Friday, January 30, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #15

1. Words that I am grateful for today:


2. A few moments of pure happiness after several weeks of the blues: sunshine and blue skies, driving through the countryside with the windows down, singing along to Paul Westerburg.

3. Those cute little orange and green knitting stitch markers, which look like tiny little diaper pins.

4. Knitting and gossip at the yarn shop.

5. Sunday brunch plans with a friend I've been missing.

Daily Dose of Gratitude #14

1. Oatmeal Raisin cookies, out of the blue in the middle of the afternoon. (Thanks, H!)

2. Rediscovering an album you loved at 15 (Morrissey's Bona Drag, in this case)

3. CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain. It makes your lips look like you've been gorging on raspberries and red wine. Plus, it's wicked fun. It's literally a magic marker that you use to color in your lips. I am not a make-up girl, but I am totally in love with this stuff. (And I should say, I got to try it for free through BzzAgent. Fun and free? I'm totally in! Oh, and I have coupons for a buck or two off, if anyone wants one.)

4. Taking the plunge on a drastically different haircut and loving the results. Six inches GONE! My head feels about 10 pounds lighter. :-)

5. Pizza with sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and mushrooms. Yum.

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do

Breaking up from a long-distance relationship is weird. I mean, in a lot of ways, your day-to-day life doesn't really change much. Certainly you're on the phone less, and you're no longer spending hours trolling airline discount sites for cheap plane tickets. But, really, you've already been going to bed alone at night and waking up alone in the morning, anyway. You've gotten used to hanging out with your friends on the weekend instead of your boyfriend. Your house really doesn't have that much of his stuff in it. And on a day-to-day basis, your time was mostly your own. So in some ways, it's much easier than breaking up with someone local. Whose stuff had mixed and mingled with your own to the point that you were no longer even sure what belonged to whom. Whose going left this sudden, huge gap in your daily routine.

But in one way, a long-distance break-up feels more difficult, because your brain plays a nasty little trick on you: you forget that you've broken up. You're just going through your day like you did throughout the whole relationship, and then you catch yourself thinking about when you'll be able to squeeze in a visit to his town. And suddenly it hits you: there isn't a plane trip to see him in your future. You won't ever wake up next to him again. And once you're reminded, it's like you have to mentally go through the whole damn breakup all over again. You go days without crying and then you're reduced to tears because suddenly, you've remembered, and it sucks.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #13

1. The thinnest sliver of moon hanging low in the dusky sky.

2. Papayas with lime squeezed over them (reminds me of vacation in Hawaii).

3. Realizing that plane tickets to the place you've been dreaming of traveling for ages are actually half the price you thought they were (Now I just have to get up the guts to visit a place where the only thing I know how to say in the language is "una cerveza, por favor." That's another beer, please, for those of you who know even less Spanish than I do. And I'm not even sure I spelled it right.)

4. Woodford Reserve and Vernors gingerale, with lots of heart-shaped ice cubes from my cheezy Ikea ice cube tray.

5. An appointment for the traditional, cathartic, post-breakup haircut.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #12

1. Knowing how to properly poach eggs. (And poached eggs with dill on english muffins for breakfast - yum)

2. The fact that the BEAUTIFUL (and ridiculously expensive) new gym near my house may actually be a part of my health insurance gym membership program, which would mean it would be CHEAP to join. (Please cross your fingers for me that this turns out to actually be true!)

3. The LitterMaid 2000 automatic litter box.

4. Red wellies with white polka dots. (This will make me even more grateful when I get to actually WEAR them this year. Where oh wear is our winter rain?)

(wow, I just noticed how much I really like parentheses on my blog. I think this a direct result of years of repressing my parentheses-loving tendencies in papers and word assignments after getting lectured by my middle school english teacher for over-enthusiastic parenthesizing)

5. Being able to use parentheses whenever I damn well please!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #11

1. Every piece of dirty laundry in my house, now clean. (Even if going to the laundromat to get it that way sucks!)

2. The fact that I own enough pairs of underwear that I can go weeks and weeks and weeks without the dreaded trip to the laundromat.

3. Avocados (and being able to spell avocado right on the first try).

4. The swift and ball winder they use at the yarn shop to wind your skein into a neat little yarn cake.

5. The squirrel that fell down my parents' chimney today. Like from the roof. Don't ask me how that happened. All I know was that the story of the squirrel had me in STITCHES for, like, hours. I mean, the story involves:

-- The squirrel caught behind the glass door of the fireplace, my mom and the dog freaking the hell out. (Holden barking like mad, mom shrieking like a little girl).

-- My dad setting one of those humane live traps up near the fireplace, blockading it in with other furniture (I think -- the story got a little fuzzy here what with all the hysterical laughter on my end of the phone), then, basically, opening the door to the fireplace and running.

-- And not just running to the other room, but actually leaving the house for a few hours to go to wine tasting, hoping the squirrel would be trapped by the time they got back. (Don't ask me what they thought would happen if the squirrel DIDN'T go in the trap.

-- This wackadoodle plan actually working, and my folks coming home to a handily trapped squirrel, ready to be released into the wild.

-- My mom bitching that she was the one who had to clean up after the squirrel, which apparently pooped all over the living room floor before stumbling drunkenly into the trap.

Oh my goodness, how could you NOT be grateful for a story like that!?! Thank you, universe. Thank you stupid squirrel. Thank you mom and dad for just being your crazy selves :-)

Tourist in my own town

This weekend I did something I've never done before, even after over 2 years living in the Bay area: I played tourist in my own town and went and gawked at the Golden Gate Bridge. Seriously, how have I lived here for 2 years and not taken a single picture of the most iconic sight in the whole city?

One of my new year's resolutions was to get into the city more. It's crazy that I live, like, 40 minutes away from San Francisco, but I act like it's hours. I mean, I drive 40+ minutes pretty much every weekend to go hiking, but when I think about going into the city, my brain always whines "but it's so faaaaarrrrr." My brain is a big fat liar. Lately, though, I've really been missing living in a big city. I mean, I'm an outdoorsy girl, but I also love the way that everything is right there at your fingertips when you live in the city. Oh how I miss living in Chicago and never having to drive ANYwhere! Of course, I could move to San Francisco. The commute would be perfectly reasonable with my job. But OMG, the RENT! I just cannot convince myself that it's worth it to pay $1300 plus for a teeny tiny little STUDIO (if I'm lucky). And I also can't quite convince myself that I'm ready to go back to roommate-ville, after living on my own for the past 3.5 years. So, Petaluma it is for me (and don't get me wrong, I actually love Petaluma, too), but with hopefully more frequent trips into the city.

Anyway, while I was there this weekend, I also explored the Presidio a bit. Love the rock sculptures on the beach by Crissy Field.

And, also, the military cemetery there is quite lovely:

(Is it disrespectful to wander around a cemetery with your camera?) Next weekend, I think I'm going to go to the Palace of Fine Arts, which I also have not done (though I DO at least have a membership to the DeYoung and the Legion of Honor!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #10

1. Cows lining up for their breakfast in the early morning light.

2. "Damn This Feeling" by Hayden.

3. Slices of green apple with crunchy peanut butter.

4. Fish tacos with mango and avocado salsa.

5. Accidentally eating moldy bread for breakfast but not getting sick. (Hey, what can I say, it was a total Monday today and sometimes the universe just doesn't give you much to be grateful for on Mondays)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #9

1. Coffee and reading in North Beach (Caffe Trieste, I heart you)

2. Being good enough at driving a stick shift (finally) that I am no longer scared to drive in San Francisco.

3. Watching surfers catch waves with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

4. Clove-flavored toothpaste. (And the sepia-toned memories it brings back: sitting on my stoop in Boston, Summer '96, the scent and crackle of clove cigarettes in the air).

5. Handmade flannel pajamas on a cold night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #8

1. Bacon.

2. Bacon.

3. More bacon.

4. Even MORE bacon. (You can never have too much bacon!)

5. Emotional support that comes from unexpected corners, when you most need it. (Thank you everyone who's called/IM'd/Facebooked/emailed the past few days with virtual hugs and much-needed perspective.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #7

Wow -- I've been doing this whole gratitude thing for a week already. Doesn't really feel like it. Anyway, here's today's gratitude:

1. The "keyboarding" (typing) class I was forced to take in 9th grade. I fought against having to take that class like you wouldn't believe. And, wow, am I glad I was forced to take it anyway -- my stellar typing skills have possibly been more useful than any other single thing I learned in high school.

2. This blog:, which has been making me bawl my eyes out. Go read it right now. I'll wait . . . unless you're at work. Do not read that web site at work. Seriously. (Unless you are okay with folks walking past your office and wondering why you're all red-eyed and sniffly in the middle of the afternoon)

3. Stumbling across exactly the right book at the right time. (In this case, Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry).

(Urgh. I'm not really feeling this today . . . Trying to push through the blah to the gratitude . . .)

4. A compliment from a complete stranger about something you've made with your own two hands.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #6

1. The Chia Obama. You have no idea how much I want one of these. (Tho' it actually looks NOTHING like him. And there are some mighty pissed off reviewers on Amazon - it's "racist," apparently, because it grows a big green afro. Uhhh . . . that seems a little . . . overly sensitive.)

2. Some much-needed rain (finally!)

3. Looking out my office window at fingers of fog creeping down the hills near work.

4. The scent of California in winter: wood smoke, damp eucalyptus, and citrus fruit.

5. The little kissy noise you make to get a cat's attention.

6. The cidery smell of apples left too long on the tree.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #5

1. A long dinner with a friend who might just be the slowest eater ever, but is also a good talker, so it all evens out. Laughter with a good friend is always good medicine!

2. Chicken Tikka Masala.

3. The candy cane striped insides of Chiogga beets (and a house full of the earthy smell of beets roasted with salt and thyme).

4. An It's It ice cream sandwich for dessert.

5. Lemons from the neighbor's tree rolling down the gutters of my street. And remembering my dad being totally amused by it when he visited last year (Lemon trees aren't exactly common in Michigan).

(Today's gratitude is all about the food, huh? And I just finished dinner, so I'm not even hungry!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #4: Inauguration Edition

Hurrah for a new beginning in D.C. ! Here are the things I am most grateful for today:

1. Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem.

2. Petaluma market employee making fresh-squeezed orange juice in the sunny alley behind the store, the scent of oranges on the breeze.

3. A new Indian restaurant, a 5 minute walk from my front door, and the anticipation of trying it for the first time.

4. A good friend who shows up at your house after you've had a lousy few days, bringing red wine, knitting, and gossip.

5. Actually caring about the inauguration, the new president, and politics for the first time in forever.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Daily Dose of Gratitude #3

Today is a difficult day for me for feeling gratitude, but that's sort of the point of this whole thing, right? To find the good even when you feel whiny and miserable and would rather just stay in bed all day?

1. Varieties of citrus fruit I'd never heard of before moving to California, all piled up in bins at the farmer's market -- Blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, Meyer Lemons, Pommelos, Mandarin oranges with their waxy leaves still attached . . .

2. Finishing the knitted hat I've been working on, and it's just as soft and lovely as I'd hoped it would be.

3. Reminding myself "Every time the universe closes a door, it opens a window." (Dear Universe: Please open that window soon. Love, Chris)

4. Ginger-scented lip balm.

5. Watching a co-worker's daughter light up when I gave her an advance copy of a book by an author she loves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Daily dose of gratitude #2

Today, I'm grateful for:

1. Vernors ginger ale, even in California.

2. Sand between my toes in January.

3. Waking up with the sun on my face and the cat lounging on my feet.

4. Violet's fat white tummy as she lounges on her back in a puddle of sunshine.

5. Giggling over boys with a friend at the farmer's market.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Grace in Small Things

So I stumbled across this a few days ago and it's hit home for me. I don't normally go in for all that Oprah-esque jibber jabber, but something about just taking time to be grateful feels right to me at the moment. The past couple of weeks, I've been feeling restless and gloomy. I've let myself get caught up in being anxious about things that all the anxiety in the world isn't going to fix. (When does it ever, really?) I think it's probably just the winter blues. Somehow they still come, even when you live someplace where the sun actually DOES shine. But anyway, I think that reminding myself of the grace in small things in my life is just what the doctor ordered. So, I'm going to try to do this every day for at least the next few weeks. We'll see beyond that. Here are today's bits of grace:

1. Coming home smelling of the sea.

2. Finding my first heart-shaped rock in ages.

3. Seals as wildlife, just loungin' around on the beach.

4. Sitting on a bluff above the ocean, no one else in sight, a good book in my lap.

5. Tank top weather in January.

6. Soft periwinkle yarn and the time and skill to knit it up into something beautiful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In a Mood

Forget everything I said yesterday about gratitude. Today I'm just crabby, hold the gratitude. Blech.

I'm in the mood to get away, but my go-to-the-snow plans for the weekend have been foiled by ridiculously unseasonable warmth across California. 80+ degrees in Santa Rosa yesterday! And it's supposed to be in the 40s and even 50s in the mountains all weekend. Not so good for the snowsports.

So, instead, I've been looking at pictures from last summer's various travels, dreaming of escape:

Bryce Canyon, from the rim:

Arms wide open in Bryce:

Tenaya Lake, early morning:

Yosemite High Country:

If only I were there today. Anywhere but here. . .

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crabbiness and Gratitude

Yesterday, I was feeling sort of blue and crabby. Missing D. and old friends, too. Stressed about my messy house. Mad at myself for spending too much money on fabric and yarn and other art supplies I don't really need. Grumpy at the fact that D. still lives so freakin' far away. But, mostly, just blah -- the kind of blue that comes unattached to any decent reason.

So anyway, after hours of sitting on the couch moping, I finally forced myself to get out of the house. It was 65 degrees, the sun was shining hard, and I went for a hike. Just the little regional park near my house, where hiking even a 3-mile loop means stringing together a series of short little trails and still having to do them more than once to get any decent distance. But 20 minutes into my hike, I started to feel so much better.

And then I started to think about how freakin' lucky I am to live where I do. I mean, hello, it's 65 and sunny in the middle of January! I'm out hiking in a t-shirt! The Sunday farmers market was full of great fresh produce and oysters fresh out of Tomales Bay and so many oranges and lemons and grapefruits, along with other citrus varieties I've never even heard of. And in a few weeks, all the spring flowers are going to start bursting free at the side of the roads: poppies and lupine and those trees that are just covered in yellow blooms that I can never remember the name of.

And I live close enough to snow and mountains to get to do stuff like this, too:
(Actually, full disclosure, this picture was taken up in Oregon. BUT, the Sierras are less than 200 miles away, and I'm planning on escaping to Yosemite for some winter fun this weekend. I bought snowshoes on super-sale online last week and, hello, El Cap, Half Dome, and the rest without the crowds? I'm totally there! )

And I'm close enough to the ocean that I can poke around tide pools pretty much whenever I want, checking out all the cool, other-worldly creatures that live there:

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes I get caught up in this "woe is me" bad mood and I just let myself wallow and wallow. And that's just silly. Everyone has things about their lives that they don't like. But I'm so grateful to have ended up where I have, after the years in my early 20s where I was miserable literally every single day. Years in my mid 20s where I moved to a new state every single year. After years in my late 20s and early 30s of grad school misery and the hell that was living friendless in Washington DC. I've really got so much to feed my happiness right here at my doorstep, and I'm so very, very fortunate. I must remember this.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Holiday Craftiness

So this year, I decided to have a totally handmade Christmas. My goal was to make gifts for everyone, and I mostly succeeded. I did end up buying a gift for my parents, but it wasn't an object -- I bought them a night at Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga, including 2 mud baths, for while they're here visiting in February.

Anyway, here's a sampling of what I spent most of November and December working on (uh, instead of posting here).

I made a purse for each of my sisters.

Here's Dana's:
Isn't the fabric for the body absolutely lovely? I almost didn't want to give this one away because I loved it so much. It's the Birdie Sling pattern, from Amy Butler. The body fabric is from the Garden Party Line by Anna Maria Horner. The handle is a brown and white polka dot. I'm not sure what fabric line that was from. And I lined it in either pink or brown cotton. Can't remember now.

And here's Ryan's:

The body fabric is Mocca, by Alexander Henry, and the handle is also an Alexander Henry fabric, I think, but I can't figure out what line it's from right now.

My mom got flannel PJs, which were actually for her birthday (right around Thanksgiving). I'm sorry this picture sucks so much. I wish you could see the adorable yellow buttons better!

There are pants that go with this pajama top, by the way, you just can't see them on the hanger underneath the top, which is long-ish. I would not make my mom go pantsless on her birthday :-)

And for Dan, a cabled scarf, knit in a lovely soft green yard. He wasn't sure he was a scarf person, but it looks great on him!

And also a hat, which looks kind of boring in this picture, but is quite cute on. I love, love, love the flap and wooden button:

I also made felt-lined fabric coffee cup cozies and peppermint bark for everyone at work, jars of caramel-pear butter, and a few other miscellaneous things. I couldn't get a good picture of the coffee cup cozies, but they turned out great. So great, in fact, that I get compliments on the one I saved for myself everywhere I go. I'm seriously considering setting up shop and selling them!

Oh yeah, and I also found time to squeeze in a couple things for myself. A red cabled hat with a pom pom on top:

This is totally why I learned to knit, by the way -- so I could make exactly what I wanted instead of searching fruitlessly for it at stores. And what I really, really wanted this year was a thick, warm, red hat with cables and a pom pom. Voila :-)

And, finally, a pair of fingerless mittens, which I learned to make in a class I took at Knitterly in Petaluma.

So anyway, now that the holiday craft frenzy is over, I'll hopefully find more time to post here. Of course, my camera is currently kaput (the third one in three years! What am I doing wrong????), so I need to get that fixed, first. Does anyone have any advice on how to fix a stuck lenscover. It's just a little point-and-shoot digital camera, and the little lens shutters that open when you turn the camera on are jammed. They open partway, but then get stuck, and they don't close all the way, either. Grrr.