Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #35

1. Full-to-the-brim and then some waterfalls, thanks to all the rain we've had lately (finally!)

2. New sheets

3. Popcorn with chili-lime butter.

4. Shiny almost-new bike shoes, handed down from a friend.

5. Making plans for tomorrow for some much-needed down time. I plan on not leaving the house other than for yoga at 11. I'm going to catch up on a lot of sewing/knitting (birthday gifts for my niece, a much overdue xmas gift for my very patient brother-in-law, a yoga bag for myself). (And for right now, we'll pretend that I don't also have to get some work done tomorrow for, y'know, the job that pays the bills).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #34

Back after a brief hiatus. It's been a rough week, in ways that I think it's best not to write about here in any detail. Suffice it to say that my parents' visit did not go well. I hadn't really planned on doing the gratitude thing beyond a month, but frankly, I'm feeling pretty emotionally destroyed at the moment, and anything that helps me stay positive is probably a good thing.

1. The spam email I got this morning with the header: Do you feel like a giant with a midget in your pants. How can you not be grateful for a header like that? :-)

2. The killer yoga classes at my new gym. Oh my goodness, do I ever hurt. But in a good way. And I did a headstand today! (With help, but still -- a headstand!)

3. Buying the yarn to knit my first sweater. I'm making this one, the Loppem sweater by Norah Gaughan. Isn't it lovely?

4. Coffee with Silk Vanilla Soymilk.

5. A good hair day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #33

1. A birthday mix cd from a friend. (I love, love, love mix CDs!)

2. Avocado on sandwiches. (Though the very first time I had avocado, in college, I didn't like it. Kara L. showed me how to eat it straight from the shell with a spoon and it was just . . . weird. Now I know that it just needed salt and lime :-)

3. Parents who love me enough (and whom I get along with well enough) for them to fly across the country for a visit.

4. Chicken Piccata.

5. Google Reader.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #32

1. A super clean house, with freshly vacuumed floors.

2. Sleeping on freshly washed sheets.

3. A chilled out birthday -- pizza, beer, and episodes of Freaks and Geeks.

4. The public library book sale -- books for a dollar an inch! (They just stack 'em all up and measure the height of the stack)

5. String cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #31

1. A birthday lunch with a friend who always makes me laugh.

2. Spending the day reading (and getting paid for it).

3. Perfect weather for wearing my polka dot wellies, at last.

4. A really good pilates class at my new gym.

5. Not having to pay for lunch or dinner on my birthday :-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #s 28-30

1. Lovely, generous friends who invite you on a fun-filled snow getaway at the last minute :-)

2. Being away from my computer for a whole weekend.

3. Successfully putting on tire chains for the first time, without having to pay the dudes in yellow jumpsuits $30 to do it. (That might be the hugest rip-off EVER, by the way. Seriously. I had never done the tire chain thing before, so it took me 20-30 minutes the first time. But once you've got it figured out, it takes less than 10 minutes)

4. Sitting in a hot-tub in the mountains, snowflakes tickling my nose.

5. Baileys and hot chocolate.

6. Valentines day dinner with fabulous food, friends, and laughter (and none of the usual valentines bullshit)

7. A cuddly gray cat who is oh-so-happy you're home.

8. Catching snowflakes on your tongue.

9. Stopping at Ikea on the way home from Tahoe. (And, better yet, only spending $20)

10. The space heater that keeps my poor toes warm in my chilly office.

11. That the fancy-pants new gym near my house has been added to the gym discounts I get through my health insurance.

12. Okay, screw it, I was grateful all weekend, but listing 15 things all at once is killing me. So, my final bit of gratitude for the weekend is giving myself a pass on having to stick to this daily gratitude thing too closely :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #27

1. Dancing around my living room to happy, poppy music (For the first time in weeks. Could this be the start of the light at the end of the tunnel?)

2. The runner's high you get after a really good workout.

3. Tortellini (The word itself AND the food :-) )

4. Seeing something you worked really, really hard on (and that you're very proud of) finally coming to fruition.

5. The word bamboozle.


This totally almost made me snort hot tea out of my nose. Look at the the fuzzy little baby piggie!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #26

1. Driving to work on a foggy morning, the trees ghostly skeletons in the mist.

2. Book club with good friends, a good book, good wine, and good food.

3. The way the cat runs away in a panic when I sneeze really loudly. (Wait, is it mean to find that totally amusing?)

4. Free internet, even if it's sometimes flaky.

5. A fresh pair of contact lenses. (They never feel quite as nice again as on the first day).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #25

1. A lunch hour spent playing with the doggies at the Humane Society across the street from my office. I think I'm in love . . . (Follow that link and look at Adelaide. Is she not just the sweetest thing EVER?)

2. My contact lenses coming in at the eye doctor overnight, when they told me it could be a week or two. Hurray for no longer having to wear my scratched up glasses all the time because I've run out of contacts!

3. The smell of made-from-scratch lemon bars baking in the kitchen.

4. An enormous vase of eucalyptus branches wafting their spicy-mint smell throughout my house.

5. Living just 30 minutes from here:

And a bonus thing I am grateful for today:

6. The robins-egg blue kitchen timer I bought on impulse at Anthropologie in December. It's magnetic, so it sticks to the fridge, and it trills merrily when time's up. It's one of the small things in life that totally makes me happy (and at $12, it's about the only thing I can afford at Anthro :-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #24

1. A sleepy kitty in the afternoon sun.

2. Paperclips.

3. Half Sour pickles. (Both for the brilliant green color and the delicious taste).

4. Spending the afternoon alternately dozing and editing work stuff in bed. Somehow work just seems less like work when you're doing it in your fuzzy flannel PJs. (Though the reason for being home all afternoon, not so good -- nasty migraine from the combo of the uber-bright lights the eye doctor uses to examine your eyes and then driving after my eyes had been dilated.)

5. Forcing myself to be grateful for the world around me, even when it's not easy.

Is it weird to be grateful for gratitude? I've started to post a few times about my thoughts about the experience of posting things I'm grateful for every day, but I can't quite figure out what it is I want to say. I guess just that going through a breakup is TOUGH and I've been crying a lot lately. A LOT. I miss D. far more than I ever expected to, since our breakup felt in the days and weeks leading up to it like such the right thing. But forcing myself to slow down and look for the good in every day has actually given me at least a few moments of reprieve on even the worst days. And for that, I am grateful. (I'd also be grateful if someone would please tell me that I'm cute, smart, funny, and generally a fabulous catch. And that, better yet, you know JUST the guy for me and you're gonna send him my way. :-) (uh, have I just guaranteed that lots of crazy dudes are going to come out of the woodwork and send me creepy emails?)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #23

1. Tree climbing on a blustery afternoon.

2. A produce drawer full of lovely, healthy veggies.

3. My new knitting needle case.

4. That the neighbor who got taken away in an ambulance last night is going to be okay.

5. Bright green olives that taste mild and buttery, like the canned black olives I used to stick on my fingertips as a kid, only better.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #22

1. Spending the entire morning curled up in bed, lost in a great book.

2. Narrowly missing running over a orange-footed salamander not once but twice on my bike today.

3. The way the hills around here turn a green so verdant it almost hurts your eyes after even a day's rain.

4. Mud puddles.

5. Arm warmers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #21

1. The brilliant green of the moss on the oak trees outside my office, after a nice hard rain.

2. Fast-drying socks and pants (since I managed to step in a lake disguised as a puddle this morning on my way to work. I was DRENCHED. Like, pouring a cup of water out of my shoes drenched).

3. Sunshine breaking through the clouds in the afternoon.

4. Oh hell. I'm really, really trying to be non-hatey toward my hippie neighbors and their very loud noodly music tonight, but it's just not working. Ummmmm . . . I'm grateful, at least, that it's not really bad R & B that they're playing at top volume.

5. The salsa bar at Mi Pueblo. :-)

Salt Point State Park

A couple of weeks ago, I was in dire need of some nature. So I got on Highway 1 and drove the hour and a half up to Salt Point State Park.

Salt Point is on CA Highway 1, 15 or 20 miles north of Jenner, and it's a pretty amazing place. The drive there is a bit nerve-wracking -- lots of intense curves, with drops of hundreds of feet down to some very violent looking waves. I've driven up there twice now, and twice I've seen nasty accidents along the way. The first time, I actually watched a motorcyclist take a curve too fast and crash into the stone wall on the inside of the curve (damn lucky he didn't go over the cliff's edge). His bike was totalled like I've never seen before, bleeding green and black goo all over the road, but the biker somehow walked away from the crash unscathed. And then this last time, I drove past a minivan literally on its side in the road, also from what looked like a curve taken too fast.

Also, they're not kidding with the cow crossing signs. This is not the best picture, but that cow is literally just a couple feet from the road (with a huge drop off to its left, btw). And there were several actually in the road on my most recent drive up. And let me tell you, they're NOT afraid of you -- they just lollygag along until they damn well feel like getting out of your way!

Salt Point is home to a massive kelp forest, and is designated as an underwater park. From the surface, this doesn't look like much -- mostly the water just seems to have an inordinate amount of seaweed floating around the surface. But that's actually the top of the kelp strands, which grow all the way to the surface of the water. If you're lucky, you might see some sea otters floating around in the kelp, chowing down on the abundant shellfish. Apparently, from underwater, the view is quite amazing, and you'll often see SCUBA divers there. Also, folks diving for abalone, which is considered to be a delicacy by many. (I've never had it -- California law places strict limits on how much you can forage and I believe even prohibits the selling of it.)

Even without exploring underwater, though, you can enjoy the benefits of this amazing underwater park. Tide-pooling is fantastic here -- with candy-colored anenomes, starfish, tons of mussels, etc. I usually try to bring a tide chart with me, so I can be sure to hit one of the mostly-deserted pocket coves around low tide. Fisk Mill Cove is a personal favorite, but there are many unnamed coves, as well. You often have to pick your way down a very steep path to get to the beaches, but I think it's worth it. I could literally spend hours hopping from rock to rock, checking out what the receding tide has uncovered.

As for hiking, well the trails are poorly marked, to say the least, and definitely not well-maintained. You do a lot of skidding down hills slick with fallen pine needles and leaping over damp gullies like a not-so-graceful mountain goat. So, if you're a nervous hiker or prone to twisted ankles, you might want to skip the hiking. If not, just keep the ocean on your left on the way out, right on the way back (or vice versa), and you'll be fine. You're never far from the water on any of the many trails that wind through the woods, and anyway, you won't want to be out of sight of the spectacular coastline here for long.

The rocks on the cliffs bear more than a passing resemblance to swiss cheese. This is called Tufa Rock, and Wikipedia tells me that it's created by deposits of calcium carbonate from water with high calcium content. I've seen similar rock down along the coast near Santa Cruz, but not on most of the Sonoma and Marin coastline.

There was also a time when this was a fairly active shipping hub (mostly lumber, I think). Hiking along the tops of the cliffs near Fisk Mill Cove, you can see old, rusted metal hooks protruding from the rock, which boats would use to tie up when they got near the shore. Here's an old survey marker from the tops of the cliffs, as well:

Also, at one point in the distant past, there were farmers that lived on this land. There's still an old abandoned shed (perhaps an outhouse?) at one point along the trail, and tiny little graveyard, perched on a bluff above the ocean. Not a one of my pictures of the gravestones turned out, but here's the view from the burial area:

Not a bad place to spend eternity, eh?

On this visit, I also saw a lot of fishermen, taking advantage of the low tide to walk out far onto the rocks and get a prime fishing spot. I did a little bit of wandering about out there, but I have to say, it felt really dangerous. The surf is definitely not mild in this area, and where the fishermen in the picture are standing is often underwater. Even at low tide, they were being splashed with the spray of waves hitting the rocks, hard. And if a particularly big wave sweeps you off the rocks around here, you're pretty well screwed. There's a reason folks don't swim in this area, y'know?

I don't know what Salt Point is like in the summer, but this time of year it was mostly abandoned. I saw only one other hiker in the several hours I was there. Oh, and if you time it so you're driving home around sunset, the sunset view of the beach near Jenner is spectacular:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #20

1. Rain, finally. Especially super-fine rain that looks like snow as it's coming down.

2. Tall boots with thick cabled knee socks and a blue dress with tiny white polka dots. I feel very prairie-girl chic today.

3. The vibrant green smell of a florist's shop.

4. Making new years resolutions for the first time in many years and actually doing a pretty good job with them so far this year (Work harder at making new friends so that nearly everyone I know locally isn't someone I work with -- check. Get into the city more -- check. Do a better job of keeping in touch with old friends -- check (thank you, Facebook))

5. The giddy glow of a newly-in-love friend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #19

1. Lost. Tonight's episode was fantastic. Yay!

2. Bourbon blondies (tonight's batch was with chocolate chips, crystallized ginger, and walnuts. Yum)

3. Homemade lasagna

4. Bourbon and Gingerale with a lemon wedge.

5. Cuddly cats.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

25 Things About Me

So, I finally got pressured into doing the whole 25 random things about me meme on Facebook. And since I went to all the trouble to actually think of 25 things and write 'em up, I figure I might as well get double mileage out of them. (Those of you who also know me on Facebook can think of this as an encore, since I know you enjoyed these so much the first time!)

1. I grew up next door to a monastery -- in Michigan!

2. I carry a book (or two) with me everywhere I go, just in case. A notebook and pen, too.

3. Nicknames I have been called: Spaz, Sunshine, Mouse, Bunny, Wiggleworm, Raspberry Badass. (How can one person be nicknamed both Mouse and Spaz, I ask you?)

4. When I lived in Chicago, I was an extra for the Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than Fiction. You can't see me in the final cut, though. Also, another movie was filmed on my block that same summer, and John Goodman's trailer was set up in front of my living room window. He is a big, big man.

5. I am completely incapable of putting on make-up. Well, I can kind of do mascara. I've reached a point in my life where I'd love to actually learn how, but it's sort of embarrassing to admit that you are almost 33 and can't apply lipstick properly.

6. My favorite childhood stuffed animal, Doggy, is still on my bed now. He was given to me by my friend Bethany for my birthday in Kindergarten. And yes, I was an extremely uncreative stuffed animal namer at 5.

7. Speaking of stuffed animals, when I was a kid, I had a zillion of them. So many that they couldn't all fit in my bed at once. So I created a chart and checked off each time one of them shared my bed so that they would all get equal time and not feel left out.

8. I am much more a dog person than a cat person, but right now my only pet is a cat. Her name's Violet, and I've had her since just a couple months after I graduated from college.

9. Since college, I have lived in 13 different houses/apartments.

10. Over the past few years, I have learned several old-fashioned domestic skills that I never thought I would: sewing, knitting, making jam and other preserves, making homemade chicken stock, etc. This year, I gave handmade holiday gifts to nearly everyone on my list.

11. I am a major procrastinator. I get my best and fastest work done under pressure of an immediate deadline. In college, I once wrote 10 papers in a week at the end of a semester. I drank a lot of Mountain Dew and ate a lot of potato chips to make it through that week. I have NOT, however, ever pulled an all-nighter.

12. I really love hiking. The hike to the top of Half Dome from Yosemite Valley is my favorite ever -- it's 17 miles round trip, 10,000 feet total elevation change (5000 up and 5000 back down) and it took me 12 hours to do it -- pretty much from dawn till dusk. You also have to pull yourself up a sheer rock face on cables at the end of the hike. People die there every year. That part was really scary, but I can't wait to do it again.

13. I almost always name my pets after characters from books: Violet is named after Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and also because she was very shy -- a shrinking violet -- when she was a kitten). I have also had pets named Holden, Scout, Duncan (from Macbeth -- this was a family pet and my mom wouldn't let me name him Macbeth), Rowsby Wolf (from Watership Down).

14. I was engaged once. We broke up a few months before the wedding, and the planning we did was such hell that I've pretty much decided that when I do get married, I'll elope and say my vows on the top of a mountain somewhere -- maybe at Taft Point in Yosemite. I still want to be dressed like a princess, though.

15. I ran a record store for 4 years after college, before returning to grad school. It's definitely not like Empire Records or High Fidelity, but I loved it. Also, the free CDs and concert tickets I got were great perks. Oh, and I secretly really enjoyed busting shoplifting teenagers and making them cry.

16. I arrange my books on my bookshelves by color -- all the red books together, then all the orange, etc. I just think they're prettier that way.

17. From 2002 to 2007, I lived in 5 different states -- Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, and California. (7 if you include the two states I lived in for only a month each -- Texas and Pennsylvania.) I hated Maryland and liked Texas a lot more than I expected to. If I could live anywhere in the country other than where I live right now, it would be Austin.

18. Some of my favorite things I've ever eaten are: Blueberry-Thyme gelato from Capigiro Gelato in Philly (and the Pineapple-Cilantro was pretty amazing, too), Polenta from Volpi's in Petaluma, Pizza at the Point Reyes Station Cafe, the seared duck at The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma, the hamburger at Lovely Hula Hands in Portland. Also, wild strawberries, black raspberries, and mulberries from the woods by my parents' house.

19. I was supposed to be born on Groundhog Day in 1976. I was over 2 weeks late. I pretty much haven't been late in the 33 years since -- lateness is one of my biggest pet peeves.

20. I am completely non-functional on less than 7-9 hours of sleep a night. I can survive for one night with less, but after that, I get weepy and irrational and I am basically useless. Same thing happens if I don't eat at least every 3-4 hours.

21. As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. I have been to Space Camp. Twice.

22. I despise talking to strangers on the telephone. I'll do everything I can to avoid calling to make appointments, order carryout, or otherwise speak to someone I don't know on the phone. In fact, I chose both my dentist and my mechanic in large part because they allow me to make appointments online. I don't even really like calling people I KNOW on the phone, unless I'm super-comfortable with them.

23. I am much more of a morning person than a night owl, and I always have been. I have clear memories of going to sleep in the summer while it was still hours till sunset when I was a kid. Even after I was old enough to stay up much later. One of my favorite apartments was one in Boston where the morning sun would come in my window and wake me up at about 5am in the summer. Now, I am often in bed by 9:15 at night.

24. I believe that Las Vegas is the living incarnation of hell on earth. I spent a grand total of about 15 hours there last year and I couldn't wait to leave. I cannot understand why anyone would want to get married there.

25. Even though I love living in California, I really, really miss fall and spring in Michigan. Nothing can compare to brilliant leaves against deep blue skies in October and the apple-blossom orgy that is May in Michigan. And even though I don't miss the looooooong wait for spring, I do believe that it made me appreciate nice weather more than I do now, when I get it nearly all of the time.

Daily Dose of Gratitude #18

1. Having a job that is flexible enough that I can come in a little later on those mornings when I just cannot drag my ass out of bed or when I really just need to sit down for breakfast at home for once.

2. Magnolia blossoms.

3. And while we're talking about flowers, also those brilliant yellow flowering trees that are all along the highway in CA starting about this time of year. I posted about this a year or so ago and someone told me what they were called, but I've already forgotten . . .

4. Winning something cool -- A few weeks ago, I won this glove mold from Bluebell Bazaar on Etsy, thanks to Liz at A Giveaway a Day. I'm using it to store rings, necklaces, etc at the moment. It makes me smile. I kind of want a whole herd of them on my dresser, like in the picture.

5. People's 25 things lists on Facebook. I'm learning such fun things about my friends!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #17

I have been doing this daily gratitude thing for well over two weeks now. I have to say, some days it's easy, and some days it's just . . . not. Today is a not day. I used to think that Sunday nights were the loneliest time of the week, but lately, Mondays have been even harder. Anyway, forcing myself to be grateful, dammit!

1. Low-maintenance hair. (I didn't realize just how completely sick and tired I was of my long hair until I cut it all off!)

2. home cooked risotto with scallops, fennel, and shitake mushrooms. Yum

(This is really, really, really hard today. I kind of feel like either crying or pitching a fit more than being grateful today . . .)

3. My red fleece jacket.

4. Pine cones bigger than my head, found on my adventures.

5. Tank-top weather in February.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #16

1. The View of the Golden Gate Bridge when you drive out of the Waldo Tunnel on 101 South. (And the fact that the tunnel itself is painted with rainbows).

2. Catching up with an old friend over brunch on a sunny San Francisco day.

3. Chai Masala, knitting, and some new friends.

4. Falling asleep with blessed ease, even after a highly caffeinated day.

5. Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep.