Monday, January 31, 2005
Sunday, January 30, 2005
So French class is going well - we've learned to count, to issue and follow directions, and (this week) to order a variety of delicious foods for dinner. (Brett amused the class by ordering them all, one by one, plus three desserts.)
For all my earlier bitching, I have to admit that it's not actually all that hard. I'm getting used to the pronunciation - the CDs apparently helped more than I realized at first. Plus, as with Spanish and Italian, I know enough of related languages that a lot of it doesn't seem particularly new to me - I rather quickly get to the point where I can sort of talk/write pidgin French, enough to goof around writing my own little sentences in class when it's not my turn to speak. If only I could harness my early enthusiasm about each language I dabble in and apply it to actually mastering one.
One of the nice things about French is that there are song titles that you can bend to your purposes that ask functional questions. I turned to Brett towards the end of class and said, huskily, "Voulez vous aller au Barnes-and-Noble avec moi, c'est soir?" Lookatme Mom, I'm speakin' French!
So off we went to Barnes and Noble, spouting pidgin French along the way, where I found this gorgeous little book (only in stock on the amazon.uk site), about how to create decorative vegetable gardens in small spaces; I've been nose down in it ever since. This is a subject I've been thinking about a lot lately, because what I really want to do with the back yard is create a kitchen potager - a geometric layout of edged beds that contain a profusion of edibles, with brick paths between and an apple arch or some other feature in the center. However, we have a weirdly-shaped yard, and I'm not sure there's room.
And then there's the whole issue of ripping up the deck, shown here at the height of summer last year, looking so lovely that you're going to think I'm crazy:
But it takes up the whole backyard. This little 4x6 bed crammed along one side of it is the only in-the-ground planting space I have that's sunny enough to grow vegetables.
We've been talking about ripping the deck up for over a year and have come as close as we ever have to the decision to actually do it. We'd get more planting space out of it (one of the few reasons we ever consider buying a different house), and we'd flagstone over a corner somewhere for outdoor dining and lounging. In theory it sounds great, but I keep having serious doubts about this.
First, there's just the whole issue of taking it out. How do we dispose of it? Do we rent a dumpster? Do we need a truck? How do you go about either of those? How hard is taking it out actually going to be?
Then there's the question of what's under it. Usable dirt? I doubt it. Building rubble? Probably. Dead animals? Who knows. But I'm guess we'll have to haul in top soil and spend a year or so just amending the soil to make it fertile enough for what I want.
And then there's the whole question of spending a whole year staring out the back door at what used to be a very attractive deck and is now a pile of mud. Sure, it'll get better in the long term, but it's going to make for an ugly year. And then there's time pressure. If we're going to do this, we should do it now. Soon. Before the growing season really starts.
And then there's the whole question of whether we can actually make this mess turn into an attractive yard again. Much as I kid myself that I have any garden design skills, so far my one year of real gardening has been kind of random. ;) Yeah, the sunflower plot out front was nice, and I kicked butt with the backyard containers, and the parking strips are a big improvement over the weed-fest that were there before, but I've hardly evolved into any consistent set of design skills yet. What if we tear up our beautiful, sprawling deck, and what goes in its place is just ugly?
I worry too much. If it's ugly at first, it will evolve, and nothing is permanent, and spending a year amending soil is well worth it for vegetable gardening - I know all of this. Anyways, we're probably going to just bite the bullet and do it. I need more growing space so much that it's like an itch, always picking at my mind. Mainly, I want it to grow more vegetables - I get enough flower gardening out front. The deck, it has to go.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
- Diet coke amtrak turtle
- Exlax "adult baby"
Both of which just raise innumerable images in the mind - the jittery hyped up turtle making his way from New York to Chicago by train, and well... I don't want to picture the associations of the second one.
Friday, January 28, 2005
It's quite a feeling to have people give you things like these, just a few years after they lost their mother - very touching, sort of sad, and kind of comforting in a way that's hard to explain. As you might expect, I'm very curious about Brett's mother. Her wedding picture hangs in our hallway, as does a picture of her and Brett's father from near the end of her life. I've heard many, many stories about her from several different family members, and I know her sister a little. But Barbara and I never met, and say what you will about mother-in-laws and all the jokes inherent therein, it would have been nice to know her. Such is one of the inherent issues with marrying later in life - you just might not get a chance to know some of the really important people in your partner's past.
When Brett gave it me the necklace, it was tangled up in knots upon knots upon knots from a few years of laying around in an envelope. I spent about an hour on Christmas day gently working on it with two pairs of tweezers and finally was able to unravel it. Today is the first day I've really worn it, other than trying it on that day. It's fragile and I'm afraid to damage it. It feels a little strange to wear it - I keep finding myself fingering it, feeling the warmth the little pearl has picked up from resting on my chest all day, and thinking about it. It isn't really mine - it is now, but it has a whole other person's associations embedded in it -- and I'm aware of that.
But it feels good to have it, and to think about her a little bit.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Jen liked to claim that any bag of candy hearts could be used as an oracular system par excellence. Hold the bag up above your head, state your question, draw out a heart, and interpret your answer from the little saying on it. Strange as it might sound, it worked quite well, at least with relationship questions - although it occurs to me now that maybe we liked it so much because nearly all of its little hearts gave positive answers. (Although I think there are candy hearts in the standard mix that say "No way!" and "Never!" Is that true?)
Anyhow, when I saw the "what kind of candy heart are you" quiz on the house of snark blog tonight, I had to break my anti-meme rule and try it out. Call it nostalgia, plus I had nothing planned for the next 45 seconds. My results:
discover your inner candy heart @ quiz me
This in spite of the fact that I answered the one about completing Roses are Red, Violets are Blue with choice c): "monkeys are brown, and so is their poo!" *
* The Zalkan clan with their prediliction for poo humor are infecting me. I've held out for as long as I can.
So I finally sat down and made a few phone calls. Removed two of the Sharper Images. Removed all of the Victoria's Secrets. Removed one Smith and Noble. Removed one Travelsmith. Removed one Boston Proper. (Actually, I only get one of those, but I just don't like them very much.)
And... and... it's so easy! Why didn't I do this a year ago?
Unfortunately, most of them tell me they print their catalogs in advance, so I may continue to get multiple copies for 90 days or so. But soon we may not need our super-mega-ultra industrial strength mailbox anymore. We will no longer sprain our wrists pulling twelve consumer missives out of there each evening. We will recycle half as much paper.
Deeply satisfying, and long put off.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Two people have already pointed this out to me at work today.
The formula that calculates this, from the BBC link above:
The formula for the day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA.
Where W is weather, D is debt - minus the money (d) due on January's pay day - and T is the time since Christmas. Q is the period since the failure to quit a bad habit, M stands for general motivational levels and NA is the need to take action and do something about it.
It strikes me that there's some work-related alteration that could be made to this formula - maybe W is how long you've been working on this project and D is the resources you actually need to get it done minus (d) the resources anyone's actually going to give you to do it with and T is the number of days you have before your project locks down for good.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
In the carport, I found the pot with last year's grape hyacinths sprouting 3-4" new shoots:
Daffodils (or tulips, I can't quite remember what I put in this pot) starting to arise:
Lots of new fennel growth emerging from what I cut down last year - wow, I love the texture of this plant, its featheriness and intensely bright green:
Not quite sure what these are, but there are a lot of them - I seem to recall that these are daffodils, but since I didn't plant them I'm not sure:
I'm a bit worried that a late freeze is going to kill all of these, but hopefully I can plan ahead and mulch them if it's going to get cold. The hydrangea on the porch is also showing new leaves, as are several of the roses. No sign of growth from the Old House Gardens tulips yet, but I'm sure they're awake under the soil.
This is the great part of being a gardener -- winter, the part of the year in which nothing is growing, is so blessedly short out here in the Pacific Northwest. I had things blooming through late October, early November. Then just eight short weeks and the spring bulbs are coming up! I don't think I could ever move back to somewhere like Ohio where the ground stays covered with snow through March.
In a previous post, I mentioned finding an old journal with a list of 100 things I wanted to do before I died. I wrote this when I was 23 and very foolish - here's a brief sampling.Five things I thought I had to do before I died when I was 23 that I have no interest in doing now:
- Live in a forest – um, huh? Like, by myself? Like, in a tree? File this under "What the @#%$* was I thinking?"
- Join the Peace Corps – it’d still be cool, but it’s not very likely anymore.
- Fly a small plane – no thanks. As I get older, my interest in things likely to kill me is really decreasing. Add also skydiving, which was also on the list. Although if the perfect opportunity came along, I might still do that.
- Learn to game – at the time, the person I was with was really into D&D. I wasn’t. Thankfully, this is no longer a life requirement for me.
- Work at a zoo – not likely to happen now, and not high on my list of where I want to go next.
- Have a great marriage – getting started on that one. :)
- Make more money than I need to survive – 23 was the age of starving and digging for change in the couch to buy rice. This, thankfully, has since come to an end.
- Finish a full-size quilt – I managed to do this just once. Since then I mostly start things and don't finish them. But still. I did it.
- Go sailing – I’ve done this more than once, actually. Still nice.
- Go abroad alone – May of 2000, Florence, one week. I should post a story I wrote about that one of these days.
Five things I thought I had to do before death when I was 23 that I better get cracking on:
- Write a novel – actually my 23-year old self worded this as “Write a GOOD novel.” Uh oh. So there's some pressure there. Having an actual idea for a novel would help.
- Go to Greece – the next trip I get to pick is to Greece.
- Live in sight of water – not sure how or if this one is going to happen, but it would sure be great.
- Have a dog and a cat - well, how about four cats and no dog? Sorry, but one species is enough for now. We'll get a dog someday.
- Redecorate a house – might get a chance to do that this year with our planned kitchen remodel.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Later tonight I told him how thoughtful that was that he'd even notice that we hadn't done much of anything in a while and put some time into the relationship like that.
"Well," he said, "I'm happily married, but sometimes I have to stop and think, 'I've still got to water this plant!' "
Which is exactly the sort of thing that makes me think we'll still be married 50 years from now.
Tonight, Brett's off by himself listening to Dave Alvin play in Ballard - his third favorite live performer. I like him too but we just saw him a few months ago and I wasn't ready for round two yet. Secretly, I think he was sort of happy I didn't go, because now he can worm his way all the way up to the front and stand directly in front of the speakers for the next three hours. :) I'm more of a stand-back-where-there's-room-to-dance type, and I sort of like my eardrums and want to keep them, so that takes some compromise when we go to these things together.
So I stayed home to putter around the house and copy CDs to the MP3 player and catch up on reading and watch movies with Cassie. Who's doing fine. Maddie's still in the flower box but we've picked up and manipulated her several times today to ensure that all of her limbs are whole and that she's not injured in some way or giving any sign of illness, and we've been forced to conclude that she just really likes it there. We did see her out of the box at one point today, but otherwise she's remained camped out there for almost 72 hours now. Very strange.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Miss Maddie, seen at left, has been sitting in the flower box on the front porch for almost 48 hours straight, as far as we can tell. Got up this morning, there she was fast asleep. Came home, there she was fast asleep. Same thing yesterday.
She's not dead, and she's not sick, but she may have moved out of the house permanently.
In other cat news, we keep sitting on poor Phoenix in the dark. He's a black cat! We can't see him after midnight unless he's on a light colored object. Two nights ago, Brett went out to visit Max (orange, easy to spot) on the couch at midnight or so and accidentally sat on him. Last night, I flopped down on top of the down comforter on the bed only to discover too late that he had squiggled his way underneath it and was laying quite flat, showing no suspicious cat-shaped lump to warn you that that section of the bed was occupied. Poor guy. We think we're giving him a complex. Or a sincere fear of butts.
- 8:30 - 10:00 Go to gym.
- 10:30 - 11:30 Talky work meeting with someone you like. Deviate from work a bit.
- 11:45 - 1:00 Take a job candidate out to lunch.
- 1:00 - 2:30 Go hear Malcolm Gladwell talk. Wow. :) Good stuff.
- 2:30 - 3:00 Drive coworkers to Starbucks on way home.
- 3:00 - 3:20 Talk to someone about their recent job interview.
- 3:20 - 3:45 Accomplish 25 minutes of work.
- 3:45 - 4:30 Go take care of the truly scary task you've been avoiding all day.
- 4:30 - 4:40 Bask in the relief of having that over with.
- 4:40 - 5:00 Accomplish 20 minutes of work.
- 5:00 - 5:30 Scarf down salad and send a few emails.
- 5:30 - Run off to French For Travellers class.
Of course, most days I'm convinced I accomplish about twelve hours of measurable work in nine or so hours, so I guess it evens out. But still, this felt like a vacation, almost. No spreadsheets? No number crunching? Heaven.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Trainerguy likes to issue sort of ironically-toned encouragement. "Who wants to do five more? YOU want to do five more! That's right!" He makes me pose in various bodybuilder flexes. He tells me bad jokes. All very silly, and all lots of fun.
Earlier this week, we had just finished a jump-roping session in the basketball court and were heading towards the leg press machine. Sometimes he has me do this with both legs, and sometimes to make it harder, I do it one leg at a time.
Me: So what are we doing?
Trainer: Two legged.
Trainer: (loudly) Who's got two legs? YOU'VE got two legs! Yes
This is followed by a sudden, dead silence. When I look up, Ben has a very strange look on his face. I turn around and note that there is, in fact, a one-legged man working out just behind us. What're the chances?
Just goes to show that just about any time you consider saying something stupid, figuring you're safe because the chances must be something like a million-to-one of someone overhearing you who'd be bothered, you had just better not.
Because when you turn around, that one-in-a-million person will be RIGHT there.
"Um, one ticket to hell please," TrainerGuy concluded.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The last two years, though, I haven’t kept one with any regularity. I have a journal, but I’m not really using it. Part of the reason is the adjustment married life – I haven’t yet really re-established the routines and personal ceremonies and amount of private time that often led me to turn to my journal.
Then there's the factor of how everything you haven't written down comes back to haunt you when you do open up an oft-neglected journal. Physical books bring their own baggage - they feel like they should be continuous, linear. If I sit down to record something snarky and realize I haven't written anything since my last snarky entry four months ago in spite of all the great things that happened in between, it starts to feel wrong, like my life isn't reading quite true.
Overwhelmed by trivialities like this, I’ve mainly been keeping travel journals. Travel journals are happy, frothy little things. On each major trip, I take a blank book and a glue stick and create a little pastiche as I go, decorating my written observations with cards and coins and stamps and leaves and quick sketches and logo napkins and wine labels. By the time I’m finished, they’re little works of art. Flipping through them pops me right back into the sights and sounds of scenarios and encounters I’d forgotten. The leaf on the floor of the monastery in Florence. The painting I called “Jesus’s Cat” for the tiny little tabby cat hidden in the bottom corner of an immense religious fresco. The exact egg-yolk yellow of a wall in a hotel in Paris. The man on the bicycle who called me bella. What that soup made from bread tasted like...
My newly-journaling friend expresses a severe distaste for the idea of going back and having to read over her own writing later – all that introspection, all that drama. I can somewhat see her point. Of my big shelf of “life” journals, there’s a whole stretch that I just can’t read now – for example, high school. They’re just so… so… self-absorbed, and frankly so uninteresting to me now. There are sets from more recent periods that are just too close to the present. In fact most of the journals sit in the basement, in a big plastic box, untouched for years.
But there are a few of them I do turn to now and then. Not long ago, I pulled out the fifth grade journal and amused a couple of friends with selected quotes about how fifth grade girls see boys. There's one from two years ago I dug out last fall to find the one good poem I've written in recent history. And I’ve occasionally looked through the biggest journal I kept, a monstrously huge bound book spanning the years 1992-1995, a block of time that was the worst of my life so far. Over the course of those three years, I was struggling with everything that accompanies the typical twenties turmoil: first job, life outside of school, poverty and credit trouble, getting engaged and then calling off a wedding, disastrous relationships, isolation, depression, and a variety of choices ranging from the odd to the outright dangerous.
Why would I want to read through something like this? Good question. I actually dug it out looking for a single entry I dimly remembered, but instead I ended up reading the whole thing, cover to cover. With the distance that another decade of my life has brought, those years are more interesting to me now and less painful. Unlike the teenager in my earlier journal, the person in that book is closer to who I am today. Patterns show up way after the fact that you never see then – oh, yes, this point led me to x, and this idea I was struggling to form then taught me y, and wow, I would never do z again – how did I survive that?
Among all the bad poetry, there exists the occasional decent one, or at least a couple of good lines. There were adventures embedded in all of this, and guts, and risk-taking. And occasionally there’s something like a list I made in 1993 of 100 things I wanted to do before I died. It’s quite interesting to look at that and see how many of them still interest me and how many I’ve actually done since then. (That might have to be the subject another post.)
Nowadays, I blog more than I journal, and while it's completely addictive, it doesn’t scratch the same itch -- not really. There’s only so much you can really reveal in a blog, with an audience that includes many of the people who might also be your subject matter. You also don’t have the satisfaction of holding the results of blogging in your hand – there won’t be a book to put on the shelf that sums up the last few years. It feels more impermanent to me than journaling did. I might regret that eventually.
Or I might eventually make the time to do both. Blogging and journaling, simultaneously.
But then I’d want to blog about the differences between the two.
And that would be difficult because the journal would specifically be about things that aren’t so suitable for public rumination.
And then my head would explode at the levels of subtext.
I was sitting in the front room watching the premiere while Brett was in the living room reading. Every now and then I'd hit pause and he'd call in.
B: Is it over?
M: No, it's just too painful to watch again.
This was not a two hour portion of my life that added to my cumulative brain power or mental resources. But my brain power and resources had pretty much been sucked out of me by the end of the day anyways, so I'm calling it a wash.
Oh, and Happy Birthday Marilyn! Stop by happypitbulls and leave her a birthday comment. :)
Sunday, January 16, 2005
The second thing I couldn't get over was the fact that rescue workers haven't
found a single animal carcass in the rubble. The animals can tell when shit's
about to go down so they stop throwing their poo long enough to prove that they
are smarter than all of the humans combined by hauling ass to higher ground. I
wonder what the exodus looked like. Was there a big parade of monkeys and ligers and aardvarks all leaving town at the same time? [...]
The whole idea of animals knowing beforehand is unnerving to me because I have a cat who may or may not choose to warn me when something bad is about to happen, and I'm all hyper alert for any sign that something is wrong. Now every time she meows in the middle of the night I run out into the parking lot and scream to my neighbors to get out of their houses, clutching my confused cat to my naked chest...
If we did this with Cassie we'd be outside more than we're inside on the average night.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
An excerpt from their French lessons on what to say at the Louvre:
English: Modern art! Bah! I could have painted that!
French: C'est bitching et boasting de skills de painting abscent est curious since j'avais has been est promising la wife d'hag pour twelve années de years to paint c'est wood bench Ikea dans la hall et je never est did get around to allezing mon ass fat off sur la crèche de couch divan et fait c'est petit task craftsmanship
Another excerpt from their "Aboot" page:
How to Speak Franglais:
The general, well-established rule of thumb when speaking Franglais is "vous simplement parlez what you knower in Francais, et fait tout else in Anglais." In my own experiences as a Franglais writer, I've added a few rules:
When you don't know the French word, before you use an English word, see if you can't construct an ungainly term from the French that you do know. It's not "pants" but "chemise de jambe" (leg shirt).
Any rambling French phrase can be made to sound better if you add "cage match" somewhere in the phrase. (Why n'est pas can't moi et tu solvez notre viva la difference en la field de honor cage match!?)
Volume! Volume! Volume!
Basic sentence structure works like this:
[french curse], [subject] [verb] [english helper verb] [english helper adverb] [object] [adjective] [english helper word] [long strings of rambling tangential english]. [Quebec political reference in English or Franglais].
Friday, January 14, 2005
But we're going to France in something like 13 weeks, and I've been telling him how great it would be if we were able to speak enough to show basic politeness, and we're going to be out in the middle of nowhere trying to read road signs and drive a car and reserve hotel rooms on the fly, so he finally saw the wisdom of this idea and agreed to sign up.
I've taken a lot of language classes in the last five years - three rounds of Italian, two Spanish classes, and one great class in Pig Latin. (Ok, not really on that last one.) These "Such-and-Such Language for Travellers" classes are usually ridiculously easy and way fun - more game playing than conjugation, with some memorization usually being the hardest work required. And they help! I scooted around Rome on my first trip to Italy after six weeks of an eight week intro class and didn't do too badly. I came. I saw. I sampled cheeses.
Not a bad method of introduction to a language like French that I really have no interest in mastering. Give me Spanish or Italian instead, particularly Italian. I love Italian. I wish every nation in the world spoke Italian. It's both logical (one simple rule: pronounce everything you see) and fluid on the tongue, and they just don't waste all those pointless letters that French does. Why end a word in three perfectly good consonants if you're not going to use any of them? Why all the silent t's? Why put in whole syllables (est-CE que) you're going to ignore? We decided that certain members of the French alphabet must be pretty unhappy with their lot in life.
This particular class: fun, yes, but not quite so easy as I'd expected. Thank god I was doing French CDs in the car a few months back and know some basics of pronounciation and vocabulary. The teacher speaks very little English, and she talks SO fast that you can hardly keep up with her, even when you're repeating words and phrases. The poor folks in the class who were obviously stone cold beginners who never spoke a word of French before in their lives were quite befuddled. Me, I found I could understand a lot of what she said, but as always, I can't pronounce it much. The French language and my vocal cords are not les amis. I said horses, apparently, when I meant to say hair. Glad I figured that one out before I try to visit a salon in Paris.
And Brett? Mr. I-Don't-Know-Any-French walked into class with a combination of a fourth grade french class and high school latin and blew the whole class away on basic vocabulary. Here's how class went for about the first hour:
Teacher: Ok, how do you say January?
Whole class: stare blankly. This is the first class! We don't know French yet!
Teacher: Ok, how do you say foot?
Whole class: Stare blankly. Was there a reading assignment we were supposed to do?
Brett: Um, pied?
He also told the whole class that he was residing in Hotel Megan for his entire stay in France, which was met with much laughter. Vocabulary = good. Comprehension = in progress. Humor = priceless.
On the way home, we laughed about the speed of it, the hurt feelings of the ignored letters, and the way that intro italian courses were so much easier to understand. "The French, they do not want you to understand," Brett said gravely.
(Many apologies to a couple of French folks who occasionally read this- I love your country and your people and WILL be swallowing my 'n' by April, come hell or high water. It's a lovely language. It's my deficiency. But really, talk to the letter 't', will you? He's feeling bad.)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
A color blind two year old could have picked out better socks.
All I can say is it was early, I was tired, and I was shaking off a Nyquil hangover.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Saturday, January 08, 2005
So far this month I've received:
- Spring Hill Nursery
- Heronswood Nursery - a local favorite, although I wish they had pictures in their catalog
- Gardener's Supply Company - my favorite for seed starting and other equipment
- Park's Seeds
- Gurney's Seed and Nursery Co.
- White Flower Farms
- High Country Gardens - this is a new one for me and just blew me away. All low water use, high sun plants - perfect for my arid parking strip and rock wall out front. Gave me lots of great ideas. My favorite plant I've never seen before: Bush Clematis.
Just a few more of my favorites to go and I've got everything! Where's my Burpee's, anyways?
Monday, January 03, 2005
In no particular order, and with no guarantees that any of this is particularly profound, here are some things I want to accomplish in 2005. We'll see how many of them I get through:
- Redo the kitchen before the end of the year – priorities: open work flow to dining room, more storage, better appliances, good light.
- Add a small bathroom in the back of the house.
- Redo my vegetable garden raised bed so it’s narrower and I can easily reach and work all of its area.
- Get a really good automatic watering system set up for the veges and tomatoes BEFORE the middle of August.
- Go to France in April and have an amazing time.
- DONE - Take a “French for Travellers” class with Brett.
- Take a beach vacation.
- Continue to read obsessively. I don't think I could actually read any more than I do, so I just want to maintain my already overly high level of book consumption.
- Keep a running list of everything I read - I always mean to do this and never go more than a month or two before I stop.
- See family - see Mom and Dad, see Dana, bring both Andrew and Nick up to Seattle in the summer for a week. See more of Marilyn, Mike, and Art.
- Finish that project at work that’s been running for almost three years now and move on.
- Take two months off to garden and read and think about what’s next.
- Take two writing classes.
- Start writing non-blog material regularly. Submit something for publication, somewhere.
- Keep the blog going. Gain more readers.
- Have folks over for dinner once a month or so. Experiment with new recipes and come up with a handful of new company dishes – good things to whip out for larger groups of people. Develop some new specialities. Continue to explore recent Moroccan kick, as a start.
- STARTED - Go to yoga once a week, down the street.
- Nurture my existing friendships and fan a couple of developing ones.
- Get back in touch with my friend Jenn, from college. Actually use the email address from her Christmas card.
- Go to Maine with Brett, if he goes to the reunion.
- DONE - Take a day off for the NW Flower and Garden Show in February and actually get down there instead of just saying I’m going to and then not making the time.
- Volunteer with the NW Perennial Alliance at least a couple times.
- Compost more of our food waste. Collect rainwater. Make less trash somehow.
- Get the chimney cleaned before we burn our house down.
- Grow some pretty flowering vine up the telephone pole out front.
- Help make Brett’s 40th birthday a good one for him.
- Survive remodeling the house with marriage intact.
- Keep up my regular workouts with Ben.
- Take part in NANOWRIMO 2005.
- Understand our finances better – what’s where, how to get to it, etc.
- Make a little bit of money off my remaining sellable options.
- DONE - Get Cassie all better.
- Learn two new Bach pieces on the piano.
- Visit our sushi place as often as possible.
- Decide about ripping up the deck, and if we end up doing it get the topsoil brought in and conditioned for 2006 growing season.
- DONE - Spend a weekend away somewhere snowy in January or February, snowshowing.
- Camp more than we were able to do last summer.
- Get the project house remodel underway, with Snapdragon. Contribute the green design info and garden design. Help wherever else needed.
- Visit Portland or Vancouver or both.
Perhaps not the world's most exciting life I'm detailing here, but it sounds good to me.
I can't resist doing my own year-in-review post -- but I'll keep it brief. Here are the top ten firsts that come to mind from my experiences in 2004:
- First full year I’ve been married - those of you who read this regularly know that so far it’s been a grand adventure. I love my husband terribly, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. While the first year went much better than I’d been led to expect, it’s still been eye-opening. No matter how much you think you know it in advance, you just don’t know until you’re there how much even a good marriage can demand of you.
- First time forming a business – we went into business with our friends, Alan and Beth, to purchase a house and start planning to renovate it into townhouses in 2005. This involved forming a corporation, finding tenants, learning accounting, and taking on all sorts of unfamiliar (for Brett and I, at least) roles. Learning to run a business with friends has been a great experience – we couldn’t be in the process with better people.
- First delightful experience with the “lie on a beach and drink frothy confection” type of vacation. Discovering the joys of sea turtles, snorkeling, and lounging in a hammock under deep blue skies. We are now hooked. This was also the first year I haven't left the country in about five years, but Hawaii more than made up for that. Our strategy of alternating who gets to pick where we go on the next vacation is working out nicely so far. Up next - France in April (me). And probably something beach-related in the fall (Brett).
- First time trying to negotiate decorating changes to Brett’s – no, to our -- house. Picking paint by yourself is easy; picking it with someone else whose input you have to listen to, no matter how much you think they’re wrong, is much, much harder. In the end, after fourteen different samples were tested and rejected, the room which used to be painted “baby puke green” is now the a rich shade of plum. Now we’re moving on to the bigger stuff – planning a kitchen renovation. If we’re still married after that, we’ll know we’ve graduated from beginner-level marriage.
- First brand new car, for me, ever. Which isn’t a major, life-changing event, but still, it was fun to turn over the 10 year old Corolla I’d been driving since my starving grad student days and get a car with power locks and power windows and an actual CD player and a little button you can click from INSIDE THE HOUSE that will lock your car for you. Wow. I still play with this button in parking garages, seeing how far away it will work from and whether it will work through cars, trucks, people, etc.
- First great gardening obsession – while I gardened a bit last year, this was my first full growing cycle in a place with a yard. I documented the process on my old site for a while and then started this blog to yatter on about gardening. (Yes, we’ve diverged a bit.) This is now a huge passion, and one which shows no signs of abating as seed catalog (late winter) season rolls around again. I can’t wait to get my Burpee’s catalog!
- First time managing other managers at work – shortly into 2004, we blended another team into mine and added two managers below me. I’d wanted to try mentoring and training new managers for a long time, and I have to say that it’s been interesting, surprising, challenging, and rewarding in ways I never expected. I now have about 24 people working for me, directly or indirectly. While work continues to be a challenge in many ways, I feel good about teaching some of what I know to people who will carry on with it after I go do something else.
- First full year of the blended cat family. Phoenix, Cassie, Max, and Maddie are all surviving and mainly thriving, after 14 months or so of cohabitation. We've survived a possum invasion, a parade of neighborhood cats stealing food, hyperthyroidism, first encounters with neighbors/dogs/the great outdoors, multiple haircuts and vet visits, etc. All is well in the animal kingdom.
- First time being so utterly devastated by an election. ‘Nuff said.
- First time as a blogger – another thing I began rather modestly (just something to get me to write more regularly) and have gotten obsessive about. I can't see this letting up anytime soon.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
I wonder if this leaves a person with a lifelong cat phobia.
Other alleged tactics include giving prisoners forced enemas, blasting them with rap and heavy metal, and making them listen to a looped tape of the Meow Mix cat food jingle for hours on end.
Here are two for today.
From Salami Tsunami:
A question I ask almost everyone I meet is "What would you consider the best year(s) of your life?" The answer I look for (but have never gotten) is my own- "This year, but that's only because I haven't seen next year yet." I have become annoyingly optimistic in my old age. When I was in high school one of my friend's moms told us that these were the best years of our lives. I have never so seriously considered suicide as I did on that day. I remember thinking "I am surrounded by rednecks and punks who have no plans beyond lunchtime, and you're telling me it is all downhill from here? Jeezus." Lucky for me, it has only gotten better since then.
This made me laugh, because I remember all too well my own horror at being told this by well-meaning adults -- these were my golden years? Um, no, those years were purgatory. Even in my admittedly naive and immature teenage years, I never entertained for the slightest instant any notion that my secondary school days would be the ones I looked back on with nostalgia. I'll never forget the palpable relief of graduation day. I survived. Thank the lord.
And this, from a short essay by Jane Smiley in one of the gazillion magazines I read on yesterday's plane rides:
Now there's a philosophy I can live by. Especially on days like today when, freshly back from vacation and worn out, the highest pleasure imaginable is to lay around all day in your brand new fuzzy slippers and bathrobe and not have to get dressed at all.
"Try to look your best as infrequently as possible. However you look, people get used to it. If you accustom them to a very high standard -- your hair and makeup are always perfect, your clothing is expensive and fetching -- you are just setting them up for disappointment if you make a mistake or, God forbid, get lazy. If, however, you do as I do and wear jeans and a T-shirt most of the time and wear makeup only for special occasions, there is always the possibility of a pleasant surprise. No, they didn't know you had any taste. No, it was not clear that you were actually pretty, but you are! This is not the same as letting yourself go. It is more like being dormant, so that from time to well-chosen time you may blossom." (Real Simple, Feb 05)