multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

Bi-cycle! Bi-cycle! Bi-cycle! September 19, 2013

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

~Queen, Bicycle Race

My super stealth new bike is AWESOME!

Maybe it isn’t so stealth or super or new, but I do have a bike to peddle around town.  Last weekend, we bought this vintage three speed, wicker basket included, through Craigslist and managed to meet a cool couple in the process.  We dropped the bike at the bike shop for a tune up and new tubes and picked it up this morning, shiny and new to me.

I am giddy.  I want a mountain bike (a basic model like the one my husband sold at our “we’re moving” garage sale) to take on the awesome trails around Spokane, and/or I want a road bike, to compete in at least one more sprint triathlon and to ride the Centennial Trail through Washington and Idaho.  For now, my Sears Robuck, 70’s model, brown 3-speed with boss orange and yellow stripes will take me where I need to go.

My first ride was at lunch today.  I went at midday mainly because it was 45 degrees (F) at 6 AM when I could have gone instead.  No thanks chilly weather, I’ll wait until the day warms.  I set out for the library branch that is nine-tenths of a mile from our house.  From there, I headed to the grocery store and picked up a couple of things I needed for dinner.  Within 31 minutes, I rode 3.6 miles roundtrip and burned 257 calories (thank you Endomondo App). AND I managed to run two errands while getting some exercise.  That’s efficient multi-tasking right there my friends.

I would love to tell you that my ride was smooth and the bike is flawless.  No.  Like me, the bike is aging quickly.  I only found two of the three gears and though I was shifting, the gears changed when they were good and ready.  No worries, I understand.  My spiffy new basket was great empty and performed well with four library books.  However, when I added a bag of groceries it started squeaking like a mouse.  Eek, eek, eek, eek, eek, the entire mile and a half home.

Spokane roads are rough and rugged.  Locals will tell you that all the state money goes to Seattle so our roads get little to no attention.  Local legend also claims that studded tires that people use all winter tear up the roads.  I don’t know about funding, but studded tires are not the issue.  Freeze and thaw yourself time after time and you’d buckle eventually too.   The roads in a car feel bumpy.  On a bike, let me just inform you that I stood up a good portion of my ride.  The bike does sport a very comfy fat ass seat for which I am thankful.

My boys told me that it looked like a Mary Poppins bike.  Wrong, Mary Poppins had a carpet bag. My friend asked me “Where’s Toto?” I can only assume she was calling me old spinster Miss Gulch.  Hmph!  I love my bicycle and really don’t care if I look like Mary Poppins or Miss Gulch or Kermit the Frog or even worse.  My boys won’t laugh when I can outride them on their bmx bikes. My gears will kick in eventually.

Bicycling around my local neighborhood has me super excited, if you haven’t noticed.  I can’t wait for my next ride.

bike

 

Reduce Your Environmental Impact August 19, 2013

In 2012, my collegiate daughter enrolled in an English class that required her to read No Impact Man by Colin Beavan.  I found the book at the library and read it before handing it over to the actual student.  No Impact Man is chronicles the year-long experiment by Beavan and his family to have zero impact on the planet while living in Manhattan, NY.  This isn’t a story about a homesteader with a bunch of acreage in the middle of nowhere self-sustaining.  The author and his family give up things we take for granted, electricity and travel and only consuming food within a 250 mile radius of your home while living in the largest city in the world.

As a voracious reader, I loved the story for the impact it had on me.  This book made me think about how I can reduce my impact, my carbon footprint on the planet.   Your carbon footprint is the amount of gas emissions created by you and your family through the course of  life.  Of the 100 ways to reduce your carbon footprint on Green Wiki, I’m happy to report we are responsibly taking 50 measures to reduce our carbon footprint.  (This list was obtained from http://green.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_reduce_your_carbon_footprint  check it out)

  1. Buy locally produced goods and services.
  2. Reduce consumption. Reuse items when you can. Recycle your waste.
  3. Make compost.
  4. Use reusable bags for grocery shopping.
  5. Clean the lint filter in your dryer. This will reduce energy consumption as well as electrical and environmental costs.
  6. Rake leaves and shovel snow manually instead of using a leafblower or snowblower.
  7. Only use your dryer, dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load; don’t do half loads. This reduces the number of loads and energy consumption.
  8. Use a dishwasher rather than washing by hand as the efficient ones use less water.
  9. Whenever possible, hang laundry outside to dry on a clothes line rather than throwing laundry into a dryer.
  10. When you remodel or paint a room, buy the right amount of paint. This reduces chemicals entering the atmosphere from paint production, energy to make the paint, and saves you money.
  11. Eat one less serving of meat a week. Use a cheese-free alternative each week. Cheese is an animal product and has the same carbon cost as meat. Cattle release a great deal of methane into the atmosphere. Consider unendangered fish, beans, and soy as replacements for beef, dairy, and fowl protein.
  12. Plant an organic garden and grow your own vegetables even if it’s just a small patch or a windowsill planter.
  13. Create a wormery. This uses worms in a sealed, hygienic, and non-smelling unit to compost your waste, which can then be used to fertilize your garden.
  14. Fit your garden hose with a trigger sprayer, this will reduce your water consumption.
  15. Stop watering your lawn. Grow a garden instead. Lawns require lawnmowers, which require fuel. Gardens allow you to grow veggies which require less trips to the produce section.
  16. Water your garden in the evening as this will save water.
  17. Use cotton towels and fabric napkins rather than paper ones.
  18. When cooking, don’t overfill saucepans and pots.
  19. Use the top shelf (the hottest shelf) of the oven so food cooks quicker and less energy is consumed.
  20. Use a toaster to toast bread instead of toasting bread under the grill.
  21. When cooking put the lids on your pots and pans to reduce heat loss.
  22. Don’t put hot or warm foods and drinks into your refrigerator.
  23. Use a laptop as opposed to a desktop, as laptops use up to 80% less energy.
  24. Unplug your phone charger when not in use.
  25. Buy secondhand household items and save the C cost of the production of new goods.
  26. Adjust your central heating thermostat down by 1°C (2°F) in winter and up in summer.
  27. Use passive solar heating to capture heat in your home by opening the curtains during the day and closing them at dusk. In summer, close your curtains during the heat of the day. You’ll save 25-75% on your heating and gas bill.
  28. Run ceiling fans instead of using air conditioning. Avoid using air conditioning in your home and car whenever possible. If you live in a hot climate, doing this could save more than one ton of CO2.
  29. Get your boiler serviced regularly to ensure it is working properly and not wasting your money.
  30. Switch off lights in rooms at home when leaving the room.
  31. Use “task” lighting rather than whole room lighting when a small amount of light is required.
  32. Take advantage of natural daylight as much as possible.
  33. Install insulated blinds on windows to crease energy escape.
  34. Only heat rooms in your house that are in use.
  35. Donate or recycle your old clothing to a thrift shop rather than throwing them away.
  36. Defrost your refrigerator; this will ensure that it runs efficiently.
  37. Buy uncertified wood to ensure sustainable forest management.
  38. Take a shower instead of a bath; a shower uses approximately one twentieth of the energy that a bath does.
  39. Filter your own water, rather than buying bottled water. Most tap water is safe to drink, and some bottled waters are flown in from the far corners of the earth and the production process of the bottles adds to greenhouse gas release. Additionally, many find that tap water tastes about the same as bottled water because bottled water is derived from tapwater to begin with.
  40. Adjust your water heater temperature downwards.
  41. Insulate your water heater or water tank with an insulation blanket to save on heat loss.
  42. Use cold water to wash and rinse clothes.
  43. Fix dripping faucets.
  44. Insulate your water pipes.
  45. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  46. Space and water heating account for over 70% of energy used in the home, so switching to clean, renewable energy (e.g. wood fuel, solar energy or heat pump systems) makes a big reduction in the environmental impact of your home.
  47. Reduce excess baggage and pack lighter when travelling. Planes flying with extra baggage use more fuel.
  48. Telecommute or arrange with your employer to work one day a week from home.
  49. Drive at or below the speed limit as this reduces your vehicles emissions.
  50. Whenever possible only drive during non peak hours.

 This spring, I am ripping up my front lawn and installing our raised bed vegetable garden complete with a worm composting system. Plans are in process and I can hardly wait. Prior to our move (which definitely added to our footprint), I saw a project in Whole Living magazine that creatively used old cotton, collared shirts to make simple fringe-edged napkins. This project gave me the idea to use excess fabric yardage I had stored (every person that sews has a fabric horde somewhere) to make 17″ napkins instead of using paper napkins.  We now have very colorful meals using these napkins. I haven’t bought paper napkins since moving in June.

Being a total paper towel abuser, I decided to take this project a step further and stop buying paper towels.  I went to Ikea and purchased 70 white cotton kitchen towels with red stripe. Seventy is too many I now realize, forty is really the number I use on a weekly rotation.  I have a drawer in my kitchen filled with these towels and use them in place of paper towels.   The excess towels that I purchased are used for cleaning.  I wrote “cleaning” across the bottom of each with a fabric marker. Old habits die-hard, I am still buying paper towels but instead of purchasing the Costco super pack regularly, one roll is lasting weeks. According to the National Resource Defense Council, if every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.  The NRDC also states that if every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees. Though my cloth napkin and towel project has increased my laundry, my paper goods costs have dropped dramatically and trees are saved in the process.  That’s good, I like trees.

Use less, use better, use smarter is really the message. Kermit the Frog said, “It ain’t easy being green.”  Actually, Kermie, it is easy to be green, just try.  Take a look at the list and see what you currently do and what you could do better. 

 
 

T-18 Perspective June 1, 2013

Filed under: Life,Quotes — multihyphenatedme @ 7:54 am
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Do you know where you were and what you were doing 6 years ago today?  I do.

My husband was working in Los Angeles. Our two older kids were at school in Kindergarten and 7th grade. The younger two ages 3 and 2 were left with a babysitter as I drove 20 miles from Parks into Flagstaff AZ to to work with a fast wifi connection before runnng errands.  My favorite stop was Late for the Train coffee shop on Milton Road for their many tables, fast wifi and good coffee.  My car was on fumes when I rolled into the parking lot.  I added “get gas” to my list of errands to run later.

After an hour of so, I received a call from the school superintendent to tell me, the school board president, that there was a fatal accident involving three sisters (two of our students and an 18-year-old) of a local Parks family travelling to California around midnight the previous night.  The two small classes (10-15 students in each) involved, 5th and 7th grade, were extremely upset and crisis counselors had been contacted. Inside the coffee shop, I yelled into the phone for information and details.  As I grabbed my computer and stuff, my phone rang again.  This time it was someone (I can’t remember who) explaining that my daughter, as well as the rest of the 7th grade class, was hysterically upset over the tragic loss of their friend and I needed to get on campus as soon as possible.  I explained I was in town and would arrive in 20 minutes.

Everyone in the coffee shop, strangers and those who knew me as a regular alike, stared silently as they witnessed my distress and sensed the urgency to get out of there as quickly as possible.

I ran to my car.  Leaving the parking lot I realized (DAMN) no gas.  I banged on the steering wheel screaming expletives.  I quickly drove to the nearest gas station.  In my haste and stress and delirium, I couldn’t remember what side the gas tank was on, even though I had owned the car many years. I drove around and around the pumps, unable to get the car positioned with the tank next to the pump.  Frustrated and crazed I got out of the car and stretched the pump until it reached around my car to pump gas. Shaking, I only pumped what I needed to get me to the school.

Eighteen miles. Blindly driving.  Crying.  Screaming.  Disbelieving.

Six years later, my friend grieves the loss of her babies. Each year, this is the hardest week of her life, May 31 the hardest day and summer is tough with each girl’s birthday one right after the other in June, July and August.

Yet it was this week that this friend beautifully posted: “someone somewhere is struggling more than you can imagine. be grateful for what you have, how very insufficient it may seem at times. be thankful for those around you. make sure your kids know, WITHOUT A DOUBT that they are loved. that is the greatest legacy we leave our children”.

That’s perspective.

Alohna, Bryanna, Charless, you are remembered,  you are loved.

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T-21 Stress vs. Pressure May 29, 2013

Filed under: Life,Quotes,Work — multihyphenatedme @ 7:04 am
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My boss is great.  I’m not just saying that because my review is coming up in a few weeks either.  “Really Good Guy” in the dictionary is illustrated with his picture, he’s that kind of guy.

For about a month I’ve been really annoyed with my boss, our CFO .  Not for any reason I could even call him names, quit my job or even throw a good tantrum.  He’s ticked me off for being right in such a way my whole complaining mantra has been shot full of holes (he’s a hunter, I think he’ll like that metaphor). I got nothing to bitch about.

Last month while giving his presention at our operations meeting, he defined stress vs. pressure.  Stress, he said, was the result of the unknown.  You stress because of what you don’t know will happen as the result of an action or inaction.  Pressure, on the other hand, is what you feel when your to-do list is longer than time available to completed.  You know what needs to be accomplished but feel pressure as the result of time restrictions, available budget or personal capability.

No longer can I run around like a chicken with my head cut off (no metaphor to his life here – not that I’m aware of – just saying this is how I act on occassion, sometimes more often than I should) saying “I’m so stressed out”.  What a buzz kill.  There is no fun in saying “I’m under a lot of pressure”.

I’ve been CFO’d.  You know, like you can be pranked, only not as hilarious or fun. Ashton Kutcher is definitely not involved. Being CFO’d is more like a reality check that leaves you saying “duh”.

Ok CFO-man (like superman but not as fancy, definitely no cape and more allergies than kryptonite), I listened. Let’s see how this applies to my life:

Moving in 21 days while increasingly busy at work while the kids are rehearsing and performing in a musical while our daughter is having her wisdom teeth pulled while in all the kids are in their final weeks of school while the house needs to be packed and cleaned creates a serious amount of mounting pressure.

Pressure pressure I got pressure. Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah” ~ Kinks lyrics

The pressure I can deal with and I have no stress because I know my review is going to be awesome.

 

T-23 Memorial Day May 27, 2013

Filed under: Life,Quotes — multihyphenatedme @ 8:08 am
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Freedom Is Not Free

by Kelly Strong
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it, and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.
I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.
***
Thank you to those that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, in remembrance of those that have paid the price.
 

T-28 Circus Act May 23, 2013

Filed under: Family,Life,Quotes — multihyphenatedme @ 8:55 am
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I only got 24 hours to live, and I ain’t going to waste it here.  – Fly, Bug’s Life

I love this line from Bug’s Life.  In case you missed out on watching this Disney/Pixar creation at least 100 times in recent years as the result of having children, this line is delivered in response to the sorry state of P.T. Flea’s circus act.  The flies leave in the middle of the show. Exit, stage right.

I like this quote because it challenges you to ask yourself, in general terms, are you living the life you want to live?  More specifically, if you only had 24 hours to live, would you be doing what you are doing right now in this moment?  I think most of us would say no.  You don’t have to be dying to start living.

Based on everything I know (which could very well be not much), my life expectancy is greater than 24 hours.  Pressure off. If I were on my deathbed, reflecting back on the life I’ve lived, would I be happy with the choices I’ve made thus far? In making future decisions, I question whether the decision going to be something I’ll be happy with in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?

The wise fly also reminds us that nothing lasts forever and to seize the moments that we have.  Are we going to sit around and wait for this circus act to end or are you going to pack up and move out and see where the road takes you? Or move on to the next gig in town? Or just try something new and different from your current habits.

We’re sad to leave our family, friends, favorite places, schools, neighbors, teammates and life as we know it. Our time here has not been a waste or in vain.  Though it has often times resembled a three ring circus and we each have played our share of roles – the ring leader, the lion tamer, the dog jumping through the hoops and the clown (note:  I didn’t say fool).

We are ready to pack up and move, seeking out a new path and a new adventure in Spokane.  Is it the right decision? We don’t know.  It’s right for right now.  The beauty of decision making is that you can always course correct, make a new decision and try something new.

 

T-30 Countdown to Spokane May 21, 2013

Filed under: Family,Life,Quotes — multihyphenatedme @ 7:01 am
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“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiousity keeps leading us down new paths”.  ~ Walt Disney

We are moving.

We decided to move our family from Southern California to Spokane Washington. We’re writing a new chapter to improve our quality of life with lower cost of living, no state income tax, better schools with smaller class sizes, easier access to outdoor activities we enjoy – skiing, boating, waterskiing, fishing, camping, and hunting.

My husband and I are a curious pair.  In many ways, all puns intended. Disney’s quote is true to our lives, our “…curiousity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Why are we moving to Spokane?  Why not? We’ve never lived there before, the pluses out number the minuses, it is an adventure and we’re tired of being SoCal house and life poor though we work hard and make good money. Many people make Southern California living work, it is just not the lifestyle for us.

We look forward to our the journey on our new path.

T-30.  The countdown begins.