Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just when you thought it would never happen...

Voila, it is now summer!  Just when I thought it might never come...

Lest you think that my life has been stressful, boring or angst-filled since my last writing, I will tell you that things are indeed changing.

Well, not everything.  But a lot of things.  It's all good though.  Mostly.

First, jobs.  Not mine, exactly, although I am still enjoying my "new" digs almost one year into the gig.  I plan to stick around for a while, if they'll have me.  That window seat sure helps.

No, I refer instead to the un or under-employed members of my immediate family.  First, my brother.  Although he has been temporarily employed since the end of this past March at a local zoo, he has now accepted a teaching position back in Madison and will be returning to his betrothed and their menagerie of critters tomorrow.  This makes a lot of people very happy for various reasons that I do not feel I need to state.  Happy times, though.

Then there is my mother.  As of July 1, she will be embarking on her career as a counselor.  It will be in a location that is more conveniently located to the farm, which will in effect be putting the gears into motion for my parents to make their big move and possibly sell their house sooner than originally planned.  We are all very proud of her and excited to see how she transitions into a professional life. 

All of the above stated changes do affect me in ways other than just general happiness, however.  As I am still living in the house of my parents, I am now in the process of seeking out a new place to live.  My criteria is deceptively simple, but I have yet to encounter the "right" location, so keep your fingers crossed.  But honestly, I am very excited at the prospect of once again having my own space. 

It does occur to me that perhaps one of the reasons my blogging has dwindled in the past several months is that my inspiration has traditionally come out of frustration or thwarted desires in my life.  Now that I am relatively free from many of these things, I find that I have less impulse to write. 

Maybe my house hunt will bring me that much needed creative push.  Or maybe organizing the move with my parents will drive me to the breaking point.  Who knows?  In the meantime, keep picturing me walking in fields with bunnies and birds (to eat the wood ticks) and singing my little songs.  I will let you know if any dark clouds appear on the horizon.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Last night I had trouble falling asleep.  Maybe it was the fact that I slept in until at least 9:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.  Or maybe it was the medium iced americano I drank at 4 p.m.  Who knows.  The point is that I sat awake last night with my mind racing without sleep.  Of course, knowing that one is to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to walk the dog doesn't help either.

Somehow I managed to survive the day without incident.  But I cannot say it was pleasant, at least not in the morning part of it.

For some reason, I assumed that when the weather finally warmed up around here, my mood would go from bored and sad to excited and happy.  I suppose I should have known myself better than that, but yesterday's brunch proved otherwise.

If you live under a rock or in another country, yesterday was Mother's Day.  We went all out and took my mom to brunch because there is nothing that mother's like less than having people mess up their kitchen on Mother's Day.

We chose a place that I knew my mom would like.  She had been there before, as had my brother and future sister-in-law.  It is one of those neighborhood joints that is small in size but likes to pride themselves on local or fair-trade ingredients.  Noble causes, I am sure.

This place is pretty new seeing as how the building in which it resides burned down a few years back. 

But back to the story. 

Despite my best efforts at making a reservation at 10:30, we arrived to find that they were not quite ready for us as they had seated some people in our prospective area and while they were done eating and had paid out, for some reason they felt compelled to wait 10 minutes to leave.

This wait allowed me to witness the use of the facility's espresso machine.  It was fun and shiny, as well it should be and I watched jealously as a latte was sent out to a patron who was already seated.  I made a note that I too would be enjoying such an item.

So when we finally reached our table and our waitress asked if we would like a beverage, I requested a latte to be made with skim milk.  I am on a weight loss program, after all.

Her reply was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I guess in retrospect I should have expected it.  I cannot really blame her for it as I highly doubt she sets the rules, but apparently the male baristas are "purists" and do not have skim milk as an offering.  Therefore, I would have to forgo my food and drink whole milk. 

This initial response did in fact irritate me quite a bit.  But it was what came next that sent me over the edge.  Apparently, these "purists" are willing to deviate entirely from the realm of dairy to accommodate those with vegan and/or lactose issues by offering to use soy beverage.  As if the "purists" over in Italy would do such a ridiculous thing.

I was forced to drink regular coffee despite the waitresses efforts to suggest that the soy beverage could be acceptable.  After she left, my family inquired as to whether or not I was angered by this piece of news.  I believe my response was something mumbled to the tune of "stupid hipster douchebags."

This is not to say that I cannot respect a decision not to offer several types of milk from a cost perspective.  I am just not keen to have some high and mighty "stupid hipster douchebag" imply that my choice to consume dairy at a healthier cholesterol and fat level is somehow "impure." 

So this was my rant of the morning to my coworker as I explained my new wave of general malaise.  I am not sure what can cure it.  I tried walking around some lakes and eating chocolate.  Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 90 degrees which means that I may be taking a Dairy Queen walk with my pregnant co-worker.  Is the soft serve of DQ "pure" enough for the standards of the barista at yesterday's restaurant.  I highly doubt it.  Thus, I shall have my revenge.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happiness is a window seat

Big news, y'all.  Today I achieved a new level of workplace greatness:  the window seat.  Truth be told, it was not really a reward for any particular thing that I did or accomplished.  It was more a matter of a new and proactive boss who thought it was silly that our team of four was split between two cubicle sections.  In the process of bringing us together, people had to be moved.  A window seat became available.  And I got it.

This is not to say that there was not competition.  At least, there was one other person who expressed interest.  I don't know if that really qualifies as competition.  But I will say that I was inordinately nervous about how my boss would assign our seating because I really wanted that desk.  Really.

My argument was simple.  The desk was immediately across the aisle from the team member with whom I do most of my collaborative work.  In many ways, it was an obvious solution.  But others can be persuasive if they so choose, and my boss did not give a strong indication of her decision until just about a week ago.  Due to logistical issues, the actual move did not happen until today, and it went off with very little fanfare.

Verdict?  It is awesome.  I can hardly believe that such a scene will be in front of me every day while I work.  It almost makes the long afternoons more bearable.  At least it does for now while the scene is still oddly enough a wintry wonderland.

In other news, we are now into my birthday weekend.  It all commences tomorrow with the all girls event outing in which I shall be getting my hair dried by a professional.  Yes, that's right.  I will be paying someone to wet and then dry my hair.  Hopefully when all is said and done I will understand the appeal but will not enjoy it so much that it becomes an addition.  I think that I managed that pretty well with the whole pedicure thing, so I have high hopes.

Following this session of hot air, we will be shopping, walking and later going to dinner at a cool and trendy restaurant.  I expect we will be home and in bed by 10 p.m.  Mark my words.

My actual birthday is on Monday, if you were curious.  If you are also wondering what my age shall be, I am not ashamed to tell you that it is 33.  I have found that when it comes to age, opinions are highly varied.  To some, I am ancient.  Past my prime.  An old maid.  To others, I am still a spring chicken with all kinds of fun ahead of me.  I choose to believe neither and just take it as it comes.  You are only ever as old as you feel, right?

In other news, sometimes I get bored.  One of my many distractions is the online website, Pinterest.  While the true usefulness of this thing eludes me to a great extent, I sometimes find funny or interesting things when I check in on things.  But honestly, most of the time I just get annoyed.  I believe I have blogged about this a little in the past, mostly regarding a male pinner who tries to offer clothing suggestions to women on a board he calls "Girls, do this."

But now I turn to one of the categories that truly irritates the crap out of me:  fitness.  To be clear, I am not against physical activity, exercise or wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.  Not at all.  But it seems to me that most of the people who literally COVER their boards with workout tips are the doing so more out of wishful thinking and/or false pretenses. 

Don't believe me? Take a look at some of the pictures that go with these "great workout ideas."  They are perfectly in shape with six-pack abs and shiny toned legs.  Under no circumstances do I believe that simply doing these four, six or whatever moves will make me look like the person in the photograph.  That kind of body takes a LOT more work.

My theory is that rather than being a motivational tool, pinners are trying to fool themselves and their followers into believing that they are actually doing these exercises and look like the models.  How do I know?  Because many of the same pinners also have recipes for peanut-butter-cup-in-the-middle brownies.  Or five cheese butter pasta delight. Contradictory, no?

Now, you might argue that anyone who truly was working out as much as their pins suggest could certainly justify eating such things, but I am willing to hedge a bet that things are not quite that balanced.  And really, if you're trying to show off to the world of Pinterest what a health nut you are, you aren't setting a very good example.

I just realized that I now sound like a cranky and crotchety old person, which is very much not how one should hope to be portrayed at the dawn of their 33rd birthday.  But I cannot help it.  I have been a crotchety personality for as long as I can remember and I look forward to one day having the outward appearance to support it.  It may be another 40-50 years in the future, but here's hoping I can make it to that point.  By then, Pinterest will likely be a relic of the past.  Heck, the Internet could be an old wives tale that I share with kids in my nursing home on the moon.  Nice.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Life in April

Maybe it is just the way things go with blogs, but I have simply just not felt compelled to write in the past few weeks (months, year, etc.).  Not that my life is suddenly so full that I no longer have time or anything.  If anything, I have MORE time now that my commute has shrunk and my house is sold. 

We could sit here and try to figure out the why and wherefore of this situation or we could just move on.  I know what I prefer and since I am the one in control, you must bend to my will.

My life as of late has been consumed by two things:  taking my dog on more walks and buying new clothes.  The reason for the first is based on many factors.  First, the weather is finally warming up and walking on the ground is much less treacherous without ice.  Second, my dog has been getting a little cranky as of late and I know that inactivity has something to do with it. 

As this all fits in quite nicely with my goal of losing weight and being more active, it hasn't been too difficult.  Unless you count my new "habit" of the past week.  You see, my father has always been a morning person and as such he is not averse to rising at an ungodly hour of the morning to jog or walk.  Now that he drives over an hour to work in the morning, the hour has become even more ungodly.  Like the responsible pet owner that he is, he usually takes his dogs with him on this outing.

Up until this past week, Lena and I were content to sleep through this whole routine.  But in some insane fit of ambitiousness that I can only attribute to eating too many banana Nutella crepes on Easter Sunday, I asked if I could join him this week.  So, for the four days he was home, I did it.  I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. (!!!) and set forth in the pre-dawn cold for a quick jaunt around the silent and dark neighborhood with my dad and three dogs.

Truth be told, once I got used to it, it wasn't so bad.  I had to increase the size of my morning coffee, but it didn't kill me.  I may continue to do it in the future.

The second activity that has been consuming my time (and money) is shopping for new clothes.  After what felt like years where I dreaded the activity both because I knew I weighed more than I wanted to weigh and didn't want to spend money, it has become a bit alarming to find that I can suddenly fit into smaller sizes than I have in years.  I am still not quite to goal weight, but it is definitely within sight.  Hopefully I won't end up having to replace all my new clothes with smaller sizes, but what a nice problem to have.

My brother is in town and staying at the house with me and my parents.  And our dogs.  Not his dog, but the three that are normally here.  It is only temporary (5 more weeks or so left), but it has changed the household dynamics a bit, mostly in terms of basement/TV time.  As he is working on finishing a project for his Master's program, he needs a place to work in peace, and this happens to be the basement.  Where the big TV is located.

It really hasn't been too much of a problem, except for on weekends when we are all here.  With one person in control of the basement, the other three are left to fight it out for control of the remaining rooms.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult, but until the outdoors or back porch become viable options for sitting and/or relaxing, it is.

The good news is that it is temporary.  (Did I already say that?)  Also, it is likely that he will head back to Madison on some weekends to see his fiancee and their animal brood.  Obviously, this is not an ideal situation for them either, so I am sure they are eager for it to be done.

It has had the interesting side effect of pushing me to look more earnestly at my future housing options.  Obviously, I don't think it is quite the right time to make that move, but I am trying to establish resources to consult so that when the time does come I can find and jump on something quickly.  I am excited by the possibility of living in a "cool" part of town for the first time in my life, but having just put my family through a move out of my old house, I am not quite ready to ask for their help again.

So for now, Lena and I are in the suburbs.  We are excited for summer and for more walks around the lakes.  For wearing skirts and taking trips up north.  Hanging out at the farm.  Driving the new riding lawnmower.  Putting on sandals again.  Getting a pedicure so that I can safely wear sandals again in public.  The list is endless.  Such is life in Minnesota at the end of winter.  It's a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Last of the Norwegians

A couple of weeks ago, my last remaining grandparent died.  It was my paternal grandfather, the Norwegian.  You see, if you are one of my grandfathers, you are either the Swede or the Norwegian.  The Swede passed five years ago and the grandmothers even longer before.  But Geno held out through many toils and snares, including (but not limited to) congestive heart failure, farmer's lung, and urinary tract infections.

In the end, what actually caused him to die was that his body just shut down.  It was not totally unexpected and didn't catch any of us unprepared, but it does signify a major shift in our family order.  Suddenly, my father (as the oldest child) and his brothers have become the "elders" of the family.  As of yet, there is only one generation beneath them, but that will eventually change.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I wrote my grandfather's obituary.  I knew him as well as any granddaughter could; certainly the longest of any of my cousins and brothers by virtue of my age.  Still, he remained to the end a bit of an enigma.  Not because he was especially stoic or quiet but because he was very selective about what he revealed to his audience.

Clearly the man enjoyed history.  Especially family history.  Every time we would show up at his place, he would have acquired some new obscure relic that appeared useless but by his estimation was priceless.  Wooden bowls, step stools, pictures, rocks.

The majority of his 86 years were spent in one rural area.  He started on a farm, was later moved to town in an apartment and just a year and a half ago finally ended up in an assisted living arrangement.  Initially he resisted change, but he was not so stubborn that he wouldn't adapt somehow.  Unfortunately, with the last move, he also lost his ability to drive and with that his ability to be independently mobile.

This did not sit as easily with him. 

Now, we could sit and theorize about the need to keep one's brain active or losing the will to live, but I would prefer not to do that.

Instead I would like to think about the fact that he liked to keep records.  Not only did he valiantly attempt to write out stories from his younger days and random facts about different people in the township; he also wrote about things that went on in his daily life.  In a series of spiral bound notebooks.  For some reason, he seems to have had an aversion to using up an entire notebook before moving on to the next because there are several of them that are not even half full.

But I think I can relate.

You see, I am something of a sporadic journal keeper myself.  If you were to go through the 25 book boxes currently in my storage unit, you would encounter at least half a dozen partially filled journals.  I am less fond of the basic spiral bound notebook, but I am definitely fond of not filling all the pages before starting a new one.

If you want to know why, I cannot give you a good reason.  Maybe I saw a really cool journal at the bookstore or received one as a gift and decided to start fresh.  Maybe I misplaced one along the way.  Whatever the reason, it came as a bit of a surprise to discover that perhaps this habit is hereditary.  As far as I know, it seems to have skipped a generation, because unless my dad is holding out on me, he is not a journal writer.

For all his quirks, I am not ashamed to be likened to my grandfather.  Like all human beings, he had his faults, to be sure.  He was not a perfect man.  But as with all people in your life that you choose to love, you have to take someone as the sum of their parts.   So I take with me the habits, traits and genes that have come to me through my grandfather and I will do my best to remember the source that contributed so much to the sum of my own parts, and I will be thankful for them.  Mange takk, bestefaren min.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It really is so strange that I do not make this connection more often, but my Pinterest page is a good source of things about which to write. 

One thing that continually perplexes me are the pinners who post things about workouts and healthy lifestyle and then go and pin a recipe for deep-fried candy bars.  It really begs the question of how many Pinterest pins are truly representative of one's life goals? 

Personally, I tend more towards the clothing and humorous when and if I do pin.  Yes, I have been known to pin food and recipes, but I can tell you with all certainty that I have yet to make a single item that appears on my "Food Type Such and Such" board.  Not because I don't want to but because I never have taken the trouble to print out and use anything.

Now, I am well aware that there are many people who take and use Pinterest seriously.  My cousin is a perfect case in point.  She was married last fall, and based on my observations of both the event and her Pinterest pins, she gained a lot of actual inspiration from her findings.  From table decorations to picture poses, she really made it work for her.

Other folks, I fear are not as diligent.  If it were even possible for one single person to create all the crafts and make all the food that some people post, I would cut them some slack, but it borders on ridiculous.  And really, who has the time or energy to waste on some of this ridiculousness.  Honestly, how many people have actually gone out and created furniture from old wooden shipping pallets?  Really, you would think everyone's home was full of them based on how many people pin them.

If I had to pick just one type of pin that really sets me off the most, it would be the "inspirational quote" postings.  While I have never been a fan of downright cheesiness in any respect, I get hugely annoyed when I see things that are incorrectly attributed to the wrong person.  But hey, here it is in writing, so it must be true, right?  KNOW YOUR SOURCES, PEOPLE!!!

Pardon me for my Sunday morning rant, but I needed to get that out of my system before I find a show to watch on the computer while I exercise.  And that is for real, you guys.  And I am totally not going to post a pin about it on Pinterest.  I will just stick to the relative anonymity of this blog.  And with that, I will leave.

Friday, February 15, 2013

You know it's official. I have an appointment.

I may have mentioned this before, but it has been a long time since I had a haircut.  Over six months, to be exact.  While in the grand scheme of my life, it may not be the longest wait, in the last decade it very well may be. 

But I have put forth the effort and the wait shall soon be over.  On Thursday next, I have an appointment.  To keep going with all this proactive momentum, please note that I also have a grooming appointment for Lena on the following Saturday.  Come next Sunday, we two ladies shall be all prettied up and ready to take on the world.

Right now, as I write, my entire family is in the city of Madison of the state of Wisconsin.  It is ostensibly to celebrate both the birthdays of my brother and his betrothed, but also the actual betrothal itself as we have seen neither of them since the big news came out.  Sadly, I shall have to wait for my celebration, but I am sure when it happens it will be epic.

My weekend does not promise to be quite as amazing, but I think it will definitely be passable.  Tonight I am chilling with the pup-squad and tomorrow I have lunch plans with a friend.  These plans will bring me back to the area of my former employment, so it should be nostalgic at the very least.

Valentine's Day was, to put it succinctly, the "same as it ever was."  I am not one to really dwell on or become saddened by the fact that I am not in a relationship, so it pretty much passes by with little fanfare for me.  My mother and I went to dinner where I had my first "domestic" beer in a very long time.  I couldn't finish an entire glass.  I was not sure if I should be sad or proud.

This week it has finally started to sink in that I do not own a house any more.  It it a feeling which is long overdue, but sometimes the big things take longer to feel real.  Not that I am now plotting a course to live in Paris or Oslo, but it is nice to know that I could.

You know, I have found myself worried at times that I do not have enough entertaining information to share on this blog and that perhaps that was a bad sign.  But you know what?  I think it is actually the opposite.  Things are actually looking GOOD for me.  My house is sold, my job is going well, my friends all had their babies, I am feeling good physically and I am getting a haircut on Thursday. 

So really, I cannot complain.  Well, I suppose if I went looking for it, I could, but hey, it's Friday night and I have a holiday on Monday.  So it's pretty nice to be me right now.  But stay tuned, I guess.