Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why I Bought a Queen Size Bed

I bought this today. It's called the Rangeley bed from LLBean. I've liked it for years, and am finally in a position to buy a new bed, so after looking around quite a bit, this is what I chose. You may notice that it's a platform bed, so it takes just a mattress, with no box spring. I liked the fact that the thing was built in Maine, and the shipping was very reasonable ($35), as opposed to Ikea. The closest Ikea store is Phoenix (I know, poor me), and the shipping for a $199 bed was $259! Oh well. I like this my first choice.

I have my eye on a Tempurpedic mattress, which I have picked out (it's called the Tempur-Cloud, or something like that) and need to go order in the next few days. I figured I'd order that from the store here in town, as I'd have to pay tax anyway, because the sales guy was helpful (maybe he'll get a commission) and they'll take away my old mattress and box spring. Mr W and I tried out the beds at the mattress store the other day, and although it's expensive, it's got a 20 year warranty and that's only about $100 a year! Justification, indeed.

And I thought briefly about buying a full sized bed, thinking that, well, I'm not sharing a bed with anyone right now, so why spend the extra money? That ended up striking me as a little too short-sighted and pessimistic. I do think that at some point, over the 20 year life of the mattress (!) I'll have a need for a queen sized bed. Man, if that warranty runs out and I'm still sleeping single, I'll be bummed out! I'm thinking the odds are in my favor though, just a matter of time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Books "on tape"

When I'm not goofing around on my computer in the evenings, I do like to knit. My TV is strictly for the kid's use, as I don't have cable or the converter box for local channels. He watches videos from the library, and I don't feel compelled to get cable just so either of us can watch more TV. I've never been able to knit and watch TV anyway.

I also feel like I don't read enough. I really don't, and although it's something I do feel motivated to change, I haven't yet. I'd like to go to bed 30 minutes earlier, and split the difference by reading for a little bit before lights out.

Solution? Ta-da! In a fit of multitasking, I've joined, a site that sells all sorts of recorded books as downloads. What actually pushed me over the edge was hearing an interview with the author of "Eat, Pray, Love", who has a new book out called "Commitment". I thought that Eat, Pray, Love would be a great start, so I downloaded that. Haven't started it yet.

The book I did start is called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. The book chronicles her process of finding out and then undertaking steps to become more happy. She wasn't depressed, has a satisfactory home life, family, kids, job, etc., but felt she wasn't as appreciative of those things as she could be.

I'm only about an hour into it, but I see the opportunity to do some of this myself. Goal setting, mindfulness, and allowing myself to "be Linda". One of her "rules" is to "be Gretchen", which I think means to accept one's own strength and weaknesses, without slipping into some kind of narcissistic tunnel vision. All of this kind of smacks of thinking about oneself a little too much, but I believe you have to get yourself to a spot where you're OK with who you are, what you want and where you're going so that you don't end up 75 years old and wishing you had enjoyed what you had a little more.

And listening and knitting is working just fine - I can do those at the same time, and am almost done with a scarf I've been working on. I listened to a podcast from about blocking knitted things, and am eager to try their techniques. Blocking relaxes the fibers, and has one soaking the piece in warm dilute soapy water, rolling it in a towel, and then tacking the piece down to dry. All I need now is a nice scarf pin - Etsy, here I come!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I am so done

A month ago, I entered back into the fray of online dating, and I am stepping right back out as of today. Made a new friend, but didn't connect with anyone romantically. It's so aggravating, because there are certain benefits, but really big drawbacks as well to this whole thing (for me anyway).

I searched all the way down to Denver. Jeez, with 100 potential matches that met my criteria, you'd think (hell, I thought, anyway) that there would be someone to start a conversation with.

Wrong. My introductory email was either ignored (which still pisses me off) or politely returned saying the person wasn't interested, but thanks anyway. I totally respect the latter reply, by the way, and did the same to each and every guy (even if he was creepy) that sent me an email who I wasn't interested in.

It helped me a lot to remember that this does not represent the entire pool of potential suitors, but still. I'm not very good at moderating my activity on the dating site, and tend to check it way too often during the day, hoping someone has noticed me. And this, I believe, is a waste of my time and mental energy.

I was thinking today about the lengths I went to in order to maintain the long-distance relationship I was in for 2.5 years, and also how occupied I've been with the online crap (oops, I mean stuff) trying to find someone to partner up with. It was a bit of a forehead-smacking moment when I realized how hard I've been willing to try to find a partner, and previously to maintain a relationship, and these things have gotten me nothing, except a little wiser. Have I tried too hard? How exactly does one go about just "letting things happen"?

This is a lesson I'm still learning, and one thing I will do is to refocus on being involved in the community and doing a good job with the stuff I've committed to do. I have good friends, a nice house where there's plenty for me to do, a kid who needs raising, etc. Wishin' don't make it so. I don't believe much on faith, but I do know that I'll eventually find a wonderful man to share my life with. I just hope I'm not 65 when it happens.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taken down

Going to the dog park can be a dangerous experience. Most everyone I talk to has been at least bumped into by a running dog. Sometimes we get knocked over, like today.

The dogpark is an icy mess at the moment. The snow that we got in December has melted and refrozen repeatedly, so the surfact is about 4" of ice. Bumpy ice. So a thrown ball can go awry. I was standing there swapping dog stories with another doodle owner and I saw a Lab named Sampson coming my way for a second before he plowed into me from the side and took me down.

And now, well ouch. The wind got knocked out of me and my shoulder hurts. People were very nice, and rushed over to see if they could help. The dogs themselves were very curious that someone was sitting on the ground, and Sally kept darting back and forth. Sampson's owner was very apologetic and I had the presence of mind to ask someone to pick up my glasses.

So now I'm wondering how sore I'm going to be and how I can stay safe when there's so much ice. When the ground is bare, a bunch of us walk when we're at the dog park, and I'd like to believe that a moving target is harder to hit than a standing one. I might get some of those grippy things I can put on my shoes for the ice, too. Darn dogs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The weekend

It used to be, on the weekends when Mr W is with his dad, that I'd get a little squirrelly after spending so much time by myself. Those bits of self-doubt that I think most people have would have enough time to gain some momentum and sometimes I'd be wondering what the hell I was doing and where I was going in life.

Not so much anymore. I do miss my Wumpkin (I'm thinking the days are numbered that he'll let me call him that) on my off weekends, but I also appreciate the free time and time to "get stuff done". I try to cook ahead and make some stuff I can freeze for dinners, I clean my house occasionally (this is one of those days), and see friends.

I did refinance my house, and pulled out some money to do some projects here. It's funny. I feel like I should wait to spend the money until I'm sure I've been renewed at work for another year. They are moving our offices and labs, so it looks like there will be a place for us, and my boss feels like they will find the money to keep everyone on, but who knows? In addition, I'm grappling with what I "should" spend the money on. I really think that I'd use the deck off the living room, but it's a non-essential, and I could use new windows, and would like to put a half-bath in the basement (which I will likely never use, but will add value to the house).

My whole view of weekends has shifted, too. It used to be that I needed to bank hours on the weekends to use later, but that constraint has been lifted like a released rubber band - kapwing! It's been really nice to not have to work in work so much on my weekend (although I do go in for a half day here and there). I look back and am sort of surprised I did that for so long. I'm grateful (really grateful) my job allows me the flexibility to do that, as well as to leave in the middle of the day to go teach and make up the hours later.

So, here's to the weekend! I'm off to have some breakfast and clean up some dust bunnies.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Here's a lousy picture of it, but I love it!! Thanks J and M!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mr W's handiwork

This picture is of Mr W's and my lego creations. His is on the left, mine on the right.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More on the Jacket

My home phone doesn't ring that much. It's usually either Mr W's dad, or a solicitor, so I often will let the machine pick it up and screen calls that way. Yes, I've heard of that thing called caller ID, but I don't have it on this phone.

The phone rang yesterday morning as I was on my way out, and I debated about answering it. I thought it might be something about the kid, so I picked it up. To my amazement, it was a real live person from the Bemidji Woolen Mills company calling about the jacket I had ordered. She said they didn't have the red in my size, would I like a bigger or longer one of in red, or my size in gray?

Wow. I chose my size in gray because I thought it's going to be plenty big as it is. So now a gray one is being "sent right out to ya". I thanked her profusely for calling (they could have done this easily by email) and am looking forward to receiving my new jacket. Yea customer service!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lighter Fare

No, the photographer did not get knocked over - she got out of the way!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sister Kris

I'm a little early on this one, but the fact that my sister Kris's birthday is coming (January 16th) just hit me with a little wave of despair. This happened last year as well, but I didn't see it coming, and it threw me into a funk. It's hard to head grief off at the pass, but maybe writing about it will help a bit.

Kristine K. Sawyer would have been 47 on the 16th. She died about a month after her 45th birthday, and I'll probably haul all this emotional stuff out one more time here on February 20th (yippee). She was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in November of 2006. What they found were the multiple tumors that had spread to her liver. As so very many people know how this sort of thing goes, she responded well initially to chemo, had enough time to get her things in order, and then died a difficult death.

Throughout, she insisted on being the mother and wife she was used to being. At the time she was diagnosed, she was working full time and going to school full time. She wanted to get her BSN (Bachelor's in Nursing), and had signed on to work these dreadfully long shifts to maximize her time at work, while being able to see her kids. I wonder from this, and also my mother's experience dying of pancreatic/lung cancer, the relationship of stress to disease.

When most of the types of chemo had been tried, and there weren't many treatment options left, I remember talking to her on the phone about getting into a drug trial. I remember I was at the dog park at the time. From my very limited perspective, I thought, 'hey, you've got nothing to lose, you might as well enroll'. From her perspective, an untested therapy might shorten what little time she had left, and she opted not to risk that. If she did nothing, she knew about how much time she had left, and was unwilling to gamble with that. This makes a lot more sense to me now than it used to.

I'm going to have to continue this post later, as I wanted to talk more about what she did and who she was, as opposed to how this thing came and got her.

Every time I think about how she had to say goodbye to her children, it makes me weep. If I ever had to cry on command, that thought would do it. They and Bart have coped and survived this horrible thing, and it was good to see them last November carrying on.

She wanted to die at home but didn't make it. They had the hospital bed delivered a day or so before she died, thinking she could come home, but she never stabilized enough to make it. By that time her liver was failing and she wasn't all that lucid. I remember her looking at me and I thought, 'she can't tell if she's really seeing me or if I'm a hallucination'. That's OK. She had one final moment of clarity, which we sort of laughed with, because she sort of sat up a bit, called her sons over and said sternly, 'No cigarettes! No cigarettes!' As in, if nothing else, don't start smoking after I'm gone.

OK, more on this next time. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts on love and jackets

So I've thrown my hat into the dating ring again. It is hard to tell when one is "ready" to date again after being in a relationship, but my life seems so much the same now as when I was in the long distance relationship, I feel ready. It seems callous to say this, but, having been on both sides of it now, it is easier to disengage from the relationship when one is the dumper instead of the dumpee. A lot easier.

20 years ago, heck, 10 years ago, I would never have predicted that I'd be in my mid 40's pondering on what love is. I always assumed I'd be like my parents, til death do us part, etc. And I'm not writing today to boo-hoo myself on this. I feel like I'm as engaged in life as I've ever been, and am looking forward to the future.

But I wonder. I mean I have my list of things that I'd like my partner to have, and it's a lot of the characteristics that I have (no surprise there). I assume I'll end up with someone who has been married before, I can't see training a newbie in his 40's. I also figured he'd have kids, although this isn't a deal breaker. So I'm looking for someone like me.

Or am I? I read something once that resonated with me that went something like, we are attracted to people who have what we feel we lack. We fall in love with people who are examples of things that, if we had this thing about ourselves that we wanted to be like, they show us that. That is a clunky sentence, but there you go. So the trick is to get people together whose deficits cancel each other out?

Then there's chemistry. That elusive something that absolutely must be there to progress from friend to partner. Undefinable, hard to quantify, unpredictable even, but necessary.

I went on a coffee date yesterday, and I likened this process (online dating) to running outside in a hailstorm for me. I can do it for a short time, then I gotta come inside. The person I met yesterday was very nice, we have quite a bit in common and I'm interested to see where it goes. Stay tuned.

And jackets. I picked out a wool jacket yesterday (look at yesterday's post for details), and I'm all excited now to get it. It's not just that it will be perfect for much of Colorado's winters, not just that it will look good with my hand-knit accessories, not just that it has a high degree of built-in coolness because it's from Bemidji, MN (and thus is the real deal). It's that my brother and SIL thought to buy me this. Gestures like this remind me how much I am loved, and how much my fam means to me. I will post pictures when I get it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You w-w-want m-m-me to g-g-go out there?

We've been hit by another cold spell here in Colorado. It's supposed to go down to around -10 tonight. However, by the weekend it's supposed to go up to the 40's (balmy!). I had all these great intentions to get out and attend things the last couple of days, but didn't get there.

Yesterday was the monthly Colorado Native Plant Society meeting. They have interesting speakers, and I usually know a couple of the people that attend, but I got home and stayed home. Thursdays, there's a knitting group that meets on the south end of town. I had every intention of going there tonight, but got home and it just seemed more attractive to stay inside.

Now, I don't think this is a symptom of being antisocial or anything (I hope not!). There just seems to be plenty to do here at home. There's a local food meet up monthly that I want to get to eventually, and a couple of the local bookstores host interesting things. There's plenty to look forward to when it gets a bit warmer.

It always helps to have the right gear when it's cold. When I was in Ohio over Thanksgiving, my dear brother and SIL bought me a wool shirt-jac from the Bemidji Woolen Mills . Sadly, it was too small, and they're having me pick out another one (that's what the link goes to - J and M, I'll kick in half!). This better be one hell of a jacket, it's not cheap!

I'm sure, though, if there's one thing people in Northern Minnesota know about, it's wool clothing. But here's an interesting observation. It seems that people don't break out their winter coats until after the start of the new year. Until then, they wear jackets like the one I picked out, probably a scarf and some mittens, but their REAL winter coat sits in the closet until some time after Christmas. As it was explained to me, this is sort of akin to not letting winter get the upper hand. It's a psychological victory to think to yourself that you're not wearing your winter coat, so it must not be winter yet. Sounds good to me.

Here's a bit of perspective: way up 'dar around Bemidji tonight, it's supposed to go down to -24 degrees. Holy moly. SIL's mom lives up there. A much less forgiving environment, it would seem. Sleep well and warm, all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

They're here! They're here!

I ordered a few seed/plant catalogs a couple of weeks ago, and two got here yesterday. Boy, there is nothing like the hope and promise of a seed catalog. Sure, you can do it, try some stuff you've never grown. Can't decide? Get both, or all three. It'd be really easy to go overboard with optimism.

But the fact that they came means winter can't possibly last forever, right? I should repeat at this point that I have virtually no luck growing things from seed. The desire is there, but the seedlings usually succumb to that damping off thing that makes them keel over and die. Perhaps I'll try to use all new stuff. I have a heat mat that I can set the tray on and I'll use that. Our local horticultural garden hosts a workshop on seed starting that I signed up for - maybe that will increase my chances of success.

One thing I have decided is that I'm going to site the beds (yes, I'm going to build another one to match the small one that used to be Mr W's sandbox) away from my fence a little so I can walk all the way around them, and fill in that space with mulch. Keeping the stuff away from the dog, (or is it the other way around?) will be a challenge, and I'll just have to see how curious she is. I lost most of the day lilies in the yard last year to dog nibbles, so I might have to keep her out somehow.

This has been such fun to think about, the garden and the home improvements. I realized that I really had been holding off on doing anything to this house that meant that I'd be staying for a while. I don't think there was a way around it, but now I feel like I've got a long list of things I'd like to do in and around it.

As Mr W gets older, the fact that this is a small house (~ 800 square feet upstairs, ~400 finished down) becomes more and more apparent. He's got a tiny bedroom and although he and his buds will play there sometimes when he's got friends over, they are otherwise in the living room, and I feel like I've got nowhere to go if I don't want to be doing kitchen stuff. Target online had a good sale and yesterday I bought three lamps, a couple of book cases, two end tables and a coffee table. Except for one lamp, I'll put these things in the basement, which I'll use for another living room and guest area.

Until then, I'll pore over the catalogs and try to be realistic as to how much food I should grow. Such fun!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hippo New Ewe's!

Indeed, it is the first day of 2010 and things look pretty good. I'll be a little self indulgent here and review 2009, but am more looking forward to 2010 (is that snow out there STILL? I'm so ready to get my garden going).

I started 2009 having an old hip injury aggravated such that I started physical therapy for four months to make it feel better. Afterwards, my back hurt, and I sure felt old and broken down. The things that have helped? Good shoes, sleeping with a pillow under my knees and doing situps and back strengthening exercises. I need a new bed, no doubt about it, and will buy one in the next year.

At work, we have a weekly seminar, and in February 09 I gave one on my research. The response was good enough, and I really enjoyed being up there yakking, that I contacted the local community college to see if they needed any part time instructors. Long story short, I taught Fall semester, and will teach again Spring semester. It has been a great experience, and I'd do it full time in a heartbeat.

My day job at the CDC has been pretty good. I've been working on a study where I more or less had to recollect and reanalyze the data, and that's been a bit of a slog, but I've got some interesting things to look forward to and the funding for my position seems stable at the moment. I still overall love my job, and am very thankful to have it.

I think back about Mr W over the year, and he continues to love his screen time - computer, Nintendo DS, TV, but about 3/4 through the year he discovered that he liked to take apart his Bionicle action figures and reassemble them into unique combinations and will now spend quite a bit of time happily doing that. I bought him a cheap video camera and we're going to explore making movies of this process.

In the fall, I ended a long distance relationship that I had been in for the last 2.5 years. And although I still feel bad about doing it, as some time has passed, I realize it was the right thing to do, although being thrust again into the dating world is daunting. But I compare the me that I was the first time I looked to date again after the divorce with the me now, and my perspective has changed. I don't need someone to fill a void, I want someone to add to what I already have.

Ending the relationship drove it home for me that I was waiting to do any significant improvements to this house because I thought we might be moving. Now that I'm not, I decided to refinance the mortgage, pull some money out to do some improvements and settle in. I have more plans than money, but have decided to at least add a deck off the side of the house and put in a door so we can walk outside from the living room, and also to put a half bath in the basement.

Having my focus shifted back to staying in this house, in this community, I'm drawn to the local food movement that is developing here in NoCo (that's Northern Colorado). I want to grow more of our food next year, and also patronize others that do.

So that's about it. I have a lot to be thankful for - healthy kid, a good job, a house, my health, good friends, supportive family. I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring.