Monday, January 31, 2011

Whatever and Ever, Amen*

In theory, I like Mondays. I like the idea of a clean start in a new week, the way possibilities stretch out before me. In a glass is half full world, Mondays are shiny and bright, full of glowing amber liquid that is likely to make you smarter, stronger, and happier. They're festive.

In theory.

In reality? Mondays kind of kick my butt. First, there's the "must ... get ... out ... of ... warm ... bed." In the winter, that's so difficult. I have zero desire to leave my cocoon of flannel sheets, quilt, down comforter, blanket in order to venture out into the cold, cruel world of upright wakefulness. (This is not to say that I am not naturally an early riser. I am. I just don't like to get out of bed after having woken up.)

Exhaustive (hahaha) experimentation has taught me that the number of times I can hit snooze AND still make it to my desk on time is three.  (Or, as the Holy Brother read from the Book of Armaments in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out." Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, Danielle must turn OFF the alarm and get up, else havoc be wreaked across the her carefully planned day.)

Some days this is easier than others, because the Storm Troopers upstairs tend to keep -- how shall I say it -- erratic hours. They were up today when my alarm went off. I find it is much easier to get out of bed when it sounds like there's a military drill being conducted overhead ... and when the cat is sitting on me, staring at the ceiling in awe of the noise said military drill is generating. (I'm sure at some point the Storm Troopers will have an entire post to themselves. Further observation of them is required.)

Anyway, Mondays. If ever there was a day when I was tempted to exceed the count of three, Monday would be it. Mondays want to be a seven or eight snooze morning, but I never do it.

Or at least, I haven't done it YET.

Here's the second problem with the Monday: coffee. I tend to drink much more coffee over the weekend than I do during the week, and as I only recently got a coffee grinder, I tend to forget that I'm going to need to grind more beans when the coffee gets low. Griding coffee beans at 5:00 in the morning is appallingly loud and horrible (and I live in an apartment, so Storm Troopers or no, I don't want to be the person creating excessive amounts of noise when a rational human being should be sleeping). However, no coffee is not an option. A Monday morning quandry.  Every week, I think, I'm going to write myself a note so I don't go through this again. Every week, I forget.

Monday mornings make me feel like a fish: in school, but not learning.

When I finally go through the rest of my morning "stuff" (clothes, shower, blah blah blah) -- which takes me twice as long as it does on every other day, which I am certain is a result of some sort of Monday Space-Time Contiunuum problem because any other day I am super speedy -- and DO make it to my desk, I realize that at some point between Sunday night and Monday morning my brain has become recalibrated and I am suddenly stupid. Typing? A struggle. Formulating words? A difficulty. I stare at the computer screen and wait for the coffee to kick in so that I can reassemble myself into some sort of coherency.

Mondays. They're the opposite of festive in a glass is half empty world. And on Monday mornings, the glass is not only half empty, but also seems suspiciously dirty, as though it should have been washed, and the liquid in it looks murky and debatable.

The glass, however, will be half full later. Because as craptastic as Monday mornings do tend to be, Monday EVENINGS are filled with friends and trivia at the pub. And there my glass WILL be half full and will certainly be festive.

So take that, Mondays. You've not beaten me yet.

*I know this post's title has nothing to do, really, with the post. But it's Monday and I couldn't think of anything I liked better than that... deal with it. :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Grace in Small Things: Sunday, Jan 30

1. The knowledge that eventually, everything passes.

2. Boston cream donuts.

3. Having one moment where I feel completely comfortable in my own skin.

4. Fuzzy, fluffy, friendly cats.

5. New, lightblocking curtains (and sleepytime tea) that help to provide a good night's sleep.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Photos

Meet Charles Jodrie. Also known as Grampa. Also known, towards the end of his life, as "G".

(He thought that was incredibly funny.)

                                                                                      Portland, Maine, 1952

I don't remember him having hair -- although, as you can see, it was on its way out in '52 (but I bet you were nearly fooled by the comb-over).

I do remember that smile, which comes through even a bad reproduction of a photograph.

Last Monday would have been his birthday.

Happy Belated Birthday, G. I miss you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fun In the Kitchen

I like to cook, but I don't do it very often because I'm a party of one. One single girl cannot eat an entire pan of lasagne, or cassarole, or ... well, anything really ... because it gets boring very quickly. If I DO feel like I'd enjoy a lasagne or what have you, then I know I'll need to freeze quite a bit of it. This is one of the reasons that my freezer is always very full but my fridge is usually pretty empty.

For example. Right now my freezer contains:
stir fry veggies
mushroom risotto
frozen fruit
lobster bisque
black bean burgers
pesto tortellini
trader joe's pad thai
spinach and artichoke dip

My Fridge contains:
1/2 cucumber
about 18 bottles of beer
condiments (mayo, horseradish, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce)
2 lemons

Up until about 30 minutes ago, my fridge had a MUCH more eclectic mix of things in it because I had a social gathering last weekend, and I hadn't quite gotten around to tossing out some of the snackies and dips. Which meant that this morning, when I was getting the last of the cream for my coffee, I suddenly became aware that it was time to play everyone's favorite kitchen game:

(cue lights)
(intro music plays)

(enter: Dapper host)

Host: Laddddddiiiiiiessss and gents welcome to today's edition of Find the Stench! I'd like to give a biiiiiig kitchen welcome to today's contestant, Danielle! How are you today Danielle?

(Enter Danielle, looking nauseated and ashamed)

Danielle: Frankly, I'm a little repulsed.

Host (smiles knowingly): Wellllll, that can happen here at FTS. So tell me, is this your first time playing?

Danielle: Sadly, no.

Host: And how did you do when you played with us before?

Danielle: It took me a while, but through trial and error I WAS able to find the stench. It was  (shudders at the memory) a stinky, reeking kitchen sponge.

Host: Yeah, those will do it every time! So it seems that today, you have a hint! You KNOW where the stench is generally located!

Danielle: Yes, it seems to be coming from -- (Points) the Fridge.

Host (Runs from the room): GET YOUR BIOGEAR WE HAVE A FRIDGE STENCH! (From off screen) I'm sorry, but we can't actually allow possible hazmats on Find the Stench. You are on your own.

And so I was.

The problem with the fridge-borne stenches is that they're pervasive. They infect everything. I'm not USED to having actual food in my fridge, so I kind of forgot that there was stuff in there. And it needed to go. It REALLY needed to go.

So it did. It all went into the trash. Everything that could not be scrubbed, boiled, or sanitized is now out of the fridge. However, as you know if YOU'VE ever played Find the Stench, the memory of said foul odour lingers in my nose. It's like it's still there. Taunting me.

But don't worry, I've watched this game show before and I know what comes on next.

"Find the Lysol"

Random Observations for a Friday

1. Last night I had a reverse insomnia evening. Here's what I mean by that: I fell asleep on the couch at 5:30-ish, and woke up at midnight, stumbled off to bed, and then slept until my alarm went off this morning. (This, by the way, was after I also took a nap during lunch.)

"So after all of that," you might be saying, "there's no way you could still be tired."

You'd think that. But you'd be wrong.  I AM still tired... tired, and now, somewhat concerned that after that much sleep, I'll revert to my newly normal sleeplessness -- an idea which I do not relish.

2. I have to go to the grocery store at some point because I'm out of kitty litter. This should be an easy task: go to store. Get litter. Pay for litter. Leave.

However, I know that I'll end up with a cart full of stuff because I LOVE my neighborhood grocery store. I love it. I love the way it smells. I love the way it is set up. I love the possiblities in it -- all of the things I could make, even though I won't! -- and the colours and textures. I know this is weird. I love it anyway.

3. I don't usually crave sweets, but I am wanting ice cream ... which makes zero sense when you consider that it's 20 degrees outside and I'm kind of chilly. Oh, Ben and Jerry, how I heart you. So loyal. So sweet. (I can picture a grandma pinching their cheeks "You're such good boys, you.") There may be ice cream involved in the grocery trip.

4. Did my taxes this week, which I of course immediately followed with the "I'm a wizard" victory dance of genius. It's sad when something we all have to do is such a daunting task... but it's GLORIOUS when it's completed, isn't it? I love a refund.

Not much for a Friday, but I have to tell you -- it's been a long week and I need a weekend to recharge. Hope yours is marvelous.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh, Baby

In a few short months (although I'm betting that they don't feel short to my sister) I'm going to be an aunt.

I'm really excited about this, but I'm also a little ... concerned.

I don't really ... um, how to put this ... okay. There are people with whom you'd trust a baby...and then there's me, the person you would trust with your pets, your home, and perhaps your car. You need me to reorganize something in your house? On it. You want help researching automobiles? I'm your girl.

You would never ask me to babysit an infant, though...

Here's a list of baby things that I should (probably) know, but ... yeah, not so much.

1. I don't know how to change a diaper.

2. I don't know what colic is; I know you don't want your baby to have it? But ... I don't know what it is.

3. I don't know how you're supposed to put shoes on squirmy, wiggly little baby feet. (Or for that matter, how you dress them at all ... they're all bendy!)

4. I don't know how to FEED a baby. Or WHAT you feed them. Or how you know when they're done. (I also don't know how anyone can witness baby puke without then throwing up... because I can't do it. I just can't)

However, I should also point out that there are baby-related things at which I have demonstrated some skill.

1. I can shop for a baby... which means I can SPOIL a baby. I love buying baby things. Jellybean (this is obviously not what my sister is NAMING my nephew, but it's what I like to call him) already has quite the stash of presents coming from Auntie Yellie. (He's going to be a dapper fellow, this one.)

2. I can make a baby laugh. This is directly related to the fact that I have very little pride, dignity, or shame. If you hand me a crying baby? I'll hand you back a smiling baby. Whatever it takes. A funny song. A dance around the room. Five hours of peek-a-boo. (Also? I can play peek-a-boo ALL DAY LONG because it doesn't get old for me either).

3. Over the summer, I discovered I can rock a baby to sleep. (I also discovered that having a little person snuggle up and fall asleep in your arms? Ohhhhh ... meeeelllltttttts ... so freaking adorable that I can't even stand it)

Upon review of my qualifications, it seems obvious that I'm not cut out for the role of "Mom", which is going to be spectacularly played by my sister.

However, I'm pretty sure I have the role of "Auntie" wrapped up nicely.

Auntie Yellie.

It has a lovely ring to it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Looking Glass

There are things that I simply do not enjoy.

Here are some of them, in no particular order:

1. Commercials for erectile dysfunction pills (I'm sorry, but I find these so offensive and/or stupid. If I was a guy, I'd seriously question the marketing "geniuses" who came up with these).

2. The fact that currently, my car doesn't think it has windshield washing fluid in it, even though it does (I think it's frozen. Sigh).

3. The fact that I don't know enough about cars to FIX my car (or often even to describe what is wrong with it to the people who can fix it).

4. Robert Pattinson's unwashed hair. Blecccch.

5. Scraping noises (The sound of a plow scraping against bare pavement. Fingernails on a blackboard. Ice scraper against a windshield) Even typing that is enough to make me shudder.

I could go on, but I won't.

However, all of these things -- even the plow noise -- pale in comparison to this, the thing I dislike more than all other things. This is the one that will torment me in the darkest hours of the night and pounce on my thoughts in the middle of the day.

Here it is:

I hate recognizing my own most unlovely behaviours as mirrored by someone else.

I'm uncomfortable when I see someone behaving in a somewhat crazed, hyper-irrational fashion and think "Wow, that guy really needs to chill," and then realize -- that's what I look like when I'm so far out of my happy place that we can no longer be located on the same map. It's not pretty, it's no pleasant, and if there was ever an incentive to work to be less -- I was going to use the word "frenzied", but I don't think it's accurate. Less insistent that I carry the weight of the entire world. Less likely to panic when something doesn't go 100% to plan. Less apt to lash out at someone rather than reaching out to him or her.

I know it's important, that this is how we learn -- by watching -- and it's how we learn both how to behave and how NOT to behave; it doesn't make it any easier, however, to see yourself and to know that sometimes? You're only one step away from being the very thing that you least like in others. Learning (she says sighing) can be so unpleasant.

Kind of like fingernails on a blackboard.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Details in The Fabric

Author's Note: Sorry if this is a rambling post -- I am overtired and these are the things I think about when I need a nap ...

There are moments that I wish I could bottle and keep. 

One of them, as I may have mentioned, is the smell of rain in the summer. There's nothing better than that smell, and it is so fleeting -- it's as though the earth has opened up and released a sigh. I love that smell. 

Another? The sound of snow falling. I don't know how to describe that sound, but it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. It's not silence, exactly. It's the embodiment of ... hushed. When I stand outside and it is snowing gently (not blizzarding, which is a different sound altogether), I feel like I know how it would be to live inside a whisper. There's really nothing like it.

I love the feeling of being at the beach and burrowing my feet into the sand, to feel the contrast of the hot top layer of sand and the cooler sand underneath at the same time.

As I write this, I wonder if gloriousness is magnified by transience? Do things become more special when they are temporary? And if that is so, then I wonder what that says about me, that my favorite things are not bright copper kettles and warm wollen mittens, but are instead things that I cannot hold on to because they exist only as brief sensory experiences and are then gone.

Of course, now I think: by writing them, I am keeping them, sort of. So perhaps I have bottled them in a sense.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love, Actually

What with Valentine's Day lurking around the corner (sorry, but I continue to think of it as a thug, who hides in dark alleyways with a club. Hey, I don't tell you how to personify your holidays), I have been thinking about love.

Valentine's Day annoys me for the same reason that Christmas sometimes annoys me. Now, before you start thinking "How can she be annoyed by Christmas? What is WRONG with her? How much time does this woman SPEND in the bitter barn?" let me explain.

I love Christmas. However, I am bothered by the idea of a SEASON of "let's be nice to each other, look out for each other, do things for each other" because it seems to me that this should be a daily occurance. Maybe I'm off base, but celebrating and caring for my fellow human beings seems kind of like it should be a full time occupation and something I should do every day, and not just between Thanksgiving and December 25th.

Similarly, the idea of a single day in which you celebrate the person -- or people -- that you love? Seems a little ridiculous to me because if you love someone, they should know it every day. And they shouldn't know it because you got them a heart shaped box of candy, but because you show them through your words and actions on a regular basis.

Don't get me wrong, chocolate is delicious. But it doesn't last. Roses are beautiful, but they droop and die. Cards may contain lovely sentiment, but they get tossed.

It's the smallest, everyday things that last. Those are the ones that stick with you. Big gestures are not regular life. It's like when people go crazy planning a huge, elaborate, fancy, crazy wedding as an expression of their love -- but don't put any thought into what the marriage might actually be like. A wedding is a single day. A marriage is a series of them, stacked up and stretching into the future. I can tell you which one of the two I'd rather be able to describe as awesome.

It has occured to me that I'm lucky enough that I have many people in my life that I really love; I've come to realize that, sometimes, that is a gift by itself. It's just that simple. No strings, no fireworks, no power ballads, no shiny plastic wrapping. Maybe it's just a desire for someone to be happy. A quiet offer of friendship. A hand to hold in a difficult time. All more important and precious than anything I've ever purchased and given on Valentine's Day.

I'm pretty happy about that.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, January 23

1. Being reminded that I totally forgot to blog (THANK YOU, Dan!)

2. The realization that in a world where so many things are disposable and easily let go of, there are still things that are permanent and worth holding onto.

3. The feeling when a story finally clicks into place and you can feel where it needs to go and how to get it there.

4. Knowing that, no matter what the outcome is, you gave it your best.

5. Warm soup on a cold day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Photos

There are not very many things I miss about North Carolina. I mean, yes, I miss my family there, but I didn't care for the sports, the politics, the weather, or the landscape.

There was one thing, however, that I LOVED about North Carolina.

Wild morning glories.

They grow along the side of the road, in ditches, up road signs. In autumn, if you were driving past a corn field, you could see them climbing up the yellow brown stalks of corn. It looked like someone took a shaker of brightly coloured confetti and sprinkled it all over everything, and it always made my heart happy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Losing My Zen

My Zen is missing.

This happens all of the time. I have a hard time keeping track of my Zen -- I tend to think it's like a bad boyfriend. It shows up when it feels like it, moves in, makes itself cozy, and I think: "So this is how things can be. This is really lovely. I feel so ... mellow" and just when I get used to the fact that Zen likes to snuggle in a way that doesn't make one of my arms fall asleep and is really good about taking out the trash and is fun to have around, it's gone. No warning. Not even an "It's not you, it's me."

It'll be back, of course. Just not right now.

A wise friend tells me that, unlike a bad boyfriend (and she gives me the disapproving look when she says that, because she knows me well) it is HEALTHY to have the Zen about, and aren't I the one who shows it the door anyway because sometimes, Zen wants to let go of things that I want to hold on to? Doesn't Zen suggest -- gently -- that some of the things that I demand are in fact the things I should banish?

But, I protest, that is my nature.

And that, she says with just a tiny hint of triumph, is what you must overcome in order to get Zen to stay.
And also, she adds, sighing, try dating someone NICE.

I think that she might be right. I think I kicked Zen out of my office several weeks ago and then deadbolted the door. I have not been answering its calls. I don't come out when it knocks.

It's a bit disheartening to realize that the person who is making my life MORE stressful and complicated is ... me. All the worry, all of the anxiety, all of the stress -- they're not impacting anyone else. Just me. They don't change anything, they just make me unhappy, tired, and brittle.

I'm going to try inviting my Zen back in.

As for the rest of my friend's advice ... well, we'll see.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Repeat

Sometimes, I annoy myself. I find myself mentally pacing back and forth over something, worrying it to death for no good reason, until I'm irritated and bored with my own thoughts.

I'd like to think that I'm not the only person who does this, but it's ridiculous. I think it's a bad sign when half of your brain is like "Must ... obsess ... over... this" and the other half sighs and says "Really? This AGAIN? Let's do something else. Anything else would be fine... we could look up videos on youtube as a distraction? NO? But this is so boooooooring."

Yes, that's right. One half of my brain is totally OCD, and the other half? ADHD. Can't let go of things, doesn't have the patience to dwell on them either and so all I end up doing is frustrating myself endlessly.

(It's days like this when I am so grateful that I work in an office by myself so that I am not driving everyone else up the wall too.)

My graceless thoughts keep stumbling over and about the same old thing today, and to no purpose. If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that immersing myself in worry changes NOTHING. The energy and time I spend freaking out (which is a bit of an exaggeration, as I'm not flipping out, I'm just, you know, obsessing) could be put to much better use because it has no impact on outcomes. ACTIONS, those change outcomes. Worries? Cause grey hairs.


Am I the only person who does this? 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Valentine's Day and the Single Girl

It happens every year. The holidays end and I breathe a sigh of relaxed pleasure. Life has returned to normal. All is well. And then, I wander into, say, the grocery store for the single girl staple of a bottle of wine and a magazine and ...

... there it is.

Tormenting me.

Freaking Valentine's Day.

The shelves are awash in red, pink, and white. There's candy EVERYWHERE. There are little hearts and fluffy teddy bears and bows and cellophane every way you turn.

Frankly, it makes me want to poke out my own eyes.

I once had a friend who proposed that Valentine's Day is a holiday perpetuated by greeting card companies. While this may in fact be true, I would like to submit that I fully believe that they are in league with dating sites, chocolate makers, and possibly the major psychiatric associations who see the reactions of single people everywhere and rub their hands together with unadulterated glee.

Or, you know, I might be overreacting.

Here's my thing with Valentine's Day: I don't mind being single. I'm self sufficient. Hell, I even killed a spider the other day and disposed of the corpse. BY MYSELF. I don't need a knight on a white horse (Armour? Horse poo? No thanks) because you know who rescues me when I'm a damsel in distress?

I do. That's who.

In fact, as a buddy pointed out the other night, "Sometimes I miss being in a relationship ... but then I realize that there's NO drama when it's just me." So true. When I'm single? I live in a drama free zip code. (Well, okay, except for the mild hysteria involved with the appearance of the previously mentioned gigantic hairy mutant spider that wandered INTO my zip code. I'm sorry, but it had to go.) I do what I want when I want.

Life does not suck, and I actually rarely miss being in a relationship. Until, that is, Valentine's Day rolls around and everywhere I go I find crap that seems to exist for the simple purpose of reminding me that other people have ... partners.

And I have ... a cat.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I should probably confess that I also know that it's better this way. I have a long list of personality, um, quirks, that make me really bad at dating. It's why I'm very comfortable as the friend, the sidekick, the partner in crime. I'm an excellent wingperson.

I firmly believe that any "holiday" that makes me -- or anyone else -- wonder if there's something wrong with me because I DON'T have a partner, or makes me feel bad about it -- even for a moment! -- is a holiday that needs to be scrubbed off the calendar.

So do you hear me, Valentine's Day? I already took on a spider -- you're soooo next.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For Jenny -- originally posted on Jan 18, 2010

A few years ago, a beloved friend asked me if love was worth the risk of loss. At the time, I was going through a divorce and getting out of bed every day was a battle of will for me; however, the question was serious and deserving of a serious answer, so I thought about it carefully.

And then I answered, yes.

Yes, it is.

At the time, I put my answer in a hypothetical, what-if-it-ended-tomorrow scenario and said, Look, here’s the deal. No one ever gets to the end of her life and says, oh, I’m so glad I didn’t take any chances. What a relief that I have reached this place with a heart that I kept safe under lock and key, without exposing it to the wild unknown, without running the risk of what if, what might be.

Yes, she said. Yes, that’s what I think too.

I should probably admit here that I didn’t know I believed it until I heard myself saying it.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is such a tremendous gamble, and that the people that I love and admire the most are the ones who look at the odds, see that they are stacked against them, laugh out loud and charge forward.

My friend? She’s the most valiant woman I know. She moved forward into the unknown and, frankly, found something incredible – a love so genuine, so real, that it made everyone around her a little better for seeing it.

Not everyone would have that kind of courage, but she does.

She’s amazing.

She was with her beloved when he passed away last week.

In the aftermath of that loss, she has been the embodiment of grace.

I still believe that love is worth the risk, perhaps because I also believe this to be true: nothing and no one loved is ever truly lost. You carry those you have loved and the love they gave back to you. It stays in your heart; it shines like a sun when the days seem to stretch darkly before you, it warms you when the world feels cold. Love is a summer day in a winter season. It is a beautiful, inexplicable, amazing gift.

Blessings to you, my friend. Blessings and love.


Monday, January 17, 2011


I have a board on the wall of my office that has photos and postcards that I love. On my desk, is a larger, framed photograph, and tucked into the corner is a dried four leaf clover.

During the day -- especially during stressful days -- I can look over and gain perspective. I think that so often, we -- or maybe just I -- lose sight of what's important in the rush of the everyday and forget to hold on to the bigger, better things. 
It's sort of like this: everyone has driven over a speed bump. You slow down, you cruise over it, you go back to what you were doing. It's a moment in your journey to wherever you are going. It PASSES. It should never ruin your day. There is a difference between a speed bump, and, say, a ravine. It's simply that so often, we let the speed bumps take on ravine proportions.

My photos are here, in the space where I work, to remind me not to let the speed bumps become ravines. You probably have some too. Here are some of mine.

Photoboard: Counter clockwise from left corner

1. Snapshot taken in the Olympic Mountains: Tom, Josh, Heidi B, me. First, every time I see it I think: how the heck did anyone convince me THAT was a good idea? (I'm, erm, leery of heights.) Second, despite the fact that there was MAJOR arguing on the way TO the mountains (which may be the understatement of the century), we're all really smiling and happy to be up there, in the cold, hanging out. It was a good day.

2. My sister and her husband on their wedding day. Awwwww. She looks so happy.

3. A laminated photo from a newspaper that shows firefighters raising a flag at Ground Zero. This picture shames and humbles me. Really? Am I having such a bad day? Do I even understand what "bad day" means?

4. There are two snapshots from a trip to England where a friend and I are romping through a series of benches that are painted to look like a small city. We are terrorizing them in a Godzilla-like fashion. I was quite ill with food poisoning when we took those photos, but I remember being outrageously happy while we were doing it. Plus, they're hysterically funny. I don't know that passers-by thought we were as amusing as we did, but ... awesome.

5. An old postcard showing John Lennon holding a pig by the ears. Why? I don't know. But I love it.

6. Photo from Bainbridge Island, WA. Taken from a bar (on the same trip as the mountain photo). Also, just a gloriously amazing day, and a good moment.

7. A postcard showing the painting "Boston Common at Twilight". Happiness on a small square of paper.

8. My sister's wedding announcement. Again, so pretty.

9. A photo that one of my folks took on a family vacation to Rangely, Maine. My parents don't really enjoy having their photos taken, so I don't have one kicking around, but this one always makes me think of them. (Also, I didn't go on that trip, and they felt bad, so they named a lonely little duck that was always hanging around the dock after me ... the idea of a duck named Yellie makes me laugh every time).

10. A photo my dad took in the backyard of the house I grew up in -- full moon, dark sky, the silhouette of a tree. Love. LOVE.

On my desk, there is a photo of my grandfather that was taken in 1952. It's hard to be stressed out when my grampa is smiling at me... and also? The picture reminds me that sometimes, what I think is a ravine IS a ravine... and that I can get through it. I've done it before.

I have the photos to prove it. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, January 16

1. The ability to pick up a conversation where you left off -- even when you "left off" several years ago.

2. Uncontrollable hilarity.

3. The smell of freshly ground coffee.

4. The way that some songs remain true, no matter how much your life has changed since you first heard it.

5. Warm wool sweaters.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Photos

It's four degrees outside as I write this, which is unpleasant and, should I need to go outside (which eventually I will), will be shocking to my system in the way that very cold air often is.

For a pick-me-up (and a reminder of warmer weather as well ...) some flowers:

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing and The Internets

"I can't believe the stuff you'll write about. Don't you keep anything private?"

Well, actually. Sometimes. For example, I change names to protect those who are innocent or unaware that I have made a conscious choice to live my life on the internet. The knowledge that my mom reads my blog does have a small impact on my inclination to overshare (okay, granted, it's a very very small impact, because let's face it, I got the overshare gene from SOMEONE...), but it should be acknowledged that, when it comes down to it, there's not a lot that I consider completely off limits.

I don't know why that should be, but as usual, I have a theory -- and it has to do with the nature of technology. You see, technology enables me to work from home, and yet be conversant and involved with people in offices across the country. It's both isolating (I'm alone, in an office) and connecting (I'm talking to someone in Wyoming!) at the same time. Blogging (and social networking, and ... well, texing and email too, I suppose) is sort of like that. I'm writing words on a screen -- in a vacuum. Isolated. However, people are reading them and taking something from them. Connected.

I think that in some way, writing is always an isolated activity -- the writer sits and scribbles and then sends the words out there -- but in a world that becomes increasingly isolated in many ways (our communities are so often virtual, are they not?) the immediacy and the personal nature of something like blogging creates a sense of intimacy in the way that perhaps reading a novel does not.

It was interesting to me when, as a teacher, I often heard people say that they hated to read and write, but they LOVED to text, and email. (Apparently, they really only hated to read what I was assigning... sigh!) It's all reading. It all counts. And it's interesting to me now when writing -- even in text-speak -- and social networking -- which is primarily text based, I think -- is given both as a "why we broke up" and "how we met" story. "She was emailing and texting someone she met online, so we broke up" vs "I reconnected with him on Facebook and it was like magic! We would chat online for hours, and he wrote the best emails."

Does writing -- at least, in an internet setting -- reveal people ("I'm more myself when I write online") or does it hide them ("she doesn't know that I'm married! Bwah hah hah!") ?

I don't know the answer to that.

I do know this: I don't overshare simply for the joy of oversharing. I tell stories -- generally, ones in which I come off like a bit of a twit (which, well, I am) -- in an effort to connect to something beyond the cold glow of the computer screen and reach out to a world that I don't often see... and I appreciate the medium that allows me to do it -- and I will continue to do it.

But don't worry.

I'll change your name.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bright Lights

I spent the last several years living in a climate that was relatively snow free. I moved back to the snowy tundra that is the Northeast voluntarily, and I love it here. It's BEAUTIFUL. Yesterday, while it was snowing? So pretty. (Even when I was shovelling. Which, hello, is HARD WORK! I had totally forgotten.)

Okay, maybe it snowed a little --excessively. I mean, I don't know that I needed 24 inches of snow in a single day. And yes, it was pretty freaking cold. But I've got boots and a warm coat (finally) and lovely mittens so ... bring it on. I can take a little cold (or, you know, a lot. Tripping face first into a snowbank taller than I am did NOT assist in the warmness. Of course, the shovelling did help ...)

Here's what I had forgotten about when it came to the snow.

It's very ... white.

Whoa boy, is it white. It's like everything is covered in a blanket of reflecting mirrors. Bright, glowy, shiny, white reflective mirrors.

I live in a corner unit, so I have a lot of windows. It's an apartment building, so there are streetlights outside. Let me tell you, between the streetlights and the snow? Last night it was like VEGAS in my apartment -- everything was bathed in light, despite the closed blinds and windows. I was tempted to stand in the living room and sing Sinatra tunes (okay, maybe I DID do that. But it's house and I'll do it my way, thanks).

The cat was convinced it was day time. So she romped around the apartment joyously, meowing thrilled little meows. Woooohooooo! Daytime! Let's PLAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!

There was very little sleeping in the Casa last night.

Now, of course, it is daytime. It's stillllllll so bright. I mean, it's amazingly bright. Bright like I should have my sunglasses on. Bright like "don't look directly into the light."

So pretty. But, oh man.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days

It's snowing. Heavily. I spent so many years in education -- either as a student or as a teacher -- that having to work on a snow day seems fundamentally wrong on many levels. As the snow piles up on the window sills, my brain is thinking "Work? Why?"

Granted, I work from home, so it isn't as though I had to drive in to work in the bad conditions (or, you know, as though I EVER have to drive in to work) but ... still ...

When I was a kid, snow days meant that my sister and I would go outside and play (at least until I couldn't breathe and then had to go inside). Our house was heated with a woodstove, and when we came in from the cold, we would go into the basement and strip off the gear -- hat, snowpants, boots, etc -- beside the stove. I loved the way that the bits of snow that came off our outerwear would sizzle on the hot metal. (I did not like it when I got caught flicking snow onto the stove on PURPOSE, as it made my dad REALLY mad.) To this day, being outside in the snow makes me think of how cozy it was to be sitting in the warm orange light of that basement, in damp socks, with the smell of the wood and wool drying.

My sister would always want to make a fort out of blankets -- which we would do -- but she would also want to sleep in it. I would say that I was going to, but for some reason never did. I probably should have -- sorry, Pooks -- but the idea of sleeping in the blanket forts totally freaked me out. (Probably because they had a tendency to collapse on us, and the idea of one landing on me in the middle of the night seemed decidedly unpleasant.)

Snow days had their own menu -- they were nearly the only days I would ever drink hot chocolate. They required grilled cheese and tomato soup (perfect comfort food) OR kraft mac and cheese (also very cozy. However, not so nutrituous... and an unnatural shade of orange).  Lots of hot tea would be made and sipped. It was all about being happy and warm on a snow day.

I hope everyone stays happy and warm today!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Open Letter to A Friend/ JackAss PhD

Dear Friend,

I am concerned, as you seem to be dating a complete jackass. 

I can't fault you for that, since I pretty much have a doctorate in dating jackasses. I've a Jackass PhD, earned through years of relentless research and studies. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

However, as a result of my field studies, I would like to submit the following, on the off chance that my extensive observations and notes are helpful to you.

1. A Jackass will present himself right away.

Here's the deal: Remember your first date? You dressed up. You made sure your hair looked nice. You made sure you smelled good. You were polite. You were funny. Basically, you made sure that you were putting your BEST foot forward.

The beginning of a relationship is when you and whoever it is you're dating will treat each other better than you'll ever treat each other again. It's like living in a romance novel (it's also when people tend not to want to be around a couple, with the schmoopy and the googley eyes and the sickening laughter, but I digress).  At the start of a relationship -- while you're dating -- you should be treated EXCEPTIONALLY well.

If someone is treating you poorly while you're dating? They are NOT a good bet for the long haul. Someone who can't be bothered to be good to you while you're dating is someone whose behaviour will only worsen as time goes on ... and by allowing yourself to be treated poorly while dating, you're essentially telling said Jackass that it's TOTALLY fine with you that he's treating you like crap.

You should NEVER be fine with being treated like crap. PERIOD.

2. A Jackass enjoys making jokes at your expense

There's nothing a Jackass finds funnier than making you look dumb in front of other people, or mocking you hurtfully. Let me say here that I enjoy a joke as much as the next person (potentially more) and will poke fun at myself frequently. However, there's a difference between "I am such a doofus, listen to what I did," and a Jackass announcing in front of a group "OMG, Danielle is so fricking stoopid, listen to this!" Or mocking causes you hold dear. Or being generally rude to you in front of others.

If someone cares about you, Dear Friend, he will not find it amusing to make you the butt of the joke, or to elevate himself by knocking you low.

3. A Jackass will expect tolerance but will not extend it.

A relationship with a Jackass is very one sided. He will want you to tolerate behaviours that HE would not tolerate. He will expect that you will do things for him that he would never do for you. As an example, a Jackass may think it's completely acceptable for him to flirt excessively with another girl, but if you are talking to a gentleman, he will fly into a rage. He will always expect that he could call you for a ride at 2 AM, but he would NEVER answer your call if YOU needed a ride in the same instance, and would berate you for having the audacity to make that call.

There is no compromise in a relationship with a Jackass. There is all give (that's you) and all take (that's him) but no give AND take. Dear Friend, you have a big and generous heart. A Jackass does not appreciate that. He exploits it. This makes him unworthy of you.

4. A Jackass will pit you against the people you love

There's nothing a Jackass loves more than creating an "us against them" scenario. At first, this may seem romantic -- look, it's us! On our own little island of loooove, against the world. Rock on.

It's not romantic. It's isolating. It's a Jackass move, designed to make you rely on him at the expense of other people in your life who love you. He will ask you to choose. He will demand that you choose him. If you do, you will be cutting off the people who support you and love you... people who think you deserve more, perhaps, than being stuck on an island with a Jackass.

Because, Dear Friend, you deserve FAR more than being around someone who disrespects you, cuts you down, treats you poorly, and tries to make sure that you are forced to decide between him and the people who love you. You deserve someone who respects you. Who laughs with you and not at you. Who appreciates the other people you love, and who considers himself lucky to be one of those individuals.

The people who love you want more for you than to be the accessory of a Jackass.



Monday, January 10, 2011

Life's Like an Hourglass, Glued to the Table

(I recently re-discovered my OLD blog. This was an entry from the spring of 2005; I'm reposting it because it is relevant to how I feel today.)

Original post date: Saturday, April 9th 2005 at 9:08am by Daniellebalentine at

Related Tags: events, life

When I was a little kid, I imagined what life would be like when I was a grown-up, and I really thought that there would be some sort of epiphany where the world clicked into place, almost as if one day you would wake up and have crossed the town line into Adultville; someone would give you a certificate of residency, and maybe you''d have a house there and you and all of the other Adults would talk about the very important things that you had to do all of the time.

The thing was though, that I thought that I would recognize it when I got there. I thought that, as I got older, I would feel differently than I did when I was a kid.

But, as usual, I was wrong. I don''t feel that much different. Frankly, I have to tell you that this bums me out enormously.

Why? Let me tell you.

1. It is disconcerting to realize that, while you still feel spunky and spry on the inside, your body has other plans entirely (Good-bye, shoulder. Good-bye knees. Good-bye smooth, wrinkle free skin. Hello white, shiny hairs on my head).

2. I thought I would outgrow the awkwardness I felt when I was a kid. I thought that I would reach a point when I didn't care about what people thought of me. Let me check -- nope, still awkward. How is THAT fair? I ask you. It turns out that I have remained a total dork. (I am trying to work my dorkiness into an endearing trait. So far, it has failed).

However, there are some great things about getting older. I should probably list them, too.

1. Consider the alternative.

2. I get along with my parents better.

3. If I don't want to eat turnips, no one can make me. (When I was small, I thought they were turn-ups... because they turned up on our table at Thanksgiving. Why do people enjoy a root veggie that tastes the way I would imagine dirty socks would taste if you boiled them? Just asking). Also, as an adult, ice cream CAN be considered a meal.

4 (This is a good one). The more time you put in on this planet, the more you realize how beautiful it really is. Seriously. Right now, as I write, the springtime sun is peeking in through the blinds, all warm and gold. My fuzzy grey and white cat is curled up in my lap (she likes the computer ... she's weird), and my toes are warm in the strip of sunlight that falls just so across the floor. Outside, I can hear birds chirping. Life is so amazingly good. Would I have appreciated this ten years ago? Would I have noticed?

I don't think I would have.

I like it when the pros outweigh the cons. So come on, Time -- bring it. And if there is an Adultville, well, they're probably just saving my spot.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, January 9

1. The knowledge that, just because life knocks you to the ground, you do not have to stay there.

2. Road trips, windows down, singing along with the radio as loudly as possible. And, perhaps, dancing.

3. Shiny lip gloss.

4. A cozy comfy scarf.

5. The bold sound of opportunity as it knocks.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Photos

I've noticed that people -- myself included -- wish away their days. "Oh, I wish it was summer," we say in January, tired of the winter weather. "Oh, I wish the holidays would get here," we say. "I can't wait for my vacation." We speak as if this day doesn't count, as if the right now is somehow less important than the someday when.

But if there was no winter, and there was no today, then I wouldn't have been able to ramble in the woods and see things like this:

Enjoy your days!

Friday, January 7, 2011

15 Things

I have nothing profound to say this morning, so here are 15 completely random things for your reading enjoyment. They're all about me, just in case you're wondering, "who IS this girl? What's her deal? Oh, how I wish I knew 15 more things about her!" Now you will. You're welcome.

1. Right now? I am obsessed with the Scottish band Biffy Clyro. I was once involved with (or you know, "married to" -- it's all in the terminology, isn't it?) a fellow who was VERY anti-singing along, but only when it was MY singing along. I love this band because they're awesome, but I ALSO love that I am allowed to sing along with them. Loudly. Whenever I feel like it. ('Tis a glorious life.)

(If you'd like to check Biffy Clyro out, you can go here:
or there's always Facebook)

2. I'm not a fan of peanut butter. It's a bit like wet cement, isn't it? Who needs that?

3. I use the phrase "I'm not a fan" with some regularity. It seems nicer than "I don't like that." Consider, please. "Hey, do you like salmon?" "I'm not really a fan." as opposed to "Hey, do you like salmon?" "No, I find it disgusting." See? Nicer.

4. I have said about 2938472384 times that I'm going to learn to play the guitar. I should probably just shut up about it, because I'm thinking ... maybe that's not going to happen. I'm a little bit patience-impaired at this point.

5. I think that when you're 35, as I now am, the word "boyfriend" is a little weird. (For the record, I don't have one. But I think if I did, I'd be reluctant to use the word boyfriend... and "manfriend" is not only odd, but off putting... I don't even know why I'm thinking about this today. Moving on.)

6. I realized today that all of all of the places I have ever lived? The ones where I felt most comfortable in my own skin were within hearing distance of trains. The house I grew up in, my first apartment where I lived on my own, the house in North Carolina, and the place I live now. Trains. I don't know why I find that sound to be joyous, but I do.

7. I miss the days of the mix tape. I mean, a playlist burned onto a cd is good, but it's not as good as the mix tape for some reason (the amount of effort that went into a mix tape was really part of what made getting one special. It's way easy to burn a playlist onto a cd).

8. I can go several days without even turning on the television. I'm not a television watcher. Having said that ...

9. ... I am a pop culture junkie. Thank you, internets, for keeping me up to speed.

10. I spend so much time on the internet that there are days when I feel as though I live inside the computer. This is partially due to my work, which is internet based, and partly because I'm obessed with facebook, and partly because of the blogging, but at the end of the day, I have spent more hours on the internet than I have doing anything else. This may be what prompts oversharing ... ah well, it is what it is.

11. I don't like to write with pens that don't feel right (I recently found out that I'm not the only person with this particular quirk). What makes a pen "feel" right? I can't tell you. I can only tell you when one DOESN'T feel right.

12. One of my coworkers frequently calls me "boss". As in "On it, Boss!" As in NCIS. It never fails to totally crack me up.... Gibbs, I ain't. (If you are not familiar with NCIS, this one just shot right over your head. But it's one of the only things I watch on tv. You should try it out. Just saying...)

13. I have mixed feelings about this post because so far, all but two of the items starts with "I". So self indulgent. But I said I'd post every day, so what is one to do?

14. I have a thing about gargolyes. This began with a bridal shower gift of a gargoyle (I have very extraordinary friends) and continues to the present. I have (counting ... let's see...) five of them lurking in my apartment at present.

15. I am still trying to decide what I am going to be when I grow up.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Diane Myers, You're My Hero

A few days ago, a friend asked me for some advice. I feel uniquely ill-suited for giving advice, as I am merely bumbling my way through existence, but I tried to offer something useful.

It did get me thinking about advice, though, and the best piece of advice I have ever received, though I don't think I really appreciated it at the time, or truly understood it.

I was standing in the halls of an old high school -- my first year teaching -- and talking to the wonderful, the amazing, the brilliant Diane Myers (a complete rock star of a teacher) and we were discussing (for reasons I cannot recall) relationships. And that was when she said this: "A relationship should make your life better, somehow. It should make it richer, it should add something positive. If it doesn't... then it's not worth it."

I believe I agreed with her, and then went on to torment myself -- and, well, most of the people I knew --by getting into relationships that most definitely did NOT make my life better or richer in ANY way. (To be fair to me, I was young. And, you know, really stupid.)

As I get older and (one hopes) wiser, I realized this: Diane was COMPLETELY right. (She usually is, but this time I was slow to catch on).

However, it occurs to me now that, though we were talking about romantic relationships at the time, her statement could -- and probably should -- be applied much more globally. Any relationship in life -- in order to be qualified as a good one -- should make it better. (This is not to say that there won't be periodic difficulites or days when "What the HELL?" is the question you ask yourself repeatedly, or moments of intense stress -- there will be, unless your life is somehow a romantic comedy -- if it is, good for you and can I have some of what YOU'RE on, because, really?) ANY relationship. Friendships. Romantic relationships. Relationships with things -- food, money, whatever -- they should serve you in a positive and not a negative way... and if they don't?

If they don't, you need to let them go. Even if it's painful. Even if it's hard. Even though maybe you don't want to because change can be frightening and difficult.

I can only hope that my advice to my friend was as good as the advice Diane gave me. (I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but I tried.)

Thank again, Mrs. Myers ... you're still the best ever.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

You Look Maaaahvelous

If you know me, then what I'm about to confess probably seems like a bold, ridiculous lie, but here it goes: I'm plagued by shyness. My default in social situations is awkward. I never feel like I fit in or belong anywhere ... ever. I feel like a dork amongst some of my oldest and kindest friends, I feel like a dork when I meet new people; I guess the common denominator is me, being a dork.

I'm okay with being a dork. I'm used to it. That's not what this is about.

The reason that statement might seem like a lie is this: I'm not quiet. I'm a talker. (I'm also comfortable with being a talker.) This is partly due to nervousness, and also because I like people, even though I feel like a tremendous goofball about 100% of the time. If I'm not talking, then I have the time to worry about what they're thinking. If I am talking to them -- and hopefully, we're talking about them -- then I don't have the time to fret about their detection of my innate dorkiness.

This is not about that either.

Here's what this IS about: as a result of both the dorkiness and the talking, I have a tendency to talk to complete strangers. Here's why: I know what it's like to feel completely miserable but to try to look like I don't. Because I constantly feel like an idiot, I'm not afraid to risk LOOKING like an idiot, so I will approach people I don't know very well or at all (I know this seems contradictory) and give them a compliment.

There it is: I am a serial compliment-er. (And finally, I arrive at the point. Hey, it's early and I'm tired.)

I think that if you are out and about, and you witness fabulousness, you should mention it. As an example, I am on a trivia team (which is seriously the most fun thing ever, and deserves its own post at some point) and there's a woman on one of the other teams who is COMPLETELY Fabulous. In fact, in my head, that's her name: The Fabulous Amber. When I told her -- you are fabulous! -- she looked startled. Later, she told me that the acknowledgment of her fabulousness made her night.

I compliment people walking by on the street. I compliment people who are good at their jobs. I compliment people who seem like they need a lift and some who seem like they don't. Don't get me wrong -- I don't LIE to people; I don't tell someone "Wow, your nails are amazing" if I don't actually think that they are -- but there's quite a lot of fabulous out there waiting to be noticed.

This trait really annoyed someone I used to be involved with -- he HATED that I felt compelled to talk to strangers and thought it was weird. I think it's weirder that it seems suspicious or odd to try to make someone's day a little brighter by offering them something kind and telling them that something about them -- even if it's completely superficial -- is awesome. Because, again, I know what it's like not to feel so awesome, and to feel like there's not that much about me worth noticing.

The other thing about the complimenting? It often rebounds. If you make someone smile and feel wonderful? It can make you feel pretty wonderful yourself.

Even if you are a tremendous dork at heart.

(oh and hey, you know what? I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this here blog... YOU, my friend, are AWESOME. Thanks again!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Doctor, Doctor

I have a doctor's appointment on Friday.

I am SO not excited about this.

I haven't been to the doctor (except for an urgent care a couple of times when I was sick) in years. There are many logistical reasons for this, such as my health insurance was cancelled (don't ask) and then I moved to North Carolina and didn't have a doctor. However, my health insurance was restored, and I lived in NC for three years, which is plenty of time in which to FIND a doctor, so despite the fact that I call them "reasons" they're really "pathetic excuses" (which my mother reminds me of on a regular basis).

They become more pathetic when you consider the following:
1. I'm not afraid of needles.
2. I'm not doctor phobic (I AM afraid of the dentist, but that's another kettle of fish entirely).
3. I'm not really super germ phobic, so it's not an issue of "I can't be in the waiting room with SICK people"
4. I have been getting cards from my health insurance people saying "Um, why are you paying us if you're not going to the doctor, silly person?"

My thought is that I feel pretty good, so I don't need to go to the doctor. You don't have to yell at me (trust me, Moms already has. MANY TIMES). I know that it's unbelievably stupid not to go. I know I should care about my cholesterol (which might be fine. Who knows?) or my blood pressure (tends to be low -- or it USED to -- but again, who can tell?) or my iron levels (no red meat can equal low iron. Or something. Right?) ... I should care about all of those things... but I kind of don't.

This drives the people around me (helllllo, Moms) completely batty.

Here's the thing: I used to get sick all the time. Allllllll the time with the sick. And not a little bit sick as in "Well, I'm feeling slightly unwell" but catastrophically ill, as in: Hospitals. Many many painful shots. Pokes and proddings and "this won't hurt a bit" (WHY WHY WHY do doctors SAY that? Do not LIE! Just tell me it's going to hurt so I'm prepared!) and overnight stays and eat this, don't eat that and take these meds that will make you feel kind of better but will have major side effects (like an inability to sleep. For ... oh, the next two weeks) and blah blah blah.

Thank you very much, but I'd rather not. So if I don't feel sick? Then I'm not sick. And if I'm not sick, what on earth do I need to go to the doctor for? See? It makes perfect sense, right?

Just not to my mother, who is fretting and who gives me the long suffering "Do you SEE how you're making me worry?" looks. Behold the power of the guilt... so I made an appointment.


I hope my mom is happy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Travelin' Music

A couple of times a year, I get the travel bug: I am struck by the urge to be anywhere but here. I review my passport to see when it needs to be renewed. Photo albums of old trips come out and are sighed over. My closets seem to call to me: "Look at all of this luggage you are storing! Shouldn't you use it? Now?"

The world is a big place, and I have seen so little of it, I think. I could pack up and go. I can work from anywhere -- I have a broadband card, a cell phone, and a laptop. Why COULDN'T I go? Let's GO!

I can't go.  There's stuff to do, bills to pay, responsibilities to meet. But I still look at the map and long for the coast of Ireland and the ruins of Rome. Japan whispers my name. Ecuador gazes back at me levelly. Every island in the Carribean seems to dare me to show up. Provence and Paris crook a finger at me. Come on, they all say, you know you wanna.

The map of North America alone tempts me. The Grand Canyon. Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Sedona. Napa Valley. Portland, Oregon (the "other" Portland).  Martha's Vineyard (stillllll haven't been there). Miami. Anywhere in Montana.

I need to plan a trip. Anyone want to go on vacation?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Grace in Small Things: Sunday, January 2

1. The way the air smells when it is 55 degrees in the winter -- that earthy, melty, springy smell.

2. Black-capped chickadees (possibly the most cheerful birds on the planet)

3. Sunlight glancing through early morning fog

4. The sense of accomplishment that comes with a (finally) finished room

5. Taking the time just to veg

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday Photos

Apparently, I'm not the only one in the house who loves gargoyles.

Happy New Year!