Save it for later

My grandmother was a saver.

When I was growing up, my grandmother, like many of her era, was well-known for saving things. She grew up during the Depression and World War II, and those times left a pretty strong impression on her. Having gone through some pretty lean times, small possessions became more valuable, and Grandma didn’t like to throw anything away, even when she could afford to. She saved greeting cards, paper clips, rubber bands, canisters, cardboard boxes, jars—lots of small items that in today’s throwaway culture we might not think about saving. Some of the stuff she ended up using. The rest of it—well, that’s what the cellar was for.

I’m sure that the Recession has left a considerable impression on many in our country, though probably not quite to the same degree (yet). We still seem to throw away a lot of stuff,  though it does appear that we are holding on longer to our more expensive possessions (e.g., cars).

If one result of the economic turmoil is that we end up buying fewer things and appreciating them more, that would be a good thing. Industry might not agree, but it already produces more stuff than we can buy and keeps trying to sell more to us—on credit.

All that to say, today when I was walking downtown, I saw this and it reminded me of my grandmother. Someone had the idea to make a dress out of used coffee filters. It is an example of saving that even Grandma never would have considered.

The preferred gown for the CoffeeFest Saturday night afterparty

Whether you are a saver or not, I think you can appreciate the effort it took to make the dress. By my estimation, there are about 500 coffee filters in the dress. It was sewn to raise awareness (it worked!) about what happens to all of the coffee filters that are used in this town every day. You can read the description for yourself (click to enlarge).

I’m not suggesting that you start saving your coffee filters to turn them into retro chic clothes (the compost idea sounds like a better use to me—easier, at least), but it might be a good idea to think about what you’re buying beforehand so you don’t just end up throwing a bunch of stuff away.

Or saving it, if you’re like my grandmother. 

#Trust30 - Day 9 - Too scary?

[To find out why I am writing all these #Trust30 posts, click here]

Today's Quote:

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

And the Prompt:

Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now. – Mary Jaksch

Hmm. It’s one thing to answer a question like this in private, with your best friend or confidant, but when you start expecting me to write about something like that in this space, I begin to question my wisdom in accepting this writing challenge.

Some of the things that are “too scary” to write about are things best kept in confidence. At least they are things that I am not ready to share in a public forum. However, I will try to give you something, because you have been kind enough to come here to read this.


It took a while, but after staring at this screen until the white page permanently stained my retinae, I found my topic: love.

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Join Me for a No-Bonk Week

The New York Times had an article this week that talked about the benefits of exercising before breakfast. According to a study published by researchers in Belgium, exercising in a “fasted state” causes the body to burn more fat than it would if a person ate breakfast before working out. In some circles (especially biking and triathlon circles), this type of exercise is called “bonk training”. The goal is to lose weight and to accustom the muscles to get energy from fats stored in the body instead of always relying on carbohydrates. The author of the Times article implies that it might be possible to counter the effects of a high-calorie holiday diet by doing this type of training. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I would recommend it. There seems to be a lot of dangers associated with it if you overdo it.

Why am I writing about this? I’m not really worried about overeating during the holidays. The real reason is that my brother talked me into playing in an alumni basketball game on December 27th and I need to get into better shape before the game. I exercise fairly regularly, but want to increase my training this week so that I won’t embarrass myself.

What I plan to do is to go running first thing every day this week. Anyone want to train with me at 6am? Not literally with me, although you are welcome to come to Woodstock at oh-dark-thirty every day if you want. We can motivate each other. I’m not planning to exercise without eating anything (no bonking), but I could use some accountability. I hate to get up early, and it will help if you join me.

Here are the rules. You can train wherever you are, and it has to be for at least 30 minutes. The exercise should have lots of  motion. Stretching for 30 minutes doesn’t count—30 minutes of Zumba in your living room does. Sweat is good. We start at 6am PST (if there’s someone who has to get to work and needs to exercise earlier, let me know and I’ll match your time). Sign up below in the comment section and let me know how it goes (post your results or email me at I’ll give you a recap of how it went next week. Let’s get after it!

Despedidos (Farewells)

This post I dedicate to all my new friends, especially my Spanish friends—Silvia, Daniel, Luis, Susana and Konstantina (not quite Spanish, but close enough), os echo de menos.

One of the most difficult parts of coming to a place like BLCU for a month is that time goes by so quickly, and just when you are beginning to make good friends, you have to say farewell and go back to your own countries. At the end of each of the last several days, I have had to say goodbye to lots of new friends, wondering each time if it would be the last time I ever saw them. We always hope to meet again, but the truth is that you never know, so you wish each other the best in life, wherever it may take you.

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Harvest and the HFC

Today I want to take a short break from China to introduce you to the HFC—the Hutchens Family Circus. As some of you know I grew up on a farm near Dayton, in eastern Washington State. My father and my brother still farm there, and there are certainly times when I miss being there. Wheat harvest, happening right now, is one of those times.

We endearingly call ourselves the HFC because over the years we have  been through many crazy undertakings and mishaps. Nothing illegal, mind you, but sometimes stuff happens.  I have a long list of stories tucked away that will make a good book when I take the time to write them up. One of the latest HFC “performances” was so compelling that I had to write about it. It might be the best show that the HFC has ever put on. Unfortunately, I missed the whole thing. Maybe by writing up the story and sharing it with you, I can participate by extension.

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