great niece

I have now joined the fortunate ranks of those who have a great niece. Officially I mean. She was born on 1/5, but it didn't seem quite real until I met her last week. Aside: I now have a set, one of each. Really doesn't get better.

It was a great experience. I got to see my flower girl [favorite niece], first time since the wedding and her husband. I got to see their new house in VA for the first time. And I got to meet Katrina.

Kat is a little dumpling of a baby, with Buddha chins, rosy kissable cheeks, a fabulous head of hair and a pensive expression. She has the widest, gummiest smile though when she wants. You probably would like a picture posted but we know the issues I have with that. Maybe some day soon.

Wow though I had completely blacked out the challenges of a new born. She is nice, light and portable. She loves breast milk and she has incredible lungs. It doesn't seem like taking care of a sweet tiny baby would be so exhausting but don't kid yourself it is! Seriously if you are pregnant right now start sleeping more because you will be short later.

And if meeting her wasn't wonderful enough I was asked to be godmother, baptism in DC in May. My very first god-daughter. I am so excited. [too bad I have to get on a plane again]

I realize as I sit in front of this keyboard that I could babble endlessly about how cute she is, how proud I am of her mommy, what incredible senses of humour Nic and Bruce have about their first child. There was this tall tale I told in a sushi buffet involving the baby and the 'Wrath of Khan' that was hysterical but you probably needed to be there. The collies and kitty were friendly, all that plus spring flowers and the ocean. Truly wonderful.

oh, and I am going to be godmother. Did I mention that earlier? Tra la. So cool.

there's my life!

We spent a lot of time cabin shopping this winter. Then I traveled to see family [more on that soon] and all of the sudden we realized on Thursday 3/26 we hadn't had a 'date' since v-day. So we set about fixing that. And it became part of a great weekend. I do have a social life.

We went to our favorite Japanese place and ate fabulous food. This was the first time we ate at the bar surrounding the chefs but we didn't have time to wait for a table. We were so hungry. We got tickets for Shaw's The Devil's Disciple at Theatre in the Round and went there next. I love this theatre and the play was 'ok' we agreed after. Nothing bad but nothing to rave about. The date though was highly satisfactory all around. I am so fortunate to have such a fabulous wife that I can enjoy so thoroughly.

Then Saturday was the day to see the yearly Gilbert and Sullivan production. They did Ruddigore and it was fabulous. All the leads, the sets, the chorus were all great. It was so very enjoyable. Just thinking about the 'professional corp of bridemaids' cracks me up. We had lunch before the matinee at the Peninsula, yum. [get their Queen's Tofu, they make their own tofu, it's like little clouds from heaven] Then coffee and dessert at Spyhouse afterwards. The 5 of us [me and 4 friends] had a great time.

Sunday, a day for reading the paper, catching up on blogs, throwing the Frisbee for my border collie, enjoying more sun and ECD in the evening. What a weekend, I do more than work, yeah!


Thank goodness the sun came out in force this weekend. All the grey in the middle of the week was pretty hard on me for some reason. I think it was part of the rather painful transition from VA to MN.

First of all the plane ride Tuesday was horrid. I found the turbulence not only uncomfortable but quite scary. Second, it was so sunny in VA while I was there although basically the same temps as here. Not only did I enjoy the shore every day but all the trees were blooming like crazy along with the camellias and lots of other spring flowers. So cheery. Here we have just a few bulb shoots pushing up on the south side. Some years they would have flowered by now but not this year.

I guess it's rather hard to leave spring and come back to winter. oh well soon it will be here. I hope we have a fabulous one. We may need to get through another snowfall first though. It sounds like we could get a few inches Tuesday. This will put off my bike riding if it happens.

Note to self: when you lost your keys in CA over the winter holidays did you lose you bike lock keys? I guess I better figure that out soon. I hope all are enjoying this first week of spring.

India approved

Well the word has come down from 'on high' and the trips to India have been approved. This means it's about 99% definite I will be going. DW is thrilled.

I am just blown away. I feel so excited and nervy and every possible feeling all at once. I don't really like heat much and India of course is hot. We will be there during the monsoon season, what on earth will that be like. I will probably be there working for a month and then staying for a couple of weeks on vacation. That means stuff I am not currently paying online...I better get that all set up.

There is the whole water issue. Most travelers get around this by drinking bottled water but I do not want to add to the garbage problem in India [which I hear is huge]. So then I need to either buy a purifier or filter bottle. No idea which way to go yet.

Also I will be there for a long time and I read a lot. I do not want to schlep or buy books. So I am looking at e-book readers. Right now I am thinking Sony. I don't like the kindle2's keyboard and their vaunted wireless connection only works in the US.

Then what to do during our travel time? India is huge and there is so much to see and no way to see it all. I have never thought about India before now, I never thought I would go there so I don't know how to choose from all the wonderful options. Right now I am thinking Mysore and Hampi but I am sure it will keep evolving.

Then there are the medical issues. There are many vaccinations that are recommended for India which ones do I think are needed, which ones do I need. What is the likelihood of needing malaria pills?

You can see that the list has just started and will probably go on and on. I feel quite lucky though to be able to do this. It's just mind blowing to me. What a year 2009 is shaping up to be.

Ocean relaxation

I have just returned from a 6 day stay in VA Beach with my niece and her family. Computer access was very limited, due mostly to bad luck, so I didn't get to blog nor did I have posts prepared ahead of time.

I would normally feel badly about this but all was made up by the ocean which I visited every day. Yes it was freezing along the shore, didn't matter.

It's been years and years since I have been on the Atlantic Ocean and it was wonderful. I just can't even articulate how much I love the ocean. I could sit beside it for hours just listening to the surf. It feels healing, filling, cheering, bracing --all manner of wonderful things.

I thought about our soon home on the lake. I guess that Carolyn feels many of these same things when she sits by a lake. I wonder what effect it will have on me?

If everything goes well it's less than 3 weeks away! Unreal.

Pseudo Invitations

I am about to out myself here on the blog. I adore Judith Martin aka Miss Manners. I find etiquette discussions amusing and fun. I also think social civility could make life easier for many on this crowded planet.

I do not expect many to share this enjoyment with me and that is ok. But here on the blog I have to share one of my pet peeves.

Invitations to private parties that aren't any such thing by my definition. I hold the simple belief that if you want to have a party you invite people and you then pay for their entertainment and refreshments.

I was recently given a photocopy 'invitation' to a child's party that included English country dancing at a remote location and an instructor to teach dances.

I thought it was a charming idea and I was impressed that her parents were putting out good money for renting the space and paying the instructor and so forth. It was a 'party' that the whole family could attend and being held on a Sunday afternoon. I was impressed... until I actually read the 'invite'.

This 'invitation' written in pseudo formal language tells you what you may wear, how much you need to pay to attend, what time to leave and instructs you to bring food and drink not just for yourself but to share with others. It also asks you to RSVP though I can't imagine why except that perhaps if enough people aren't coming to cover their costs they'll cancel it?!

It's not that I don't understand going dutch or the concepts of potlucks but surely those are informal occasions? I also don't care for the habit around here of inviting people out on your birthday and then they pay for your food as well as theirs but I can't seem to avoid these occasions even among my closest friends. *sigh*

Since I would certainly never chastise anyone out loud for this and since I can't cry about this publicly I will do it here.

If you want to throw a party to celebrate for whatever reason why not be prepared and budget what money you can afford and then give a party without expecting [or requiring] any one else to help pay for it? If you can't afford to treat your friends [or your daughter's friends] for the celebration why are you making those plans? Why not do something you can afford for your wedding, child's birthday or whatever?

Really it's a joy to get creative and throw parties, dinners whatever and pay for your guests. Being a hostess is a fabulous feeling and if there is a guest of honor it makes it even more special for them.

When we threw our wedding dinner and dance we got many comments about how special we made our guests feel. All we asked them to do is let us know if they were coming. I have detailed here about the dinner parties we have been doing and they have been great. When someone asks if they can bring anything I just cheerfully answer 'no just yourself'. We want to entertain our friends!

When my chief bridal ninja threw me a shower it was the most wonderful thing ever. It made me feel so awesome. I will never forget her kindness. To have someone throw a party in your honor is 'wow' feeling.

I feel sad that the old way of being a 'guest' in the world seems to be going away. I hereby recommit to doing this myself! Including birthdays out at restaurants no matter what. I will live and celebrate within my means. yeah!

Now half of you may be thinking I am a raging snob and the other half think I am crazy. oh well.

I laugh fondly at the old saying 'a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality' but I believe it [and try to live it] all the same.

second favorite at this time of the year

I do think about more than daffodils at this time of the year. Corned beef with cabbage. [and carrots, onions and potatoes]

I bless the coworker who brought in corned beef and cabbage to the pot luck this past week. My tired brain needed the reminder. Her corned beef was quite good although her veggies had a bitter spice/taste to them that I never could identify. There was no way I could satisfy my craving with my fair portion at the potluck. A much needed trip to the food coop resulted in 2 beautiful, all natural, nitrate and antibiotic free, uncured briskets.

This awakened me from a cooking torpor that has been hanging over me since perhaps our last dinner party. I slow cooked the meat, then the veggies were cooked in the yummy broth and it has been heaven.

I remembered an old friend Theo who burned out his kitchen while attempting to make it years ago and felt grateful that my results were delicious and safe.

I wish my Dad was in town to share it with--a brilliant Irish American tradition he loves even though he's Italian to the core. Good food is just good food.

Sláinte Mhaith.

first daffodils

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I have so much to be grateful for and one thing I am really grateful for this week is my wonderful incredible wife.

This week, the week before St. Patrick's day is when daffodils start showing up in the stores around here. I love them. They just make me happy looking at them and when they are open I feel like they sing the most beautiful spring-worshipping song and I love to listen to them.

I have been struggling with PMS related low moods all week. The kind when for no actual reason you find yourself thinking, 'perhaps I'll go home, hide in my bed and cry all evening'. Blech. When I was in the office on Thursday I saw daffodils on someone's desk and I almost mentioned them to Carolyn when we talked on the phone. I thought it would be so nice to have some. But I had PMS and well I just didn't bring it up. I felt too gloomy.

I came home super late from work that same evening and there sitting on the kitchen island was a vase full of daffodils just waiting to open. She had remembered all by herself and there they were. Then I wanted to cry because I felt so loved and listened to, even now I can't quite believe it. Life is good. I have been listening to them, feeling happier ever since.

Less than a week until spring! Renewal to all.


We placed an offer on another cabin this week and it was accepted.

It is a pretty incredible thing. Of course things can go wrong, fall through but it looks as though sometime next month we'll be spending time at our new lake home. [and ripping off wall paper borders]

This experience has been totally different from the first lake place. For one, we didn't fall in love. In fact the first time we drove by the place I thought the road had kind of a haughty energy. Not sure what that was about.

But DW wanted to see the cabin anyway and so we put it on our list and our realtor took us to really view the place. Here the sellers have been trying to sell the place for over a year with the price falling all that time. The current listing realtor really wanted to sell it. It has been very normal and refreshing experience thus far.

It is on a nice lake, in the lake district. It has 180 feet of shore. It has a 4 season house that needs very little done to it. It has 2 bedrooms and full kitchen and bath. A shed for storage. A screened porch as well as a deck. A very wooded lot. Normal plumbing and sewer. We have been told there is a nice sandy bottom to the lake and water lilies. It will need to be cleaned up outside, there is a bit of leak on the porch roof. Some kind of flooring will need to be installed in the bedroom, there is a wood burning stove as well as a furnace.

Although I was so sad about the other place I have a feeling of relief that this place will take a lot less work to get it habitable.

We are getting happier about it every day. It's hard to believe it may all be happening. We tried to figure out why we didn't fall in love at first sight.

Unlike the first place the driveway was not plowed so we had to hoof it to get to it. And although it is a deal pricewise, it is not the foreclosed on, rock bottom price of the other one. I have to wonder how those 2 factors effected us. Could the fact it wasn't such a super bargain and hard to get to really effected our emotions? Or perhaps it's because we got so burned the last time? A mystery.

We are hoping all will continue to go smoothly. We are getting it inspected next week. We are wondering what interest rate we'll get.

Now I have time to wonder about what it will be like to have a lake house. Will I love living up at the lake part of the week? Will I actually take up fishing? This is all so new, and really I have no idea how I am going to react to this. It looks like I will find out pretty soon.

Playford Ball 2009

The 29th annual Playford Ball was this week. It was a lovely occasion.

I really enjoy English County Dancing anyway but the ball makes it extra fun. So many people put their sewing skills into making wonderful costumes. The live music is always wonderful. Virtually everyone dresses formally even when not in costume.

Truly, the only downside this year was the floor on which we danced. Hard as the concrete under the hard wood. No spring to it at all.

I was very pleased that I was able to dance that many hours and my shoes held up and I really enjoyed it. My outfit of black velvet skirt and ruby red velvet and chiffon top were a hit. I don't believe there was one dance I really disliked, which is a bit unusual.

Exercise is just so much easier when you do something you really enjoy and although none of my closest friends do it often the ball was full of people who all wanted to be there. I would love to be able to make more room in my life for that kind of exercise commitment. I'll keep looking.

Hopefully next year will be Cecy's year again and she'll be able to resume going to the Playford. But until then I can feel pride that I am able to step out by myself when need be and do the things I so need to do. Must be one of the rewards of age.

working in India

Did I mention I may be traveling to India?
kidding. I know that I did. It's just such a huge thing that I frequently say the above outloud as I try to adjust to the notion.

Part of me doesn't want to think about it too much since nothing is definite. But it would be such an incredible thing I have to give myself time to get used to it. I have to research it and establish some comfort with the idea.

I may go to India this year. Unbelievable. I have been doing quite a bit of reading and thinking because that is how I normally respond to new possibilities. It has been quite mind blowing.

I love one of the descriptions of first arrival in India, I think it was on the indiaMike forum. Imagine that an international pop star is arriving at the airport, there are 1000s of shouting people there because of this, the place is crammed. And this is what stepping out of an international Indian airport is like at 3 am on just a normal day.

My work will be putting me up in a 5 star hotel, the nightly price is unreal compared to what average indians make. We fly business class. The security dogs will sniff the car before entering the hotel chekcing for gun powder. There will be poverty everywhere. Yet my colleagues in India are in such demand that they can get 30 other job offers the moment they walk out of the building. So many contrasts to the US where most of us don't know what will happen to our jobs. One dollar is worth over 50 rupees right now.

I will not simply be a tourist answerable only to me, but I will have to work for weeks in new challenging conditions. At the same time this should be great, I will be able to meet my coworkers, have people to talk to and ask for advice. The one co-worker that is likely to travel from here with me is a peach. I don't know who else may be going. I can't believe how complicated it is just getting a travel Visa.

Then I need to plan what I will do with the extra time over there, so much to see in such a huge place. How will I get time to myself? Wow, it's just wow all over. I feel giddy and nervouse and enraptured and a bit ill all at once at the thought of it all.

I hope I get the chance. Things look good so far. They had me apply for my travel American Express and I already have a passport. They have sent me the documentation to read.

There is so much to wrap my head around. To feel so lucky at the same time there is all this uncertainty in this country. I guess that's one of the reasons for yoga, to work on the balance I so need.

I never really wanted to go there

If you have been counting you may be wondering 'what is the 4th big thing that came up this past week?' Soon you will wonder no more.

The company I work for uses many vendors overseas in various parts of Asia. We are in the middle of transferring yet another mass of work from the US. It's pretty depressing, even though I guess the one thing you can say about this bad economy is that it is world-wide. We are all hurting. Anyway nothing is definite but I was asked Thursday afternoon if I would be willing to go to India for 4 weeks on business. I am simply blown away

India is not anywhere near the top of my "10 places I want to travel" list in fact my response to others who have gone to India has been horrible heat, rain, and bugs, not for me. But here is a situation where not only would my expenses be paid but I would be making money at the same time. It's unreal, incredible.

I am petrified and overwhelmed and stunned But really, fear is crap on which to base my decisions. I am no fool. My view is only a fool would turn done a chance like this. [Though of course one could have excellent reasons for not going.] India. wow. I 'll miss my wife so much and I hate missing my wife. My friends and my family would be so far. I would be so far away if an emergency came up. 4 weeks plus is quite a long time, because I would do at least a little traveling once I was over there as well.

It sounds like I will go in July, just in time for the monsoon season and it will still be hot. wow again. My head is still kind of whirling when I think about it. One thing I will need to think about is how will I answer the common question 'are you married?' I don't want to lie, but it's probably not a safe idea to tell the truth. Certainly one thing that will have to get thought out, much more later I am sure.

Of course nothing is definite yet but if it happens it probably will be one of the life changing experiences of my life. Right now is just seems like a totally unreal part of a very stressful week.

Lake Love Loss

We have been on an unpleasant watery ride. We tried to buy a lake cabin this week.

The past 2 weekends we went out and looked at some places. I was feeling hopeful, we were seeing places that had what we wanted, 4 season, private, not too far from the city, nice views and good prices. They did exist.

Last Sunday our realtor showed us a place and we both fell in love. It was almost 5 acres on a small environmental lake. On a point, very private, dead end road/driveway less than half mile off of paved county road. It was new/funny/different how we didn't fall in love with the house but the place, the land. Even now I can see the curving wooded drive, the sheltering hill on one side, tall pines in a half circle around the house. *sigh*

The house needed lots of work, it was from the 50's. The bathtub was scary, the linoleum everywhere was barely better than the gross blue carpeting in the bedrooms. The oven and stove top were PINK! So campy I almost liked them. I could have lived with them anyway...
I was nervous what an inspection might show, it's so hard to judge in the winter. I hoped we were up to the challenge of fixing it back up.

The property had been foreclosed on which means you will basically buy 'as is' The price had dropped over 40K, it was the right price, it had been on the market since early December. We were bubbling over with joy as we drove away. All the scurrying to do paperwork and so forth would be worth it even though our weeks at work were crammed because we loved it so.

We made an offer the next morning and the descent into weirdness began. I can't figure out if the listing agent was just stupid or unethical or more likely a messy combination of both. She lied "the plumbing pipes are going to be ripped out next week" and" the lake didn't allow motorized boats". She told lies to the banks never to us. According to the bankers she basically said everything she could to discourage the banks from financing the offers. She acted completely unprofessionally as well as corrupt throughout the week. She seriously pissed our agent off and he has to be one of the most positive, happy people I know. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but she crossed my personal line by a lot.

We heard yesterday afternoon that the bank accepted a cash offer that just happened to come from another person in the same small town in which she lives and ours was rejected. We are just heartsick. We know we can't compete with cash. I believe she did everything she could to delay the process so this person could get the cash offer ready. My only bitter hope is that it will fall through.

We know that it's a fact of life -- unfairness. But sometimes when your nose gets rubbed into it you just want to cry. Which also happened. I know I'll have to forgive her for my sake and I will but I am not there yet. I feel bruised and small. I want to believe that things work out as they should but my disgust with her behavior is over-riding everything. I hate feeling so judgmental.

We are trying to be hopeful. We try to hold onto gratitude. We hope we'll be able to pick up and go on looking eventually.

We are in mourning.

Babies--you can only prepare so much

One of the big changes this week was that my lead's baby was born 2/21. A healthy, happy baby is always a great thing for the world. The second Kat born this year [of which I am aware].

We all knew the baby was coming of course. I believe my lead first mentioned it last August or so. We had plenty of time to prepare. My lead's pregnancy seemed to go normally, we all knew that the baby was due the end of Feb or first week of Mar. We were informed and ready!

Ha. It just goes to show that no matter how much you plan you cannot predict the future. I honestly don't think we could have done more ahead of time. We didn't fail. It just seems that until that person is actually gone you don't realize what is really going to come up when they are gone. The pattern doesn't change until the piece is gone and the pattern...ok you know what I mean.

This became one of the many challenges of the past week. Things came up. A capable person's work was now being divided among many and new questions, new procedures lots of new started. It made me pause.

Why are we so afraid of change? Is it really that bad? Why do we dislike getting out of our comfort zones when it seems to be so good for us to learn new things? More personally, is yoga helping me have a calm mind when stress erupts? Is it any one's job, much less mine, to hold people accountable? Does it take more strength to bend?

Really, what will make me happier with this life? I'm thinking bending not rigidity. The kicker: How can I implement this?

Join me if you like for this social science experiment: More qi gong. Tune in and see how it went. Try and see if you can be less rigid around your own challenge if you want. Peace out