Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Las Vegas trip

My great-uncle turned 90 just after the new year so in typical fashion of my family, we decided to make it into a party and have a family reunion in Las Vegas. My mom's mom was one of five siblings, but now there are just two left - my two great-uncles.  It was really awesome to see my extended family again though lately I've been really struck by just how short life is and how quickly we all age.

Las Vegas isn't really my thing.  When I think of Vegas, I always think of the strip - ugh.  I was a +1 on a business trip last January and spend a couple of days wandering around the strip while P was at a conference.  The strip grew old in about 10 minutes.  This time, most of the family stayed in Lake Las Vegas, a near-ghost town in Henderson.  Quite happily, the closest we got to the strip was the airport.  We made a couple of side trips to Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire and a canyon near the Hoover Dam.  California must have really rubbed off on me, because these mountains felt like home!  Yes, we have mountains in New England, but it's just not the same and I have a tendency to think "Aw, they're so cute!" when thinking about the White Mountains or our other peaks in my area.  I loved being back in "real" mountains again! :-)

Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire





When we were in Las Vegas last January, we went on a hiking/kayaking tour.  We hiked three miles down to the Colorado River, found some natural hot springs, and then kayaked eight miles to the end site.  The trip was awesome!  So beautiful and so quiet.  We even saw some curly horned goats.  We decided that this year, we could easily replicate the hike and hot spring portion of the trip on our own.  The hike was lovely and the hot springs felt amazing.  I think we soaked a little too long because the trip back felt like 100 miles instead of three and we forgot to account for the rise in elevation the entire way.  I was ready to eat a horse by the time we got back to the car!  Next time we do that hike - and I hope there is a next time - I need to bring more snacks.  Fortunately, that night we found this great restaurant that had lots of vegan and gluten-free options (with many choices for carnivores too) - based on how I was feeling by then, my family should be happy that I did not take those tofu tacos to a drive-through wedding!

Colorado River hike

Colorado River hike

Colorado River hike

Colorado River hike

Colorado River hike

Colorado River hike

Clearly, I need to keep reminding myself that there's more to Vegas than the strip!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hello 2015!

How is it possible that it's 2015?  Can you believe that the Y2K kerfluffle was 15 years ago?  Do you feel old?  Welcome to the club! 

2014 was a mixed year for me and while I'm happy to put it to bed, there were definitely some highlights.  Instead of re-capping all the ups and downs, I'd rather share ten things that I learned this year.  My grand-father used to ask me what I learned every time I saw him.  Well, Gramp, this year, I learned a lot.  And as an extra special bonus, I share my goals for 2015 at the end of this post.

1. I will never underestimate the importance of having a good pair of winter boots.  Last winter was super painful - we got like 40' of snow and the average temperature was -20 everyday (only slight exaggerations).  In my previous New England winters I didn't have the right boots.  I think one year I even bought a cheap-o pair from Target that disintegrated in about 30 seconds of snow and turned my jeans black from the dye.  Last year, I bought a pair of good quality boots and my feet were warm and toasty, despite miserable conditions.  Warm feet = slightly better feelings about New England winters.

2. I need to do something creative every day.  At the end of the day, when I get home from work, there is nothing that erases the day's events better than doing some sewing for just 15 minutes.  I took a little break from quilting this fall and discovered that I felt antsy and agitated and carried a lot of work stress into my sleep and dreams.  Fifteen minutes of daily sewing helps me organize my head and elevates my mood better than chocolate.  Well, maybe not that well!

3. I can't work for an organization whose mission I don't support 300%.  Period. 

4. Travel rejuvenates me.  I went to Iceland last year.  I loved Iceland and think/talk about it all the time.  It had been a while (6 years?) since I got on a plane to go somewhere new just for fun.  I forgot how much I love it and how much it re-sets me.  More travel in 2015, please!

5.  I carry a lot of ghosts of past relationships around with me.  This needs to stop; recognizing that I do this is the first step, I guess?

6.  Cheap haircuts look cheap.  There's not much you can do with my hair.  It's flat and dry in winter and frizzy and bushy in summer.  For years (my whole life?) I went to my local $12/haircut salon "chain" and got the predictable results - my hair looked awful.  Last year I started going to a "real" salon and getting a "real" haircut by a "real" stylist and I have been infinitely happier with my hair.  I'll never have the hair of Gisele Bundchen, but I feel a lot better about myself (and my hair) now that I have a haircut that suits my face and what's left of my hair. 

7.  I'm not 20 anymore.  I turned 40 this year and I totally feel it.  It's not the grey hairs that I notice so much as that my body doesn't recover from things as well as it used to.  I get a bruise and it's still lingering weeks later.  I stay up past 9pm and it takes me a week to recover.  Running injuries linger longer and I'd swear I was starting to shrink in height.  And 25+ years after going through puberty, I'm still getting zits (seriously, WTF is up with this!?!).  Getting old is no fun.  On the other hand . . .

8.  I am not 20 anymore!  As I get older, I like myself more and who I've become.  I don't let as many things upset me as I did in my 20s or 30s.  Not everyone is going to like me and I'm fine with that.  And if I want to sit around knitting all day, I'm not going to feel guilty for not doing something else.  I'm not perfect, but then no one else is either (or seems to care), so whatever.  40 = freedom from myself?

9.  I will never cure cancer.  You're probably thinking "Well, duh".  What I mean by this is that I am probably never going to solve world peace, cure cancer, become president, invent the next iPhone or travel to the moon.  I used to think that I was a giant failure because I had never done anything "big".  That doesn't mean that I can't have my own small victories and successes and just because they're personal, doesn't mean that they aren't as meaningful or have as much impact as one of these "huge" milestones.  I would still like to win an Academy Award though :-)

10. Instead of avoiding mean people, I need to be nicer.  Last year's re-cap included this phrase: "I have no room for snarky/mean people in my life."  While this is absolutely true, living in the New England are means I am surrounded by people who take pride in their meanness (seriously - why do people here brag about acting like a dick?!).  If I were to avoid all of these mean or snarky people, there would be no one left to talk with.  I need to be better about spreading the nice instead. 

Goals for 2015:
1. Find a new job. 
2. Sell my condo and move somewhere else
These goals are intertwined - I can't move until I find a new job - but I am not messing around when I say that I will have a different job by the end of 2015!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reykjavik, Iceland

Last month, my family and I (and B and P) went on a trip of a lifetime - to Reykjavik, Iceland!It was absolutely amazing and I can't wait to go back and take everyone I know with me.  The terrain is so unusual and so varied that every few miles it was like it completely changed.  Since we were there in May, the sun set at some point in the very early dawn.  I can't actually verify this since the latest I went to bed was midnight and sunset was just kind of hanging out in the same place it had been for the previous few hours.  The food - fresh fish! - was delicious and everyone was super friendly and nice, even with my disastrous attempts to pronounce the name of that volcano that erupted four years ago :-)  One of my favorite parts of the trip was the "water culture", warm baths, hot mineral water that everyone just sits and soaks in.  It was heavenly and we got a soak every day that we were there. 

Sorry for all the pictures.  It's hard to describe what an amazing country Iceland is.  Maybe this makes up for all the posts I haven't done in the past couple of years?  :-)

The Blue Lagoon.  Spent four hours soaking and swimming and applying mud.  So awesome!

This is a nation of knitters!

Waterfall from glacier runoff. 

You can follow the tectonic divide between the North American Plate and the European plate for miles.

A cute sheep!  Or maybe, a "pre-sweater"?

You can see bits of the glacier rising up behind the volcano.

Gulfoss waterfall.  Such power!

Another view of the tectonic divide.

Strokker.  A natural geyser.  It went off every few minutes.

At a southern point.  The beaches were black sand from the volcanoes.

An overview of Reykjavik.  I loved the colorful roofs.

Trees.  We didn't see all that many trees but there were a few pine trees and a few like these.  They were Aspen-like, but not exactly Aspens.

We saw a roadside sign with a picture of strawberries and found these amazing raspberries instead.  Grown in a greenhouse, like most of their produce. 

You could hike up behind this waterfall.

The scenery was so amazing and much more varied than I thought.  And as you can see, we had great weather.
Sometimes we felt like we were on Mars :-)

A public art tribute to the Vikings.

My favorite picture.  This was after our first soak in the hot baths.  So happy!  I need to travel more - I forgot how much I love it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 recap

Hello blog.  How've you been?  I see that I haven't posted since June.  My hiatus was both intentional and unintentional.  Sometimes, I just don't see the point of blogging.  I frequently have nothing noteworthy to say.  And sometimes I just don't have much I want to say (admit) publicly.  I would love to fill this blog with pictures and stories of adventures and travels but I didn't go anywhere this year (seriously, I think I left my state 5 times?  and went to the states immediately surrounding mine?).  Sometimes I want to tell the world that I'm still here and I still exist. So I'm posting today.

Around New Year's in the past, I've publicly shared my goals for the new year and reviewed the closing year.  I'm still thinking about my goals for 2014 but I'm not sure I'll share them here.  2013 has been an interesting year and I've learned a lot but I'm not sure it will go down in the annals as one of the best years of my life. 

10 Things I Learned in 2013:

1. The heart heals.  And later, when you least expect it, the heart can soar once again.

2. Taking a step backwards is sometimes necessary to take a step forward.  To be honest, I haven't learned this completely yet.  I'm starting a new job in January.  In a small way, it's a big step backward but I'm hoping ultimately it will move me a lot further ahead in my career.

3. Always wear a skirt to Costco.  Sometimes the siren call of $20 skinny jeans is so loud you have no choice but to answer.  It's a lot easier to try them on under a skirt than fully undress in the furniture aisle.

4. The body heals.  Yesterday I ran for about 20 minutes.  I think this was the longest run in over a year(?).  I re-injured my hip in July, halting the progress I made from injuring my hamstrings in 2012.  I'm over the moon with my 20 minute run; it's taken me a really long time to get there.

5. I have no room for snarky/mean people in my life.  It seems like our culture prides itself on being mean and snarky just to get a laugh or a "like".  I don't get it.  I'd like to start a nice movement.

6. I'm officially old. I don't get Miley Cyrus, the buzz about Beyonce's new album, or leggings.  I don't use Tumblr or Spotify and I found Orange is the New Black dreadfully boring.  Every day I spy another set of grey hair and I haven't stayed out past 10pm since I don't know when (I've stayed up that late but I've been at home). 

7. Things are always changing.  All year I took a picture at the same place, at approximately the same time, while walking to work.  I hope to make them into a video once I figure out how.  I did it because sometimes it feels like nothing is changing and I'm not moving forward.  When I look at the pictures it's so obvious to me that things are always changing.  Daylight ebbs and flows, spring comes to life and fades away, and snow melts and is replaced by more snow.  The cycle continues. 

8.  I miss yoga.  I don't miss my obsession with it or how competitive I felt with the "yoga mummies" in the morning classes at the studio I liked.  But I miss stretching.  And breathing.  For the past six months I've been doing a few poses on the weekends in my living room.  When I first started I was shocked at how weak I was but now the poses make me feel strong.

9. There are two kinds of honesty: not lieing and withholding the truth.  The second kind gives me nightmares and makes me angry at myself.  I'm working on letting it go.  Some days are easier than others. 

10.  I have gained a rudimentary understanding of football.  Go Patriots! :-) 

Happy 2014!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

finally summer

It's been raining since May.  I honestly think it's rained every single day for the past month.  After suffering through the cold and snow all winter, I've really been feeling oppressed and depressed by the rain too.  I never realized how much weather affected my moods until I moved back to New England.  Today, it was sunny and beautiful so I went on a quick roadtrip to a nearby botanical garden.  It was lovely and my mood has been brighter than it's been in the past 6-9 months.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


It's easy to fantasize about winter.  Every movie and television show that involves snow makes it look so pretty.  There's no shoveling, there are no snowplows roaring by your house in the middle of the night, no one has to trudge through foot high snow banks on the way to the bus stop.  Everyone looks so happy and the snow looks so pristine.  Lies!  I should start a petition for "honesty in winter in pop culture." 

The truth is, winter is a drag.  This winter, in particular, has been a drag.  In December and January, where barely a snow flake had dropped, I felt hopeful.  Perhaps it would be a repeat of winter 2012 where we got close to zero snow?  Not quite.  We caught up in a hurry, and had three snow storms for three weekend in a row, including one blizzard that was so bad the governor of Massachusetts decreed that all cars stay off the streets or face jail time.  My work actually closed early twice, and I had been told that that never ever happens.  It's just no fun digging your car out of your parking space three times in one day.  Or dodging cars while you walk to the bus because no one has bothered to shovel their walk.  Or have your work pants ruined by salt because it's easier to over-salt the roads than plow.  Or feel like you are never ever ever going to feel the sun's warmth on your face or see your front yard ever again.  Ugh.  Making matters worse is that I realized that I don't have proper foot wear for New England winters.  I have a pair of boots that are good, but too big, making them painful to walk in after ten minutes or so.  And I have the cheapest pair of boots known to man that can keep my feet warm or dry, no matter how many pair of socks I wear.  Perhaps if I had better footwear, I'd enjoy winter more?  Perhaps if it didn't snow so much, I'd enjoy winter more! 

Scenes from Blizzard 2013.  This just isn't normal.

I should confess that there were exactly two moments (each of about an hour) that I enjoyed winter this year.  The first: I got to go snowshoeing!  I really love to snowshoe, and after the blizzard (see above), my mom and I went snowshoeing by the river.  The sun was out, the snow was so fluffy; it really was very lovely. 

The my second brief moment of joy in the winter was after a brief mid-week snowfall.  The snow was wet so it stuck to the trees.  With the sun shining, it felt like snow in the movies, just for a moment.