Thursday, April 28, 2011

West, Lewis and other things that make Thursday great

1. Taking a break from adult fiction to read some childhood favorites. Namely one of The Happy Hollisters books. These were from my dad's childhood actually and he kept them around and I used to read them over and over as a child. I have a vivid memory of reading them and Nancy Drew out on the lawn in the summer with some cheeze-its for those reading munchies. 

2. Walking in a wind so strong that you can't hear or see straight, and you know you could go completely limp and you wouldn't fall, the wind would hold you up.

3. Discovering an old word that was somewhat popular in the '50s "gambol" and getting to use it the next day in a casual conversation

4. When you're reading some poetry and discover a line that is so beautiful and so perfect it actually makes you cry. Like this : "All this flashy rhetoric about loving you, I never had a selfless thought since I was born" Actually this whole  poem "As the Ruin Falls" by C.S. Lewis is breathtaking if you have a chance to read it.

5. This song on a muggy kind of day:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sleep Tight

For as long as I can remember I've been a fantastic sleeper. 

First, I can sleep through just about anything:  loud talking, TV, thunderstorms, etc. I slept through the only earthquake ever to hit my sleepy CT town in (I think) it's entire history. The old joke that "she could sleep through an atomic blast" was pretty much written about me.  

Not to mention, I can fall asleep anywhere. If I'm tired, I'm going to sleep; It doesn't really matter who's talking to me, what we're doing, or where we are. I fall asleep just about every day on the train, I fall asleep frequently when watching movies at people's houses (even if I don’t know them that well. . .) and sometimes even in the middle of conversations.

My favorite scenario for falling asleep: Being in a room full of people I know well, snuggled up under a blanket with a movie playing or just talking going on. I love falling asleep to the sound of people talking. I love the way, when you're almost asleep, you can't really make out specific words or sentence, you just hear the soothing cadence of voices rising and falling. I guarantee you, 99% of the time, you put me in that situation, I'll be out in 5 minutes flat. And I DON'T snore. (I do, however, groan a lot in my sleep which used to freak people out during sleep overs.

Imagine my surprise then, as over the last few weeks my amazing sleep skills have gone for the hills. I've come up with various reasons for this distressing turn of events: our apartment is sweltering at night (building controlled heat), the new neighbors have a very fussy one year old in the room that abuts mine (fan noise fixed that), I'm on my computer right before bed (apparently that keeps your brain overactive which causes loss of sleep), etc. No matter the reason, though, the reality is, I can't sleep.

It's awful, tiring, and no amount of convincing myself I really am tired and should sleep seems to work. Instead I just lay there. Cursing my MIA sleeping skillz. With a "z." 

Tonight doesn't seem like it will be any better, given that it's 10 pm and I'm eating salsa, on the computer, watching TV and drinking lots of water. And it's like 70 degrees out. Translation: I'm basically engaging in every activity you're not supposed to engage in while trying to regulate your sleep. 

No rest for the salsa eating, computer working weary as the old saying goes. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I get it from my momma

In case you've ever wondered where I get my love of all things baking. . . 

During Easter, I also got to have an early birthday celebration with some of the family. My mother made me this adorable cake full of spring-y cheer and chocolatey goodness! Thanks mom.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter (belated)!

Whether you chose to celebrate or not, you probably know that this past weekend was Easter weekend, beginning on Good Friday and culminating in Easter Sunday yesterday. Easter is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Although it has definitely become commercialized, it still holds fast to it's roots celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and I'm happy for that.

However, there is still a huge amount of people who spent the days before Easter in a candy induced craze in Target fighting over who's going to get the last packet of mini Lindt chocolate carrots or peanut butter cup eggs (love those!). 

I made the grave error of deciding on a run to Target Saturday for random essentials and also a bag of Starburst jelly beans I'd had my eyes on since I saw them on sale their several weeks ago in preparations for Easter. A friend and I fought our way through the candy isles until I located the originals (apparently now there's also only red, sour, and who knows how many other varieties of those delicious beans). 

After extricating myself from the chaos, I vehemently vowed that my children would not even know what an Easter basket was, let alone get one. But. . .then after telling my younger sister this, we were reminiscing of our own Easter basket getting days. They were kind of fun. Sidewalk chalk shaped like eggs, anyone? And also, who doesn't need a little jelly bean pick me up now and again? Plus we got baskets AND knew the real meaning of Easter, which is a nice compromise. . .so I've already given up on denying my children that little part of their kidhood.

Also, my mother might have (definitely) given us some treats for Easter this year, even though we're all grown. Now, how would I explain that to my future, basket-less kiddos. Exactly!

goofing off with the sibs, (as usual)!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where HAVE all the cowboys gone?

Today, as I further reflecting on my trip while walking around a nearby reservoir, I was thinking of the fact that I never actually saw a bonafide cowboy whilst in Colorado. I guess I shouldn't really be surprised given that it's the 21st century and ranching isn't what it used to be. My friend pointed out some "modern day cowboys" to me while we were out for mexican one day at lunch. Basically, they were just wearing baggy jeans and sweatshirts but just a little more camouflage than the average person.


In the words of the fabulous Paula Cole, "Where is my John Wayne, where is his shiny gun?" Actually, scratch that. I'll take the John Wayne without the shiny gun. Although, maybe that would make him not really a cowboy. So conflicting, that. . .

What makes this dearth of cowboy sightings in the West funny, is the fact that when I was in Logan airport in Boston, I sat watching people deplaning after a flight from Salt Lake City. As the last few people cleared the plane, a man walked out. But not just any man. A cowboy. Complete with boots, tight jeans, tight T-shirt and cowboy hat. I tried to be discreet as I ogled him from my seat and tried to determine if I'd be able to snap his picture without being obvious. All while texting a friend about the situation.

I decided against sneaking his photo for a few reasons, mostly because it would have been pretty obvious and ridiculous. Apparently, though, if I want to meet some old fashioned, good lookin' cowboys, I need to head to Utah. 

I think I know where my next vacation will be. . .anyone want to join? He might be there. . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

no cowboys, just elk

Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colorado

Early this morning I arrived back in rainy Boston after my trip to Colorado. I was lucky enough to spend 4 days hanging out with an old college roommate Sarah and her husband. There was so much beauty to see in CO, I was sorry to know that I wouldn't be able to come close to capturing it on camera. 

As such, I basically just gave up. I took what pictures I could and just enjoyed the rest through the lens of my own two eyes. 

My favorite part of the trip was just getting to catch up with a dear friend. We spend much of our time just chatting, catching each other up on our lives and going on glorious walks around their city. 

And let me tell you, the weather did not disappoint. I've never quite experienced weather like this before. The days were very warm and mild for the most part. The sun, however, was hotter than in the East Coast, but was tempered by cold spring winds whipping around. A trip to the mountains boasted moments of snow, rain, high winds, no wind, sun, and clouds all in the space of a few hours. My friends and I often laughed in the car as we opened and closed our windows over and over, regulating the ever fluctuating temperature. 

Thanks goodness for all those layers I packed!

Besides hanging out with friends, another thing I loved about the great state of Colorado was how dry it was. Or I should really say,  my hair loved how dry it was. Everyday after just a quick blow dry, it was in perfect form, no frizz, no stray hairs, it was amazing.

Oh, and let's not forget the delicious food! Trips to both a chocolate cafe and a French creperie in a gorgeous section of Fort Collins called Old Town proved fantastic as my friends and I noshed on chocolate torte, cheesecake, and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. 

All that delicious food was book-ended by browsing in some amazing fine art galleries in FoCo and lamenting over the fact that none of the pictures I managed to snap would look anything like these amazing photos and paintings. 

Well, look at that, we've come full circle. It's almost like I planned it. . .how funny. 

Oh yea, and I got [this] close to an elk! Eek!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Colorado Bound

I've been a tad quiet on the blog front lately, sorry folks!  Part of the reason is: I'm going to Colorado in T minus 1 day! On Friday, I'll be working (almost) my full day and then heading straight to the airport to hop on a flight. I'm going to visit a dear friend from college Sarah and her husband Jordan at their home there. I'm super pumped because A) I've never been to the great state of Colorado before, B) I will get to see the city, home, etc of my friends who moved out their just after college graduation and their wedding. C)It will be wonderful to spend several days just catching up, relaxing, and enjoying each others company.

CO will never be the same once I'm through with it and, I imagine, it will return the favor!

(this will obviously be me in a few days)
As with any major trip, the major hurdle always comes before you even get on the dang plane: packing. Not only do I have to make decisions about how many nice outfits to bring, which shoes to bring, and creatively figure out how much I can pack in a carry on, but CO is notorious for a little something called unpredictable weather.

Growing up in New England, we were always learning to recite the old quote Mark Twain about NE, "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute, it will change."  Since hearing about the weather in CO, however, I often wonder if Twain was misquoted by some well meaning New Englanders and was really talking about the Rocky Mountain State. I hear tell the weather can change from sunny and 75 to spring blizzard without warning.

While this doesn’t dull my excitement by any means, it does mean packing just became a little bit more challenging. Layers are key, but that also means you could pack endlessly and never feel like there are enough layers. I'm up to the challenge, though, I think. I've long prided myself on being able to pack a great deal of "stuff" into the smallest of bags. Puffy 3 season vest, rain jacket, nice tops in case we go out-- no problem. I laugh in the face of a packing challenge, basically.

Unfortunately for me, though quantity doesn't always mean quality. Sometimes in my packing zeal I forget the most vital pieces of clothing. Once on a family beach trip to Maine, I forgot. . .my bathing suit. And I pretty regularly forget to bring PJs when I'm staying over somewhere. Or worse yet, once I totally didn't pack any underwear for a trip! Thank God for Target is all I have to say!

oh and ps, this is all despite my enormous packing lists I'm so fond of making before trips, listing everything down to the number of bobby pins I'm going to bring. Maybe I just get a little too lost in the packing details and forget the bigger picture, who knows.

Hopefully this glorious trip will be an exception and I'll find myself fully stocked for any occasion that should arise. Or at least be near by a Target. Actually, that's a requirement whether I need some last minute supplies or not. . .

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Death and Taxes

What a crazy week it's been! I can't believe that it is already Thursday, frankly. The days have flown by with alarming speed and the date of the calendar today brought my crashing back to reality with the fact that I STILL have not filed my taxes. 
Some of you are tsking at me as you skip to the bank to deposit your refund check while others are just skimming this quickly thinking, "Oh, S@#t! I totally forgot about taxes!" If you're like me though, you've been thinking about them for quite some time, have used HR block's handy dandy federal tax filer and were about to move on to state taxes when your productiveness hit a stand still (3 weeks ago. . .)

I've been trying to identify what is is that causes me, every year, to be in a race against the clock as April 15 (or 18th) approaches. It doesn’t make any sense because the earlier I file, the faster I get a refund, and the sooner this will all be behind me until next year. That's all great until I look at the forms for MA state tax. The basic form would be no problem if I hadn't been both a non-resident working in MA and then a part year resident in MA this year, and if I hadn't switched Health Insurance, and if there weren't approximately 80 extra schedules to file because of all of this. And I can't even do it with an online program because of all the extenuating circumstances. So, instead I'm left trying to make sense of schedules and charts that might as well be in Greek for all I can understand them with smoke literally blowing out my ear.

Oh, did I mention I also have to file taxes in the state of CT? Kill. Me. Now.

 Also, as a cherry on the cake, I just read an article yesterday on CNN that said if the federal government shuts down us late filers may not be getting a refund check this year. who knows if that's going to happen, but I'll be royally pissed if it does. 

Ok, sorry. My fiscal year 2010 rant is done. I'm going to head off and bake something. Instead of doing my taxes. . .

What?? How can I get anything done if I'm too tense and stressed!

Monday, April 4, 2011

And children of all ages

The Circus is in town!
 For the last few weeks downtown,  a circus called The Big Apple Circus has been setting up right outside my T stop and it's been super fun to watch.
The big top is already up and the ticket window is there but standing empty waiting for opening night this weekend.

I have an incredible fascination with circuses. I love going to them and generally revert back to a five year old child when I'm around a circus (or carnival!) atmosphere. There something so thrilling about the bright lights, the smell of cotton candy, popcorn and sometimes animals. It's so foreign from the activities I engage in everyday

So, needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw this big top going up. There was a hesitation that's never been there before, though. "Are they going to have big cats, and other large animals?" I wondered. Usually, this would seem exciting to me. Truth be told, though, my perspective has recently changed surrounding circus acts with big game animals. Thanks to Animal Planet (stop laughing). Now, don't worry, I'm not going to start singing Sara McLaughlin's "Angel" and posting pictures of fluffy little lion cubs that needs rescuing from the circus. On the contrary, I've been watching this show Fatal Attractions about people that own large, wild beasts and a lot of them have dealings with the circus or have started a circus with their "pets". A lot of them have also died when their sweet little two-ton elephant loses it and snaps them like a twig. Which has got me thinking: how much danger are we in when we go to the circus? what happens when Leo gets a little agitated and decides to take his mane to meatier pastures. . .aka the front row of spectators?? Is there usually like a net surround the ring? I can't remember.

Even despite this somewhat  unrealistic panic, I still am attracted to the idea of going to the circus, especially seeing it every day on the way to and from work. It doesn't much matter, however, because none of my friends seem to share my enthusiasm.

 I can only assume it's because they also watch exorbitant amounts of Animal Planet and share my new found caution over being in the same space as large, ferocious animals.
hmm, that must be it.

 So for now, I guess I'll just enjoy the circus from afar and, on the bright side, no worries about potentially getting attacked in a tiger act gone awry. Win!