Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The past holiday weekend was a bit of a mini-vacation for me. I worked the Market on Saturday, which meant today was Day 3 of my three-day weekend. The weather was hot, but DANG, has it been glorious to be away from the office. I’m not exactly looking forward to heading in tomorrow…but I’m not dreading it, either. That’s something.

Some photos from today, just a few minutes ago:

This is Mongo, a little black bunny who lives in the neighborhood.

Mongo is not fond of the paparazzi. At all.

Seriously, you guys.

That’s cool. I’ll take photos of the neighbors’ chickens instead.

What do we want? COMPOST! When do we want it? NOW!

NOT a rooster, OK?

Altogether, it’s been a satisfying last few days, and I’m squeezing the last bit out this evening while Jim does some heavy lifting for the grad students moving into our now-in-CHGO  friends’ house behind us.

Speaking of backyard living, you can access my most recent IMBY segment, “Crooked and Uneven: The New Black” for listening any old time you like. It’s about gardening with found and/or very cheap objects and how not having the stuff to create a million-dollar garden means total jack these days and should never be an excuse, which I was trying to make it into. I like to use this Nikki McClure image for inspiration:

Photo by Flickr user Meeldientje

Seriously. This is my current mantra as I wonder what’s next, as I try not to be lazy because, well, the million-dollar garden isn’t happening: Use what you’ve already got to make something awesome.

And with that, dinner.


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I hate it when things don’t work out they way I’ve planned them… because it takes a lot for me to actively plan something.

Plans are nothing without the planning, I get that. And this time I planned, but not enough.

I’m a reluctant planner, pressed into service thanks to motherhood. My planning ways are not native to me; I started hating surprises in earnest when the kids were small, so I started trying to direct things a little better. That isn’t to say that I/we are particularly good at it, a decade later. I still sometimes favor the bad choice because the alternative – planning – is boring. I’m REALLY bad at the long-term stuff, but that’s another story.

In any event, Plan B is in development. Sorry to be vague. It’s totally nothing big in life’s grand scheme.

OK. I need to get caught up on some photos here.

Photo a day #18: Something I Bought

[It was my supervisor’s birthday.]

Photo a day #19: Something Sweet

[This sits in a drawer at work and was a birthday gift from the aforementioned supervisor. One good turn deserves another.]

Photo a day #20: Someone I Love

[Jim picking up the check at Black Dog.]

Photo a day #21: Reflection

[Taken in the ladies’ room at the Extension office in Bloomington, IL before giving a presentation.]

Photo a day #22: Shoes

[Frye boots have been the best pal of my feet for the last 5 years.]

My friend Amy said today, on Facebook (and I’m OK reporting this type of interaction because we actually had lunch together today, face-to-face, and talked about so so many things), that even the cats are depressed by the weather. I laughed because it’s true. It was warm, then it was really cold, then we had some sleet, then a little snow, and it was still cold, and now it’s quite a bit warmer but we had this weird fog today and I just heard that we might get a thunderstorm and that there are tornado watches to the south of us. We all keep talking about the weather, and how this isn’t really winter, and isn’t it weird, so weird… but honestly? This is the new new normal, which is to say that the meteorologists have no idea.

Maybe this really is the worst winter ever … because one can’t plan around it.

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Where I Sleep

Crowne Plaza, Springfield, IL

Tonight, anyway. After a long day of conferencing and meetings, this bed will do. I have a 7 AM (!) meeting tomorrow and then I’m getting the hell out of here – the internet is too damn slow and winter weather will be approaching and I miss my family and my own bed.


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Today I got up quite early for a winter Saturday, put on some clothes, gathered my things, and drove about 200 miles south of here to deliver Farmers Market 101. I put together a presentation for fledgling farmers about best practices that can help ensure success at farmers markets… from the market manager’s point of view. My big talky theme right now is about creating a culture of commitment within the local food system, and especially within the framework of preserving markets as public spaces and community resources, so I test-talked about this concept as well as giving quite a bit of nutsy-boltsy advice to these farmers (Nutsy-Boltsy Piece of Advice #1: Be cool to the market’s manager. Seriously. Even if that wasn’t my job it would be my #1 piece of advice.). It was a little weird and definitely awesome to see people writing things down as I spoke. I wanted to look at people’s notes – are you actually getting something out of all this babbling? I wanted to ask. Rather than give handouts with bullet points when I do presentations, I give them copies of my slides with room for notes because I want listeners to write down what they’re taking away, what’s important to them, rather than me tell them what’s important. It’s going to be different for everyone.  I gauged people’s reactions as I spoke, and will be tweaking the presentation for delivery to a similar group later this month. I am so not proficient at this, so the practice is good. But talking about farmers markets is one of my favorite things to do.

Over lunch, I talked with a woman who used the term “smart farm” regarding her operation and I’ve been turning the words over in my head since we chatted. The context was diversification within the operation – stop growing what doesn’t sell, start listening to what customers want, embrace technology, try new ways of reaching customers, be flexible. She totally rocked. I hope to run into her again.

I don’t love getting up in front of people and presenting, so when I have to do it, I tend to wear clothes I love and feel the most myself in.

My new favorite sweater by Sherpa, plus brown Levi's cords

Jim & Lilly found this lovely brown Sherpa sweater for me and surprised me with it for Xmess this year. I am not exaggerating when I say I wear it all the time and would wear it every day if I could; I’m currently trying to lay my hands on at least one more in another color so I can mix it up. It’s lightweight but warm, flattering, and generally very cool. I wore the sweater and my best-fitting brown corduroys today and felt pretty together.

Then I drove, and drove, and drove. Central and southern Illinois are not that much fun to drive through in the winter, even when it’s sunny and 50 degrees. When I returned, Jim texted and asked if I wanted to go to Black Dog for a beer, and I said YES. It’s one of my favorite places, period, in C-U.

Just another Saturday at Black Dog

So we went, and ordered some wings to go, and while we waited, had a pint of Shark Attack and talked with the owner, Mike. His baby daughter is almost 5 months old, and he offered me some baby-holding time.

I’m going to take him up on it.

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Letterbox sent as a housewarming gift in 2005 by Avi and Willow

The holiday cards have slowed to… well, nothing, and the letterbox has reverted to its usual role – a repository for satellite dish ads, admonishments to resubscribe to this or that magazine, the odd bill, local junk. Do people write letters anymore? I certainly don’t, though I should to M, and J, and my Opa in Arizona. I imagine their letterboxes do not receive enough letters, either. Anyway, “letterbox” was the prompt for the Photo A Day Challenge I’m doing here and on Instagram this month. I wasn’t sure if whoever concocted this challenge meant an actual letterbox or some sort of fancy digital photography technique or what, so I went with what I knew. I love this letterbox, given to us by Avi and Willow when we moved into 909 almost 7 years ago.

We’re back to work and school chez B-K. Once again, running the farmers market in 2012 is proving to be quite the massive undertaking. Nothing super-concrete has even happened yet, even. The Market, right now, is Potential. It’s just this huge pile of files and meetings that need to be had and list upon list of things that need to be done at certain times during the next 122 days. Then it will be Real. I’ll admit it – last season was difficult. People feel an incredible sense of ownership about the farmers market here – which is awesome – but that can make it hard, too. I think this season will be smoother, especially if the staff I worked with returns and the weather is good. Solid staff is huge, but the weather is MEGA in this business.

An email just came through asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed for a live, local TV talk/variety show that’s being shot at a local bar (link appears to be broken,  but check back!). Um, OK? I have no details, other than the fact it’s happening January 25. All I can think of when I think about doing TV or presenting at a conference is “I never sit/stand up straight” and “I’m really much wittier/smarter/cooler than what ends up coming out” and “yikes”, but that’s always for work. This offer, such as it is, is a direct result of my presentation about the IMBY radio segments at a C-U Pecha Kucha night back in early November, which was really fun. It also made me realize that when I’m talking about something I made – that I do for myself because I enjoy doing it and I know exactly what I’m doing and why I’m doing it at all times – I definitely stand up straighter.

I might even come off as somewhat witty.

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