26 June 2014

Special delivery tea

Little delights: an herbal tea sampler in the mailbox from one of my fellow Graduate Resident Tutors (GRTs).  Thanks Jen! 

In the year since (largely) eliminating caffeine from my daily life, South African rooibos has been my herbal tea of choice -- but here's a chance to expand my horizons beyond the typical peppermint, chamomile, and ginger lemon.

Sometimes we just need these little pick-me-ups.

25 June 2014

#postcircle / Joys with pen and paper

My first #postcircle letters greeted me after returning from vacation!

There is something really special about the handwritten word: the tangible motion of my hand gripping my pen, pressing into the paper, the texture of the writing surface.  Over the years I've accumulated letters from friends who equally enjoy mailbox surprises, plus postcards from every corner of the world.  I'm not a clinical hoarder, but I do have boxes upon boxes filled to the brim with paper and ink.  (Thanks, Mom, for housing some of those!)

And while email, smartphones, tablets, and apps threaten to move everything to the digital, I'm stubborn and won't let go.  I currently keep up a steady exchange with a dear friend who prefers letters to emails for catching up (hi, I know you might read this!), and recently restarted an on going conversation with another friend.  Who could resist joy in the mailbox?

So when I learned about #postcircle this past spring, I jumped at the opportunity.  I first stumbled upon it when browsing Pinterest, coming across an image tagged with #postcircle.  Google then lead me to the lovely Miss Beatrix (known as Anna in the real world), who started this initiative to keep the wonders of letter-writing alive and thriving.

You can read all about how it works here, but basically she or her assistants (it's grown!) help to create groups of 6 people who become penpals.  That's about it.  By joining a group you're committing to writing whenever a letter arrives at your door (or box).  It's UK-based so I'm the only American in my group, Oyster, but the cost of international postage is a small price to pay for meeting 5 interesting women from Scotland to Cornwall.

It was such a treat to come back from a week away from home to find three #postcircle letters in my mailbox!  I read them in one of my favorite local coffee shops, Voltage, and my soy chai was a suitable accompaniment.

Looks like I will have to get out my pen and paper to catch up and let loose some more post to travel the seas.

11 June 2014

Late night tracks / Blair Bodine

This is one of those nights when the Tall Man goes to sleep before I do, and I'm whiling away the time with a mix of business and miscellany.

If you're like me, you have a gazillion tabs open at once, like a "reading/watching" list that always seems to grow when I'm not looking.  Well, these late nights are good for reducing those tabs and actually paying attention to those links I opened to "save for later" (when "later" sometimes means "never").

Well, if I could choose someone to croon me to sleep, it would be Blair Bodine, a singer-songwriter and non-profit gur current residing in Nashville.  If you listen to the video above from a recent recording session with Kettle Pot Tracks, you'll agree!

I remember meeting Blair my freshman year in college, when she became my suitemate.  We discovered that we had grown up just 10 minutes away from each other.  Her smile and mighty bear-hug laugh could fill any space.  Her room was the "loud" one in our suite, with late night jam sessions spontaneously bursting out in the wee hours and, during the day, the activity of an equally loud other suitemate who liked to knock the rhythms of Christmas carols on the wall between our rooms.  My own roommate ("Anne from Japan") and I ("eLo") were a bit more mellow in comparison and attempted sleep at 10 or 11pm each night.  We mocked for going to bed soo early for college freshmen, but that just meant that we got nearly nightly serenades from Blair.

Take a listen ... and another ... and be both inspired and rocked into a happy, soulful slumber.

04 June 2014

Egg and mojitos

The cool refreshing situation I wish to be in! (stock photo*)

a day like this,
I feel like an egg,
fragile, with wobbly innards.
The Tall Man,
a chemist,
aptly replies,
"encased in calcium carbonate"
am I.

Then I smile.
No one like a scientist to put some perspective on a situation.

- - -

I realized that even on bad health days when I can't do much beyond sitting on the couch and staring at something (the computer, the wall, the sun outside, the inside of my eyelids), I can still type.  Even when I can't think very well, and even when I can't move very well, I can still (usually) type.  Thank you, Mavis Beacon, for ingraining QWERTY into my fingers so that I don't have to use the active part of my brain to bring words to the screen!  Liberation indeed.

* And, a random note on stock photos:

Usually I try to use my own photos on this blog or just in general for design projects.  This time, though, I thought I wanted a photo of an egg and didn't have energy to photograph one from our fridge, so I decided to look up "free stock photos."  The typical sites with watermarks splashed all over the important part of the image came up -- and then I spotted this post on Medium that hit the spot for finding good, unique, and largely free stock photos online.  The author brazenly declares that readers should bookmark his post, but then I started looking at the sites -- and now I agree.

The photo above comes from Picjumbo, a site that isn't completely comprehensive but has some fun images with interesting angles.  Plus, if you look beyond the ads in the sidebar, there's a search field.  Sadly, I didn't find any photos of eggs -- but I did find this one that seemed less dismal and aptly called "Mojito with a laptop."

And wouldn't that brighten anyone's day?