Friday, January 16, 2009

Strong women, micro economies and a beautiful day.

I've had a good 10 days - have kept my promise to self to organise my grocery shopping, plan menus and cook. So far a perfect score. The office has regained it's sanity too - filing done, desk and tabletop clear - amazing what a difference it makes to be organised! Obviously I'm basking in the glow of the newly converted. Let's see how long I keep it up.
Had a pretty gut wrenching interview last with with Erina Delic, manager of the Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities. When you meet strong women, the lasting impression is one of hope. This woman is remarkable in both her own story and the work she does for TIARC. Check out the story through the link above.
It was a week for strong women! I also met and interviewed Roxanne Garcia for a story on the micro economy behind farmer's markets. We met at the Sunday Farmer's Market that she manages and coordinates in beautiful St. Philip's Plaza in Tucson. If you are ever in our fair city I suggest a visit to this regular happening. You can get coffee and breakfast on the go there and take in the music, scents and sights.
My third strong woman of the week is my daughter - wife, mother, partner in a law firm, Smith College board member, bike rider, dog lover and a dear friend. She turned 40 this last week and the accolades from colleagues at a party I attended for her warmed this mother's heart. You know when you've done well as a parent when at gatherings you are hailed as "oh you are Lisa, Ben, Nick's mother"and the person addressing you is not serving a warrant! ....I don't mind losing my identity under those circumstances. I do grimace somewhat at the dog park when I am referred to as "Hamishs' mother". I suppose the likeness is hair was once the same glorious color as his.
Harvesting salad greens on a regular basis and a few strawberries a week but the rest of my garden has taken a hit from the frosts we had recently; now we are into unseasonably warm weather. During the cold snap I refilled bird feeders and my cardinal couple is back along with flocks of rosy, yellow and regular house finches. I keep a lot of hummingbird friendly plants in the little front walled-in area and the hummingbirds appear to stay year round. I marvel at their stamina and how much energy they have to devote to survival.
I'm more and more conscious (even up here in the foothills in my somewhat rarefied neighborhood) of sale by foreclosure signs as I drive around town. Several well established , and I thought well insulated, local restaurants closed in the past two weeks along with small coffee shops and mom and pop stores. President Elect Obama is correct in telling us not to expect miracles and to work together to dig ourselves out of this hole we are in. I'm sure, like me, many of you took a hit on pension plans and 401k''s grim. I know personally two men who lost jobs last week and now today read that Circuit City is closing all its stores. In many ways it is a good time to look into micro business concepts that can be run from home and supplement the family income. At Connections For Women Genny and I have been discussing that thought and are actively seeking an author who can write for us on the topic. Roxanne Garcia, who I mentioned above, is articulate on the subject and as we toured the farmer's market last week she introduced me to several women who had re-invented themselves with a small business. My partner in Connections For Women, Genny, belongs to NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) and is constantly impressed with the quality of women she meets in our local chapter and the determination that fuels their dreams.
Today is an anniversary. My husband died four year ago this day. I had a dream about him last night - something that rarely happens. I look back on the four year since his death and at times find it difficult to remember when we were a couple. I guess the mind helps you heal in many different way and moving on with life is just one of them. I don't keep a shrine and I have sold the house we owned together but there are glimpses of his influence on my life throughout my small world. I can see books on the shelf that we both read, a particular kitchen gadget that we purchased together and of course the dog....Hamish was definitely David's dog and he an I had a very uneasy truce for while there after David was gone. I think he is all mine now....wherever thou goest , there goest he....he rarely leaves my side. He's a great dog - the vet thinks Chow/Yorkshire terrier mix - I know , don't go there. All personality and cute . Really, I don't go around talking to him on a very deep level but we do occasionally discuss the weather and what's for dinner. The cat is 18 and a half. used to be a big girl but she's very bony now. Still pretty and friendly. I thought I was close to losing her last week but she re-bounded from whatever was ailing her and is right now sitting on the front step surveying the garden. I'm going to head out to Agua Caliente Park with my binoculars and go for a walk. It's a wonderful oasis in the desert and the ponds there attract migrating birds.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Think I'll go and Eat Worms

Remember that old song. "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I'll go and eat worms..." what a cry for attention and I'm the one crying! I've got a rotten sinus infection and am snuffly and grumpy. I have however survived the first few days of my new me in the office with flying colors. Desk is moved so that I have better light; can access the printer without going through double back bends and, the piles have been organised according to subject matter. One day at a time. I am making progress. Thank you Lorie Marrero. And, this is a real biggy, I overcame my fear of changing light  bulbs and replaced numerous dead bulbs throughout the house.
My next resolution is not unique. Everyone's either doing it or talking about doing it...Oprah , NPR. Losing weight! Drum role, dim the lights, hide the brie (my weakness). The middle age spread is spreading far too rapidly to be ignored and I'm convinced that the increased knee creaking is in direct relationship to weight they have to bear. OK, I'm not grossly overweight by any standards other than those ludicrous insurance charts but I am conscious of a snug fit and more than one reach for the Spanx this holiday season. I am going to be nice to myself!
I've mentioned before my inability to cook for myself. Well, along with an efficient office, that is my goal. I dragged myself from my sick bed, poured through Cooking Light and Eating Well (Williams Sonoma) and made up a menu for the week. Looked at a couple of old favorite winter comfort food recipes and sent them off the Chef Mary Ann for a trimming. Then I went grocery shopping. My problem is that I don't plan ahead unless I'm cooking for friends and family and come lunch or dinner time I can't think what to eat so go on a fridge and pantry (that is pantry) raid. Now I'm stocked; my menu printed and the ingredients to hand. I have a specific goal because I know at what weight I look my best (and I am realistic). I'll keep you posted. Oh, and for the record, I'm not doing any extremes and cutting out of my life things I enjoy (such as a glass of wine with dinner) rather I'm planning and cooking so that I don't randomly grab and eat bizzare meals. I'll confess to an all time low several years ago....I ate potato chip and condensed milk sandwiches two days in a row! This time I've banished the temptations and quick fix from the kitchen and am going to love cooking for myself. I shall even set the table and, if the mood strikes, light a fire and candle....and I'm going to relax in my jetted tub tonight. It's made in Germany and intended for use in athletic facilities....let me tell you, on full mode you feel as though you are being pummeled by a very strong masseuse.
Still on the subject of being kind to myself, I canceled an open house I planned on hosting this weekend. Accepted that superwoman was germ laden and should not be handling food so gave myself permission to re-schedule. I'm working towards a more balanced life.
Found out that our Twitter is one of the top ones visited and followed in Arizona. How great it is to know that all the work Genny does there is followed. This whole growth of an internet magazine is a slow slog to the top of the heap but we are inching forward. Is that A parenting Plan in Your Holiday Stocking was one of our most visited articles in December and I'm happy to write that we think we have attorney, Lisa Abrams, committed to writing for us on a regular basis. She's going to be exploring the different forms that domestic abuse can take next month and it's a subject we'll spend more time on. I'm interviewing , Erina Delic, on Friday. She's an extraordinary woman doing very necessary work. Erina is the ED of Tucson International Alliance of Refugee Communities. (TIARC) Her own story is one of remarkable courage and determination. Look for it on the 15th. in the Tucson pages of Connections for Women.
Dinner calls.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Yes, I Can. Yes, I Will....

In many ways I dislike the beginning of a new year - it means all the "stuff" that I didn't get done as the old year rolled to an end is still lurking, waiting to trip me, remind me of failures, display my perpetual lack of organisation. I'm sitting here now faced with gathering end of year tax information from a filing system that only someone sadistic could enjoy. I even have a "what the heck" file....nothing in it actually and, a "things to file" file....a lot in that. I've also got numerous boxes and stacks. In my real life, that is outside of my home office, I'm something of a neat and anti-clutter's only when you open the study door that my secret fear of paperwork is revealed. Throughout my professional life I had secretaries and assistants; nobody ever taught me to file and I'm beginning to think I'm a lost cause. Yes, I told myself this morning, I will read Lorie Marrero's articles and I will put myself on a Clutter Diet.
Diet of the other kind is called for too. Extraordinary that as you age, that wretched metabolism goes into slow motion and the weight coils around the mid section; sit-ups get tougher, knees creak and the temptation to skip cardio is ever present. All right Kissed by an Italian Chef, I am going to send you a couple of my favorite recipes and have you slim them down.
So clean up my act, pay more attention to what I eat and move more are on my resolution sheet. I'm a good cook but have little ability to cook for myself. Throw me a crowd to feed and I go into full love mode and will slave endlessly to delight. I've got to figure out why I can't be that nice to myself...making that step is probably the most important thing I can do this year.
I'm also going to clear out the clutter that comes from negative people latching onto my life and nibbling away at bits of my good humor and tolerance. I'm the one who gets stuck with someone elses' miserable friend at gatherings; I'm the one who attracts the really weird seat mate on international flights. I'm going to say "no" to these situations, really I am. Sylvia Edwards, a regular contributor to Connections for Women, has just sent in an article proposal and it's one that has me curious. It's about the concept of setting goals by writing them down and revisisting at the end of a given time frame.
I had great fun with the small boys up at the cabin over New Year. We (I) figured that my all- wheel - drive could take on a lane with 2ft. of snow. Nah, didn't work. We trudged the quarter mile or so to the cabin like true pioneers. Boys and dog lead the way, I brought up the rear carrying the cat in her carrier. We were up to our knees in snow at some points. Once in I turned up the heat, lit the fire and marshaled my troops for a sled run. We made two trips from the car bringing in supplies on the sled when a neighbor appeared on an ATV and chivalrously took the load and finished the job for us. It's amazing what motivates you. Fire blazing, wet clothes off, dry and warm, I realised that I had left a bottle of good wine in the car. Yep, I suited up and trudged back through the snow to rescue it. Next day I called the garage in the village, got the car towed out and the lane ploughed...cost a bundle but the peace of mind was worth it. Now I hear that a further 12' or so of snow has fallen so if I want to go up again later this week I have to get the lane ploughed ahead of time...either that or convince my son to swap vehicles with me.
The boys had a great time building runs and "sledboarding"'s got to be the next hot fad! They figured out how to come down the slopes around the cabin , standing on saucer sleds. Most runs ended with spectacular flips. I put a damper on one proposed activity - I overheard plans to open the loft windows and "snowfly" to the ground. That one I knew would get me into big trouble.
This is the second miserable day in a row...unusual for Tucson. It's grey, wet and dismal out, low clouds have covered the Catalina range and I feel out of sorts. The dog doesn't want to go for a walk - I think I'll make tea. Hibernation would be nice too. Cat and dog are curled up on the same bed and both are snoring! 28 years of desert living has left me with little tolerance for miserable weather.
Onwards. The very least I can do today is fill the "what the heck" file. Intellectually I recognise how difficult I make small tasks by not being organised in the office and yet somehow, up until now, with short spurt exceptions, I continue to create my own paper chaos. If there is only one resolution met this year...let it be the anti-paper clutter one.