Saturday, January 1, 2011

More than just recycling

I used to be a get-the-Christmas-prep-finished-far-in-advance person, but now I work as a laborer instead of in an office, and my Christmas bonus usually comes in small bursts from generous clients rather than all at once from the publisher or senior shareholder.

So now I am among the ranks of the last-minute Christmas people, and I found myself shopping for elements of our Christmas dinner on Christmas eve with everyone in Portland. I learned two very important things:

1. Ancho Chile powder is VERY HARD to find up here. New Seasons stocks it in the "kooky international" section, but only in the little cellophane baggies on the ends of the isles, and it's sort of hit-and-miss. Some locations have it, some don't. I forget how spoiled we were in Colorado, and how even in the tiny food stamp Safeway downtown one could find tortilla baskets and about seven different kinds of chiles, powdered and whole. To say nothing of the Mexican grocery stores with fresh tortillas, tamales, etc. I'm sure there are Mexican Grocery stores here but 4pm on Christmas Eve is not the time to find them, and our glorious pork roast had to be made with a generic "Chili Powder". It was fine. It will be made with the proper chile next time. I should petition for the addition of Ancho Chile Powder in the spices at People's. It may be there, it was just WAY too busy to check that night.

2. Similarly: track down your baguettes ahead of time. The three different stores I checked (including the bakery!) were out of baguettes or any comparable crusty artisan loaf, which really would have made the melty mushroom's broth and the cheese-and-salami Christmas Eve platter. Next year I'll just do what I should have done anyway: make it at home.


1. Find a good Mexican grocery store. Get to know the butcher.

2. Be a little bit more mindful of time cycles and celebrate the new much more consciously. I got a little off-kilter last year when my focus mostly revolved around knee-healing. Between that and finally getting the budget/spending rhythms figured out -- both in terms of a.) How We Consume and b.) Incidental Life Changes (like having to be a last minute Christmas-person instead of a planner) -- the anticipation aspect of what makes life interesting sort of got lost in the shuffle, and time suddenly started to fly by at the rate I used to hear adults lamenting about. And that won't do.

I'll slow time back down to normal speed by looking forward to things again, celebrating the small things as I did last spring when my new knee learned to walk. There were really magical elements to that time, so I'll take the best and leave the rest.

2a. Similarly: I want to get back in the habit of meditating.

3. (2b.) I need to re-establish the daily routine in general, incorporating a daily walk, gardening time, weekly project cooking and what not. What I have now is workable but I find I am back to ending the day with wishing I had done something I hadn't.

I need to also get this routine to include Anthony, since by the middle of next year (Lord willing, weather permitting) I'll no longer live as a bachelor half of the time.

4. Continue the culling of books, music, clothes. I did very well last year, and I think I deprogrammed a lot of my old consuming habits very well. I think I can do even better this year.