Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Or, perhaps at this point, happy end of 2009. It was quite a year, one of much uncertainty and unhappiness at times, but good things happened too. Many friends had babies, my brother got married, I found a new job and got to stay put in Maryland. I learned how to knit socks, gave away more baby hats than I can count, stayed in touch with old friends and made new ones.

Hopes for the new year? Happiness, healthiness, and continued good relationships with friends and family. I would like to get the quarter this year... we shall see what happens tomorrow, what the report is. See, it's a tradition in our family, a mere one week after Christmas, to gather for yet another large meal, on New Year's Day. We have been known to pack upwards of 30 people in the house for this meal (which is not unlike the crowd at Greek Easter, come to think of it). One feature of this meal is the finding of the coin for New Year's. Someone in the family makes a big pan of spanikopita (or another sort, we're not that picky). Underneath the bottom layer of phyllo dough goes a quarter wrapped in waxed paper. After it is baked, someone cuts the pita into pieces and then lifts them out of the pan one at a time, checking the underside for the wrapped coin. Each piece is "named" for a member of the family, from oldest to youngest. (Folks who are lucky enough to marry in get included.) The story goes that if it's your piece that has the coin, you get good luck for the year. I have never gotten the coin.

All-in-all, a thoroughly low-key New Year's Eve. Never a holiday that I have enjoyed tons, today spent working, doing a few crosswords, watching Hitchcock movies on TCM, and winding sock yarn into balls (yes, really -- I got a ball winder for Christmas, though do not own a swift, at least not yet).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I sure do adore vacation. I have not thought about work (much) in the last week and am truly thankful for the fact that I get to "work from home" for the next few days. Christmas in NH was a time of much family, many card games, a lot of food, and a dash of silliness. As usual, it was all about food: Christmas Eve appetizer/dessert gathering, Christmas morning bran muffins (laugh all you want, this is a treat), Christmas day food-food-food, & dinner at a few favorite local restaurants. I got to see a few dear friends, some of whom live very far away, and had fun, as usual, with my crazy, open, loud, loving family. I got to meet my new niece, who is only 2-ish weeks old.

The most memorable moment of my time in NH? Seeing surfers. Yes, surfers, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of NH, where the water is 40-ish degrees at the end of December.

Thinking about weeding out my book collection (which was added to over the holiday): "Books You Can Live Without."

Proud of the fact that I actually left enough room in my suitcase for my Christmas gifts to make it home, no extra bag required. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hallelujah. I have made it to Christmas. I enjoy my job, but it's time for a few days off. :)

I am able to work from home for the next few weeks when I'm not on actual vacation, which is nice. I have spent today grading + packing things for my trip home to NH. It's going to be the first trip that I'm taking with my new suitcase. I used to have a tiny little 21" suitcase for small trips -- I was really good at packing that sucker. I once too that suitcase for an 8 day trip to Seattle. Granted, it was summertime, but it was a tight fit. The new suitcase is slightly larger, 24", I think, but man, what a difference 3" makes. Winter clothes, but a shorter trip and still with room to spare, room to bring home Christmas presents. It's the first time since 2000 that I have flown home for Christmas.

I am so incredibly excited to go home for Christmas, to see my family and meet my cousin's new daughter, to catch up with old friends, some of whom I have not seen in a tragically long time. (Scary too, that, but I'm certain it will generate some funny stories.)

As Christmas approaches, I have been listening non-stop to Winterbloom, a group that is made up of 4 women, two of whom are some of my favorite singer-songwriters -- Meg Hutchinson & Antje Duvekot. Not that the other two aren't fab, I'm sure, but I hadn't listened to them before this album. :P At any rate, the songs on the short album are excellent: "Winterbloom: Traditions Rearranged." Particularly love this line, from Antje's song "Thanks for the Roses": "Your gift was three sizes too small, when have you ever seen me wear a thong?!?" Though I also love this line, from "Rexroth's Daughter": "Life is a thump-ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess."

Enjoy, travel safely, and happy holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Stories

While my dear friend Katie made a list (and accomplished something, despite her protestations that she did not), I spent much of the past weekend sacked out on the couch, watching TV, and knitting. (I am knitting the second of a pair of socks.) I also watched it snow. And snow. And snow. And measured the snow on the back porch. 24 inches, by my last measurement, at 9 pm-ish on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, I awoke to the typical bright sunshine in the wake of a storm. The sun just seems brighter after the storm gray + the reflection off the snow seems particularly reflect-y. I decided to shovel out my car before I showered, logically. I bundled up, set out, and closed the door behind me... which is where the problem began. I locked myself out. In the cold. In the snow. No roommates home, nothing. I started to swear and then cry, but then decided that's not what adults should do in this situation. Instead, I decided to shovel and pray that my roommate would come home.

Shovel, shovel, shovel. Chat with neighbors. Mention that I locked myself out. The woman who lives next door is my new favorite person -- she knew that my lock (and all of our locks, apparently) can be jimmied with a credit card. Hallelujah. Thank goodness for neighbors. Christmas cookies for everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Good Times

I had a good time with K's family for Thanksgiving. They are completely different from my crazy family, but still pleasant. I'm looking forward to spending a few days with my own family at Christmas, mostly because there's nothing like your own brand of crazy. I'm also hoping to catch up with a few college friends while in New England and some high school friends as well. Way to cram maximum contacts into minimum days. I guess this is the nature of not living in the place that you grew up.

This is interesting, an article from Slate about several art exhibits that are based on contact sheets, which are not really used anymore due to the rise of digital cameras and decrease of use of actual film.

Fascinating article re: outdoor schools. Like summer camp, but year round.