2018: The Prof. Kitty Index

Happy New Year! How was your 2018? Here are some numbers from my year.

800+: running miles logged

86,000+: running elevation logged (in feet)

2: times the family went bowling together

3: days spent with hundreds of women I've never met before at Big Birdcamp (weekend gathering hosted by women's running brand Oiselle)

365: days I didn't drink alcohol

30: books I read this year written by women

0: books I read this year written by men

17: times I "climbed the Rattlesnake" (ran up the local mountain)

4: number of years as of 2018 that I've co-directed the annual Turkey Trot race

1: place in work pie contest earned by my Classic Banoffee Pie

1: place in Guilford Fair Produce category earned by my 3 garden zucchini 

3: number of times I volunteered at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

50: number of kilometres I ran in April in my first official race at this distance

7+: number of hours the 50k took

600+: miles I drove with my mother & daughter on a round-trip to my hometown for a party

853: dollars earned by my son selling popcorn as Cub Scout fundraiser

850: number of popcorn fundraiser dollars required to earn the "Escape Room Game" prize

The 30th book I read this year, finished today on New Year's Eve, was Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkeban, written by JK Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay

My (homemade) punch-card for climbs up Mt. Wantastiquet, with 17 punches

Detail of piece from the "Don't Call Me Princess" show by Orly Corgan that I volunteered at in October. Check out Anita Hill testifying in the lower right-corner, and a little bit of Christine Blasey Ford in the lower left corner.

Prize winning squash!

Prize winning pie!

Climbing course at Big Birdcamp—I climbed both the structure on the left and the pole thing on the right.

Lauren Fleshman, one of my personal heroes, singing about smashing the patriarchy and a few other things, also at Big Birdcamp.

At Birdcamp we each wrote a word about what we were hoping to get from the experience and taped it to the wall. I went and read them later and so many of them said: Connection. Is it coincidence that "Connect" was my chosen Inspiration Word for 2018?

So those are some things that happened in 2018. But rather than taking credit for them, I prefer to think that I'm here to appreciate them. Do you know that Frog & Toad story called "The Garden"? Frog gives Toad some seeds to grow, and Toad plants them. But when he checks back, they haven't grown. Each day he tries something to help them grow. He yells at them. He sits with them all night by candlelight. He plays them music. He sings. He reads them poetry. Finally, the seeds sprout. And Toad is worn out with all the work he had to do to get them to grow. I feel this way about life: how much success is related to our efforts, and how much is due to just... being planted?

I also had some seeds that did not grow this year.

I never updated my résumé. 

I didn't pay down my credit cards as much as I wanted.

I failed to get the local running club together to talk about finances, though I've laid the groundwork to do that in 2019.

Despite vaguely earnest (or earnestly vague) intentions otherwise, I attended only ONE yoga class, and it was 364 days ago, on January 1, 2018. 

I did not start publishing a series of "5-sentence stories" on my blog (here!)

How about you? What are you favorite numbers from 2018? Did your garden take a lot of effort? Did you plant seeds that didn't grow?

Rad DIY Black Leather Earrings

Oh my goodness, it's December again! Lately my crafting bug has been coming back, and I made these rockin' black leather earrings as a recent do-it-yourself project. I felt they were missing from my life. Sometimes I'd get dressed and look at myself in the mirror and CRAVE long, dangly, aggressive earrings to complete my look. 

I put these together with components from Brattleboro's fantastic local bead & jewelry store, Beadniks. You can make them too—for yourself or maybe as a DIY gift for someone special.

Here's what you need:

2 silver kidney wire pierced earring findings
1 yard of 5mm wide black leather 
2 large silver ball-chain sections
2 silver headpins, about 3 cm long
pliers & safety pin

First, cut the leather into 4 strips of 2 lengths. I made 2 strips about 17 cm each, and 2 about 14 cm each. Cut the ends at an angle. Then fold the strips in half and press between your fingers to lightly crease—see photo below.

Next, where you've folded each strip in half, make a hole right through the strip using the safety pin. (The safety pin is wider and stronger than the head pin.) You can even wiggle the pin around to make an even wider hole. I stuck the pin through from the smooth side of the leather to the rough, so I could make sure the hole was going right into the center of the strip. Do this with all 4 pieces of leather.

Next, stick a head pin from the rough side (inside) of a short strip through to the other side. You're starting to build the earring.

Now stack a longer strip on top of the short one from the same direction (poking the headpin through from the rough underside). You should have both strips stacked on the headpin like this:

Next, put one of the large ball-chain sections over the headpin like you're stringing a bead.

Finally, use the pliers to create a loop at the end of the head-pin wire, and add the kidney wire earring finding. With the pliers, twist the extra wire around the next of the loop. I had a bit more wire sticking out, so I pushed it down into the ball-chain. The image below is a little out of focus, but trying to show how I made the loop and twisted finish that attaches everything to the kidney wire.

Now repeat the procedure with the rest of the materials to make your second earring. All done!

Do you have handcrafted or DIY plans for holiday gifts? For yourself? Please tell in the comments below!