currents & waves

floating in an ocean of arts & humanities

April 2008 - Posts

it's spring time! flowers bloom, birds crank up the volume, and the sun isn't quite deadly yet. and so, for the seventh idea for thrifty fun...

combine a nature walk with a picnic!

whether you make a day of it and explore a trail system in your area or take a short stroll around a city park, spring is an especially fun time to turn a walk into a happening. a nature walk with food can be a short as your lunch break or as extended as you want. you don't have to worry about finding a great out-of-town spot for your walk, either. nature is all around, even in the weeds pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk or the geese crowding the sidewalk around a city pond.

how is a nature walk different than a regular walk? the only real difference in a nature walk is that you set out with the purpose of paying attention to the bits of nature that surround you. it can become as involved as you want, featuring props like binoculars and field guides, or you can keep it so low key that even a close observer wouldn't know that you're on a nature walk as opposed to a regular walk. (however, if someone is closely observing you on your walk, you should seek a well lit and crowded public place, stat!)

for the picnic portion of the walk, consider the time of day. there's no rule against packing danishes, juice and coffee and having breakfast outside! likewise, picnic does not automatically mean lunch. you could take an evening walk and have a picnic supper just as well. to get the most out of your walk, though, consider whether you intend to carrying your food along with you. bringing it along for the walk gives you the chance to find the perfect spot to stop and eat, but it also requires you to bring easy-to-pack foods. or, you can leave it in the car (assuming you drove!) and eat when you return if there's a nice area to do so. regardless, don't forget to bring along an adventure blanket to spread out on, wear the right shoes for the terrain, and pack the essentials: plenty of drinking water, mosquito repellent and sunscreen.

looking for places to do this? you can get out a map of your town and find the green areas that usually delineate parks--my cheapy gas station map marks all city, county and even state parks this way. or visit your city's website and check for a parks and rec page. most public city and county parks have no entrance or parking fees, but many have restrictions on hours of use. if you need this information ahead of time, be sure to check your city's website. for me, finding a new place to check out is half the adventure!

or if you're looking for a very specific kind of walk, you can ask people who share your interest (for example, if you want to go on a bird walk, track down a local bird watching club and ask for recommendations). you can also call the county extension office or even utilize your public library's reference librarian to get pointed in the right direction. another great place to look for suggestions is at the local outdoor supply stores. however, if you venture beyond the standard municipal green spaces, be sure to check ahead of time to find out any special regulations you may be subject to, including parking fees, permits, and restrictions on dogs. and as always, if you explore less frequented trails, be sure to let someone know where you're going and bring along appropriate emergency provisions.

but above all, get outside, look around, walk around, and enjoy a meal! it's springtime!

Posted by emcee christmas | 2 comment(s)
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maybe you're looking for something to do that doesn't involve going somewhere or having people over? then this installment of cheap thrills is for you! with that, i present you:

write a letter!  

when i was a little kid my mom would make me and my brothers each write a letter a week during summer breaks from school. we would whine about it... a lot! but by the time i was in my late teens and had friends scattered across the distances, i revived and updated this habit voluntarily. instead of weekly short letters written on lined notebook paper to relatives selected almost at random though, my new take on the letter was that, written spontaneously as opposed to on a schedule, it was a great way to genuinely communicate handpicked events and reflections with people who wanted to know about them to begin with. the best part was that most of my friends liked getting personal mail enough that they wrote back regularly. i think at the height of my personal letter writing craze, i was sending out one or two on a weekly basis.

i don't write so many letters anymore, and the pool of recipients have grown considerably (one unfortunate fact: i didn't consider family members good prospects until maybe three or four years ago). but whenever i do succeed in sitting down with a nice piece of paper and a good pen to compose a message specially tailored to one person, it brings me true joy. and when the letters and postcards show up in my mailbox in return, i am reminded that the time i took to write was well spent.
 


Posted by emcee christmas | 1 comment(s)
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so far, cheap thrills has reported on the tallahassee rock gym, playing with the dog, reading a book, and holding a dessert+games night. today, i suggest another personal favorite: 

visit the municipal pool 

tallahassee parks and recreation has a number of public pools that offer lap swim, open swim, water aerobics, swim lessons, and even a synchronized swimming team. at a mere $3 entrance fee, you can take a friend and still not hit the $10 mark. to visit the city's website for details on pool locations and hours click here.

swimming, as you may already know, can act as a low-impact full body workout that encourages cardiac and pulmonary health while building strength and flexibility. additionally, having an in-water workout seems to leave you with more relaxed muscles than some other forms of exercise. but if you'd rather just play, the pool can accommodate that as well. the trousdell location even offers a fun wading pool with a slide!

whichever route you take, fun and games or serious exercise, remember that even in the water you can become dehydrated, so be sure to bring a bottle of drinking water. other tips to improve your pool experience: remember that water reflects light and you will burn faster pool-side or in the water than away from the pool, so apply a good water proof sunblock according to the label's instructions. finally, if you can, pack a pair of swim goggles to protect your eyes from chlorine irritation.
 

 


 

 

 

Posted by emcee christmas | with no comments
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this showed up in my inbox today:

Good morning,

Just a reminder that the Street of Service event sponsored by Volunteer Leon and the Directors of Volunteers Association is this Sunday, April 13 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM in Railroad Square. The event is in conjunction with the 1st Annual Circle the Square for Peace event.  This is a great opportunity to learn about available volunteer opportunities while spending a fun filled afternoon with family and friends.
 
This is a free event and there will be something for everyone. Other special events and activities include:

o       Live performances by local bands
o       Manatee Mushroom Man
o       Farmer’s market fruit and vegetable vendors
o       Children’s games
o       Yoga instructions
o       Dances of Universal Peace
o       Face Painters
o        Pet Rescue and Adoption
 
The Second Sunday Fair at the Square will also be going on from Noon until
5:00 PM and beyond. The Sarah Mac Band will begin playing at 5:00 PM so there will be things going on into the latter part of the afternoon and early evening.

In addition, the Bloodmobile will be out there from 1:30 PM until about 4:00 PM. If you would like to donate, please email Bill Grace at aloha@balihi.us  so he can get you on the schedule. Please let him know in your email what time works best for you.

Finally, remember to bring your canned goods donation for the Second Harvest basket.


Sincerely,

Valerie Franklin
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Administrative Services Program
Florida Department of Revenue
501 S. Calhoun Street
Carlton Building, Room 335
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0100
(850) 414-9845
(850) 414-1316 Fax
frankliv@dor.state.fl.us

i'm definitely considering checking out the "streets of service" portion of the event and the sarah mac band myself. looks like plenty of other stuff to keep an attendee busy too--though personally i'll probably pass on the face paining.Smile

Posted by emcee christmas | with no comments
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i have four words for you. "the graduate was wrong." 

anyway, writer lady commented on my plastic diet! that's because she likes to be green, just like i like to be green.

here, i will share a specific strategy i use in the doing the no-more-plastic-grocery-sacks thing. 

ready?

okay, i store several reusable shopping bags in the car behind the seat! then when i get to the store, they're already there. when i bring them in the house full of stuff, i promptly (so not so promptly sometimes) unload them. then? i take the empty bag(s) and hang it (them) on the peg behind the front door where i see it (them) on my way out the door. the next time i leave the house and go to my car, i take it (them) with me.

this works for me in part, i'm sure, because i like everything to have a place in my house, and i like to keep stuff in its designated place. i can see where this alone would not help in some people's homes.

but. another reason it works--it's part of a habit. they say it takes about 21 times in a row doing something a new way to make it a habit. if you do the grocery shopping once a week, it could take half a year of doing this consistently to get this to be a habit. but even if you find yourself doing this only part of the time, don't give up! every time you remember to put this strategy into action you are doing something positive for the environment! and every time you remember to do it, you are reinforcing an emerging green habit.
 

Posted by emcee christmas | 1 comment(s)
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remember how i was singing the virtues of the tallahassee rock gym a few weeks ago in cheap thrills? last night's visit revealed the good news of new problems!

to clarify for those who don't frequent rock walls, a "problem" at the rock gym is a little different than the run of the mill problems encountered in daily life. rather than an unexpected event that you wish wasn't there or that causes negative stress, a problem for indoor bouldering or top-roping is a route the climber works their way across or up using designated hand holds and foot holds. from a start point (marked with a vee) to a finish point (marked with a square), holds on route are marked with tape. each route's tape markings are unique to the route in color, width, and/or pattern of tape. to put it another way, if you start at a vee made of thick neon pink tape, you then work with only the holds marked with strips of thick neon pink tape until you reach the end. the difficulty of a problem is marked on the start point.

fresh problems are exciting because once you've "mastered" a problem it isn't as fun as it was at the beginning--the challenge declines and it becomes more like a rote exercise. new problems require new thought and new physical solutions, which in turn keeps the activity dynamic. and unlike those unwelcomed problems life throws at you, a new problem at the rock gym is a problem you encounter on your own terms. you can take it at your own pace, you can "fail" to solve repeatedly without negative consequences, and you can select problems that stretch your skills without overwhelming yourself. finally, solving or failing a new problem at the rock gym seems to have the same general effect of inciting euphoria by the end of a session.

but, all explanations aside, this update would be incomplete unless it mentioned this: the new problems were super fun last night, and thanks to the expert coaching of one of my climbing companeras i picked up a couple new moves to boot!

Posted by emcee christmas | 1 comment(s)
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have a mini-party! make having friends come over to hang out feel like an occasion!

call up a very small handful of friends who all enjoy each other's company and have them over for a low-key dessert and games night! what you'll need:

dessert--you can bake a cake for under $10, no problem. i like to make my favorite faux-healthy chocolate cake and have someone else bring the ice-cream, but you can make it even easier with a cake mix or even a grocery store bakery selection.

music--i let the internet be the dj. radio paradise streams tunes a couple beats livelier than "adult contemporary" without ever playing anything too unusual (lately they really like bruce "the boss" springsteen and niko case). or, customize your own station at pandora by entering a "root" song and letting them pick songs with similar elements. you can steer the direction by giving each subsequent selection the thumbs up or thumbs down, which influences the next songs played. and, if you log in, you can save stations you've built and return to them again and again.

table games--throw in a couple rounds of boggle, yahtzee or dominoes and you've found a good way to sit around the table and chat after the cake and ice cream are all gone. if you open it up to friends of friends and end up with a few too many players you can always get a couple rounds of games going.

one of the best things about this is that you can keep it mellow enough for a week night, you can keep it brief enough for a warm up to a friday night out, or you can wile away a long rainy afternoon, all while incorporating a sense of celebration. plus, by keeping it simple there's little prep or clean up, and it works great as a last minute plan.

Posted by emcee christmas | 1 comment(s)
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i was over at five alive and learned that blogiversity has a new green forum! after being raised by back-to-the-landers, working in a food co-op for a few years, and living in what might be the nation's greenest city (why, portland, oregon, of course!), i sometimes forget that many of the things that seem "obvious" to me have never crossed paths with the majority of my compatriots.

this is to say, i sometimes assume that everyone has heard about the trouble with plastic. but then i do something like snip the plastic rings on a six-pack apart before disposing of it and have a casual observer ask me what i'm doing, and it draws me back to the world in which people haven't heard about the trouble with plastic!

to summarize the situation, plastic is not biodegradable. i was reminded about this in the opening quote of a blog post called eternal wasteland: the problem of plastics--it's a quick semi-inspirational post from one concerned writer coming face to face with the amount of plastic in their own life.

and to follow suit, i'd like to tell you (whether to any degree of inspiration or not you'll have to decide for yourselves) about my own plastic solution. i like to call it a "diet." generally when someone says they're on a diet, they mean they're are trimming their consumption of calories. that's what i do with plastic. i make a conscious, sustained, daily effort to let less plastic enter my life than i used to. 

plastic enters my life from all angles, but one position that is particularly easy for me to intercept is at the grocery store. some strategies i use: 

i fill a nalgene water bottle with filtered water to carry with me--no more disposable plastic water bottles in my life. i also keep a polycarb gallon jug filled in the car as a backup plan.

i reuse emptied containers to store leftovers. no more new rubbermaid purchases.

when i buy groceries from the bulk bins, i fill containers brought from home instead of using a new disposable plastic bag.

when the checkout clerk at the store asks, "paper or plastic?" i respond, "neither!" and hand over my canvas grocery shopping bag.

i buy baked goods at the service bakery when i can place the item inside of less packaging than if i bought the same product off the shelf.

instead of putting produce in produce bags, i take it home as is and then store it in containers that i already have in my cupboards and drawers.

 
like i said above, though, there are many other places plastics have the chance to come home with me. i try to keep an eye on that and ask myself if there's a better non-plastic option, too. but like any truly successful diet, stringent restrictions and purgings that can't be sustained over time are no match for the seemingly less extreme measures that can be incorporated into daily life for the long haul. thus, my number one trick for reducing plastic in my life:

never expect perfect adherence to the ideal, but aim to make plastic awareness second nature.
 

Posted by emcee christmas | 3 comment(s)
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here it comes again: first friday at railroad square!

after march's mind blowing ceramics and fibers at the 621 gallery i decided that this is a gallery to keep a close eye on! i'm eager to see what april's exhibition, "primal", holds in store! as usual i googled the featured artists. the photography of jane hesser is what i'm most anticipating tomorrow night.

i always enjoy my visit to big bend contemporary as well, but i wasn't able to dig up much on this month's artists. i did get an internet sneak peak at the multi-media work of fsu graduate student april saler-smith however, and i'm excited about seeing it in person.

usually my companions and i fill up on the $3 half-plates of vegetarian indian food served up in the northwest corner of the art park. tomorrow, though, i'll be casting my vote for a food stop at the renaissance cafe. last month we dropped by to fetch some late-arriving friends and caught them at the end of their cheescake (i think) dessert, and the leftover chocolate-sauce swirls made a lasting impression...

and then, saving the best for last, there's my special pick for first friday amusement: the bike in movies at krank it up, as featured a couple weeks ago in my "planning ahead" post. last month i also wagered the krank it up contribution (the acoustic stylings of locals ha-ha-hospital and billy idyll amongst other acts) would be a high point for me and that indeed proved to hold true. i expect this month's event to follow suit.

if you've never been and need more information on this monthly shindig, do follow the railroad square link at the top of this post for directions, contact info and the like.

Posted by emcee christmas | with no comments
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