Devil’s Tower, Black and White, and Stall Tactics

Weeding phone pictures is a task that I am unapologetically bad at until warnings start popping up about full storage.

I don’t carry a camera most days and instead rely on my iPhone for walking around pictures. That means there are fun pictures of cool things collected here. There are also funny memes, images of recipes and pictures of things to remember. Products in the store and their barcodes save time later but they also accumulate until cleaning house is forced.

At this moment, photo weeding is supposed to be a priority. Instead I’m reliving adventures and converting some western vacation pictures from last summer to black and white.

Who needs productivity when you can have art?

Here’s a scene from Lusk, Wyoming. Classic and western, right?

And this is Devil’s Tower.

It’s sacred ground and it is monolithic. To call it impressive would be an understatement.

Here’s the view from the trail.

It was here that I saw my first Prairie Dogs and, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but that was a trip highlight. Cute little guys, those prairie dogs, but they’re prone to carrying disease so don’t try to pet them!

So that’s enough stalling. Time to resume photo weeding and back up. Tell me I’m not the only person who postpones organizing phone pictures until it’s an absolute requirement!

The View From Here

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This is the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana. I sat on those steps early one fall morning in 2018 and watched the sunrise. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the town was quiet.

I sat here for a long time just enjoying the peace and lost in my own thoughts. That was a rebuilding year for me personally and one of the best things that came out of that time was that I managed a good bit of travel and embraced my status as a single person. Sitting here that morning I realized that I was ok with who I was and the fact it’s just me.

The sunrise view from these steps wasn’t the best but the view of my life from these steps was darn good.

At the end of the day, you’re all you have and no amount of money, no stuff, no job, no relationship and no promises will change that. Embrace who you are, learn to take care of yourself, take the solo trip, eat alone in the restaurant, go live your life.

The sun will rise and set every day. In between the two, there are adventures to be had. Don’t waste a single minute. Get out there and enjoy life.

Making The Best Of It

Saturday was gloomy and cool but that didn’t deter me from hitting the trail. I’ve been dying to get out for a hike for about a month now. Sadly, it has been rainy or dark every time the opportunity has been available.

The trail was nearly deserted and there were few people around to interfere with my peaceful morning. It reminded me that sometimes conditions in life are not ideal. Sometimes it’s a little dreary and cool. Sometimes you can’t have just what you want. That doesn’t mean you should not push forward, make the best of your circumstances, and reach for what will make you happy.

In fact, you may just find the experience more enjoyable because you’re pushing forward while the crowds are holding back.

Travel Delays and Making Do

Summer vacation plans are underway, causing some reminiscing about last year’s summer vacation. Being human, my brain goes straight to the negative – like the day I spent stranded in the Rapid City, South Dakota Airport because Chicago’s weather was screwing up air travel everywhere.

I found a corner with a comfy couch and an electrical outlet. From this vantage point, I could keep my phone charged while watching people without their notice.

This airport is small but has friendly staff and everything you need including a couple of restaurants. If you’re there, go through security to get to the better of the two. I did not know this and ended up eating a questionable veggie wrap with chips.

The wrap wasn’t great but I had a nice view of the rooftop garden so that made it better.

Plus there was this nice patriotic display, marking the place of American Prisoners of War and Missing In Action soldiers.

And there was this, especially poignant because my vacation pal has a daughter who is Air Force.

Yes, I did take one and yes, I still have it.

The airport also has a few pieces of nice art including this photographic exhibit dedicated to the construction of Mt Rushmore.

Life is what you make of it. The day long delay was unpleasant but it resulted in my being redirected from a layover at O’Hare where I didn’t want to be in the first place to Denver which I didn’t mind at all.

I got back to Columbus late but that gave me an excuse to spend the night with my aunt and cousin and to meet their cats.

All that free time at the airport provided opportunity to go through pictures on my camera and phone and to relax a bit before coming home.

And I tend to believe that when travel plans don’t go as planned, it’s the Universe plotting to keep me alive.

May this be a year of safe travels for us all!

No Spend January Is Here!

January is a No Spend Month for me. It’s a fun little game I’ve played for the last few years where I pay for what is needed but there’s no frivolous spending (unless pre-planned), no impulse buying and no shopping for entertainment. Goodbye, antique malls!

So bills are paid and groceries are purchased but I work on using some things from the freezer and pantry. Yesterday, I stopped at the store for about $10 worth of produce needed to create meals for the week using things I already have. If I stop for gas, my reusable water bottle had better be full because I’m not running inside for a drink. Not even for just a dollar.

There’s a gift to buy this month and a planned dinner and movie with a friend that was postponed from the holidays. That’s all the extracurricular spending that should happen.

This month, I will spend a lot of time at home, using what I own, looking for creative ways to entertain myself for free and simply appreciating the life that I have built and all that I already have. The Depression era mantra “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” comes to mind.

After all the excess and gluttony of the holidays, a spending fast is a welcome relief to the bank account but it’s also a welcome break from commercialism.

We spend a lot of time making money to survive and on spending money on stuff to fill our homes but we don’t always go home and just enjoy the life we have.

It’s is an exercise in gratitude as much as anything else.

I wrote a Winter Survival Guide last fall and it’s here in January that these techniques are truly put to work.

Here’s what’s happening in my world right now:

Books are a priority this year and I’m finding that the more I read, the more I want to read. The problem is that there’s a new one that I’m dying to tear into. I usually have three or four going at once but want to focus on one at a time this year. It can be next.

Cooking is more fun. I always enjoy playing in the kitchen but winter is a great time to experiment with new recipes. This year is especially fun as I’m looking for plant based recipes for my new lifestyle. This week I made a potato corn chowder that was divine and the lunch leftovers were a welcome treat! I also made a pumpkin cookie that was disgusting but we’ll just call that an experiment gone awry and move on.

Organization and purging are another priority. I have a list of areas to hit – from the pantry to the sock drawer to the nightstand and all points in between. It’s shocking how much stuff accumulates over time even when you try to be tidy. The goal is to do one thing from the list every day. The purging extends into intangible areas too. One evening was spent purging emails while watching the Closer on TV. Brenda Lee Johnson caught the bad guys and I unsubscribed and deleted thousands of old marketing emails. The above picture represents a new set of Christmas dishes that need to be put away after some rearranging in the china cabinet.

Movie time! I can’t go to the movies but that doesn’t matter because there’s a stack of movies waiting for my viewing pleasure. One day I’ll make some homemade potato chips and hit the couch for a little movie marathon.

Self care is a priority. Outdoor activity is less common because it’s dark at quitting time but I am trying to prioritize some kind of exercise every day. Rest is also important. My philosophy for most of the year is that you can sleep when you’re dead. During winter, these cold, dark nights call for a warm blanket and an earlier bedtime.

Being happy with the Now is a common theme and resisting the urge to adventure plan involves daily internal negotiations. It’s much harder than it should be. However, the theme of this stage of the year is being satisfied with the abundance of everyday life. Adventure planning can wait a bit. I have started a list of day trip ideas based on suggestions from friends but that’s more about being forgetful than about planning. Being present in this moment rather than dream of the next adventure is a real challenge.

For me, a No Spend Month is an opportunity to get myself together for another year, to set new goals and intentions, to stop buying stuff I don’t need, to nourish my mind and body, and to practice gratitude for what I have.

It gets easier every year and, this will sound sound nuts, but I’ve been looking forward to January for weeks.

Want to do your own no spend challenge? You can set your own rules and make it what you want it to be! You might be surprised at how much money and time you save!

Where Will the Road Take You?

This road is somewhere outside Washington Court House, Ohio and is about an hour from home.

But today I’m dreaming of where the road might take me next that’s a little further from home.

Follow your own path, friends. Whether it’s through the neighborhood or far, far away. Follow it and be happy.