some reason, I kept going back to it. I hated the way it made me feel most of the time. But, I couldn’t help but be curious how events would unfold for these characters. I wanted to know who would get what was coming to them.
There were only two characters I actually liked, Skippy, the love-sick, self-conscious, focus of the story, and his fat, nerdy pal Ruprecht, who is obsessed with alternate dimensions and donuts. All the other characters were, well, either idiots or deusch-bags. Maybe that is part of the problem I have with this book. I want everyone but Skippy and Ruprecht to suffer. It elicits vengeful thoughts in me. When everyone had to lie in the graves they dug for themselves, I was happy about it. I’m not accustom to being happy about human suffering, no matter how much I don’t like a person. I know, I know, it’s just a book, but somewhere out there there are real kids going through some of this crap, and I’d hate to think that I would wish them anything but the best of luck.
I’m coming to the realization, as I write this, that the story line was just a little too realistic for me. I like to check out of the real world for a while when I read. There are too many drugs, too much cheating, too many people treating each other badly, too many people feeling sorry for themselves, too much selfishness, in Skippy Dies.
Even though I’m not happy with how the story made me feel, I have to say that it really is a well written book. After all, I did end up reading it all the way through. I like his writing style, I liked the flow. As I read I started thinking that it would make a pretty good movie. I came to find out that it is indeed being made into a movie, or has been already. I’m not sure. I think I could handle the movie version better.
I guess I should mention that the story is set in an all boys high school in Ireland. A few times you take a visit to one of the teacher's houses, an all girls school, a donut shop, and the home of the girl who Skippy professes his love to. I could also mention that there are a couple of messed up love stories. 

This isn't much of a book review, but that's okay seeing as I have hard feelings towards the story and it's inhabitants.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Mouse I Hate Loving

Last night I kicked out a little mouse that had been living in my room.

About a week and a half ago I woke up and found that a mouse or rat had eaten a hole in one of my bananas. I thought, "oh, great! That's what I need right now." Upon further inspection I came to the conclusion that it was a mouse, and not a rat, based on the little tiny turds I found. I thought "alright. A mouse isn't as bad as a rat." Which is true, but I was still uneasy thinking that it might be scurrying around my small room causing little mouse mischief and, god forbid, infesting my things with fleas or worse. When you are a foreigner living in Ethiopia, little biting bugs of different sorts are the bain of your existence and without a washer and dryer this means little bugs are a bitch to get rid of.

As I was fretting over a flea infestation it suddenly occurred to me that I'd woken up the night before feeling like there was something crawling over my leg. I'd fallen asleep immediately after as I thought I was imagining things. Maybe I wasn't. Eww!

But I didn't know if the mouse had come and gone, or if it had found a home somewhere amongst my things. I decided to give in another night to see what would happen. Sure enough, the next morning I found more evidence in the form of more little mousy poohs. So, I tore my room apart and did a total scrub down.

As I pulled my wardrobe away from the wall the little thing shot out and ran under my bed. It had found a hidey-hole to live in the gap behind my wardrobe in an old shirt I thought I'd thrown on top of the wardrobe but had actually fallen behind. Well, the good thing is I found it's house, the question then became how to get my little roommate OUT.

I finished cleaning my house and did my very best to due away with any and all possible mouse houses. Every now and again when I got quiet the mouse would come out from under my bed a little and then shoot back under as soon as I moved. I decided to give it some privacy, hoping that while I was gone it would come out, find that it had nowhere to go, and then leave the way it came in, from the gap under my door.

When I came home I looked around, checked under the bed, and didn't find anything. "Good." I'm thinking, the little guy has gone away. Job done. I fall asleep that night with ease, knowing that no little critter will be trying to share my bed at night. The next few nights come and go and I'm at peace knowing my house is safe from the mouse that was once in my house.

But then,

night before last I hear little scratching sounds coming from somewhere I can't quite identify. CRAP!!! I think, I've been had. I stay up as late as I can, flashlight in hand, lights off, waiting for the little guy to make his move. I fall asleep.

Last night though, at 1:38 in the morning, I'm awakened by a god awful tearing sound. I turn the light on and stand up, but the mouse was too fast. I see that it had been trying to eat a hole through the tarp that I'd been shoving in the gap in the door, but there is no sign of the mouse. I didn't see where it ran off to. So, I turn on the dim little flashlight on my phone, put my glasses on, turn the lights off and lay on my bed, waiting, waiting, waiting......

There! Right there on top of my cabinet. Movement. I disappears and reappears at the door. I shift my head just slightly and it stops dead in it's tracks, perks up, and just sits there like a statue. I can see it's shiny little eye in the dim, blue light of my cell phone flashlight. I wait to see what will happen, still. It determines it's safe, so it moves to the gap under the door, paces a few times, and goes out into the night. I stand up, flip the light switch and shove the folded up tarp into the gap to prevent the tiny creature from re-entering. I am quite satisfied with myself and relieved to have done away with the little creature once and for all.

A minute later I hear it outside the door, chirping. Wanting to get back in. Scared to be outside, alone, in the dark night where it could be gobbled up by any given predator......and suddenly I'm a little sad. A little guilty. I kicked out my roommate with no explanation. My little tiny roommate that wanted nothing more than a safe warm place to sleep during the day.

I don't let it back in, of course. I get a drink of water and go back to bed where I sleep soundly, but still......I feel guilty.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jesus Camp and the Crazy Guy

            One of the things I pride myself in is being able to think about and analyze my experiences, especially when it comes to those that might lead me to make quick judgements that may or may not be accurate. It's easy to jump to conclusions, but it takes a skill and patience to consider that there are other possibilities, other ways to think about any given situation. Here is an example;
The other day I was watching a documentary called “Jesus Camp.” The title, I feel, pretty much tells you what it’s about. Basically if follows a few kids and a church leader throughout an Evangelical, summer camp for families, geared towards creating child “soldiers for God” or “Christian wariers.” I think the films goal was to inform the audience so that they can decide whether or not this hard core indoctrination of children in the Evangelical church is a good thing, a bad thing, or neither. I won’t go into detail regarding my thoughts on all of it because it would take too long and would be better suited to it’s own blog, but I will say that after watching I was pretty much bewildered and concerned.   That being said, I do recommend it, but I also suggest you watch it with someone you can discuss it with, specifically someone you trust to discuss religion with.
Okay, now on to the point ...
So I’d just watched the film and had all this God stuff roaming through my head. I mean, I was really thinking about it. I had to meet a friend for dinner so I put my shoes on and headed out, still thinking on the matter. I turn the corner to the main street, walk a few meters, and I see this fella, obviously homeless, making a bee line right for me. I think “oh, crap!,” but I am accustom to beggars so I keep walking, thinking about Jesus Camp, and planning on ignoring the guy like I usually do. But when he reaches me he says “ I am a wise man. I am knowing of God.”
                I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit because, how fitting, that as I am thinking about all things religious I get a crazy guy telling me he is wise and knows God. I think it’s coincidental and funny, and I am happy that his first words to me were not “Give me money.” I say nothing and continue to walk, smiling to myself, waiting for him to get bored and leave, but he doesn’t. He continues to keep pace with me. “ I am a wise man… blah blah blah… I am a very wise man…  blah blah… I am full of wisdom…. Blah blah blah… I am very knowing of god…blah blah” and then, suddenly, he says “I can make you pregnant.”
 “Okay, that’s enough of that!” I think to myself and I tell him, in Amharic so there is no misunderstanding, that I’d had enough and to go away right now! I expected him to ignore me and continue to follow me, which is usually what happens, but he didn’t . He said “Okay. Thank you. Bless you. I love you” and he walked off in the opposite direction. “Whew!” I say to myself. “What a relief.”
 I continue on my way, and then get to thinking about everything again. I mean, really, he could have meant “I can make you pregnant” in two very different ways. He could have meant, and this was the thought running through my head as he was following me, that he could literally, make me pregnant.  Having lived in this country for almost two years, I was no stranger to random dudes wanting to plant their seed in my garden, so to speak, of course this was a natural solution to come to. But then, what if he didn’t mean it literally?
What if he meant, that he could make me spiritually pregnant? Maybe he wanted to fill me with the love of God and share all the secrets of the world with me. I mean, after all, he was a very very wise man and he was very very knowing of god. For all I know he was trying to enlighten the religion-less, heathen, ferenji girl and bring into the every loving light of the good lord and savior. For all I know he was exactly what he said he was and he wanted to make me pregnant with knowledge. I  mean, it’s possible, right?
Possible, yes, but not probable. Most likely he did want to have sex with me and impregnate me with his God blessed sperm. He was obviously off his rocker. I couldn’t help but think that maybe if he’d been born in America to a wealthy family he might have been able to start a cult in which dozens of vulnerable, misguided, young women are led to believe that his seed might produce the next messiah. He wasn’t though. He was born poor in Ethiopia, and without the benefit of drugs that might set him right.
The point is, there is more than one way to look at things in the world. Sometimes the alternative to immediate judgements are less anger-inducing and more thought provoking, if not flat out comical. Beats getting pissed off about not-so-fun experiences.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Grant Update #2 and Material Donations List

I would like to thank all of the generous people that have donated to my Peace Corps Partnership grant. When my counterpart and I originally applied for the grant I thought, for sure, that it would take much longer to fund, thusly making my stay here in Ethiopia a bit longer than I’d planned. However, the donations have added up quickly, and I’m very pleased to announce that, as of March 22nd,
$2,722.50 out of the $3,202.50 needed has already been raised! That means there is only a mere $480.00 left to raise!
Thank you all so very much.
With the end of fund raising in sight, I’ve begun to plan the training I will be giving to the local Kindergarten teachers and teacher’s aids. I’m happy to inform everyone interested that I’ll also be able to include school supervisors in the training, giving them the information they need to be able to make sure their KG teachers are utilizing the skills they’ve learned. Without the grant, this whole project would have been much harder, if not impossible, to accomplish.
I’ve been asked several times if it is possible for people to make donations of materials rather than money. The answer, of course, is yes. I’ve created a basic list of items that would be most useful and beneficial. If you are considering sending material donations, there are a few things to consider before you do so.
v  It can be quite pricey to send packages here so avoid too many heavy items, consider a smaller package, or get together with a friend to share the cost.
v  No electronic items! Electronic items are subject to very ugly taxes. It can be up to the amount the item is worth, so if I can’t afford the tax, the post office will not release the package or any of it’s contents to me.
v  If an item you are sending is not on the list below give some thought to whether or not it is a sustainable item. For example, if it breaks, how easy will it be to fix? Can it be used over and over and over again? If it’s a toy, can it be washed easily by hand? Does it require other components or parts that may not be available here?
I will gladly accept any and all donations, but if you have any questions about whether something you’d like to send is appropriate, please don’t hesitate to ask me. You can contact me via this blog, or if you are a Ravelry user, you can send me messages through there. My name on Ravelry is OneSquareBird. If you are a member of the Doubleknit podcast group, there is a thread dedicated to my project in which you can ask me questions as well.
Okay, the time has come. Here is a list of items that we’d love to recieve. They are in no particular order.
1.       Books -                
a.       Hard, cardboard books.
b.      Simple picture books with few words.
c.       ABC books
d.      Any pre-school and/or KG appropriate books
2.       Colored pencils
3.       Big Crayons (no regular sized crayons please. They break too easily and don’t last very long.)
4.       Pencil sharpeners
5.       Blocks, tinker toys, linkin’ logs, etc.
6.       Easy puzzles
7.       Memory games
8.       Hi Ho Cherry-o board game
9.       Small smocks or aprons (for KG aged kidlets)
10.   Wooden toys
11.   Outdoor toys (such as digging toys or dump trucks)
12.   Posters that can be used for educational purposes (such as the feelings poster that you often see in pediatric offices)
13.   Imaginative toys such as animal figures or people figures (please make sure they can be cleaned easily with soap and water. Stuffed animals are a bad idea as they are likely to get very dirty and there are no washing machines here.)
As I said, we will gladly take ANYTHING you’d like to send whether it’s on this list or not, but please don’t hesitate to ask whether something is suitable before you spend the money to send it.
Much love, and much thanks! Until next time!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Grant Update #1

For those of you who have donated to my Peace Corps kindergarten project, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was hoping to post an update before now, but my other projects must be seen to as well. Now that I have a few minutes, I thought I’d update everyone on how the grant is going, and I must say it’s going quite well.
The grant requested $3,200 and we have already raised more than half of that thanks to all of you generous donors.
I recently gave my counterpart, the man with whom I am founding the kindergarten,  a little computer training so he can check the Peace Corps donations website and track how the grant is progressing. We’ve made him a happy man.
Thanks again everyone! I’ll continue to post updates.