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Well that was quite a hiatus. I have a new job which I adore so I spend more time with coworkers working on cool software and discussing fecal transplants rather than spend my days staring at the ceiling, hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel to move closer. And once I’d stopped blogging for a month during a really busy project, I couldn’t seem to come back.

our house in the middle of the street

our house in the middle of the street

But now, it’s 2 months past deadline of my “101 things to do in 1001 days” so I’m back to give an update because I have ignored #101 Blog weekly so I can be reminded of these 101 things and how it comes to be that they become reality. Oops.

I had some incredible success and I’ll include most of the incomplete items on the next list with some modifications. These are all things I’d still like to do. I’m not taking it as a failure that I completed 36% of the list. I didn’t realize how all-encompassing some of these items would be, leading me to new experiences that I really wasn’t expecting, some good, some never to be re-visited. The joyous points:  #60 Volunteer with a group I’ve never volunteered with before led me to the Humane Society which led to Sunday mornings walking dogs, which also helped with #15 Size 14 because I’m down 32 pounds now that I’m walking an extra 2 hours every week. Walking led to being dog foster parents and we now experience the joy of hosting dogs without actually having to own them. We just came off a week long stint with 2 of the teeniest puppies, having all the laughter and joy of puppy-hood and just as we were about to be driven crazy by puppy antics and puppy poo, it was time to take them back. It’s a great job, paid in doggy kisses and slobber and we both adore it.

Each item on my list made me start thinking and questioning. I didn’t complete #28 crochet a scarf to give away to the dropin center (a large local homeless shelter) because the point itself made me think that one scarf may help one person but wow, there’s lots of cold people here… so we did a winter jacket collection at work instead, which introduced me to people who live out of the Drop In Center which led me to being part of Project Homelessness Connect which stretched my empathy and made me feel like a part of my community. I overcame my Fear of The Kitchen, went through my cookbooks and worked through #100 Try 20 new recipes. My version of cooking is no longer just “add heat” and I now shop for things that are not labeled “instant”. I can make BUTTER CHICKEN from scratch, from memory. Anyone who’s had to eat a meal at my house made by me would definitely call that miraculous.

My absolute favorite achievement: #71 Stop paying rent and start paying a mortgage

That’s right, we’re mother-f*ing HOMEOWNERS now, dude. It’s still too amazing to be true. We still feel like the bank made some sort of clerical error but it just doesn’t matter because we have LAND and WINDOWS and APPLIANCES. I hesitated to hang up a bulletin board that would leave a permanent mark on the wall and The Husband laughed “It’s YOUR wall, do whatever the hell you want with it”. So I did. Because it’s my wall.

Each point on the list would lead to another list of points to explore. I did not realize that a simple list of 101 things would introduce a never-ending journey. I’m excited to see what the next 1001 days will bring.

What was your crowning achievement in the last 1001 days?

run, bunnies, run!

 

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t remember the first time I volunteered for something. It could have been through early mornings in guilt ridden religious classes or through Girl Guides earning badges in community service. Maybe it was my curiosity regarding medicine or the urge to wear a special red and white striped apron that led me to candy-striping at the next community’s hospital, driving what seemed like hours every Tuesday evening to refill linens and hand out fresh ice water. It could have been a school or band fund raiser, taking tickets or selling tickets or arranging events. I don’t remember a start, and I don’t imagine an end to spending some portion of my spare time doing unpaid work. I can trace the need to my parents who have always in my memories been volunteers – although being teachers may have initiated them since teachers are expected to supervise extracurricular activities without pay nor often any thanks. They’ve volunteered their time, skills, and efforts in local theater, lobbying, art organizations, board of directors for the local co-operative, coaching sports teams and now, although technically paid a stipend, they work with housing in their home town and give much more time and care than they are paid for.

Volunteering is like coffee in the morning – it brings me satisfaction and I can’t imagine life without it.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that every has.” – Margaret Mead

I was making a list the other day on what volunteering has brought me personally – I’m a “volunteer coordinator” for a non-profit organization and sometimes I have to sell the idea of volunteerism to people who have amazing skills that our organization can use. And also to sell the idea to friends and family who are spinning their wheels in their daily lives, just needing some fresh air infused into their routine. Without volunteering, I would never have learned:

  • to tell a wicked choose-your-own-adventure story that mesmerizes a child. This skill was learned and needed during summer Brownie/Sparks camps during a really freaky thunderstorm.
  • to speak publicly and enthusiastically about things I believe in.
  • to make burgers and juice to serve hundreds with total strangers and loving every minute of it.
  • to pace myself and not take on too much or too little.
  • that just because a perk of volunteering during halloween is permission to go through the haunted house for free, it’s not necessarily a good idea (Yes, I ran out the emergency exit side door screaming. I’m at peace with my woosiness.)
  • that learning and trying out new skills is always an option.
  • the joy and pride of watching the final runners cross the finish line during a 24 hour relay marathon.
  • to ask for help.
  • to teach a mentally ill person how to communicate via email with his loved ones.
  • to laugh as children challenge each other to run through an autumn maze fundraiser.
  • how to guide people who want to help but just don’t know how volunteering could work in their life.
  • that our unwanted belongings mean the world to a complete stranger starting a new life.
  • that three hours of my time means that a community organization now has a web presence to field FAQs and give contact info and directions to their location.
  • that if there is a will, there’s always a way.
  • what the back room of a casino looks like while counting $300,000 in a locked cash room with seven other people.
  • the joy of watching a mother and her newborn during their first day together while bringing fresh warm blankets to their room.
  • to give a little, to give a lot, to know that both helps.

I’ve been a volunteer coordinator for awhile now and have a system so that it takes only a couple of hours a week during lunch to get the job done. I help in a clothing drive once per year, but that’s not until next month so I’m itching for a new way to help, a new task, a new learning experience.

I’m waiting with baited breath for an opportunity that I’ve applied for. I checked the local volunteer listings (Canada here, USA there) and of all the listings in my neighborhood, one especially caught my eye. Quick, picture me doing this:

Bunny Exerciser – Dogs aren’t the only ones who need exercise! Weekly commitment required.”

Yes, I thought it was a good match too.

summer crepes

This summer has felt… different. It could be that I now have only 84 things still on my list and accomplishing a Big One has inspired me to squeeze the life out of every day. It could be the amazing weather we’ve had, being so warm that we moved into the basement for a week. It could be that we have The Dog and make time to roam the city to show her off and show her the world. It could be that we have closer friends in the area than we did last year at this time which makes this season so much more fun. It could be our backyard that is just big enough for a BBQ and table to sit around, laughing until the sun goes down instead of a dark apartment where the blinds were always closed so as to not draw attention from the crackhouses across the road. It could be that I hate this city less than I did last year even if it’s not been the best of years for us.

There are very few weekends in a Calgary summer and we’re trying to have purpose. Well, I’M trying to have purpose – The Husband would probably rather defeat evil and live in the basement, but I want to go OUT. We, with some cajoling by me, or with friends, camp together, hang at the park, tour the farmers’ markets, take a break from the heat to catch a movie, read side by side, or defeat evil online. It helps that our television hath recently gone the way of the paperweight and we really haven’t made any plans to replace it. We have a small somewhat flakey television that’s working most of the time so we can watch some movies and catch the news or (cough cough) Bi,g Brother (cough)(cough).

This morning I woke up to The Husband grinding coffee and Diamond on his way out the door after spending another friday in the basement after a long night of video football. After I was awake a full hour or so later (because me first thing is NOT GOOD), I did up some crepes – the Iron Chef Camp competition in Yellowknife used secret oh have mercyingredient: Bisquick and I gave crepes a go for the first time in my life (they’re just thin pancakes, right? Like, how hard could it be?) and to my huge culinary-deficient surprise, I could make people moan with joy just with these thin pancakey things. This morning I wanted to share the surprise with The Husband. But while filling them with ricotta and steaming berries, I was thinking about slam poets TOFU (Tons Of Fun University) and how they won’t be in Regina for the Folk Fest and I won’t have the opportunity to serve them up crepes and Twinkle Toes won’t be making them rack of lamb because we just wanted to invite to feed them physically in return for their feeding us mentally and that’s just not going to happen as we’d hoped. I found out today that they’re currently in Calgary for the Folk Fest, and I wish I’d invited them for breakfast weeks ago because I think they would be funny and polite and I think they would love my very pretty crepes.

recovering from the north

I’m south of the 60th parallel as of July 16 but I’m still recovering. Really, I am. It was an amazing experience, but I haven’t put it into words yet and the physical wounds are still healing.
To bide your time, check out my travel mate Denton’s writings on the adventure @ Labville.

I earned the Knit Merit Badge (the socks were completed in a Dairy Queen in Edmonton), the Steve Irwin Merit Badge, Iron Chef Camp title, and the Steam Roller Incompetence Award.

Until I can put it into words, here’s a lovely photo taken at the 60th Parallel campground at 11:30pm. It got only a little bit darker near 2:30 am before the sky began to brighten again. Surreal:

still north bound

Google, that great knowledge-pointer of good, informed me that there are 1,791 kilometers (1113 miles) between Calgary, Alberta and Yellowknife, North West Territories.

1,791 km.

Until tomorrow, 1,725 km is the furthest I’ve traveled in a car on one vacation (Vancouver, BC to Regina, SK) so not only will I be seeing the Great North for the first time, daylight nearly all 24 hours of each day, and the deepest lake in North America, I will have set a personal car-distance record! This trip is really adding up to something special. Maybe short-bus helmet-wearing special, but special all the same.

Traveling 1791 km leaves a large amount of time for poking, aggravating, knitting and music listenin’ time. I have travel mates that sound like the start of a joke: a canoeing chemist, sarcastic novelist, irish dancer, limping pharmacist and jewish programmer walk into a bar… How can it POSSIBLY be wrong? We’re missing The Man from Cineplex O-deon and the screaming Italian lawyer and I’m greatly disappointed – I had been looking forward to watching Odeon pull the intoxicated lawyer away from explaining his civil rights to members of the northern RCMP detachment.  I don’t want to know what it’s like to spend a night in a small cold cell in the territories personally, but I’d have loved to hear the tale from him.

The trip should be full of merriment and backseat wrestling and general bemoaning for the sake of moaning.At least one CD and a harmonica are going to be leaving the car at high speeds, that I can guarantee. And while waiting for my request to wire bail money north, entertain yourself here and here. You don’t need to sleep for the next week, really you don’t – I won’t be, with all the aggravatin’ and knittin’ and musical listenin’…

north! (#44 of 101)

I have several knitting projects.

I have five nutty friends and two cars.

I have a tent, portable bbq, and sleeping bag.

I have a camera and a phone number for a coworker’s sibling that resides in Yellowknife.

I have a metal travel mug that is ready for coffee and Bailey’s to make the 5 am departure time less painful.

I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for a road trip to Yellowknife.

it’s coming

Did you hear that?

It was the sound of thousands of people descending upon Calgary. They’re bringing tacky shirts, cowboy hats, skin-tight jeans, and an inability to drive. Some of them are here to compete at the rodeo and have packed their horses, ready to cowboy up. (Yes, I said “cowboy up”. Calgary has changed me, oh yes it has.) For the most part, people arrive to spend ten days marinated in whiskey and well fed by pancakes at maybe not the largest rodeo on earth, but pretty darned big.

The first year I was here, the Stampede was a novelty. It’s massive. It’s sparkly. It’s full of good smells, people watching, games, displays, and weird talent shows. I could live on the grounds for the entire ten days if I had a) more endurance and b) more gastrointestinal power. Last year The Husband and I gleefully checked out the chuckwagon races at the actual rodeo, gorged on mini-donuts, bought big lottery tickets, entered art into the folk competitions and toured the entertainment stages. We slept for days afterward because the sheer excitement of spending morning to closing in an overstimulated state tuckered us out. This year, I’m escaping to Yellowknife (#44 on the list of 101 things) during the last bit of Stampede, and it is a Good Thing. I have lost my temper with the mass population increase, I have yelled at confused tourists that are merging across four lanes of traffic without shoulder checking, I have snorted in the direction of the drunken youth swarming on the trains… my snarkiness surfaces during the last few days of Stampede so this year, I’ll be around to be enthusiastic and westerned-up, and juuuussst as my patience starts to wane, I’ll be removed from the situation. All tourists can send their thanks in the form of wool.

It reminds me that I may be getting to a Certain Age. This past weekend, I found myself directing some “young kids” (and by young, I mean 20. Ack, I’m feeling old) to pick up their litter while we were camping. A friend next to me then warned them to be careful if they were going to ride in the back of a truck on the rough roads. I should have rounded it out and reminded them to pack a sweater in case it got chilly.

(sigh)

Be kind and send anti-wrinkle cream. And tequila.