On the Road to Roadside America

Before we get to the March 2012 Resolution, we have to get through the Lewisburg to Los Angeles Road Trip, don’t we?.  I mean, I’ve never been too strick about the beginning of the month anyway, right?

So, for the six days of cross-country travel, here are my resolutions rules.

1.  No eating at chain restaurants.
This has not been difficult philosophically, since it is my normal behavior.  Logistically, however, it’s been a bit challenging.  When one is traveling on major interstates, a bit of work is required to find something other than Cracker Barrel, McDonalds, or a Love’s Truck Stop.   

2.  We will listen to a whole album each day.
We made a mutually agreed upon list of top rock albums.  So far we’ve listened to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Elton John and Rumors, by Fleetwood Mac.  I also got gifts of road trip CDs from friends so we have seven California themed playlists to choose from.  So far, the most popular song on these playlists is, not surprisingly, “California Dreamin'” by the Mama’s and the Papa’s.  

3.  We will stop at one road side attraction each day.
No high-brow elitist cultural institutions for us, NO.  It’s Grandpa’s Cheese Barn all the way. 

Delicious, Delicious Cheese!

All of these rules are serving us well.  With a small amount of effort (thank you iPhone) we have eaten at some great local diners, a delicious Thai restaurant, and a Columbus, OH purveyor of local foods and the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had.

I like me some deviled eggs.

My favorite rule, by far, has been Rule 3.

My friend Lindsay recommended an iPhone app called Roadside America.  Forget those every day apps like Facebook and Youtube.  Roadside America is THE COOLEST APP EVER.  Seriously.

This app figures out your location and then lists all of the awesome, strange, and wonderful things you can see nearby.  Precious Moments Chapel anyone?  Largest Rocking Chair in the WORLD?  Giant Solo Cup?  City of Murals?  Can you say AWESOME?

No, we are not stopping at everything.  In spite of the fact that almost all of them sound fun, we have agreed that we still need to arrive in Los Angeles on March 7th.  So we limit ourselves to one (or two) a day.  Unless a third one is really close by.

Where else but in Cuba, Missouri?

And sometimes, even when you’re not looking for it, when you’re just having a lovely lunch at Hick’s Barbecue in Cuba, Missouri, you get an added bonus.  I really couldn’t make this stuff up.

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Filed under Cheese, Resolutions, Transitions, Travel

Goodbye Moon

Goodbye porch; goodbye deck.
Goodbye mice; yelling heck.

Goodbye kitchen; goodbye woods.
Goodbye river; goodbye shoulds.

Goodbye small-town; goodbye charm.
Goodbye living without harm.

Goodbye history; goodbye past.
Goodbye love story meant to last.

Goodbye snuffle; goodbye rooms.
Goodbye Bucknell, goodbye moon.

Hello LA; hello sun.
Hello adventure; hello fun.

Hello new friends; hello old.
Hello new life, taking hold.

Hello future; hello me.
Hello what is meant to be.

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Filed under Divorce, Moving, Transitions

What Route ARE You Taking?

I know that many people perceive me as this uber-organized person who likes to have everything planned out well in advance.  My fairly recent discovery that I am actually a P on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) came as a shock, even to me.  For the uninitiated, the key words used to describe the “Perceiving” preference are flexible , open, adaptable, and SPONTANEOUS.  P’s prefer to travel with fewer plans and like to experience new things.  This whole moving to California thing is definitely a nod to this part of my personality – the adventure of the new job and the very new home is a large part of the excitement for me.

Anyway, since most people see me as a J on the MBTI (key words structured, decided, organized, and scheduled), they are shocked – SHOCKED I SAY – when they learn that I don’t know what route I am taking across the country.  Here’s how it’s been going:

THEM: So, what route are you taking?

ME: I have no idea.  My friend is planning the trip.

THEM: Are you taking Route 80?

ME: I don’t know.

THEM: Well then you must be taking Route 70.  Are you taking a southern route?

ME: I really don’t know.  I decided to let my friend plan this because I had so much else to do.

THEM: Are you stopping in Indianapolis/St. Louis/Denver/Albuquerque?  If you are, I know this great place to eat.

ME:  I don’t know.  But you could e-mail me about it.

THEM: Maybe you’re taking Route 70.

ME: Maybe

THEM: Which route are you taking?

SERIOUSLY FOLKS, I don’t know.

I’ll let you know when I’m on it.

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I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

So far, so good.  My resolution for February is to move myself to California.

Oh, and to stay sane in the process.

All things considered, things are going well. With one and a half weeks to go:

  • I have emptied all drawers and cupboards of their contents with the exception of my kitchen (which has some dishes I am sill using) and my dresser (which has clothing I am still wearing).  I have thrown out, sold, given away, or donated many things.  I have packed boxes and boxes, and more boxes.
  • I have requested records from my doctor, my dentist, my ophthalmologist, and Hannah’s vet.
  • I have completed a moving inventory, rented a car, rented a house, and changed my address.
  • My house is on the market, clean and being shown to potential buyers.
  • My in-box at work is almost empty and my major projects have all been handed over.

People keep asking me if this is hard.   They say, “I know you’re organized and everything, but isn’t it hard to go through all of those memories?”

The great news is I can honestly say “NO!”

It really isn’t.  I’m an organizer and a purger by nature.  I am excited about downsizing.  I am elated to let go of things I’ve been keeping ‘just in case.’  And the things I’ve held onto are related to memories I want to bring with me.

So I’ve been sailing along.  Packing, purging, cleaning, organizing.  To do lists everywhere and lots of things to check-off each day!  I’m in heaven!  I should have done this years ago!  This whole transition thing isn’t too hard, I think to myself.  It’s an adventure!  I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

Well, friends.  I’m here to tell you: Everything changes when the end is near.

I know, I know.  I’ll keep in touch with my close friends and my family.  I have e-mail and Facebook, and Skype, and all kinds of things to help me stay connected.  I will fly east regularly.  People will actually come to visit me!  There will even be important friends I will see MORE frequently now that I will be on the west coast. And I really do have a LOT that I am looking forward to.

But this week – my last week at work – THIS WEEK I have to start to say goodbye.

I have been blessed at this place by the most authentic, honest, wonderful, smart, funny, and kind colleagues.  Many have become dear friends.  And for the next few days I will have to say good-bye to each and every one of them.

Not only that, I’m saying goodbye to the comfort of knowing everyone, knowing who to call, knowing who to believe, knowing who to trust, and knowing who to ask for help.  I’m saying goodbye to a place that has supported me as I’ve grown up – personally and professionally – and a work family that has believed in me every step of the way.

I know that saying goodbye is part of the process.  That it is important for me and important for them.  But I hate it.

Officially.  I.  HATE.  IT.

Can’t we just go out drinking together and talk about things like they’re not going to change?  Can’t we be in denial for just a little while?  I mean, what would be the harm in that, really?

Ok.  So it’s a plan.  I’m not really leaving.  Get it?  (wink wink)

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Quirky Charm or Sleek Amenities?

Over the past two weeks I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Craig’s List and Hotpads and Padmapper.  These sites make it easy to find apartments and homes for rent, to view pictures, and to contact owners about their properties.  Until two weeks ago, I didn’t even know these sights existed!

Now, I can see where rental properties are and I can use Google to save my own personal map with my favorite properties, including notes about each property, links to photographs, and different colored pins to indicate which ones I like, which one’s I have inquired about, and which one’s I have appointments to see.

I cannot imagine doing this before the Internet.  I can hardly believe I’m doing it WITH the Internet.

Truly, it’s an information managers dream. : )

Anyway, two weeks into this process I am starting to understand the lay out of my future surroundings – on a map at least.  I am honing in on what’s important to me and what I can live without.

Who knew having a laundry machine/dryer INSIDE your apartment was so important?

As it turns out, the types of properties I can rent fall into two basic categories.  There are (a) cute, bungalow style homes and (b) fancy, executive style apartments.  I get more space with (a), and pools and fitness centers with (b).

I can imagine myself living in a high-rise apartment; 1,000 square feet of efficiently designed space with high-end appliances and funky design.  I love the idea of the gym in the basement, the pool outside, and the concierge waiting to collect my dry-cleaning.

The simplicity of that life is appealing, but I keep being drawn into the houses – cute craftsman style cottages with personality.  It seems that, right now, I want a house with a small yard and unconventional nooks and crannies.  I love the possibility of an attic or a basement, but especially of a patio where I can sit outside and enjoy the warm evenings all year round.

Which makes more sense?  For me?  For my dog?  For my job?  There are commutes to be taken into consideration, after all.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine asked me to envision my future self.  What was she doing?  Where was she?  I expected to see her in my house now – the beautiful spot on the river.  I couldn’t imagine leaving where I am.

When I thought about moving to a city, I expected I would be in a sophisticated city apartment. You know, door men.  Elevators.  Concierges.

What I found, though, when I conjured this future self, was that she was opening a door to friends in a cute and cozy home.  Coats and a dog leash were hanging on pegs in an entrance way.  She was making tea and reading a book in a comfortable chair by a  window or a fireplace.  I didn’t imagine palm trees outside, but I didn’t imagine the outside at all.  Being in a city doesn’t mean I have to give that up.  At least not for now, right?

After all, that place could have been anywhere, so long as it was home.

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The Ultimate Transition

Remember back in January 2011, when I decided my over-arching goal for the year could be stated in six words?

Fully embrace the moment of transition.

I wanted to get better at moving from one activity in my day to another, from one part of my week to another, and even perhaps from one part of my year to another.  I worked on this bit by bit throughout the year.  I tried monthly resolutions as a way to break the year into pieces and I practiced transitioning from one resolution to the next.  I wrote about it here.  It was lovely, wasn’t it?

Well guess what?  I can stop kidding myself that learning to transition from bed to work in the morning is a big deal.  WHY?  Because I decided to make my WHOLE LIFE ONE BIG TRANSITION.

That’s right.  I’ve gotten a new job.  A bigger job.  In another state.  A state which, in fact, is ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
It’s true I will be speaking the same language at work.  And I won’t need to change my citizenship.

But otherwise, I believe almost every element of my daily life is going to change.  Radically.

For example

NOW: 3,200 square foot house in countryside with view of river

SOON: 1,000 square foot apartment in major metropolitan area with view of, well, the street

NOW: Seasons

SOON: Summer

NOW: My mortgage is less than two healthy car payments.

SOON: My rent will cost more than a small car.

NOW: Hotdogs at Market

SOON: Taco Stands

NOW: Eastern Standard Time

SOON: Pacific Standard Time

NOW: 1.5 mile commute

SOON: 15-20 minute commute

NOW: 14 years at the same employer – I know everyone!

SOON: 0.0 years at new employer – I am the new kid on the block.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am EXCITED about the adventure, the challenge, the SUN, and the job.  I know I will make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and learn a lot about myself.

But holy cow, this is a biggie folks.

You will not be surprised to know that my FEBRUARY RESOLUTION is simply to get myself and my dog from here to there in one piece (physically and mentally).  And to – say it with me! – fully embrace the moment of transition.  

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Filed under Moving, Resolutions, Transitions

To freeze or not to freeze?

I am making very good work of my freezer resolution.  Especially considering I have been gone for five days of the month so far (and am now on a plane to LA and will be gone for another five).

Here are the highlights:

* Beef Bourguignon out of frozen sirloin

* Frozen Wild Caught Salmon used to make whole wheat pasta with blue cheese and salmon

* Mystery food discovered to be leftover stew … Still delicious!

* 1/2 of leftover taco meat used, along with defrosted cheese

You get the picture.

As it turns out using the food from my freezer hasn’t been that difficult.  I tend to make soups and stews and freeze extra portions.  I just have to remember to use them.  I buy seafood and meats from local farmers and freeze them for future use.  What has been more interesting, to be honest, has been learning about why I tend to have an overstocked freezer to begin with.

Here I thought I had discarded my over-planner habits and my tendency to want everything just right, you know, IN CASE. But apparently my habit of planning and preparing has never gone away where food is concerned.  It’s true that I don’t plan a week of meals at a time any more, but I sill buy way too much food than I need  in any given week.  While I have gotten much better about not wasting it, the end result is that a lot of it ends up in my freezer.

Fantasies about being able to whip together a four course dinner party from my pantry keep me over-stocked in everything from artichoke hearts to chicken broth, and I have a hard time justifying the abundance.  I am single.  I often cook for friends, but do I really need to have 12 four-cup containers of broth on hand for  entertaining emergencies?  I don’t think so.

So in addition to eatiNg from  my freezer, I’ve been trying to eat from my refrigerator.  You now, eat the two grapefruit I have before I buy another one.  Sounds simple, right?

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One in, One out.

So far, my attempts to eat through my freezer and pantry have been met with mixed success.

I mean, I’ve eaten quite a bit of food out of my freezer.  But then I make something with it and have leftovers and more food goes back IN to my freezer.

That was not really the idea.

In an attempt to stop this pattern, I have NOT frozen the leftovers from a batch of Beef Bourguignon that I made earlier this week.

I made the Beef Bourguignon with a large piece of beef (locally raised, grass-fed, hormone-free of course) that I had in my freezer.  GOOD.

One recipe of Beef Bourguignon makes enough to serve a single girl for about eight days.  BAD.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Beef Bourguignon.  It is one of my favorite foods ever and I make it really well (if I do say so myself).  That being said, I think there is a limit to how many times I can eat Beef Bourguignon in a row.  I’ve now had it four times AND shared it with friends.  I still have some left.  I want to eat it.  Just not today.  And probably not tomorrow.

But if I don’t eat it today or tomorrow, I should probably freeze it.  Because throwing out perfectly good Beef Bourguignon is wrong.

So it will go back in to my freezer.

Harumph.

 

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Wisdom from Walden

The view from Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond

“I should not talk so much about myself if there were
anybody else whom I knew as well.”

From Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

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January 2012: It’s RESOLUTION time.

I have decided that my JANUARY RESOLUTION will be to cook foods from my pantry – especially my freezer.

I want to empty the pantry – to rid myself of things I haven’t used for a long time, and to focus on stocking a pantry with the items I really do use all the time.

You see, my basement freezer died at the end of the summer. It was a SAD, SAD day. It happened at the best possible time of year, since the freezing season hadn’t really begun and I had used most of the stash I had built up for the winter before. Still, I lost some spring vegetables, a lot of home-made broth, and (sniff, sniff), my share of a Tamworth pig from Owens Farm. Ever since this terrible, horrible, no-good day, I have been trying to decide if I should buy a new freezer.

I have a normal fridge/freezer in my kitchen, and the freezer side seems to be filled with food I never use. Shouldn’t I empty this freezer out before I determine if I need more space? Shouldn’t I purge myself of three year old Gogurt that I bought to have on hand for a dinner party which included small children? Shouldn’t I either eat, or pitch, the leftover taco meat from Thanksgiving weekend 2010? Yes, yes I should.

So this is my plan – I’m going to EMPTY the freezer and my pantry so that I can then clean out my cupboards and basement food storage. There really is no reason for me to have a case of tomato paste in my house. Truly, there isn’t.

I come by this problem honestly. My grandmother, Phyllis, lived through the depression and was a big fan of bargains and saving. When she moved out of her home in Ambler, PA we had to clean out her basement, which included her pantry. I am not kidding when I say that we found caned food that had dried out.

Canned beans, which rattled. RATTLED.

There was a station wagon (a gigantic Chevy Caprice Station Wagon) full of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper which had probably been purchased (on sale, of course) in the 1970s. I think I finished using those napkins about three years ago. There was WWII ration sugar that was over forty years old (hard as a rock). Seriously. (Do I need to mention that my mother has used this sugar? She pounded it out with a hammer.)

I can still picture my brother’s face when he started to clean out my grandmother’s freezer as it defrosted. This freezer was full of meat that had spoiled WHILE IT WAS FROZEN. My brother was brave and strong and a VERY GOOD GRANDSON for cleaning out that freezer.

So I worry, a bit, that I might have some hoarding genes in me.

In my early adulthood, when I was newly married and interested in being PERFECT, I always wanted to have a full pantry of anything we might possibly need. A smart, college-educated, liberated and LIBERAL woman I still thought that my husband should never find himself without toothpaste, or toilet paper, or, well, capers. You know, just in case there was a caper emergency.

Now that I am a real grown-up, divorced, single, happy, and, um – SANE, I am content to have a small pantry of basics that I use regularly and know that I can easily run to the store for anything I really need. I live in America, after all. So I can buy raspberries from Chile in February if I want to.

Since it’s time to shed the past and become a person who doesn’t have five shelves of canned goods and dried food waiting FOR YEARS to be used, I’m going to do this. I’m going to use up what I have (and try very hard not to waste anything) and then start fresh, with a SMALL and PRACTICAL pantry of foods I use every week. And that’s it. No more hoarding. No more taking care of a husband I don’t have any more (who, incidentally, never asked me to take care of him in this way). And no more three-year old Gogurts.

No one should eat those things anyway.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Food, Resolutions