The weirdest thing, thus far, about this project I’ve embarked upon with the Real Life Rock book has been my desire to return to it every day. If only other habits I’ve tried to develop fared so well.

But…what better distraction from early February? What better misdirection from my middle-age frets and our unpredictable weather and Illinois’ budget impasse and that feeling of… spinning, like the beach ball, as we wait to find out which schools Lilly’s been accepted to, plus the decisions yet to come down from Mt. FAFSA?

None better. It’s the perfect casual late winter project for me; this revisiting my own unique experience – as a very impressionable and rather dumb young person – of music and cultural discovery has been an excellent time so far, if a little navel-gazey.

But – the music! Each morning I read the next list (the lists were published weekly, but in my current universe one 1986 week = one 2016 day), then search for the songs on that list; if I can find them in Spotify, I add them to a playlist. If Spotify searches bear no fruit, sometimes can I find songs on YouTube and listen. Here are some random thoughts I’ve had while performing this exercise:

Man, I remember those Sin Alley compilations when re-pressings came in to Cargo.

I’m amazed at how quickly I am returned to my freshman year at Macalester upon hearing any track from Elvis Costello’s Blood and Chocolate.

I did not know who the Mekons were until 1990.

It is completely obvious that Steve Perry (from Journey) taught himself how to sing by listening to Sam Cooke.

80s Bryan Ferry!

I should be done with 1986 in a week, give or take a day. Then the playlist breathes for another week or so while I try to watch a few of the films referenced in the lists, or maybe track down a couple of the books/articles/magazines Marcus talks about. I’m not going to bother looking for Godzilla (2/18/86), but I’m definitely on the hunt to borrow a copy of Forced Exposure #10 (9/9/86). Anyone?


Decisions have been made:

  1. I’m joining the local Audubon Society.
  2. No plants will be started indoors for the 2016 gardening season.
  3. Basic vegetable garden will still be planted, but…
  4. … there will be way (WAY!) more flowers…



It’s going to be cold again, we’re probably going to get snow again, and there is still plenty of winter left, but something happens when the sun gets back up to a certain height in the sky and daylight starts winning out.

It gives the house the scent of spring.

Daylight on Our Side

I went into a Gourmet black hole when I ran across these in the basement over the weekend:


They’re from the early 1980s. Things that struck me: Our progress in food photography. Only about half of each magazine was printed in color (reminding me a little of the current New Yorker). Women still regularly signed themselves as “Mrs. So-and-So” in their letters. The little tiny ads for travel opportunities. SO MANY RECIPES FOR QUICHE.


The birds – mostly sparrows – living in the giant yew bushes in front of our house are legion. They are also RAVENOUS. The feeders are empty, just a few days after I topped them off out of concern they wouldn’t be able to find anything to eat after the (paltry) 6″ of snow we received last Saturday. If I don’t fill our feeders, they fly two doors down or to the house behind us to eat… and now that I think about it, it’s probably safer that way for the birds, as we have a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk hanging around who chases sparrows and juncoes into the giant yew bushes. It will also wait patiently for an hour on one of our single tree’s low branches – an hour – for a little bird to make a fatal mistake. I guess hunger does that to a bird.

I’m anxious as the vernal equinox and daylight savings time approach. I feel much the same about late warm weather as I do early cool weather – it’s robbing us of our time outside, planting seeds & tending to the resulting plants (with luck, anyway), eating fresh, seeing friends, playing games…the extra daylight is lovely, but it’s too cold (10° F as I type) to get much done except for the same stuff I’ve been getting done inside for the past 4 months: dinner, dishes, vacuum, laundry,  groceries, read/write/pass out on couch under extra blanket, etc. But then I realize this state of affairs might be the new normal:

Last week we saw several inches of snow, slush raining out of the sky, a really nice warm-up that helped melt the foot of snow on the ground, a tornado watch, and an inch of rain in 30 minutes on top of all the snow. Tonight’s low temperature: Two degrees. Barf.

That’s from a BYI entry from last year on February 25. We haven’t even had the weirdly warm day this year, though. WHERE IS OUR WEIRDLY WARM DAY?

The upshot: 909 needs a good spring cleaning – the kind where one throws open the windows even if it’s a little on the cool side and one aggressively cleans out closets and washes all the floors and launders all the things and eats a salad when one is done. I feel rather weighed down by possessions. I look around me and I see some things that make me happy, and many things that are just… habit. Hm. That sounds like how I feel about me – some things that are making me happy (family, love, friends, creative pursuits), but other things are just habit (lack of exercise, eating perhaps a little too much, etc). I really do feel like opening the windows will change everything.


 Tim and I and a couple of other awesome people are busy cranking out long-awaited BYI videos. Tour de Coop should be ready next week, and I’m already at work laying out the final two. I’ll be glad when the project is finished – it’s been fun, but it’s time to learn how to do a podcast and save the longer short videos for special occasions.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

Facebook keeps changing their algorithm

How advances in food and health have changed our physiques

Using Slack and Google Hangouts effectively for work

“Tea Tuesday” has begun at NPR

I enjoy Adam Scott’s Twitter

My brain, in pictures