Week Five of Summer

June is over! I can hardly believe it. Summer is a third of the way gone and boy is it flying fast. I’ve completed 23.5% of my summer to-do list (although, if you take into consideration I realistically only thought I’d get half my list completed, I’m 47% done).

Urban Exploration

This week started with an impromptu romp around Gilbert. Gilbert is a tiny town in the middle of Iowa. I went to primary school there and have since become a resident. After my mother and I did some basement work on Monday I decided to walk around the town. It was half-past nine so nothing too terribly interesting was happening while I ‘explored’. I did have fun doing a lap around the track. Yup, I actually put ‘fun’, ‘track’ and ‘lap’ in the same sentence. Granted, I did the lap barefoot. Sure running barefoot may not be brilliant, but running in Toms would not have been a good idea either. Also, it’s just so squishy. Any who, my favorite part of the walk was when I was a block away from my house and I realized this random pine tree had lit Christmas lights on it. I don’t know who did it, because it is right by the co-op, but I like them.

Christmas in JunePerhaps the decorator was just getting ready for ‘Christmas in June’ a couple days early? I argue this only because I drove past a couple days ago and the tree wasn’t lit. I didn’t necessarily see any lights on it either, but it was dark. We celebrated at my office by listening to Christmas music all day. Although we all agree that it’s too bad we can’t listen to Christmas music more often, after the eight hour binge, we decided we are all set for awhile.

Sand VolleyballBetween scheduling and rain outs I hadn’t made it to any of our sand volleyball games. That all changed last Thursday. The lemons, again united, had a blast losing all three games. That isn’t sass. We did have fun. It’s hard not to have fun at sand volleyball. It is innately so much more chill than regular volleyball. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season! We had one more player that wasn’t there but this Thursday, I think, we’ll all be truly united again. Unless I’m forgetting something, which is likely.

Foreign MusicA fun part about being office DJ is that my coworkers get to enjoy my musical whims as well. For instance, this summer we have replaced ‘Free Choice Friday’ (where I would ask a coworker what they want to listen to and inevitably they say “oh I don’t care”) with Foreign Friday. Yup. We’ve gone international. Last week we listened to the spotify mix Entro to Hungarian Pop which introduced us to a whole slew of new artists. Certainly more than the three we had started the summer with. Our mix of Sigur Ros (Icelandic Rock), Julieta Venegas (American-born Mexican singer) and Toe (Japanese group) has grown considerably. You can never have too much music, right?

Weekly SketchesThe thing about summer is, no matter how much you have during the week, weekends are also packed. This weekend was no exception. Enjoyably we went up to my sister’s in Minnesota to celebrate my nephew’s third (three and a half actually) birthday. Although getting there was tricky with roads closed for flooding, once we got there it was perfect. Breezy so the humidity wasn’t terrible, and the rain stayed away until after the party. It came down by the boat load as we drove home, but at least we weren’t washed away while eating cake. Then, before I knew it, Sunday passed in a wink. With the storms in Central Iowa taking most of yesterday’s attention, we are already to Tuesday (and subsequently July). With July brings a new endevor. Now that I’ve been able to keep up my daily sketching, we’ll see if I can add writing to the mix. However, since I don’t have many interesting things to say, it will come in the form of responding to creative writing prompts. I decided to create a separate blog for that (qfreewriting.wordpress.com). That’s it really. Let the summer march on!

Until next time

Summer Series: Intro | Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four

Summer 2014

  1. Nap in a Hammock
  2. Have a Bonfire
  3. Play Sand Volleyball
  4. Visit an Iowa Winery
  5. Go to the Zoo
  6. Eat Sushi
  7. Go Stargazing
  8. Christmas in June
  9. Rainy Day Picnic
  10. Make a Summer Soundtrack
  11. Visit a Bed & Breakfast
  12. Ride a Carousel
  13. Go Camping
  14. Watch a Baseball Game
  15. Harry Potter Non-Stop Movie Marathon
  16. Radio Silence (no music, tv, computer or phone for 24 hours)
  17. Watch a Movie Outside
  18. Go Roller Blading
  19. Go to a Concert
  20. Go Wading
  21. Go Bowling
  22. Make Caramel Apples
  23. Meal Over a Fire
  24. Launch a Firecracker
  25. Urban Exploration
  26. Have a BBQ
  27. Make a Quilt
  28. Blow Bubbles on the Porch
  29. Play Bocce Ball
  30. Go People Watching
  31. Fill the Tank & Drive
  32. Make Wind Chimes
  33. Draw a Landscape
  34. Go Berry Picking
  35. Take a Weekend Trip Alone
  36. Paint a Canvas
  37. Do Yoga
  38. Make a Meal using only Farmer’s Market Food
  39. Spend the Afternoon on a Riverbank
  40. Watch a Sunrise
  41. Attend a Street Market
  42. Listen to Rock Music (from a different country)
  43. Picnic in the Park
  44. Start a Wish Tree
  45. See a Drive-In Movie
  46. Make Sangria
  47. Go for a Hike
  48. Go to a Fair
  49. Make a Banana Split
  50. Sketch Everyday
  51. Give to Others (donate old clothes to charity)

Closing Day

New Home

Porch with a swing, new reading spot!

Well the day has arrived and I am quite nervous. I’ll be leaving shortly to officially sign all the papers (or perhaps be told that I’m insane and no, they wont let me buy a house. I’m not sure how these things work). Yesterday I had the final walk through of my house and I must say it’s starting to hit home that this will be my home. I didn’t want to believe it before in case something went wrong, but now that I’m on the threshold all that is left to do is to cross it. The ‘to-do’ list for this weekend is fairly basic. Photograph everything (to have proper ‘before’ photos) and then clean it all. Once we get that done we’re going to tape out the basement, marking where we plan to put walls etc. That way when the plumbers and electricians come to give us quotes they can confirm (or alter) that where we will be putting studs will work for the final vision. (Which as a surprise to me, the plumber will be stopping by on Saturday-can’t wait!) The final item on the agenda is to get test paint and do test areas for the upstairs rooms. Lucky it’s a small house since I seem determined to paint the entire thing (except the outside, it’s a brilliant red).

Although I wouldn’t recommend staying out late before the start of a warrior weekend it did help me stay distracted last night. I had my first sand volleyball game of the season (third set of games for the team, first time I could attend personally). To say I was overly excited and unable to appropriately channel that energy would be a understatement. I was just so excited to see my teammates again! I quickly fell back into my roll of team jester. I am lucky that they seem willing to put up with my antics since, wow, my playing was especially erratic last night. Hopefully I’ll have reined it in a pinch for next week’s match-ups. (We won our first official game and the second set was forfeited so we won by default. However we found some random people to play instead and also won that game. We were on fire!) After the games I then met up with some of my theater peeps and we ended up going to karaoke. Although I lacked the courage to go up and sing myself, it was still a fun evening and again, a great diversion from today.

However, I guess I can only distract myself for so long. Now the day has arrived and it’s time to get started. Let the work begin on the new home! A new chapter of my life begins today, I suppose. Scary, but true.

Until next time ~ Q

Ready, Set, Serve! [Daily Prompt]

Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish.

*timer is started*

I find that my mind is blank. I usually have a million and six things running through it. Or perhaps it’s not blank it’s just that there are too many things to write about. Should I tell you about my Kermit the Frog water bottle? How excited I am for an event that isn’t until OCTOBER? Or about volleyball…and that’s the winner.

Volleyball is high up in the brain this week for several reasons:

  1. The season just started for my team on Sunday
  2. Our volleyball shirts are done!
  3. We have games on Friday and Sunday this weekend
  4. Our team is planning on also playing on Saturday during open-gym
  5. I’ve completed my volleyball-related resolution!!

As listed we had games on Sunday. But not the regular two matches (3 games each) oh no, we had three so we played nine games. That was a lot after having nearly two months off. However it was lots of fun, our team was fairly competitive. Not saying there weren’t games where we would get into ruts where the other team would score seven unanswered points, but this time around we usually lose within 10 points.

I’ve achieved one of my resolutions! Number 7 “Win a volleyball game”. This should give me motivation to keep up with the others, so that’s nice to have that one tackled. Especially since that was the only one that relied on the help of others to accomplish. So yes, out of the nine games we won one! There were a couple that we only lost by 2-3 (still lost, but it was really close).

Volleyball TeamAlso, as stated, we got our tee shirts in from the maker! I’m excited, our team will look so amusing wearing bright yellow shirts on the court. I’m a huge nerd, as is my team, and I love it.

*timer goes off*

Condition Blue…

Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?

I don’t do well under pressure. I freeze up and then over react emotionally. I have vague imprints of reacting well when in a jam but I can’t call them to the front of my mind to evaluate them. Readily available are times where I reacted disproportionately poorly with a given stimulus.

Honestly, I can’t recall any real crises I’ve endured. Oh, unless you count accidents, I’ve been in a couple of those. In that given set of circumstances I was able to keep calm until I had an appropriate moment in which I was able to break down. Then I cried and after a few moments of self pity (or shock or whatever) I moved on. I get’s that’s my M.O. Repress/suppress emotions until a time that they can be drudged up and dealt with properly. Until that time I have things to do.

Obviously given my knee-jerk reaction I don’t put pressure and crisis in the same category. Given enough pressure I do not do nearly so well. I think the difference is that a crisis is an isolated incident where as pressure can build up over time, unnoticed, until it just gets to be too much and then there is a volcano of emotion. Obviously volcanoes are rarely good (I can’t think of an instance when an eruption was good but I’m sure there’s been one instance, right?).

All in all I think my crisis reactions are satisfactory for now, I don’t plan on improving them since to do that I’d have to go through them. However if the instances arise I hope I can preform better than I have in the best, there is always room for improvement. I am not happy with my reaction to everyday pressure though, usually I’m able to shrug it off, I just need to find constructive outlets to de-stress at night to ensure residual pressure from the day isn’t carried over into the next day. That way there should be no pressures right?

Maybe I’ve acknowledged this on a subconscious level and that’s why I decided to pick up volleyball and music. Exercise always releases endorphins and is a good release in and of itself. Even playing my piddly chords the last few nights has chilled me right out for bed. It unwinds me more than anything else, especially reading since I get so caught up in what is happening to the character(s) (WHY DID SHE JUST JUMP OFF A BUILDING?!).

So long answer summed up: Yes, I’m happy with how I react in a real crisis. I’m working on being happier for my reaction to everyday ‘crises’.

I resolve to use my napkin

I feel that New Year’s resolutions fail partially because the person making them resolves to do something thing that isn’t in their nature, it’s a vague resolution, or both. For example ‘I resolve to work out for an hour everyday’ or ‘I resolve to be healthier’. The first is doomed to fail because it can be quite an undertaking to go from never working out to committing to 7 hours each week. The second is so nondescript that the sheer ‘nothing to go on’ – ness of it would make it broken in about a week.

With that in mind my buddy Allie and I set out to make some resolutions. As we brained stormed we tried to focus on various parts of our lives. In the social we discussed perhaps adding ‘date more’ or ‘put yourself out their more’ (for me). Those were nixed though. For starters they go against my nature (as much of a social creature as I am, I don’t really have the confidence to go out to a random place by myself  and strike up a conversation with some random person). Then there is the vagueness of the addition of ‘more’, going just once would be ‘more’ but wouldn’t really change me like resolutions are challenged to do. Thirdly they would rely on outside force to do something I try to avoid when making my resolutions.

In the end we both agreed we had to make quantifiable resolutions if we wanted any hope of meeting them. Although a couple of mine go against my nature (and one relies on outsiders) in the end I’m fairly happy with the list we came up with. Without further ado the list numbered in no particular order:

  1. Read three non-fiction books (I pretty much only read fiction, it’d be nice to diversify a bit).
  2. Participate in 150 minutes of active living a week.
  3. Learn to juggle three balls (eventually I want to be able to juggle pins. I have these old juggling pins as decorations in my guest room and they call to me).
  4. Write for fifteen minutes every day (blogging alone will guarantee that but I would like to journal ‘more’ too. Especially since my memory is particularly sieve-like).
  5. Go on ten day-ventures (originally when I started this blog I had aspirations of exploring Iowa, well this is the year it begins).
  6. Set a budget and stick to it (my only non-quantifiable one, but hopefully the money I’m able to set aside as a result will be quantity enough).
  7. Win a volleyball game. (This is a bit of a cheat since I am on a team of nine but hopefully, hopefully this one will be met in January. My volleyball team (the bruised lemons) has gone down a level so we’ll actually be playing people at our skill level. However since we got dangerously close to winning one of our tournament games I think this resolution is quite attainable despite having to rely on others).

Resolution NapkinThere you have it, my seven quantifiable resolutions for the New Year. Written, quite fittingly, on the back of a napkin. In an attempt of accountability I kept my buddies and she kept mine (she kindly sent me a pic of it though). Other resolutions that crossed my mind were learn guitar (which I am going to try but I’m terrible at keeping time and I’m teaching myself to play Hendrix style. Always brilliant, that’s me), learn Italian, or cook three ‘proper’ meals each week.

A ramble brought to you by a sleepless night. You’ve been warned.

Usually I take Thursday afternoons off at work if I can. Yesterday I didn’t, which was no big deal, especially since my manager was feeling under the weather. So I got off work around 6 and quickly went home to change for volleyball practice. Oh, I think I’ve mentioned I’m playing league volleyball this fall. If I haven’t I am, and I’m terrible. Perhaps my saving grace is that I’m a willing student. Unfortunately that puts the role of coach/teacher onto some of my more knowledgeable teammates.

Anyway, my team was meeting in my town at the rec center for practice. I figured I should try to get there early. Not early enough though, I was 15 minutes early and one of them was already there. Anyway, practice was a blast. There ended up being 5 of us in all and when two of them had to leave two other people at open gym jumped in. We practiced for about  2 1/4 hours before deciding to call it a night. When I got home I noticed the light was on at work and went in to see what was up. My manager was there catching up on stuff since she had left early. We chit chatted for a short while before I finally headed home.

By this time it was around nine. I was exhausted. I just wanted to decompress and chill. I wasn’t really hungry but forced down an apple since I had completely skipped supper. After a quick shower I watched an episode of The League which I’m usually so amused by, but I was just so tired I decided to call it a night. Unfortunately I saw a book I’d gotten last week sitting on the counter.

I’ve been waiting for this book for months. I haven’t even finished it and I’m already cursing that the next one isn’t out until next year. I guess a year isn’t too bad of a wait considering other series books may be fewer and further in between. You ruin my life a little Riordan.

I was specifically put off starting it until I’d have long uninterrupted hours of time (such as this weekend) because I knew once I started it I would try to finish it. Even as I was telling myself ‘just one chapter’ I altered it to ‘just the first viewpoint’. This book switches which character is telling the story every few chapters. I couldn’t even do that, I read all of the first viewpoint and the first chapter of the second before yelling at myself to go to sleep.

So you’d think after hours of physical exertion and an hour of reading I’d be out in two seconds. Well you’d be wrong. Apparently my subconscious decided to start putting out “you’ve caught the bug from your manager” symptoms.

A fun fact about my nausea, I can usually tell it’s coming because my mouth starts to salivate with no food stimulus. So there I was, tossing and turning trying to convince myself I wasn’t going to be sick. I even told myself throwing water up is that absolute worse. It worked, besides the fact that it kept me up and when I did manage to sleep I was easily awoken. After the third random wake up I was convinced that the Greeks or Romans were the cause of my restlessness. Perhaps Hermes was up to his trickster ways and whispering in the dark. Seem random? It is, but The Heroes of Olympus series is all about the Greek and Roman demigods, so not so bad. Still ridiculous but that is what my sleep deprived mind went to.

Anyway, that’s my tale of my sleepless night. I usually don’t mind sleepless nights, I just don’t 100% appreciate them in the middle of the week. Since today is Friday, however, I’ll survive. Anyway, until next time ~ Q

What’s The League? Here’s a promo clip from Canada.

If you’ve ever seen the show you’ll know about Taco. I feel if I were in a league that’s who I’d be, sort of. Kind of random, kind of clueless, but minus all the drugs.

Once upon a time…

…there was a town called Story City that held an annual storytelling festival.

I was actually on the board for the 2012 festival and so I obviously went to some of the events. The festival kicked off on Thursday with a catered meal. The unique thing about this event was that in between courses one of the tellers would share a story. The meal was catered by Chef Chris Hansen, a local well known chef, and it was superb. The four story tellers for the festival were Dale Jarvis, Mary Hamilton, Arif Choudhury, and Maureen Korte.

This festival (for more information check out there website) has been held for the last 7 years. On Friday I headed out to the campfire to hear some scary stories by both professionals and amateurs. The first story was a Native American tale about the Windigo. It was a fun little story about how mosquitoes came about. Then there was a story about the beginning of jack-o-lanterns. One of the professional tellers also shared a story, which I thought was pretty cool since it wasn’t required. It was also perfect, Dale Jarvis loves to tell suspenseful stories as well as tales from the Brothers Grimm. The evening was wrapped up with the MC bringing out the amusing side of everyday life. I thought it was really great. It was neat because he took something simple, owning several farm cats and the yearly invasion of mice that come at harvest, and made it more. He was a crack up and he didn’t even really try to be. Which I think is the best way to be.

The next day was the big day of the festival. Complete with workshops, matinees, farmers (ish) market, and story stops. I ran the info booth at the market and it was quite the collection. There were 3 authors, several home businesses (such as Watkins, Norwex and the like), a couple vintage/antique booths, kringla, and so much more. It was a bitingly cold day. Of course, ask me and a few months and I’ll laugh about it. It was the first cold weekend of the year and it hasn’t been as cold since, but it did hit that weekend. That kept some people away from the outdoor events (such as the campfire and market) but overall it was a good turnout.

My aunt and cousin came down for the concert that night. It was a pretty fun evening especially since they ended up staying at my place. Which was a new experience for the family (rather than them staying with my parents 10 miles away). The next day I missed the ending of the festival in lieu of keeping a family tradition. That Sunday was the annual Octagon Art Festival in Ames. Unlike the day before it was a warm day, although both were bright so still enjoyable. What I love about the festival is that there is just so much to take in. You get to see all manner of art and craft types. Anywhere from a guy that takes burls (wood pieces) from the river and refines them into bowls and things to a lady that dies silk to make it look like a watercolor. Just a wide range so there is something for everyone.

The weekend finale was my first parks & rec volleyball game. It was a bit tricky since our team was pulled together last minute, comprised mainly of subs. It was the first time we’d play together and we were in the competitive league. It was still a blast though. (Update we have since played again and after one practice we were already more competitive. We still lost, but it wasn’t the annihilation it was that first week. And that is a fair comparison because, bizarrely, we played the exact same two teams.)

So that’s it. A very jammed pack weekend. Until next time ~ Q