Friday, December 30, 2011

Dead Reckoning

Originating with Linda at All & Sundry.

Here are mine from years past:
2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? I went to a drag show. It was awesome.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
 Last year, I said: "I want 2011 to be the year of the Great Decluttering, in my house, my professional life, and maybe my personal life, too." I got really close to completing the decluttering project, as documented here. I'm down to a big stack of boxes in the master bedroom and some stuff in the guest room that needs to be moved to permanent storage somewhere else.

My goals for 2011 are (1) finish the Great Decluttering (2) maintain the cleaning that has already been achieved and (3) get back into a regular yoga practice.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
 / 4. Did anyone close to you die?
 Unfortunately these two go together this year. A friend of ours was in a serious car accident in March at 37 weeks pregnant and the baby didn't make it. For a while it looked touch and go for our friend, too, but she recovered. She's now pregnant and due in March again with a second baby girl, but is having some problems. If you're the praying type maybe send one up for them. I cannot even imagine facing that once, let alone twice.

5. What countries did you visit? none

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? an actual vacation

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Nothing's coming to mind. It was a good year, but there were no big standout events.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
 I'm happy to say I nursed Nico until he was 21 1/2 months old. For us, it was a huge achievement and something I'll never take for granted.

9. What was your biggest failure? I kind of wish I'd quit my old job sooner than I did rather than putting up with the bullshit for so long, but I guess it doesn't matter overall since I did quit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I dislocated a rib while lifting a gallon of milk back in March. Lamest ever, right?

11. What was the best thing you bought? It's a tie between my iPhone 4S and my MacBook, I think.

12. Where did most of your money go? mortgage, paying down debt

13. What did you get really excited about? my new job

14. What song will always remind you of 2011? This is lame, but I can't think of anything that was new this year. I guess I gained an appreciation for Lady Gaga, but I doubt I'll remember that as an iconic experience of 2011.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder?
– thinner or fatter? thinner, hallelujah! I'm still overweight but am now at 6 pounds under what I weighed when I got pregnant with Nico.
– richer or poorer? a little richer thanks to MB busting his tail at work

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
 I wish I'd made more time for writing. My friends will laugh, but I also wish I'd taken more photos this year.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
 I've slipped into a bad habit of staying up way too late fiddling around online. That needs to stop.

18. How did you spend Christmas? We had Christmas Eve dinner with my mom's extended family, and then spent Christmas Day with my parents and sister at their house. MB's mom joined us for the weekend, too, which was nice.

19. What was your favorite TV program? We canceled our cable last December and I only bought iTunes season passes for Deadliest Catch and Project Runway. Neither of them really blew my skirt up this year.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

21. What was your favorite music from this year? some old favorites have been in heavy rotation all year - the Decemberists, Mumford & Sons, Kings of Leon

22. What were your favorite films of the year? RED, Easy A

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? As is typical, I had friends over for cake and games. I turned 30 without angst or fanfare.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? It would have been really fun to stick it to my ex employer, but I chose to take the high road and not burn any bridges. I'm sure it was the right thing to do, if a bit dull.

26. What kept you sane? Writing, music, friends, and above all my boys.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Sometimes what seems like a horrible bit of luck can turn out to be a blessing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How I became a Bambi killer

I've been an apologetic omnivore for years - I eat meat, but I always feel vaguely guilty about it. I think the bottom line is that I'm too lazy and too picky to go vegetarian. If I could know that all the animals we eat were raised and killed humanely, I wouldn't have much guilt at all. Yes, they're all cute(ish) and they all have faces and had mothers, but dammit, we evolved to eat their delicious asses. Okay, that didn't sound right. Anyway, I eat meat and feed meat to my kid and try not to think about the specifics of how it got to my table.

One of my new coworkers fishes and hunts regularly, not just as an occasional weekend thing. As a slightly pretentious eco-conscious environmentally crusadery college student, I would've been horrified. Guns! Killing animals! The horror! But as a much more mellow adult, more power. I honestly have no problem with hunting and then feeding your family with the prey. To each his own, right? When autumn rolled around I found out that once said coworker gets enough deer in the freezer for his family, he'll take requests to be put on the deer waiting list. I had no intention of putting myself on the list, but then our boss pretty much said, "Oh, have you tried venison? You have to get on the list. You're on the list!" and told the hunter to put me on the list. I sheepishly told MB that we were apparently on the hook for a hundred bucks of deer processing, and was surprised when he did a victory dance right on the spot. It seems a coworker of his has been bringing in venison summer sausage to share and MB is a fan.

I had some doubts about actually being able to eat a deer. They're so cute and frolicsome! They're harmless spindly-legged vegetarians! They have big soulful eyes and big soft ears! But sometimes you have to try new things, right? And as another coworker pointed out, you can't get more free range or organic than an animal that lives its life in the wild, doing what it was meant to do. That deer is a deer until the second the hunter takes it. It doesn't get herded through feed lots or run through a slaughterhouse or penned or abused. If the hunter is conscientious, it's a deer one minute and dinner the next. So I left my name on the list and three days later, I got the call and we had a deer. I had to go with my dad to pick it up and take it to the butcher, and it was a bit visceral to come literally face to face with the animal that would be our food.

When we ate the first steaks from that deer tonight, I did pause for a moment and remember what it looked like before, what it was before. I wondered if I'd actually be able to go through with eating it. I have a hard time facing large portions of impersonal pieces of meat, after all. It's the funniest thing, though -- knowing what I know, seeing what I've seen, understanding the balance at play -- for the first time in my life, I met my dinner and was able to eat it without guilt.

Reading:  Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed (which I totally recommend!)

Playing:  Yuletide Beat and Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets by Los Straitjackets

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry, merry

Nico doing the new fire truck dance. I hope your day was full of small moments of joy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Photo Friday

Turns out my Christmas spirit was packed up with the wrapping paper, because as soon as I started wrapping gifts, there it was. Merry Christmas Eve-Eve, everyone, and best wishes for a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Panic! Panic!

I have no idea why the holiday has caught me so unprepared this year, but I simply CANNOT keep hold of the fact that Christmas is this weekend. It literally keeps slipping my mind until something pops up to remind me, and then I get all spazzy and short circuit for a minute. Earlier I noticed a facebook post from the yoga studio where I signed up a few weeks back for a candlelight yoga class they have going tomorrow night and went "Oh, shit, that's TOMORROW? HOW IS IT DECEMBER 22ND ALREADY TOMORROW? HOW?"

I pretty much have all our gifts bought (not wrapped) and the cards are addressed, stamped, and ready to go (other than the prints of our Christmas photos, which have yet to arrive). I don't have much baking to do and we only have one gathering to attend each day of the weekend. And yet, the panic!

I will say this - if you have the time and the right people to invite, I fully recommend having friends over to watch old Christmas specials and eat snacks. We did that last night and it was awesome. Really, seriously great. I wish I could take credit for the idea but we were just the hosts.

Okay, move along. Nothing to see here, folks. I'll just be over here, rocking back and forth and humming.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Oh, Indy. Dear, sweet Indy. Today you are four. Despite all my best intentions, your life has changed a lot since Nico came into it. Daily walks are a thing of the past and your training has somewhat fallen by the wayside. I never resented you or found you grating on my nerves like some people warned me I would after adding a baby, but over Nico's first year I admit I just didn't have a lot of space left at the end of the day for you, attention-wise or emotion-wise. I never stopped loving you, but you definitely slipped into my periphery a little bit. Now that Nico is nearly two and caring for him is becoming less all-consuming, I find that I am appreciating you all over again.

I appreciate your steadfastness, your calm, your huge heart. I appreciate that after two years of mostly letting you be, you'll still sit when told and stay when asked. Maybe you do beg at the table more than I'd prefer now that there's a steady source of fallen Goldfish crackers and bits of pasta, but you don't try to steal food from Nico's hands or tray. We try to make sure you have your own space and safe places to lie down, but when Nico does manage to get his hands on you, you've been admirably patient. Usually you just look up at me with big long-suffering eyes as he enthusiastically pats you on the back or grabs your tail. Even the day he clocked you square in the nose with a truck in his excitement to say hello, you just yelped and looked up at me as if to say A little help, here?

In a perfect life, we'd reinstate those daily walks and weekly training sessions, but in reality, we have a toddler. Things are not going to get any less hectic. I promise, though, to take you out when I can, to take the time to give you a scratch on the head, to appreciate your steady and undemanding company. You'll always be the dog who turned me into a dog person, the dog of my heart. Thank you for being you, and happy birthday. Here's to many, many more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

This post is useless without pics

I'm still running around busy and panicking about Christmas, so here are some photos:

We had Nico's Christmas pictures taken on Sunday, and I think this one is my favorite. Some strange combination of camera settings and lighting just blew the color of his hair completely out, and combined with that sneaky little smile…love it. If he didn't have his hand in front of his face, I'd probably use this for our Christmas cards.

My goofy kid at lunch today. I swear, I do comb his hair. Perhaps he does need an intervention.

Nico and the Eyebrows of Deep Concern, featured with the wonderful Santa who tours the local libraries every year. I'm happy Nico isn't screaming his fool head off, and also that we managed to get a good picture of him on my lap sitting beside Santa after this.

pretties received as part of the Jett Superior Ornament Exchange (and please go read this for a laugh)

The most aesthetically perfect cheesecake I've ever produced, baked for MB's birthday. It made me a little sad to cut it.

Reading:  The Big Year by Mark Obmascik

Playing:  Christmas music, mostly

Friday, December 09, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

T minus 17

Did you guys know there's only 17 days left until Christmas? Apparently I just realized this fact on Sunday or so, for I have spent the week alternately contemplating, planning for, and panicking about Christmas. I have all of Nico's gifts bought (at least until I find something else I can't resist buying for him) and need just one more thing for MB's birthday (which is Tuesday). Other than that, I think I have three Christmas gifts crossed off my shopping list. Threeeeeehelp.

I'm taking next Thursday off for delivery of a chest freezer we bought online during a Black Friday sale and to hopefully do the rest of the Christmas shopping. Pray for me, I guess.

Our tree is up, but not any of the other decorations I usually get out for the holidays. I keep meaning to get to it and then not.

I have to get off the computer in about two minutes to finish up my ornaments for Jett Superior's exchange because I didn't remember to start those until Monday night.

We took Nico on a carriage ride through the big town park tonight, where they have these big fancy holiday light displays set up. I think he really liked it, even though he was definitely in Serious Consideration mode. He was so tired afterward that when I took him up to his room to get ready for bed, he stretched out on the floor with his head pillowed on his blankie and said "Nighty night, little boy" while I was changing his crib sheet.

Okay, this has turned out lame and disjointed but at least you know I'm not dead. Now I shall go off and finish my ornaments.

Reading:  Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Playing:  Christmas music, of course

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saturday! Celebrate!

I unexpectedly had today off and MB unexpectedly had to work, so Nico and I found some ways to pass the time.

in his new dinosaur pjs…size 3TOMG

at Barnes & Noble after Nico saw the big sprinkle-covered sugar cookies in the cafe case and said, "Coo-key, peez? Coo-key, peeeeez?"

It was 58 degrees by the afternoon, so we went for a walk in the woods, as one does.

"Tree up high!"

playing in the bubble rock fountain outside the nature center

In the evening MB and Nico hung out while I got groceries and ran some errands. Because we're going to see all of Nico's little playdate buddies this week, I got my Martha on and put together some holiday treat bags after I got home.

I was hoping Nico would color on the paper so I could use it to make tags for the bags…he was decidedly disinterested.

I was tempted to just sit at the table huffing Play Doh and Crayola fumes all night, I'll admit it.

I realized after the fact that I could've just bought each kid a board book for what I spent on these, but at least they turned out really cute.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday Fiction #5

part one
part two
part three

Though he enjoyed hunting on his own, Dominic hated the first week of firearm season for deer. The woods were always crowded with men and teenaged boys, many of them with more enthusiasm than experience. Getting shot by a jackass with jumpy nerves was no way to die, so he ended up staying off the trails for most of opening weekend, restless and worried. A couple of local conservation officers checked licenses on the way in and tags on the way out, so unless he wanted to take his chances hunting in an already-packed field, there wasn't much to do. This year, though, his luck was good. Two days before the season opened, he got a call from his old college roommate with an invitation to spend a long weekend bowhunting on private land in the Upper Peninsula.

Abby was in the wind, having given no word on when she'd be back. The past few months had taught him she might be gone for a few days or nearly a week. She rarely called before skipping town; usually he just didn't hear from her and that's how he knew she'd taken off again. Since she also tended to show up again without calling first, he sent her a text message to let her know he'd be gone for a few days and left the spare key under the loose board at the bottom of the porch steps. It turned out to be a nearly perfect weekend, the weather chilly but clear, the hunting good. He and four other guys spent three nights under a limitless sky, drinking beer and playing cards by campfire light, miles from the nearest road. Even though she maintained she had no interest in hunting, he couldn't help but think that Abby would love this place and its acres and acres of quiet. He was looking forward to telling her about the wolves he'd heard singing every night. He'd seen increasing signs of wolf activity around the cabin all through the summer and into the fall, but he'd never heard a pack howling.

He drove back on Tuesday, arriving home in the late afternoon. Abby hadn't replied to his text message and her car wasn't parked out front, so he drove around to the small outbuilding behind the cabin to unload his share of the weekend's deer meat into the freezer. Once that was done and the truck bed was hosed out, he got his pack and bow from the cab and let himself in through the back door. After stowing the bow, he built up a fire in the wood stove to warm the chilly air inside the cabin and headed out to retrieve the spare key. His steps slowed as he noticed drops of blood on the boards of the porch, a trail leading from the steps to the front door and then doubling back to the steps. He followed the trail, fingered a tuft of fur caught in a rough spot on the boards at the porch edge. Something had crawled underneath to hide, maybe to die. A dog, he thought, or a coyote. He moved cautiously to crouch beside the porch steps and peer into the dim space behind them. As his eyes adjusted to the poor light, he swore in surprise. A woman lay curled in the crawl space, naked and streaked with dirt.

"Hey," he called out, stripping off his bulky jacket. "Hey, are you all right?" He knew it would be a tight squeeze, but he dropped to his belly and wriggled through the gap between the steps and the foundation. His body was blocking most of the light from the entrance, but he suddenly recognized the tangle of blonde hair in front of him. "Abby?" He scrambled forward, ignoring the scrapes and bruises the porch floor was laying along his back as he moved too quickly to be careful. "Jesus…Abby!" She was breathing but unconscious, cold to the touch. It took a painful eternity to move her out into the daylight, trying not to drag her too roughly across the ground but lacking the clearance needed to lift her. He felt like he was back on the ice again, inching toward the wolf, his pulse a steady drumbeat of fear.

He finally made it into the yard and pulled her carefully out, his heart lurching in his chest as he saw blood smeared along her thighs and belly from a ragged wound across the meat of her right hip. Scooping her into his arms, he rushed into the house. He hurried to the bathroom and laid her as gently as he could in the tub, then opened the taps to fill the bath with hot water. Abby had never been shy about her body, but it felt wrong to see her naked this way, without her knowing. He spread a towel across her and did his best to only look where it was needed to clean her skin and check her for injuries. With the blood washed away, he was left with only the shallow gash across her hip, ugly but not severe. The bleeding had mostly stopped already, so he drained the water from the bath, wrapped her in towels, and carried her to the couch. He bandaged her wound as best he could, then stoked the fire in the wood stove to burn high and hot, hoping to drive the last of the chill from her.

Once he was sure she was resting comfortably, he slipped back outside. His thoughts were a tangle, anger threatening to choke him. Someone, something had hurt Abby and left her to bleed in the cold. He paced the dirt of the yard in widening arcs, but no matter how far he circled out from the house, he found only the tracks of a solitary wolf interspersed with traces of blood. There was no sign of the girl's passing, no prints from her bare feet or snagged strands of hair. It was as if the wolf had chased a phantom out of the forest. As the daylight started to fail, he retreated to the house and brewed a strong pot of coffee, then sat down at the table and drank it, staring out the kitchen window as he turned everything over in his head. Abby’s injury didn't look like a bite. It seemed crazy to admit it, but the thing looked like a bullet graze. How had she made it to the cabin with no clothes, no shoes, no car? He sipped more coffee, his gaze miles away. His thoughts drifted again to the wolf he'd pulled from the lake, the way he'd felt on the trail the day he'd met Abby, her odd disappearances. The problem wasn't so much that things weren't adding up, it was more that they were but the sum made absolutely no sense.

She came to slowly, surrounded by Dominic's familiar smell. It was as strong as if she lay in his arms, but she could tell she was alone. She opened her eyes and found she was tucked snugly into his bed in the cabin's sleeping loft, three quilts piled on top of her and soft pillows beneath her head. Lifting the covers a little to peer below, she saw that she was dressed in too-large plaid flannel pajama pants and a University of Michigan sweatshirt. As she moved to push the blankets aside and sit up, pain knifed across her right hip and wrenched a cry from her throat. She fell back against the pillows, whimpering a bit as footfalls rushed up the staircase toward her. Dominic appeared at the top of the steps, his face lined with worry.

"Are you all right?" he asked, stopping and gripping the footboard with both hands, his knuckles whitening.

"I'm fine, I just moved too fast."

"What happened to you, Abby?"

"I don't…" she faltered and closed her eyes, trying to call up anything she could remember. Wolf thoughts were different from human thoughts, wolf senses sharper and stranger. She'd gotten better at translating wolf memories into human ones, but it took effort. She recalled fear, noise, pain. Limping toward what her instincts told her was a safe place, then panicking when she found herself not in a den but at a house that smelled of men and guns. She'd crawled into the darkness to hide. Then the change had come and she'd been left helpless against the cold and weakened by her wound. Later, there had been vague awareness of someone pulling her out into the sunlight, of warm water and a gentle touch. She opened her eyes and reached out toward Dominic. He hesitated only a moment and then came to sit beside her on the bed, his weight solid and comforting.

"Dominic, I need to tell you…" she trailed off, tears welling up in her eyes as she saw the concern in his face. "I should've said something before, but I didn't know how to say it." He picked up her hand and laced his fingers through hers, and she forged ahead. "I'm not what I seem to be, not really. Not at all, actually."

He studied her face for a long moment, his eyes thoughtful, biting at his lower lip. She was ready to swear he looked a bit relieved, but that made no sense at all. Finally he smiled a little and said, "Well...nobody's perfect."