Thoughts, ramblings, experiences and joys of an Alaska girl. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is firmly rooted in the Great Land of Alaska.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

From the Stacks, Winter Reading Challenge

On my birthday, I decided that I needed to go ahead and make a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish by my NEXT birthday (October 24, 2008). Reading more books was one of the things on that list. In an effort to actually accomplish this goal, I cruised the net looking for inspiration. I found it. I couldn't believe how many readers had blogs out there. And, from the amount of books they read, I am equally amazed they have any time to blog!

One blog I read mentioned a reading challenge called "From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge." It goes from November 1st to January 30th. The premise is to read 5 books during that time frame that are already on my bookshelf, without going out and purchasing another book. Wow, what a concept! So, I'm joining that challenge. My actual final goal is to read 26 books this year, with authors whose last names range the full spectrum of the alphabet, A to Z. Starting with 5 books by January 30th will be the jumping off point where I'll begin.

I'm off to post my list! Happy Reading!

Why I love the Parking Garage

Ok, so I don't love the parking garage itself. I have a parking pass, but most days when I try to find a spot, it's filled and I end up having to park on the street. Nothing like paying a meter 5 minutes late and already having a ticket on my windshield! I did love the parking garage this morning though. Not only did I find a spot, but the view of the city from the 7th level really is beautiful. I got a bird's eye view of the inlet. It's not frozen yet, but it will be soon. The whole city was still dark, the sun hadn't come up yet. It was only 9 am. Everything I saw, buildings, the inlet, the sky, the roads, was all the same color, a hazy shade of gray/blue, and really quite beautiful and peaceful. Anchorage really is a nice city. I like it because it's big enough to give me the "city feel," with traffic in the morning, buildings over 2 floors tall, more people than I see in Eagle River, and the bus station always makes me feel like I'm around "city folk." Sure, Anchorage has its crime, its homeless, its "city issues," but hands down, there's no place else I'd rather be right now. I'm looking forward to winter, when the Christmas lights are out in full force, the shops are decorated with colorful decorations and everyone is excited about it being December. Seeing Anchorage from the parking garage helps me appreciate it more, cause I can see the "bigger picture" that Anchorage is, not just the street view I get from down below.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Growing Older

Tomorrow is my 37th birthday. I remember a time when 37 years old seemed so old, almost ancient. I remember a time when 20 seemed old. I was convinced that by 21 I would know everything, and when I reached 21 I thought I DID know everything. Tomorrow, I will be 37, and I realize now that I know very little indeed.

I'm not doing with my life what I thought I would be doing at thirty-seven. I look at the lives of other 37 year olds and am amazed at how "grown up" I think they are compared to me. I have done a lot though. I helped start a church my junior year of high school. I joined the Navy at 19 and served 6 years active duty during Desert Storm/Desert Shield. I married at 20; had my daughter at 21; divorced at 26. I got two degrees, finishing my last BBA degree in management at age 36. I have supported myself and my daughter since my divorce 10 years ago. I moved us all the way from Virginia to Alaska, with no help. I have done a lot of "grown up" things. Yet, I still don't feel I'm where I thought I would be at this time in my life. Does aging do that? Make one wax and wane (what does that even mean?) philosophical? I thought I'd be further financially, career wise, and definitely didn't intend on having the body I have now. I'm in a job that bores me to death and doesn't challenge me at all. In fact, every morning I enter my place of work, I believe I can FEEL brain cells dying. Financially, I'm doing well enough to take care of myself and Kaylee alone, with few extras. I don't have to depend totally on myself now, but I refuse to ever be totally dependent on another, even if I'm married to them. Physically, I sure didn't plan on having a body that looks like I'm still trying to lose the baby fat I gained when pregnant with my daughter (and I can't use just giving birth as an exuse anymore, as she's 15 1/2 years old now!). I'm always telling the kids that "failing to plan is planning to fail." Peeking over the hill at my 37th birthday, I feel like I've failed at a few things, by failing to plan more for myself and following through. I feel like a total hypocrite too when I get upset with them for being lazy and not doing chores, for not being active, for not being vigilant in their studies, for not living up to their full potential. Exactly what right do I have to get upset with them, when I haven't lived up to my own full potential?

I feel old. I know that 37 isn't OLD old, but I feel my age. All that said and done, what now? I haven't gone on that diet and exercise plan I know I need to for my wedding, for my life, for my future. I am still just going home and crashing, instead of heading outside and raking leaves, or doing crafts, or reading, or being productive. I'm still at the same job, no energy or effort being spent on finding another. Honestly, looking at it, those are the only things I feel I haven't been proactive about changing in my life. I know I'm a strong person. I know that my family depends on me to be the "rock," the "leader," the one that guides them into doing what needs to be done. But, no one leads or guides me. I've been so busy guiding everyone else, that I've neglected taking care of myself and being the one who encourages myself to do what I need to do to be where I need (not just want) to be. I'm always telling the kids that if they don't reach their full potential that they have no one to blame but themselves, that they have all the tools necessary to be the best that they can be. I need to preach to myself more, and others less.

I'm not one for pity parties. I don't feel sorry for myself, so that ends the party right there. I'm more upset with myself than pitying. I don't want to get back on here at the eve of my 38th birthday and be rehashing everything I just wrote. I know that all it takes is me putting my mind and energy towards a goal, and I can accomplish anything I set my mind to (oh my god, I'm channeling my mother now, I knew I'd heard that somewhere before). I've accomplished all that I have in my life, on my own. What is to be is up to me, I determine my destiny. I'll have to look at my life like a plan for a successful business and get to work.

Ah, aging.... It really is a good thing. I need a Tylenol after all this hard thinking so early in the morning.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seasonal Affective Disorder In Reverse

Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a lack of sunshine, or so I've read. When the days get shorter, the lack of sun causes some kind of chemical shortage in the body of some kind, and people get depressed. I don't suffer from SAD in the winter, although I do know people who do. I guess I suffer the opposite of SAD, whatever that is. I was very upset in the spring when the snow started melting and the days started getting longer. I missed winter before it even left.

With the weather dipping into freezing temperatures at night, the days getting shorter, and the nights getting longer, I'm happy to say that winter is returning. I love the snow. I love wearing sweaters. I love drinking hot chocolate and snuggling under warm blankets watching the sun set. And now that we are in the new house with the gorgeous deck system and the hot tub, I'm going to love watching the northern lights while immersed in the bubbling 102 degree water! I will miss the warmth of summer though.

I had so much that I wanted to do this past summer. I didn't realize how short 9 weeks really was till I woke up and the leaves had turned yellow seemingly overnight and the temperature was in the 40s. I wanted to hike more. I wanted to bike to work (that didn't even happen once). I wanted to camp more. I wanted to fish more. I wanted to backpack Crow Pass and Resurrection Trail. Now, those things will have to wait till next summer when they aren't hampered by snowfall, freezing temperatures and ice. If there's anything I wish about summer, I wish I had been better organized. It really did sneak up on me. I missed concerts in the park. I missed bike rides. I missed hikes. I just didn't plan well.

I'm psyched it's winter though! Now, for the next 8 months, I'll have time to plan for those 9 weeks of warm weather. I'm going to read up on the flora and fauna of Alaska. I'm going to plan more trips with Angie (ok, I'm going to let her plan and I'll go along with whatever she says. She's an awesome planner.). I'm going to research camping sites. I'm going to get my gear ready for those warm summer days. I'm going to strategically plan every weekend and weekday night. I'm going to do my own little reports on places in Alaska that I would like to know more about. I'm going to read books about Alaska, books by Alaskan authors, and sponge all the knowledge off of Angie that I can soak up. I'm going to hit the museums (who wants to be indoors during summer, winter is the time for museums), playhouses, and the performing Arts Center. Oh, then there's Fur Rondy, the lighting of downtown (I'm a sucker for Christmas lights), Snowzilla, snowshoeing, losing weight for the wedding, and the Iditarod. I am planning to learn to XC ski this winter. Our new place is perfect for snow hut building and neighborhood snowball fights, and this winter, I will definitely make time for sledding (I didn't make it even one time last year!).

While I'm upset with myself that I didn't better plan my time for the months of May through August, and especially June and July, I definitely have the reverse of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I feel like a kid at the door of a winter wonderland candy store right now. I can just imagine how giddy I'm going to feel the first time I snow blow the driveway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Knitting Insanity

I'm a crocheter. I say that with pride. I've been crocheting since my grandmother taught me how when I was seven. It was probably the only "girlie" thing I did as a child. While other girls were playing dress-up with the Barbie dolls they'd receive as gifts from their parents and grandparents, I was using them to play catch with my dog in the backyard. I was far more interested in seeing the "war wounds" of missing feet, mangled heads and ripped off arms that were caused by my dog than seeing my Barbies sporting the latest fashion in plastic Malibu Barbie sports vehicles. My Barbies didn't have feet to wear shoes, and after my dog choked on one of the shoes that weren't being worn by my Barbie, my grandmother decided that it was time to teach me to crochet. I think she believed that if she taught me how to make Barbie clothing that I would treat my dolls better and that they wouldn't be used as substitute rawhide chews for my dog. She was wrong. Though I loved to crochet them outfits, I much more prefered crocheting them burial shrouds. After grandma realized that, she started getting me small metal race cars instead. But, I kept my love of crocheting.

Crocheting relaxes me. I love to watch the hook dip in and out, up and down, around and around. I love seeing the finished product of my effort, whether it's a hat, a scarf, an afghan or anything else. I rarely keep the items I make, I usually give them away, or sell them. I love crocheting so much, that I thought I'd try knitting. It looked relaxing too, and the stitches look different from crocheting. I thought it would be a way to share my love of yarn art with the gals at the office who knit and not crochet. After knitting for about two weeks now, I'm ready for therapy!

Knitting drives me batty. I'm in the process of making my first piece, a felted bag. The pattern looked easy enough: Cast on 70 stitches, knit one row, pearl one row, continue for 16 stitches, then change color and knit one row, pearl one row in an alternating color, then return to the *. Repeat till piece reaches about 160 rows. Easy, right? Sure, till I drop a stitch. The perfectionist that I am can't accept a dropped stitch, so I've removed all the stitches from my knitting needles and attempted to unravel the piece then place all the stitches back on the needles. I've done that about three or four times, just enough to drive me nuts and leave me cursing under my breath. When people ask me what I'm making, I tell them I'm making a garbage can liner! They think it's a joke, but they don't know how serious I am. Oh, then I get to listen to the "experienced" knitters tell me that it gets easier with time the more knitting you do. Uhhhhhh, sure. I may just take their word for it.

I had these grandious ideas of knitting afghans, bags, hats, gloves, scarves... I had grandious ideas of gorgeous items that I'd knitted myself keeping me warm this winter. Ahhhh, dreams. Then, yesterday, someone told me about recycling wool sweaters to make felted items. I think it's some kind of cruel joke! If I would have known I could recycle a sweater to make a purse, that I wouldn't have had to go through the patience testing unraveling process I have been, that I could have gone to the thrift store and spent 8 dollars on a used wool sweater instead of 4.99 a skein for yarn, I would have jumped on that in a heartbeat! It's still crafty, it's creative, it's EASY!

My pride and determinination won't let me just toss the item I'm working on in the trash on my way out the door to the thrift store to purchase a wool sweater, so I'll finish the bag I'm working on. It's going to cost me more than I had first anticipated (with the cost of counseling sessions thrown added... so, tell me more about your obsessive/compulsive need to control your environment and your refusal to allow yourself to make mistakes... blah, blah, blah psychobabble), but I think it will be worth it. I'm not saying the bag itself will make it worth it, but I will be able to say that I finished something, whether I ever start another knitting project again. It's also given me much more respect for crocheting and my ability there. Maybe I can't be good at everything, maybe I don't have the patience to be good at everything. Maybe it's my purpose in life to recycle? I do know that I'm probably not going to knit a pair of socks that requires 4 needles to create when I feel like causing bodily damage to "experienced" knitters with the two needles I'm already using when they start in about how addicting knitting is and how relaxing it is. If I had access to four needles, oh, the damage I would do.

Hello, my name is Cristine, and I'm a crocheter.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wallpaper Woes

We have moved into the new house. Well, mostly anyway. We moved all of the larger items in, and all that is left is boxing up my and Alex's clothes at the old place, getting some of the left over items laying around, and cleaning up.

Being in the new house is great. It's roomy, gorgeous and holds secrets that we are still discovering. One of the secrets I found that wasn't so great was the wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom. Two showers were taken in the bathroom over the weekend. About an hour after the second shower was taken, I went into the bathroom and found that the wallpaper was bubbling off of the walls. Seems that the folks who had the house before put up the wallpaper without treating the wall first. So, I'll be removing the wallpaper in that bathroom and painting it this weekend.

For the remainder of the week, I'll be painting the kids' rooms. There's still wallpaper adhesive up in Kaylee's room from the border near the ceiling. I guess that the previous owners took down an old border, didn't remove the adhesive, then placed another border over the top, with plenty of glue. I spent about 8 hours attempting to remove the old border, and finally got the wallpaper off by applying first DIF wallpaper remover, then following that up with hot vinegar and boiling water. In the bathroom downstairs, I'm just going to use the vinegar and water solution to remove the wallpaper. It worked so much better than the DIF. Of course, now my daughter's room smells like a giant Easter Egg, but that's ok. Hopefully, the smell will go away with the application of the primer.

I wish this post was more interesting, but I have "new house issues" on the brain that are taking up all of my time and energy (literally, I'm exhausted) right now. Moving has been wonderful, but I'm so tired I can't think straight.