On the Agenda

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Blog Site

Check out www.catherineewilliams.wordpress.com for updates. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rainbows and Meatballs

Right now there is about three inches of snow on my porch. It's the first decent sticking snow we've had all winter, and it's beautiful. It kinda makes me want to go to bed and wish for Christmas.

The new experience of the day today was my attendance at the local Rotary Club. I went as a guest of my coworker, who attends regularly on behalf of our organization. The first thing that struck me was the homogeneity of the group. The overwhelming majority was of one race, one gender, and on generation. It really makes me wonder what is going to happen to groups like Rotary and to all the good work they do when this generation ages out -- maybe something to worry about sooner rather than later. Nevertheless the food was delicious (Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites), the student-of-the-month presentation was heartwarming and the program was interesting. One of the Rotarians had recently spent some time in Tanzania, visiting churches and a brand new hospital.

What I liked most about his presentation was the photo slideshow. After many study abroad and mission trip spiels, it never fails to amaze me how colorful and bright and clean these people's clothes are. First off it makes me think that if we all still used the sun instead of dryers, that products like Clorox2 would not be necessary. Second, it makes me kinda jealous of this whole form of expression that they have that we do not. I know that people in the Global North use fashion to express themselves, often to a fault, but it doesn't match the colors and the symbolism and the importance that cloth and pattern has for people in poorer parts of the world.

Of course this isn't the only message I got from Rotary today, but it was the part that stuck with me. In other news, my friend Anoop Desai made it to the next round of American Idol. Normally I am not a fan, but it's pretty exciting when you're watching every montage for a familiar face. Rock on, Anoop Dog. Peace.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Canvas Bagging It

Just an intro note to start with: Normally I get my images from the Creative Commons search on Flickr, and I post the username of the photog and a link to the CCLicense. I generally post these very small. But this time I really wanted to point out the image and the great project behind it. So click on the link about and then click back through all the previous posts. I thing it's a wonderful idea, and her little playing card paintings are so adorable!

Other than the Lunchbox Project, what I really wanted to highlight is the concept of the waste-free lunch. I know it's definitely not a new idea (I have vivid memories of an American Girl accessory set that involved a red gingham napkin in a lunch pail... but after a short search I'm either crazy or they've stopped making it). But for some reason I'm taken in by it anyway.

All our ziploc bags seem ridiculous. Even the paper sacks seem ridiculous. Even the most irresponsible youngster manages to bring his lunchbox home more often than not (I would think), but for some reason we still pack in containers that we easily can toss afterwards.

The two companies I have seen do this well (and the things I really want to buy and use every week) are these: Laptop Lunches makes a sort of Americanized version of the bento box. They include the outer box and four smaller inside containers, plus a tiny little container for salad dressing, etc. The whole kit comes with some silverware and a book about packing healthy lunches. Unfortunately all the lunchbox books out there are for parents trying to pack lunches for their picky children. This is frustrating as I am neither a child nor a picky eater, at all. But the Laptop Lunch book also has some good grocery-buying tips, etc.

The second thing I think is awesome are these fabric alternatives to ziplocs. I came across some in a store downtown this weekend that carried some with a water-resistant lining and a snapping flap, but I kinda like these velcro ones from Plum Creek Mercantile. Plum Creek also carries these cool bulk bags that you can take with you to the store. I'm really trying to buy certain foods in bulk this time. Between the wasted packaging and all the wasted or simply stale food and spices, it just doesn't make sense to buy conventionally packaged foods. Lucky for me we have a great natural foods store that has an excellent bulk section. I even got my soy sauce in bulk, and I think I paid like 97 cents for it.

So just a bit of an eye-opener/cool trend that I wanted to share. Developing my wish list and my shopping list. Healthy food, healthy planet. Peace.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Renewal of Curiosity

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism-- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths."— Obama

The strange looking animals pictured above are Highland Cattle, also know as Hairy Coos. Don't ask me why, I have no idea. But they're kinda cute. I don't know how they see where they're going.

I wanted to write something after the inauguration. Something about how real it felt to me and how good. And about how I love Michelle's comfortable glamor and Barack's humble wait in the hallway. I'm excited to see what will happen and hopeful because I might actually have the chance/inclination to become involved this time around.

My parents gave me a subscription to Newsweek for Christmas, and this week I've read the issue nearly cover-to-cover, which has been a real treat. I'm for staying connected and informed without being pulled down into international pessimism. I'm hoping that reading well-written news will do better for this than too much TV or even radio.

Which all kinda leads me (in a very weird, indirect way) to what I am considering to be my New Years Resolution. Yea, yea… I know it's been a month already so I'm a little late, but these things need to be considered. And in my defense I did come up with this at the beginning of the month. I'm just getting to posting it now, which you will come to see is the slightest bit ironic.

The word of the year is "intentional." I want to live with my with more intention. Do what I say I am going to do, in a way that encourages curiosity and productivity. It's not that I want to get more done, I want to do more with the full awareness of what and how I am doing.

So there. That is the big picture for 2009. A little late, maybe a little hairy. But hopefully a lot curious.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Shine On

Into a new year, a new job, and a new home. Quite the quiet NYE this year, but maybe that's best. It was a crazy holiday, with everyone together and things changing and such. But maybe that's all for the best too, in the long run.

What I have realized more than anything else in the coming weeks is the importance of my friends. Not just how great it is to know people, but how much those special few really mean, and how much I am like them. Even when they are far away, real friends are always able to make you feel at home, to make you feel like one of them, to make you feel loved.

Of course it's wonderful to feel loved by your family and those people who are closest to you, and I would never want to give that up for anything. But that special call after midnight on New Year's Eve, or the strange similarities between hopes and dreams and life discussion, I would give that up either.

The bulk of my NY Resolutions appeared in a post a while ago. But for now I just want to say how thankful I am for my friends.

Happy New Year, and more about the new life later. Peace.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peace and Warmth

I didn't have a title in mind for this post, until I found the photo. The title is taken from it. And I think it best describes what I'm looking for right now, and what the waiting of Advent is about.

Life is crazy, with good news and bad news, with frustrations and new adventures. But it's somehow always crazier at this time of the year. I just got a job, a real-life, grown-up job, at Montreat. And I'm thrilled, and so excited to be learning new things and going out there and getting things done. It brings up its own set of questions and stresses, but it's still good. (I apologize for being vague here... sometimes typing "out loud" even in vague terms can be useful.)

On a more concrete note, I was watching Mary Poppins last night on ABC Family (their 25 Days of Christmas ranks high on my marathon list, up there with the Bond one that Spike usually runs around New Years), and it occurred to me how much of that movie was stamped into my memory. The songs, the words, the tone of voice, the images especially. (Which also makes me a little frightened to wonder what we are stamping into children's minds these days.) But I remembered all of it, and also recognized that I had never fully understood much of it before. Even though I am no longer a child, this story holds a certain magical quality, and was a perfect thing to watch before bedtime.

A few of my friends are carrying on quite wonderful blogs these days, and I am inspired by their insight. Check out Kara's blog and Bruce's blog (he's not a real friend yet, but he is the moderator of the PCUSA and quite an awesome presence on the Web).

Peace. And warmth. And please send some my way, too, if you will.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Smoked Out

Have you ever had a smoke alarm go off in the middle of the night for no apparent reason? If you have, you'll know about the adrenaline rush, the terror of the noise and the unknown of the cause behind it. It's awful. And that's how my night went last night. I did, however, manage to complete Monday's USA Today crossword in less than 15 minutes, at 3:00 a.m. Fun? Not so much.

So it was pretty easy to convince myself that I deserved to sleep in this morning, making Operation Rise and Shine a no-go.

In other news, my morning job will be serving lunch for the next two weeks, taking a lot of stress off of me, and tonight is the second installation of our Young Adult Intentional Community Advent Dinner. I'm bringing lentil soup, which I'm pretty excited about. Yay hearty winter bowl food. Peace.