A new me

December 31, 2008|Posted in: Uncategorized

or more of the same…

It’s pretty funny to look at myself today, compared to a year ago when I started the Compact — basically everything I’m wearing is thrifted or gifted or found, from my cowboy boots, jeans, yoga shirt and the belt and scarf I have on.

My office furniture is mostly found by the roadside; the radio next to me is a boom box that no longer booms — the CD player lid snapped so Daughter #4 didn’t want it anymore. But the radio works just fine! There’s a glass bottle of water on my desk, formerly a French lemonade bottle with a snap spring top cork. I keep refilling it and tell people it’s vodka. I have a reputation to keep up…

I bring my lunch almost every day these days (except when we have a trade lunch at work — restaurants give us food in exchange for advertising 2 x a week). I finally found my thermos this morning (it has three pieces, and one piece was missing for eons) so I brought my own coffee. I’m taking the bus this week, which gives me a little time to knit, read my library books or make lists, which is a favorite pastime of mine.

Taking the bus stretches out the landscape for me, from a short drive to a six-block hike, a 10-minute walk. It reminds me not to take my feet or my car for granted. One of my goals is to drive less in the new year, to take the bus or carpool across town more, and get back on my bike when the weather improves (sciatica notwithstanding). I’m lucky to live in a flat town, just 5 miles away from office. It’s the same to take the bus or ride a bike — about 40 minutes across the Island. In a car, about 15 mins. Something to consider.

We’re also going to work on food waste, eating more vegetarian than meat-based meals, and conserving water in dry California. Also turning off lights and machines. And food prep and preservation is high onthe list. A bigger garden, more variety, more self-sufficiency, such as it is. Getting rid of the lawn and planting more edible landscape. Get chickens! Maybe a rabbit, too.

That’s us, just now. I’m waiting for a Freecycle pal to bring me some drip irrigation hose. I’m eating leftover Christmas cake (aka dried-fruit fruitcake, my British recipe) and paying bills and writing thank you notes (got my Boy to write his on the back of artwork).

Blessings and kisses to all on the last day of the year — can’t wait to get started on the next year of Compacting.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.


  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    January 1, 2009

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    Happy New Year, Julia!


  2. noreply@blogger.com'

    January 4, 2009

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    I wished you lived closer. You would love Portland!

    -Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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