Family Pranking: Fun New Resolution for 2018?

Meet Ali the Gator:

“Could someone lick me clean, please?

Oh, why’s he covered in whipped cream and jam? Therein lies a tale. Allow me.

Ali joined our family a couple of years ago when the Mate was out doing yardwork. Spotting a lizard near the compost bin, he decided to catch it, in honor of Wing Son One, who does such things. So he stalked it, for several minutes, before realizing…

a) it was plastic

b) it was an alligator, not a common lizard,

c) it was missing two of its feet (likely a lawn-mower accident)

So he brought it inside. Of course I decided to place it under Son One’s pillow the next time he visited. (Gratifying yell of surprise.) Ali then showed up successively in…

a) the soap dish in the shower

b) my tin of Earl Grey

c) the Mate’s tin of coffee beans

d) my hiking boot

The hiking boot prank was especially good, because I was putting on that boot at the visitor center of Haleakala on Maui, last winter. So I sent Son One this photo of “Ali in Paradise”:

Later, he took a hula class and attended a luau.

From Maui we continued our Epic Journey to New Zealand, so there I took another photo of “Ali with Kiwi Mate”:

“Hey, it’s OK–I can’t fly either, mate.”

This past summer, both sons + Mate gathered in Vermont for a construction blitz on our cousins’ “new” old house. Ali flew there in a care package of cookies, to make a legendary appearance inside an ear of corn the Mate was shucking. (Sadly, no picture of that.)

Don’t know how Ali made it back to the Wet Coast, but he reappeared this past month, folded inside the ferry commuter ticket in our glove box. I decided Ali must have a special Christmas. So I stuffed him inside the yule log cake (Buche de Noel) I was creating.

In you go, lil’ guy!

Don’t eat too much whipped cream in there!

Of course I made sure that one of our sons got the “special” piece of cake. (Son One got the honor.)

Alligator? What alligator? Have a slice of Yule Log! Merry Christmas!

We actually borrowed this idea of family pranking from our Vermont cousins. They did the same thing with an evil-looking doll they called “Malice.” The idea of finding a creepy doll inside, say, one’s freezer, veers too close to heart-attack-land for my taste.

But a cute little alligator? All he does is make us laugh, and think of how much we enoy each other. 

Anyone else out there have an ongoing family prank to share? Anyone want to start 2018 with a new tradition? Be sure to take pictures!

My New Year’s Resolution: Keep Writing New Year’s Resolutions, Damnit

Who cares if I still have an unworking Stairmaster in my barn?

[Last year’s resolution: By the end of 2015, I will have either fixed my Stairmaster machine or gotten rid of i])

Who cares if I’m still in the middle of Chapter 16 in a 21-chapter book? 

[Last year’s resolution: By the end of 2015, I will have finished the first draft of Altitude (Book Three of the Flying Burgowski trilogy) and be actively re-revising the first half]

Who cares if I never got beyond the “we should get together for a walk or a cup of tea sometime, huh?” stage of inviting someone I don’t know well for a walk or a cup of tea?

[Last year’s resolution: By the end of 2015, I will have invited someone I would like to know better for a walk or a cup of tea]

As I wrote last year, “The secret to success is having really low standards.” It’s also, I believe, the maintenance of the feeling of forward progress–the alternative to which is stepping into that swamp of grumpiness and self-pity where the only escape is too much chocolate…you see where this leads, right?

So let me take a minute to celebrate the two resolutions that I DID keep last year:

  1. riding my bike in to work at least as often, if not more often, than driving: check!
  2. developing a fitness regimen that includes daily strength and stretching exercises: check!**

** ahem ** Honesty compels me to admit that I officially adopted said fitness regimen all of **cough** four days ago…but HEY. I’ve kept it up for four days, in 2015, so that still COUNTS.

023 (2)

And all of those so-far-unkept resolutions are just that, I’ve decided: not failed, just late bloomers. Who’s in charge here? That’s right. So here are my new low-resolution resolutions:

By the end of 2016 I will have…

  • Finished, revised, and published Altitude
  • Kept up my biking vs. riding to work ratio
  • Kept up my daily fitness regimen (the secret to success here was  Son Two’s idea: “Why don’t you do it while you watch The Daily Show, Mom?”)
  • Made reservations for a 2017 trip to New Zealand to research my next novel (New Zealand?! Good on ya!)

…oh, and that Stairmaster? Maybe the unknown person I invite for a walk or a cup of tea will help me figure out what to do with it.

Got a resolution to share? Don’t believe in ’em? Tell me about it either way. And…Happy New Year!

“Dear Friends and Family”: A Love Letter to Annual Letters

Dear Folks Who Send Annual Letters,

Keep it up. You may get ragged by friends who think they have less time than you, or who have allowed electronic media to take the place of the good ol’ USPS in sending yearly greetings and updates. (Note to those  who’ve gone all-electronic: good for you too! You’re using fewer resources, and I do love hearing from you.) Your cards may not grace all your friends’ mantelpieces, even if they have mantelpieces, nor your photos their fridges, at all any more. But they’re on mine.

Keep sending photos, and if you have kids, please send pictures of yourselves WITH your kids, rather than just the kids. (Remember, I’m YOUR friend even more than theirs, and I want to see YOU grow along with them.)

Keep sending updates. Want to go long, detailed, month-by-month? I’ll read. Want to go pithy, one paragraph per family member? That’s my own method; I’m all over that. How about a poem? I LOVE annual poems. Get your kid to write the family letter? Even better.

Some of you may be wondering right now, “Is she being sarcastic?” So let me assure you otherwise. Here’s what’s left of my own pile of 120 letters:

...almost...there!!

…almost…there!!

I always sent cards, even before I had kids, but when I decided to write an annual letter, some 10 years ago, I set some rules.

1. Limit one page

2. These are NEW YEAR letters, not Christmas, so as long as they’re out by, say, Martin Luther King’s birthday, they’re not late

3. If it stops being fun, or if my friends start hinting they hate it, I quit.

10 years later–no complaints.Except that I would say the experience is more than fun; it’s an exercise in love.

 Each time I look up an address, each time I add a personalized note at the bottom of each letter, I’m “holding that person in the light,” as the Quakers say. I’m focused on them. How are they? When did I last see them or hear from them? What are the ongoing burdens or joys in their life? When might I see them again? What can I say that would bring them joy to read?

120 letters and two weeks later, I feel as though I’ve been through a long, happy, slo-mo receiving line.

I can’t post the picture I’m enclosing in this year’s letter, ’cause I’ve promised The Fam that I wouldn’t violate their privacy via photos. But if you don’t know me well enough to get one in your mailbox, here’s the cropped version:

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So, annual letter-writers? More power to ya. Send ’em in July, include paw prints from your cat. I don’t care. Just stay in touch, and give your friends the gift of holding you in the light.

Are you an annual letter-writer, or do they annoy or overwhelm you? Do you have particular likes or dislikes or recommendations of your own to share with those of us who are? Please share.

Happy New Year! Share That Resolution Here

The secret to success is having really low standards.

Joke. Kind of. What I really mean is making sure your goals are achievable, not pie-in-the-sky. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all S.M.A.R.T. goal-y on you. I’m just going to share mine for 2015. And since I know what a difference it makes in motivation to SHARE your goals, I invite you to do just that…as soon as I’ve shared mine.

By the end of 2015, I will have…

  • finished the first draft of Altitude (Book Three of the Flying Burgowski trilogy) and be actively re-revising the first half
  • ridden my bike in to work at least as often, if not more often, than I’ve driven
  • invited at least three people I would like to know better for a walk or a cup of tea
  • developed a fitness regimen that includes daily strength and stretching exercises
  • either fixed my Stairmaster machine or gotten rid of it 🙂

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Your turn. What are some of yours?

 

Low-Resolution Resolutions: When Shooting For the Moon Makes You Lose Touch With the Earth

Who isn’t blogging about New Year’s resolutions at this time of year? “Here are mine, what are yours?” It’s tempting. But I’m going to try a slightly different tack. I’m sharing my Low Resolutions.

I’m borrowing a photography term here, though  I’m not sure I can define it. Low resolution means…not enough pixels? The image is a bit fuzzy. Easy to see what the picture is, but plenty of room for improvement.

Room for improvement is exactly what I’m leaving myself when I consider what I want to accomplish in 2014.  I’ve never been a shoot-for-the-moon gal. I’m more of a baby steps type, and last I checked, baby stepping isn’t a great way to go all lunar. But let me give an example.

moon

Within six months of leaving my teaching career, I could honestly say that I was living the dream. What was I doing? Working three days a week in a small bakery, making $10.50/hour, and spending the rest of my week writing, recreating, and doing volunteer activities. My “dream” was super low-key. The secret, for me, was having low standards keeping my objectives moderate.

Another example? When I started Kristen Lamb’s blogging class for writers last year, we were assigned to write our short and long- term goals (an assignment I very much appreciated). We had to post these goals online, and I noticed that most of my virtual classmates aspired, within three to five years, to be best-selling authors and prize winners in their genre.

My reaction: “Huh. Seems like signing up for disappointment. Why would I want to do that?”

I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits,and one of my favorite concepts in his book is the Circle of Control. I can’t control the weather, but I can sure control what kind of clothes I wear in response. I can’t control American mass media nor the tastes of readers, but I can control what I write, and the trajectory of my own self-promotion.

Baby steps. By the end of February, my first novel will be published via CreateSpace, with a professionally-designed jacket. Three months later, it will have sold at least 100 copies. Three months after that, 200. Those are super-modest goals, I think. Which is why they’re achievable. Low Resolutions.

And while I’m at it, for tradition’s sake: I will lose three pounds by the end of January. (Lookin’ at YOU, tummy-fat.)

(orig. image courtesy recipes.com)

(orig. image courtesy recipes.com)

But see? Three pounds, not five. And not a word about bikinis. Keepin’ it REAL, as in realistic. That’s Low Resolution resolutions.

How about you? Got any Low Resolution resolutions for 2014 that you’d care to share? Or are you a believer in going BIG regardless?