Saturday, October 30, 2004

Material girl

Over the past year I have become more and more aware of "U-Store" units. They are popping up everywhere--within 2 to 3 miles of each other. Is this a reflection of all those divorced people who don't want to give up their stuff when they lose their homes? Is this due to those homeless folks who still can afford a rental unit for the stuff that reflects their life? I know that some of this storage is for people with hobbies or equipment for their jobs. Maybe this is a reflection of how many young men and women are now overseas in the "war" and storing stuff till they return. I think most likely it reflects the fact that we have too too too much stuff in our lives and our lives are disrupted too often. My brother married a few years ago (for the first time in his 50's), and of course, he had a ton of stuff from his home and melded with her home they are now storing a home's worth of furniture. The problem is that the furniture is depreciating while the cost of storing it is not.

When we sold our house and moved into this rental, we used a u-store for a few months until we sold, gave away or threw away a lot of stuff. Then we cleaned out the rental garage and stored what didn't need climate control in the garage and then put the rest of the stuff in boxes in the basement. We are now moving into year two of our rental house and haven't even opened these boxes once.

I read a book called "Simplify Your Life" by Elaine St. James. It is one of those Hallmark type books that you read in the bathroom. One of the author's suggestions to begin uncluttering your life is to pack some items in a box that you haven't used in a long while. Label the box with the date. After a year, if you haven't been looking for anything or used anything in the box, throw it away! Don't open it, just toss it. It makes a lot of sense to me. (Actually why not auction it off?) The u-store manager told me that is what they do when people fall behind on their rent of the storage unit. He opens the door, lets people look at what is inside, andt hen takes bids.

When I move to this new house (if we can ever find a design we can afford) I hope to try to live more Zen. Open spaces, useful activities, and less catalog purchasing. Of course today it is more Internet purchasing, since you can buy ANYTHING you want over the net.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm back...yawn...

Got in at 6:30 this morning on the red eye. Boarded last night at 11:00 PM and since the flight was a little over 4 hours, I was a zombie at the airport trying to find my car. Sun wasn't up yet here on the East coast. I had a late dinner on the waterfront last night with colleagues and probably drank a little too much wine.

Weather in Seattle was very similar to here actually. Nice and sunny there with a little rain, but the nights were much colder there. It was below 40 in the morning and we were in the 50's here before the sun showed its head.

About 30 people attended the meeting, all with professional and good things to say about the whole program. I would love to see those who are prejudiced against government bureaucrats attend just one of these meetings to see how professional and intelligent government workers actually are! These people are passionate about their research and their programs, but they are also realistic and many are quite inventive in stretching budgets. But, realism also takes us to the place where we fully understand this program is going to end with a whimper if we have to face another year of cuts. I don't want to get into too much detail...but I do feel American citizens will regret not funding this type of program in the future---as they will find with all the cuts in sciences we are getting. Research and education money creates a citizenry that can think outside the box when it comes to conflict. (Sort of the opposite side of the brain from the Ann Coulter baseball bat thinking.)

Toured the Pike Market on the waterfront and saw the space needle. It was my first time there. The flower stalls were wonderful and cheap and the 'tossing of the fish' was fun and very New York I thought. Saw the first Starbucks--but it only had one small sign to let you know. Bought a glass turtle to add to my collection and went in to some of the more 'interesting' stores with a friend who is a little edgier than I am.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Off to Seattle

I am catching a 7:30 AM flight to Seattle tomorrow. I have grown tired of business travel and am glad that I do it only a few times a year these days. This meeting is to introduce new people to my program and to justify my existence.

Our program funding is being cut and I may be doing something different in a year or so. I am lucky in that I have a federal it doesn't involve loss of income...just loss of pride.

I get so tired of energizing an audience!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

"A place to pray and meditate and to experience peace of mind as well as of body."

Took this picture in front of El Santuario de Chimayo, the Lourdes of America which is north of Sante Fe NM. Never found any woodcarved popsicles inside... I did buy a rusted tin cross which was made from the roof of the older chapel. Never one to short change my chances in this cosmic world.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Back home

Wedding was low key and intimate. Bride and groom exchanged heartfelt personal vows. Everyone cried...made some of the old timers remember why they got married!

New Mexico is a hotbed of political activity due to its support for both Presidential candidates. I hestitated watching any television because the political ads were so scathing and irritating--on both sides. Everyone I talked to in N.M. was sick of the whole thing.

Had breakfast at a local Starbucks and John Kerry's sister Peggy Kerry was next to us. Chatted with her for a brief time. She looked upbeat but also tired. She was on crutches due to a fall and damaged knee the week before.

Took a tour of a Native American village and our guide said that Hillary Clinton had been there just a few days before and ended up donating $75,000 to their cultural center building. These politicos are EVERYWHERE. I am guessing that we are NOT going to know who won on November 3rd.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Going to a Wedding

We are flying out at 6:00 this evening and heading West to attend my (step) nephew's wedding. We have never met him, although we have met his younger brother and we were lucky enough to meet up with his lovely bride-to-be in Italy a few years ago. We spent a few days touring with her. She is one of those generous spirits with a community service drive. This spirit shows in her smile.

I will get to see all my brothers and sisters again, but it will be somewhat rushed as they are leaving the day after the wedding. Last time it was rushed because they were remodeling the bathroom to my parents' house. I wonder when our lives will ever slow down to just visit! They all live within 30-40 minutes of each other so get together for holidays, long weekends, etc. I am still the black sheep living so far away. I am also the oldest so I have that "leader" image to live down. I mean when some are in diapers and you are 13, of course you are going to be telling them what to do! (Do I sound wistful?) Actually, I think they were relieved when I took over at my sister funeral.

I get back for just a few days at work on Wednesday and then the following Monday I have a business trip to Seattle. I really find myself wanting to just be a homebody more and more these days. Looking forward to part-time work in a year or so as I wind down to retirement. There is a whole creative side to my life that I have had to put on the shelf. I feel the 'me' time is coming soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Happy scary Halloween! I have always enjoyed Halloween, making the costumes, scaring the kids and eating all the candy they don't eat. I haven't even started to decorate the house and I am gone all weekend at a wedding. Maybe next week. I still need to buy candy! The picture above was a lovely old barn I took on a hike on Sunday. I tweaked with the software and it looks spooky, no?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Do I still live in America?

My husband was listening to NPR this morning as we are getting a late start on our day. He said there was a news report about President Bush's crew screening high school students (at their own school!) who came to hear him talk. Those who had Kerry buttons, etc. were turned away...some in tears. I haven't been able to find this on the NPR site...but will keep looking.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Halloween Art/Decoration/whateva!!

My co-evolved Halloween decoration...or is this a joint work of art?


I just read the "My world and Welcome to It" blog (the javascript doesn't seem to be working so it can be found at:

Anyway, one of the blogs was about the surprising suicide of someone in the community and then a response from someone else outside the blog about that death as it related to their very personal experience. This 'outside' person was surfing looking for a recipe!

This all just got me thinking about co-evolution of man and things. I have just finished reading Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan about the co-evolution of man and plants. The author takes apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes and makes some very interesting conclusions based on how a plant might look at us and how we evolved.

This becomes even more interesting when I think about man and the co-evolution with the Internet. From the above observation on the blog it seems to contradict the image of everyone sitting at home lurking and instead brings strangers with common views, experiences, etc together. But is this in a very superficial way? Or are there more intimate connections going on and a sharing of ideas more in depth than we can imagine...or hope for? And does this mean a paradigm shift in our co-evolution?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Such a lovely time of the year!