30 September 2006

Another Year

Thursday, I turned 32. Nothing terribly momentous about that, and yet, I feel it should be marked. In addition to the phone calls, cards and e-mails to congratulate me for living another year, there were presents and a dinner at Applebee's. I do like to get presents. So much so, that I get them for myself all the time.

Normally, I take my birthday off of work, so I can pamper myself and reflect on the past year and make wishes for the new one. (I do this again, in a minor way, three months later for New Year's. Just to check on how I'm doing.) This year, we moved the office, so I took Friday off instead. I stayed in bed all morning, reading. I never do that anymore, and I felt younger for doing so. Then I went out to pamper myself with yarn. Not a lot, but enough to keep the stash constant.

After that, I pampered myself in the mature way by going for an hour long walk with my friend, her 11-month-old daughter and her dog. Along our walk, my friend, who has known me since I was almost 6, told me how well I was doing compared to last year. She has turned into, in some respects, my life coach. (Friendships go through many incarnations, don't they?) She nags - I mean, encourages - me to exercise regularly, and eat better food and look for the brighter side of life. I'm very lucky to have her.

Anyway, along our walk, she asked about the good changes that happened this last year:

1) I changed my diet and have lost almost 50# this year so far.
2) I started a blog.
3) I eat healthier.
4) I started take more responsibility for my spending by keeping track of it.
5) I started to look for new paths for the ruts in my life.

And then, she asked my about my goals for the upcoming year:

1) Lose the remaining 50# I have to go, preferably by my cousin's June wedding.
2) Keep up the activity.
3) Pay down the credit card debt.
4) Keep writing, in the blog and elsewhere.
5) Be better about keeping the promises I make to myself, such as, I will start the present knitting on 1 October.
6) Become more aware of my surroundings. (I tend to live in my head, which tends to make me oblivious and inconsiderate.)
7) Go out in the world a little bit more, such as by exploring the job market.
8) Clean the house more often.

(I think the list got longer. Well, I could be up for a challenge.)

It really was a very nice walk.

13 September 2006


Today, the sun shines. Windows open. Cats dash, pausing to sniff the breezes. Today calls out for strolls and smiles. I, meanwhile, am a frazzled mess.

Tomorrow I leave for a business trip to Portland, ME. Preparing for trips, even though I have traveled out of state at least once a month for the last 8 years, leaves me flustered. I have two of most toiletries that usually stay in my suitcase, a system for my in-flight amusement, and I still manage to leave thinking I've forgotten something. Even after going through the mental checklist several times: Pajamas, workshop clothes, relaxing clothes, toiletries, underwear, socks, jewelry, hair clips, make-up, stuff to do. (In fact, I'm sure I've forgotten something off that list.)

Do I have enough clean clothes, or must laundry be done? (Don't ask about putting the laundry away.) The kitchen counter generally wins the staring contest and I load the dishwasher. (After I put the clean dishes away. Very important step there.) What snacks do I need to pack? When did I run out of almonds? Can vitamins go on planes now? Do the cats have enough food? Oh, @#$%, I have plants! They need water, right?

This state of frenzy causes all thinking to short circuit. I have to remember the steps to calm down just to recall what I need to tackle next. Some individuals write down their tasks and shopping needs into lists (on paper, no less). I chant them into my memory. On a good day, I include my fingers so I can count the number of items in the basket to see if they match the number of things I need. Today is not one of those days.

So, I leave you to dart off to Target for floss, cleansing cloths and Kleenex. Floss, cleansing cloths, Kleenex. . . .

09 September 2006

Perfect Days

Yesterday, and it looks like today, are my perfect kind of days. (Well, I have other kinds of perfect days, but this is in the top 3.) Days like this make me happy and energetic. They herald the coming of fall (and they're kind of neat in the spring, too). Grey days. Cloudy, where you think it might rain, but no. The wind gives a little thrill as it passes through you. The temperature is somewhere in the 40s - 60s. Magic days.

I was telling my friend this as we went for a walk last night. She thought I might be a little crazy, but I could tell her dog agreed with me. And it's not as though I don't love sunny days, too. I wouldn't want every day to be like today. But these grey, chill, windy days speak of the change in the seasons. Fall is my favorite, and I'm excited it's coming. I love the colors of the leaves, the slowing down of life as it prepares to hunker down for winter.

The wind makes these days for me. I love the wind. As a little girl, I wanted my hair long so it could blow in the wind. I imagine it was a wind like this that brought Mary Poppins, and so I associate it with transition and magic. This wind carries change and it invigorates me. I look for fairies and pixies and sorceresses on days like this.

Days like this in early autumn mean long sleeve tees, jeans, sweatshirts and sweaters, hand warmers, socks (hand knit, of course) and clogs. They mean warm drinks of hot coco (or drinking chocolate), chai tea, hot tea in general, Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, hot apple cider (Caribou Coffee makes a good one), and so many others.

Today, I've put on socks for the first time this season. I knit them myself (Fleece Artist Merino in Hercules from Simply Sock Yarn Company), and I'm wearing my clogs. (I anticipate the times I can wear my clogs. I grow 3 inches in those things!) I've got my tea: Adagio Plum. Life is good!

07 September 2006

Yeah, I Got Nothing

I'm not feeling particularly creative (or well) today, so I'm humoring a friend by responding to his little questionnaire:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:

1. Putting stamps and address labels on brochures for my mom's business. I think I started when I was 6.

2. Sales associate at Famous Footwear. There I developed an appreciation for shoes and learned that sundries are everything.

3. Work study in the library, with Ryan, for a time.

4. Conference Coordinator for my mom's company.

B) 4 movies I would watch over and over:

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy

2. Pride and Prejudice (BBC and movie versions)

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

4. Tremors

C) Four places I have lived:

1. Withrow, MN.

2. Forest Grove, OR

3. Caen, France

4. St. Anthony, MN

D) Four TV shows I love to watch:

1. Farscape

2. Law and Order (all of them)

3. Wonderfalls

4. Stargate: SG-1 and Atlantis

E) Four places I've been on vacation

1. Paris, France

2. Lyon, France

3. Switzerland

4. England

F) Four of my favorite foods:

1. Vosges Creole Bar

2. Grilled chicken brushed with lavender balsamic vinegar

3. Sonny's Sinful Cherry zinfandel sorbet

4. Guacamole

H) Four places I would like to be right now:

1. Waltham, MA hanging out with Katie E

2. Tucson, AZ hanging out with Sarah

3. Portland, OR hanging out with all my college friends

4. Paris, France, just hanging out

06 September 2006

Introducing the Kits

Some time around right-about-now, my kits have a birthday. Four years ago, Luke and Leia were born, then given to Humane Society for Companion Animals where I found them 9 weeks later. Here they are, hanging out at my parents' house. (Luke is in front of Leia.)

Luke insists on drinking his water out of the kitchen sink faucet, despite the fountain water dish my mother bought for him. (I think I've seen him use it once.) When he wants my attention he meows and rolls over on to his back, belly exposed. He's at his most precious when, desiring pets, he lets me pick him up and cuddle him on my lap. Those rare times, I barely breathe, and I don't move.

Leia demands to be an outdoor cat. I think she and Luke are indoor cats. This is a battle of wills. Leia is not satisfied by sniffing life through open windows, and while the deck is a nice compromise, it doesn't soothe her wild soul. She goes into the (closed) garage to roll on the concrete and conquers the car, but when that is not enough, she sits by the front door and mews pitifully. She stretches to the max in an attempt to open the door. I let her and Luke out sometimes to roll on the concrete and nibble grass. Leia is most endearing sleeping with her chin on my head and paw over my nose at night.

People who know me are probably surprised I waited two days to brag about the cats. My sister-in-law questions the intelligence of some animals. All I can say is that my kits have managed to train me well. And now, I have to go home to them. And let them outside for a birthday treat.

Just Checking

04 September 2006

Blog Entry the First

Hello, I'm Alexis, though most people call me Ali, and welcome to my blog! I've always felt awkward introducing myself, so I'm just going to push on through to get it over with.

I've lived in Minnesota most of my life. There were brief periods away at college near Portland, OR where I studied English Lit and French. There was also a semester abroad in Caen, France and some time in Paris. Tragically, my French has gotten rusty from lack of use. (Anyone willing to help me practice?)

I am a scifi/fantasy fan. I tend to watch more scifi and read more fantasy. I honestly can't remember when I wasn't reading a Terry Pratchett book. I've also read grammar books for fun. And books on the nature of the universe and similar. I never found math that interesting a subject in school, but I enjoy reading about people who are passionate about it.

I also love to knit. And to collect yarn. My house is covered - I should say "decorated" - in handpainted sock yarn. I love handpainted yarns for their color and uniqueness. I've been knitting for about 3 and half years now, after trying to learn on and off since childhood. My mother taught me.

My other two big things (not passions really; possibly obsessions) are tea and pens and ink. I love rooibos teas. I go crazy for just about any kind of rooibos; my favorite is Lavenderberry from TeaSource in St. Paul. I generally write with a fountain pen, and I accumulate ink at a rather alarming rate. (I accumulate pens at a mildly alarming rate.)

All these things I plan to talk about in more depth as the blog progresses, and I figure out what I want this blog to be. I hope to make some new friends and reconnect with old ones. I plan to have fun.