Some handy tools

I thought it would be nice to do a little round up of some of the tools that we find useful on a pretty regular basis. Some of these are every day tools, some are things we’re still trying out, or that have been useful in the past but maybe not right now. It is in no way comprehensive. These are mostly focused on keeping shit in order, one way or another.

Superbetter You’re a hero, recovering from an illness or injury. Build a network of friends who help support you on your journey to conquer bad guys and get better!
unfuck your habitat “Terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes,” pretty much sums it up. Except it’s really not bad. Realistic goals, accountability, and support, proving that yes, we can all take better care of our spaces.
monthlyinfo No-frills online menstrual cycle tracking, with customizable email alerts. I get one that says “your period is coming, be nice!” and Carlos gets one that says “Throw shiny things at Rose!”
epic win Make your to do list an RPG. You set your own goals, and make progress by taking care of business.
sleep cycle Everything is better when you’re sleeping well. I swear it to you. Sleep cycle is a phone-based app that tracks your sleep pattern and wakes you at the optimal point in your cycle.
Donna This is not yet publicly available, but Carlos has signed up for the beta. It looks cool!
Astrid Another to-do list tool! But this one lets you team up, delegate, send email to-dos, and it has a cute octopus mascot.
google calendar Sometimes you need to set aside time in a hardcore way. Want to make sure that you’ll actually meditate on a certain day? Schedule that shit! Spouse time: put it in the calendar! Having the ability to create events on one another’s calendars is really useful for Carlos and I, because it allows us to help keep each other on the right track. I can make an appointment for him, set up email reminders, and never have to (even kind of) nag him. And he can do the same for me. Brilliant.

Swimming Up River – A Chinook

I bought a van last week–a 1986 Ford Chinook!

We don’t have a name for it yet. But, this is why I have been less active on the blog, and on Twitter, lately. I have been tearing the van down to its bones.

Interior Cab

I’ve already taken out the bench-seat/bed and freshwater tank to clean and renovate them. I am also tearing up carpet, lots of carpet. I’m fairly certain the previous owner derived sexual pleasure from carpeting, because there are places where there are two layers of different carpet.

Interior shot - Chinook

Over the next few weeks I am checking all of my lines (water, propane, electric), reinstalling insulation, and re-upholstering to make this into a more perfect dominion–and to make as energy efficient as possible. Once I have the interior torn out I will update more frequently with what it looks like to bring a 1986 Chinook into the 21st century.

If you have any suggestions for what we should name it please put those in the comments!

Houston, we have a problem

climbing mt fujimama

Rockford has figured out climbing.

A couple days ago, we were all playing in the front yard, and he decided he wanted to investigate the dogs, who were still in the house, behind the storm door. So, he crawled over to the front steps, and then right over them, up to the door. I’ll be honest, I kind of hoped it was a fluke, but it was not.

Just now, as I was sitting here drafting an entirely different post, that thing you see above happened. He used my arm to get his feet up to my chest, and from my chest to my neck. Not pictured is the next step, where he got himself entirely into the window sill. I am pretty proud, and now also worried, because he loves to GO! I think we’re officially in the “running our butts off” stage of parenthood now.

In other weird baby news, he’s working on teething. Most babies pop their lower incisors first, right? Rock seems to be taking his teething clues from vampires, because I can see both is second incisors on top coming up to the surface. I hadn’t really thought about what the whole teething process was going to look like. Teeth are really weird. Yet another way that babies are both amazing and kinda gross.

Sneaky Friday

Oh, hello again, Friday unproductiveness…

OK, look, it’s not actually true that I haven’t been productive this week, but I feel like the blog has very little to show for it. So let’s do a little run-down of where we’re at, shall we?

On Tuesday, Carlos and I borrowed my dad’s truck and drove to Summit/Waller, in what I sincerely hope will be my last-ever visit to the greater Puyallup area. The reason we drove there, on a grand roadtrip mini-adventure with our adorable baby? We went to look at (and ultimately, buy) a van. A Chinook! It’s diesel, from the 80’s, but good-diesel-from-the-80s, not terrible-experiments-in-diesel-from-the-80s. At first, I thought it had some serious cigarette smell, but it turns out that was just the guy we bought it from (ick). Once we took the weird

I’m not going to lie – it’s smaller than our first apartment, and older than half my siblings, and I’m totally in love. Carlos is in the process of pulling out the nasty shag carpeting covering much of the walls (why, people? Can anyone tell me?), so we can re-insulate and re-upholster. I’ve started the epic game of downsizing-tetris whose ultimate goal is to fit our most needed necessities into the van (as yet without a name), and minimize the amount of stuff we end up putting in storage.

On Tuesday, we also bought a Dahon, a rather-snazzy folding bike, which turned out to be not quite what I thought we were getting. Live and learn, I suppose. It’s still super cool, in any case.

Wednesday: house cleaning. This house takes a lot of cleaning. Five adults, one super baby, 150 lbs of pets, oy. I think I did other stuff, but all I remember is chasing Rock and fighting an epic fight against pet hair and dirty dishes.

Yesterday I wrote a thing that I’ll be sharing with you, but it’s still in a too-much-ranting state. It’s also a little high on the “esoteric polyamory problems” scale, though I think it’s a really important thing for us to talk about. It’s a response to some language that has been popping up with increasing frequency in the conversations that Carlos and I are having with other people about poly and I think it’s an opportunity for some disambiguation, and dismantling of no-longer-useful conceptions. For now, let’s let it suffice to say that I have lots of thoughts about how we talk about things, and some grumpiness about self-appointed spokespeople doing things poorly. (yeah, that’s vague. Sorry.)

And then, I took an awesome walk in the post-rain dusk with my sweet husband and our first/practice baby, Dita Lily, then we hung out in our van, talking about our feelings. Because that’s how we do. And I have this to say: I LOVE OUR VAN!

And now, as if by magic, it’s Friday, again! It keeps sneaking up on me. I totally meant to tell you about how much fun we had throwing a 60th birthday party for one of the best people ever, and show you some pictures of the wisteria arbor, and I’m overdue to share some baby pictures. Like last year, I’m just about to finish a sweater project, right in time for summer weather. And, you guys, THE WISTERIA ARBOR! I want to live under it forever. I want to get married under there, perhaps retroactively.

But for now, I’ll just say that I hope the sun is shining where you are! It’s beautiful here, and we’re going to make the most of it. Love you!

Clear floor, clear mind

I think that if you told me 15 years ago that I would be finding comfort and calm in cleaning up other people’s mess, I would have called you crazy. And yet, here I am, covered in dust and happy as a clam.

I’m writing this from a break in my bi-annual (no, tri-annual?) expedition into cleaning my parents’ garage. Last year I spent some (but not really enough) time fighting through a friend’s basement, and the year before that I put a beat-down on my sister’s patio/miscellany-pile. While it wasn’t the highlight of that vacation, it was still a satisfying morning.

The garage is easy for me because none of what I’m cleaning is mine, and there’s a big pay-off. Cobwebs, sawdust, plaster dust, cat hair, everything goes into the shop-vac.

One of my elementary school teachers had a sign that said something like, “If a messy desk means a messy mind, what does an empty desk mean?” The implication here is that an empty mind is a bad thing, of course, but there’s another side to it. An clear desk isn’t really empty, and neither is an clear mind.

For me, remembering to meditate helps keep my mind cleared out of cobwebs and dust. I can’t meditate for anyone else, but I can help make a little space in the world feel clearer. Part of this is purely selfish – I’m storing a bunch of stuff in that garage, and our life literally always benefits from less cat hair in the environment. Beyond that, the nature of cleaning (engaging the body in action while making few demands on the mind) is an easy meditative space for me to enter. But it’s not only selfish – I have the resources (time, strength, non-attachment) to take on the challenge of a dusty garage or overflowing patio, and applying them makes one corner of the world clearer and more functional. “Clear floor, clear mind” is a goal that we often use, especially when things are feeling chaotic. It’s easy to get started, and highly impactful, and transferable. Of course, I can’t clear your mind, but I can clear the way to your toolbench so you can do your own mind-clearing meditative thing.

Is it possible that we can apply “many hands makes light work” to the intensely-personal work of meditation? I do really love to sit in a group setting, much more than sitting on my own. More research is definitely called for!

Friday I’m In Love

Friday is my favorite day.

Today, it was sunny, although not warm. I swam ten (10!) laps.* Rockford put himself down for a nap!

I get to see my husband so soon! We ate lazy dinner and took Rock on a grand adventure to the grocery store, and washed umpteen loads of laundry.

Friday is taking-care-of-business day, make-hay-while-the-sun-shines day. It’s clean all the floors, get out of doors, baby dinosaur, four on the floor.

It is not, however, the easiest day to get my brain and body to settle into writing. At least, not in a way that fits well into the flow of the day. I get caught up in doing, and thinking-meditating-breathing while doing, and can’t quite get a hold of writing.

Just now, I’m writing while Rock is roaring around the living room, and Joe’s keeping an eye on my cookies. It’s not late, but I’m tired. Happy, productive tired, but still, tired. So I have a bit of a conundrum on my hands; how do I come to writing so that I can give it the love it needs?


*only 10, not 10!, math sticklers.

50 Ways, 14 Days

Good Afternoon, oh loveliest of people!

Forty six days ago, Carlos and I told you that we are embarking on (yet another) grand adventure, one that is ultimately all about you.

In case you’re just joining us, Carlos and I are writing a book about love, in all the ways that we make and share and enact it. We know about the ways that we share our love with one another, and the people closest to us, but we know there are as many ways to be a lover as there are lovers. We want to shine some light on all the love that’s out there.

50-Ways To Be a Lover from Rose del Rio on Vimeo.

The support and excitement you have shown us has been tremendous. I have so many songs to write! And so many video calls to arrange! OMG HURRAY!

In even more “OMG HURRAY” news, Team del Rio will be reunited this week! I cannot tell you guys how much I’m looking forward to smelling my husband. Also, so many hugs! You may not know this, but Carlos gives the best hugs, and they are all mine (except the ones Rockford will be getting).

Anyway, what that means is that it’s almost time for us to start rolling! And time for us to close the gap on our funding! Luckily, it’s kind of a tiny little gap that we have left – just $435 $410!

In case you haven’t taken a moment to check out our project, let me tell you that there is a way that one person (!) could make this happen for us. Are you a super generous person who loves us? Do you want us to roll up to your house and make you dinner (while you play with our baby, probably)? Be Part Of The Adventure! You can do it!

In reality, though, you don’t have to be rolling in dough to make this happen for us. If you have a little bit to chip in, please do. Please continue to spread the word. Every $5, $10, $20 helps, and makes it possible for us to bring this adventure to the world.

Love is weird, and that’s OK

Love is really hard for me some times.

In my “smart brain,” I know that it’s a two-way street, and that there’s a strong likelihood that the people I love also love me. I have been told that I am lovable, and people keep being friends with me and stuff, so clearly there’s something to that, but part of me still feels like I have to be perfect to be loved. I realize this is an artifact of old shit that I’m carrying around, but knowing that doesn’t make me stop feeling it.

When we were talking about depression last week, a couple people sent me private messages talking about “fake it ’til you make it.” It’s a tried-and-true method for a lot of people, and it has, at times, been an ally of mine. It works great for me in social situations – I roll in there like I’m an extrovert, like I’m comfortable being myself in a room full of strangers, and play along until I actually am comfortable (though never actually an extrovert). But when it comes to depression (and particularly this depression), it doesn’t cut it for me.

One of the things that Carlos said in his great post last week took a while to settle in for me. He said, “we have to show other people enough love that we can open up to them.” It seems a little backward, to say “here is my pain” and mean it as an expression of love. I, at least, want love to be happiness and sharing joy and creating positivity, and so this instruction “love them enough to show them your pain,” it feels counterintuitive to me. But, then again, I’m a hard-wired, dedicated introvert, with plenty of issues around showing vulnerability.

The vulnerability, though, is the key. All that pain that I think I’m sharing with you by opening up? It’s because of vulnerability. Showing you that I’m hurt isn’t necessarily showing you love (there are plenty of ways that sharing hurt is definitely not loving), but letting you see my broken insides, telling you that I trust you to see my pain and treat it with care, that’s love. Giving you that trust is an act of love from me to you, and opening that door is an act of love from me to me.

I often don’t know how to behave when I find myself in a situation like this. It feels insufficient and incomplete to say “thank you for letting me show you my vulnerability and treating it with kindness.” I feel like, at 32, with a husband and a child and plenty of living under my belt, I should be better than this. I feel like I shouldn’t still fall down the hole of depression, that I shouldn’t still find painful broken things inside of me. And I am still surprised to wake up every day and discover that people love me, not because they have to, but because… I don’t know. Because they do? (The phrase I want to use here is “porque sí,” “because yes,” but I don’t know an English equivalent.)

I guess the thing about love is that it always has the capacity to surprise and delight, even in dark times. I still don’t feel like I understand it, but I am grateful to have it in my life, and to be able to share it with my people.


Cider-braised Pork Butt

You guys! I cooked a food! And it was delicious! And perhaps even more exciting/scandalous/out-of-the-ordinary, I started with a recipe and actually followed it.

salt & pepper pork butt

Delicious pork butt, generously salted and peppered, pre-trussing.

tied pork butt

I found it much harder to photograph the trussed-up butt. Out of practice with the camera, boo.

apple cubes

Apples! I had a piece of pork about half as big as the recipe called for, and so only used about half an apple. This is a delicious organic Gala. Not pictured: the garlic cloves and tiny perfect red onion (that I substituted for shallots). Also, the cider, and ginger beer. Out of practice, still!

big porky mess

I asked Joe to slice the butt while I was doing something else, and forgot to tell him that the recipe specified slicing before removing the ties. The slices might have been tidier, but they could not possibly have been more delicious.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that Joe and I ate ours standing around the kitchen island, alternating bites of omg-so-tender pork and crispy roasted veggies out of their pans. It was tender and succulent and wonderful, and only became more so when we got around to heating up the leftovers.

The recipe is Braised Pork Shoulder with Cider and Ginger Beer, from Bon Apetit October 2012. I would link to it, but I cannot find it online. Tsk, tsk, Epicurious.