Saturday, December 31, 2011

Scenes from a Vacation

Happy Nearly New Year! It's been a lovely holiday so far. And there are still a few days of vacation left.

I started off my vacation by taking in a rendition of The Santaland Diaries with a friend from work, which I really enjoyed. Then M and I bore down and prepared our abode for visitors.

M's mom was first, arriving on Tuesday after her drive up from Placentia. We used her visit as motivation to finally dine at Bistro 29, which we enjoyed. We spent a spring-like Wednesday in The City, taking in the Masters of Venice exhibit at the de Young Museum and wandering over to the Conservatory of Flowers. After a little driving tour we had dinner at the Ferry Building. Thursday they spent luncheoning on seafood overlooking Tomales bay while I ran errands and finally created our Christmas card. Costco makes it easy to procrastinate! We had dinner in, watched The Princess Bride, then bid her safe travels Friday morning.

Mom and Don came down Saturday, and we had a nice time preparing for our Christmas Eve meal with Jay, Denise, Felicia, and Erin, an occasion to use the wedding china. M did his first turkey on the rotisserie.

It was a pleasant and quiet Christmas Day. We visited with the Axtells of Redding again and the Reids in their fab new pad. Some friends of theirs were spending the holidays in LA, so a picking party was dispatched to Forestville to relieve them of a surfeit of tangerines. That was a fun activity. Some knitting was accomplished, leftovers consumed, and Don was kind enough to tackle the branches of the encroaching oak tree.

Mom and Don took the dogs while M and I repaired to Chico to meet up with Dad and the sibling clans. It was a mellow family visit, grouping in various formations, mostly around meals. It was good to have both big group dinners and smaller breakfasts with Dad and the brothers. The trip also coincided with end of Felicia's college days at CSU Chico, an event I'm still trying to get my head around. She' adult. How did that happen? Unfortunately M contracted a cough that he is still combatting.

On the way home from Chico, we spent a very brief time on the coast collecting the canines and eating well as usual.

This time away from the office has made it quite clear to me that work is interfering substantially with my knitting projects. Not all have been successful, unfortunately. The first laptop cozy felted up laughably small, while the second wasn't much better. Felicia's slippers turned out pretty well, however, and I whipped her up what I hope she agrees is a cute hat from my stash (green chenille with some silver bling). How could she go to Germany in winter without one? Shocking.

In other activities: I finished Emma and really enjoyed it. I'm back to the Master & Commander series for a bit. I've baked bread, made some bean soup, continued on my braising kick. Use of the Fitbit has been marginal (it took its own little technical vacay during the Chico visit), but it continues to remind me to be more active, with moderate success. Today we took a trip to the massive Salvation Army in Lytton Springs then saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Will I make it awake to the ringing in of the new year?

Two hours and twenty-two minute to midnight. What will 2012 hold? The neighbors are already igniting fireworks (I've put a blanket on the sofa to accommodate Roxy's phobia--laps are apparently the only safe port in a gun powder storm for her) and blowing noisemakers to ward off evil spirits. On the way home from picking up the dogs, we heard a Fresh Air interview with Maurice Sendak. It was a very tearful and heartfelt and thoughtful retrospective at the the end of his life. He concluded the conversation with this good advice: "Live your life. Live your life. Live your life."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not Much of an Update

There's just not a lot going on, but I think that's A Good Thing.

I've been down to a couple of work-related parties in the City the last two weeks. M came with me to one of them during the first week of December and we had a good dinner at Farmer Brown after. He had jambalaya for the first time and I had grits for the first time (with pumpkin and pomegranate seeds--it was quite tasty), though grits are an awful lot like polenta. At the one last week, I had to give a little toast and hand out raffle prizes in front of the group, so I was a bit nervous. But it fit into my goal of speaking more, so I just kept telling myself that they wanted me to do well, they were excited about the gifts so very willing to put up with my babbling, and speaking is something I really want to do for myself so just do it. I think it went fine.

I've been wearing the Fitbit religiously, and that's been helping me be more active. I've gotten to the gym more and have resolved to walk the dogs on weekend mornings too, not just evenings. (I had quite a scare this morning while walking them in the field: Rex came across a neighbor cat that streaked off for home through a gap in the fence and across the road just as a car was coming, with Rex in full chase. Luckily the car saw them and slowed in time, but that really freaked me out. Rex of course was completely confused about why I scolded him.) The Fitbit is helping me eat a little less too, but I find that I'm just not willing to spend the time to enter in all of my food info. I know it's key to getting the full picture of my intake/output, but while the website has a fair amount of nutritional info, it's still a pain to try to figure out some of my meals, particularly dinners I make myself. I did come to the conclusion that if I gave up beer, I could take off weight much more quickly, but I'm not yet willing to do that. Too much good porter out there! I finally got on the scale a few days ago, and even though it was just a couple of pounds, it had moved in the right direction, which is saying something as season's eatings gets underway. And overall, I just feel better being more active.

I'm finishing up a bunch of knitting projects today and hope to be doing a load of felting this afternoon. Since a couple are Christmas gifts, hoping they'll all turn out OK! This was the first time in my knitting career that I had three to four projects all going at once. I like it. We're starting up the lunchtime knitting group in the office again, we'll see how long that lasts. I work with some amazingly good knitters, they're quite inspiring.

One more week in the office and then I'm out til the New Year! I am really looking forward to time at home. We went from having no plans to suddenly entertaining/visiting with all of the parental units after all, which is great. That all kind of falls in the middle of my vacation, so I'll have time to clean and prepare for it all without much stress.