Monday, December 31, 2012

What I Learned This Year, a half-ass and merely partial list

:: It's always worth it to go to Knit Night :: That TV show Revenge is super addictive (I blame it on being a Scorpio) :: New year's superstitions - don't take anything out of the house on New Year's Day, or do any washing or pay bills, lest money and loved ones be washed away in the coming year :: Myers Briggs will get scientists talking about things they would never talk about otherwise (the power of metrics) :: I'm capable of knitting a whole, complicated sweater that I will actually wear :: I love Nora Ephron :: Planning meals three months ahead is actually kind of nice :: I need to make NYC trips just happen :: In start-up biotech, 80 souls is too many for 1.25 HR people :: Sometimes forgiveness just arrives, without any effort from me :: Two small turkeys for Thanksgiving is worth considering :: I love growing artichokes :: Plant way more asparagus crowns than you think you'll need :: Permaculture is a form of faith :: Moby Dick is not as fun to read as Tolstoy, for me at least :: How to make apple cider caramels :: 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Check in

Things on the list morph. There hasn't been any white bolognese, and there may not be, but there was homemade chicken pot pie, and there were potato latkes and Croque Monsieur made with waffles. Cooking has been the best part of break, and if anyone ever tells you that people do not change, I offer that statement coming from me as proof they do. Tom makes the coffee most mornings, drip rather than the moka pot, but the eggnog used in place of milk has the same indulgent feel and it's amazing how long the one container of it lasts. I did get around to the apple cider caramels, and my stubborn determination to get Baked Alaskas from Trader Joe's in Bellingham didn't abate even when I saw that they were pepto bismol pink and not actually intended to be baked. We are stocked with snacks for a New Year's Eve spent in a fortress, and I keep thinking maybe it's time to pull out a trillion piece puzzle and cover the dining table with pieces, pop a few in whenever we pass by. I'm fine with eating on the couch, laps covered in handknit blankets.

I've been ignoring performance reviews, and I think that's fine, since my laundry is halfway done and I've cleaned out some shelves in the pantry and dropped off the dry cleaning and along with it those pants I've been meaning forever to get hemmed. No Goodwill runs yet, but maybe tomorrow. Maybe. Or not. When does Downton Abbey start again?

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Break

There are three lists going. One is dry cleaner, Goodwill run, things like that. The second is manicures and movies in the middle of the day, and the other is a set of things that cover both somehow, like the time spent yesterday weeding beds and laying down a covering of straw for the winter. I kept stopping to watch the swans and geese land in the field that's become a pond, while Tom just put his head down and worked through until after twilight, when it was almost too dark to put away the tools in the greenhouse.

I'm always determined to make the most of what time I have at home. Some of that means having time to enjoy it, a magazine on the couch with endless cups of tea and enough done to stave off the feeling that there is something else that is more important, just waiting. That's how you get writing time. By staving off, carving out, setting aside and sitting down. Tom sleeps later than I do, so there is that quiet time when I take Emmy out, make my tea, read, type. It's Christmas Eve, but what I wanted to do was make a list of all the performance reviews I've received, check who is still missing, start a plan for reading them all over break. Done, the load of it lightens. There's only one thing left to finish knitting for Christmas and then I can start all over again with the planning. A baby sweater, a scarf for Tom, who I didn't realize wanted one. Today we each start out on our treks to visit family for the holidays, taking turns coming back home for the dog, and won't be back together until the 26th. Then it's a long stretch of days that feel like a gift to this house. Cleaning out the pantry so that we know when we got that can of tomatoes, or jar of jam. Floors washed, bathroom scrubbed. There are curtains bought a year ago that still haven't gone up, and the furnace filter needs changing. We need those things done for January and February, short days when all you want is rest and ease. How nice to come home to a simple meal, something quick, easy clean up afterwards, no chores beyond subsistence.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To do the week before and the week after Christmas and a lot of other weeks too

In Myers-Briggs training today, we talked about (among other things) the difference between people with the J (Judging) preference and people with the P (Perceiving) preference. To illustrate the difference between the two, a group of Js were asked to complete an exercise where they described what they would do on an all expenses paid trip to some sunny beachy locale. Then the Ps were asked to do that same thing. The Js had everything planned down to the minute, logistics sorted and a budget established. The Ps just kinda started a list of stuff to maybe do, and then quickly decided to hire someone to plan the trip for them. Our facilitator talked about how Js have a checklist and love to complete things, and Ps are the people you know who actually lose their to-do lists. Hello, me. Later in the afternoon, a participant from an earlier session came in to the room where a new group was meeting. The facilitator asked him if he was looking for something. Yes, I left my task list here. MBTI in action. 

I write to do lists everywhere, in memos in my mail program at work, on an old to-do list pad I pinched from Grandma Lois' house, in texts sent to my own email, in a journal, in my datebook. It's completely ridiculous. It's been two weeks since Sarah brought in the cookie dough I bought from the fundraiser for her daughter's school and I still haven't remembered to bring it home. I keep leaving the wrapping paper for this year's employee gifts at work, even though I'm determined to cut it up into the right size pieces at home to minimize my long hours at work this week. I manage anyway. The things you really have to do will not let you forget them, and the last two weeks of the work year are crisis mode and that's ok. A new year starts soon. 

In the mean time there are apple cider caramels to make, a Christmas package to send to NYC, and a lot of episodes of Revenge to watch. I'd like to make that good white bolognese for dinner while I'm home on break, and get the paperwhites going, and there is Moby Dick to finish and if I get bored I can always clear out my spare room some more and do a Goodwill run. I want to make good coffee in my little moka pot in the morning over break and make some kind of crisp and eat it for breakfast instead of dessert and get enough done in the morning to not feel at all one bit guilty about sitting on the couch for a long time later in the day, maybe with a stack of magazines. Will there be time to make mix CDs and write letters? That's always the hope. 

Next year I can knit myself a sweater, pay off my car, get new gutters put on the house, clean out my paid-off car, clean out my files at work, start year two of my five year diary, plant sugar snap peas and follow Elizabeth Warren's advice to save 20% of my income. Also, more girlfriend time, please. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Holiday Letter 2012

This was the year that I got mildly hooked on that series I found on Netflix instant, about the neurosurgeon who has a super fancy practice with lots of gadgets and mysterious cases, who sees his dead ex-wife's ghost and sometimes works at the free clinic and sometimes goes rock climbing without his shirt on. Tom calls that series "Touched By an Angel" but he still stays on the couch while I watch it.

This was the year that I gave up on skirts and wore jeans to work every day instead, but became known for my advanced use of scarves and bought a few more blazers. It was the year I thought Maybe this is the year I should start using under eye cream, or moisturize every morning, but instead it was the year when maybe it could be said that I paid a tiny bit more attention to my hair. Most of the times I thought about getting a manicure, I realized there was something else I wanted to do more instead, and this was not the year I got any better at doing them myself. This was the year my feet suffered from lack of pedicures, but benefited from a few less wearings of uncomfortable high heels. This was the year when it became clear to me how uncomfortable my uncomfortable shoes actually were.

I cried over work a few more times than I should have this year. I got a little tougher, too, I think. Even so, this was the year I made peace with anyone who might have been called a nemesis and this was the year when the most unlikely characters became my supporters. This was the year more than one tough customer called me wise or told me I was the best HR person they had ever worked with and it was the year I realized I might need to be more forceful about showing that I believed I was, too.

What happens at Knit Night stays at Knit Night, so let's just say this was the year I found Knit Night and got back to socks and made almost all of the Christmas presents I intended to. I made room for yoga and gave in to acupuncture and carpooling and menu planning and totally failed at taking up running again. Cameras got dusty and so did the blog and there wasn't much to say any time anyone asked me how the writing was going. There were fewer unexplored boxes in my spare room and more meals cooked by me in the kitchen. Probably the same amount of dishes washed though, thanks to Tom.

It was the year of Moby-Dick and Myers Briggs, the driest dries and the rainiest rains. It was a year of every day Emmylou, pets and trips outside and meds at 10 and Where's your toy? It was a year of wanting more than anything to be home, where there was everything I needed, and more than that too. In the end, overall, it was a year of progress.