Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas this year was a whirlwind as usual, but it carried the blessings of tradition and ritual to buffer to the blow of what could otherwise be crazy. The last few years, Dan and I have had Christmas Eve with my mother's family, Christmas morning with his mother's family, Christmas night with my father's family, and the day after Christmas with Dan's father's family. It sounds a little crazy, none of the driving distances are too great. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, there is something to be said for knowing what to expect, for knowing how the day generally goes. We know when to get there, when we should leave to get to the next destination, and what generally used to be pretty stressful became lovely. I was exhausted by the end of it, but I had a lovely time.

Christmas felt extra-special this year for some reason. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older and I can appreciate everything my parents did for me as a child in a whole new light. Perhaps it's because Dan and I kicked things up a notch this year with the Boston Holiday Pops. Perhaps it's because my mother is doing amazingly well and it's a blessing in and of itself how she came alive again to decorate her whole house for Christmas. Perhaps it's because my talent for making peanut butter balls and needhams has matured to a real skill that brings smiles to my friends' and families' faces. Perhaps it's because there is a new baby in the family: my cousin's wonderful new son. Perhaps it's because there was snow on the ground, and nothing can replace a true New England white Christmas. Perhaps it's because I am really happy. Whatever the reason, this year felt special.

Due to a Blizzard (and yes, the capital "b" is purposeful), Dan and I were compelled to drive home a day early. We managed to get all the way to the Mass-NH border before hitting any real snow, and I was able to keep up a pace of 80 mph until somewhere close to the 495 split. At that point, however, we quickly reduced to 40mph, and shortly thereafter, it was 20 mph all the way home. I was truly impressed with the fortitude Boston drivers showed as everybody on the road managed to drive safely. I bore witness to no accidents or sliding cars, unlike previous times driving in poor conditions. Truth be told, this was not the worst weather I've ever driven in -- I didn't even slide around when changing lanes! However, I know that had we delayed our departure a mere 20 minutes, for example, it would have been a different story.

It was just as well that we came home last night. Let's face it, folks, I am not a spring chicken anymore, and extended visits with friends and family, as wonderful as they always are, completely exhaust me and I generally need a day off to stare at the wall and play with my new toys before re-entering the workforce. The drive and the exhaustion didn't put a damper on my sheer bliss about all the snow, though! As soon as Dan and I managed to find a store/restaurant that wasn't closed so we could get something to eat, I put on an extra layer and tromped around in the snow along the bike path next to our apartment. I couldn't help myself but to make a snow-angel.

Today, my plans are to put our new sheets on the bed, play with my new Kindle, and go snow-shoeing along the pike path. There's no place like home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are you eating your veggies?

Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries

Courtesy of the New York Times, this quick little article looks at why even America's health care professionals aren't eating their veggies. We're issued the tall order of eating 4 and a half cups (considered 9 servings) of fruits and vegetables a day, I'm not sure that even my veggie-lovin' self eats that much.

On that note, I'm sure that you all won't be surprised to hear that I'm considering a Master in Public Health with a focus on Nutrition and/or Epidemiology. Considering how many posts I make about food and health, I am shocked that I didn't think of this sooner. No time like the present!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Home Improvement

Dan and I are not big home improvement people. Sure, we like to get things settled, and we're not made out of money, so that has taken the form of us doing things ourselves. It's not hard; it's just time-consuming and exhausting. We tend to stay away from exhausting, time-consuming things that aren't inherently pleasurable. That having been said, we have a mouse problem. After multiple attempts with traps and exterminators (during the course of which we have managed to catch a mere one unfortunate baby mousy, of all things), we decided it was time to seal off all the nooks and crannies where it* could possibly get in. In an old unit in an old building, that generally means everywhere.

The darned mousy is getting bold as brass. It practically came out to visit with us while we were working the kitchen last night, and I'm pretty sure I saw the little bastard light up a cigarette. This is a no-smoking apartment, Mr. Mouse! We just need to make it clear that it's not welcome. And from the mouse's perspective, all those nooks and crannies practically made it look like a home especially made just for it.

Therefore, we are in the midst of undergoing a mass effort to seal off every cranny larger than one-eight of an inch through the use of silicone caulking, joint compound, and the sticky foaming filler known to me as Great "I-hate-that-stuff" Stuff. From little gaps in the trim to plaster that's falling down in the ceiling of the linen closet, this place has not been impervious to mice. We even pulled out the stove and sealed the holes and gaps around the pipes. We're treating this with the utmost obsessive-compulsiveness. There are lots of places that we're certain are not actual conduits for our mousy right now, but as we seal off the other obvious entrances (read: entrances with mouse poops around them) we realize that a mouse could very easily relocate and find a new way out. Hence the humongous effort.

It seemed like a good idea to use this as an opportunity to repaint the kitchen, too! "Why?" You ask. Well, we're in home improvement mode anyway. We're not the kind of people who do a little of this and a little of that to hammer away at a project when we get home from work every night. So while we're suffering through the fumes and the inconvenience of having moved everything around, so we may as well take advantage of it and repaint the kitchen now. Lord knows we wouldn't otherwise have gotten to it until at least February.

In the end, we'll probably still find the occasional mouse poop. But we're hoping this sends a clear message that it's not mouse friendly unit after all. This a pretty smart mouse, so we hope it gets the message.

* Where there is one mouse, there are many mice. I know this. But I can't bring myself to say the plural form. I can live with the idea that there is one mouse. Mice implies infestation. And I can't live with that. So I say mouse. At any point in this narrative where it seems like I may be fooling myself and that there might really be lots of mice, please humor me and forgive me for using the singular form for the sake of maintaining my sanity. Your narrator has a flawed perspective.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Courtesy of the New York Times...a fun article about having less and enjoying life more.

But Will It Make You Happy?

She had so much.

A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people.

Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.”

So one day she stepped off.

Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

Her mother called her crazy.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Making Good Use of the Outdoors

daN and I spent a good bit of time this weekend outside. When I got home from work on Friday night, I did yoga on the grass in the breezy sunshine, which was a fabulously grounding way to start the weekend. The next day, we went for a good long walk around Jamaica Pond and enjoyed the flowing water, the wind, and even some young baby duckies. That night, we enjoyed a picnic dinner on Boston Common while securing ourselves good seats on the grass for the Commonwealth' Shakespeare's annual Shakespeare on the Common. This year, they are performing Othello, and we were both impressed by the caliber of the performance this year; as I said on my facespace page earlier, it was a gut-wrenchingly well acted performance. Also, it was so nice to be outside and all laughing with the audience whenever Othello said, "Oh, honest Iago..." What a lovely tradition Shakespeare on the Common is.

Sunday evening, daN happened upon a wonderful new spot for us to go canoeing via the Charles River Canoe and Kayak along some peaceful marshland -- nary a highway overpass to be seen. Those coupled with lunches and dinners on our porch, and I almost felt like I got to be outside enough.

Late summer is one of my favorite things. Hot days, relatively low humidity (when we're lucky), and cool nights. Lots of breezes. We even got a little chilly at times! The change of the season from late summer into fall makes me feel relaxed and glad to be alive. And in New England.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I love yoga in the sunshine.

I love doing yoga in the sunshine on the grass. Something about it brings me a real sense of peace that I'm hard-pressed to find somewhere else. When I am doing yoga in the sunshine on the grass, that's the only thing I'm thinking about. It's important to have stuff like that in one's life.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thoughts from the Yoga Block on a Lazy Saturday Afternoon

Regardless as to the fact that I might be feeling somewhat professionally bored, and regardless as to the fact that I sprained my cheek muscles two weeks before the wedding and suffered a knee injury four days after our wedding and cut our trip to Monhegan short (read: opportunity for physical therapy to prevent a tired tendon from getting worse over time!), my life is amazing. I am married to the man I have loved for nearly half my life. We had a wonderful wedding (digital photos to come soon) and a wonderful reception. We have amazing family. I am happy to say that there was no drama around the wedding -- no one screamed at each other. No two parts of any family or friend network were feuding. We just had a great time. Furthermore, and most importantly, my mother is recovering well and decorated the tent! How lucky am I?

As I mentioned, I have been professionally bored. The work I do on a daily basis, while valuable, is somewhat dull when I don't have my wonderful co-workers around to make the day go by. What's my passion? I have too many of them. Yes, I am studying to become a math teacher, but I also am passionate about public health and architecture, and I'm not quite ready to jump into being a teacher yet. I don't have to be. Any thoughts? But all this pales in comparison to my otherwise fairly fortunate life.

We are still settling into our new condo in lovely Jamaica Plain along the Southwest Corridor Park. As we slowly find homes for the wedding gifts we received, we continue to clean up and find homes for the stuff we moved in here with in April. It's a good process, and the place is continuing to feel more like a home and less like a storage unit. These things take time.

As a closing to this bewilderingly scattered post, I will only mention that sometimes I'm shocked by how quickly time passes. I had assumed that by 30, there were certain things I'd do, things I'd be certain about. But it sure is an interesting process.