Saturday, December 31, 2005

Maybe this year

I was looking back over some previous years' resolutions, and what stands out to me is that I tend to make this whole list of things and then just basically completely ignore them. I write them, and that's (mostly) the end of it. I suppose a good resolution this year would be to not only keep my resolutions, but to actually even read them.

I did (sort of) stick to one of my resolutions from last year. I resolved to make more of my Christmas presents. I did make a lot of my Christmas presents--I knitted a few scarves and I made handmade soap--but what I ended up doing was buying Christmas presents anyway, and giving the handmade things as additional presents. I always tend to feel that my handmade things aren't nice enough, aren't good enough. I never really feel like the gifts I give people are good enough, basically. It's partly a matter of money, but more a matter of time. I end up running around constantly over a couple of weekends and a few nights after work and buying things that I think people would like, but really, how do you know?

I sometimes feel like I don't know anyone well enough to know what they would really like, so I settle for something safe, like candles or bath products -- and really, of course, I love to get candles and bath products, so maybe that's a good tactic . . .

Anyway, this morning I woke up with ideas for knitted things in my head, and maybe this year I'll really do it. Maybe this year I'll look for a source of affordable fragrance oils and make some nicer soap, not using the soap fragrance from the hobby store like I did this year, because my soap making frenzy occurred about a week before Christmas. Maybe I'll actually keep my momentum going and not knit four scarves in January and no more until the second week of December.

I was reading this list the other day, and liked the end, where she says, " I do hope you'll make a list, not so much Resolutions as goals and hopes and your own To-Do and To-Don't pile for the coming year."

So instead of resolutions, maybe I should make a list of goals and hopes. I like that. And I also read someone who wrote a list of things that she'd accomplished the previous year--I can't remember now where it was--and I like that, too. Sometimes it's good to be reminded that I did good things this year, too. It isn't always about "forget everything that happened before, this is a complete new beginning." It is a new beginning, but there were good things about this year, too.

Stuff I accomplished this year

  • I did a lot of work this year. I don't have a list of the projects that I completed or the websites that I built, but man, I did a lot of them. I built good relationships with clients, and I did a lot of good work.
  • I learned how to work in PHP. I didn't learn how to write PHP, but I figured out enough to do what I needed to do. My boss told me that sometimes I cry wolf too often, and I admit that I do--that's a defense mechanism, obviously. I'll try not to do that so much. That goes in the next list.
  • I took my lunch to work almost every day. I bet there were less than a half dozen times when I didn't. I'm not completely sure that's a good thing as far as socializing or whatever, but it's good for my pocketbook and it's better for me in a lot of ways. It's better not to have to try to think of a healthy (or even acceptable) place every day, it's better not to have to get in the car and drive somewhere, it's better not to spend $5-10 a day on lunch.
  • I let go of some things that have historically been very difficult for me. I tend to want to always be in control, to do everything myself. I still find it hard to let go of that control at work, but I've finally been able to do it (mostly) at home. Bob cooks me dinner almost every night, and I have finally been able to relax and let him, and not feel guilty about it. He also does a lot of the laundry--almost all of his almost all the time, and sometimes mine, and I've been able to accept that, too, and not feel guilty about it. There's only so much I can do, and I deserve some free time, too.

Stuff I want to accomplish next year

  • I'm always willing to try new things at work, and I never refuse to learn something new, but I should probably go into it with a more positive attitude personally. I tend to say, yeah, sure, that's fine, but inside I'm thinking, oh man, I hope I can do that, I don't know whether I can or not. My history shows that I can. Maybe this year I can finally convince myself of that.
  • Not only make most of my Christmas gifts, but accept that they're good enough. I can't control whether people like what I give them or not. All I can do is give things from my heart, and hope that they're acceptable, so it follows that if I make things with my hands, they're even more from my heart. (From the heart doesn't mean cheap, though--yarn is expensive, and the soap-making supplies are expensive--it just means that I'm trying to make something meaningful rather than grabbing something off a shelf at a store.) I also kind of like the idea of giving things that can be used up, like soap, so I think that will be my biggest concentration.
  • Continue to take my lunches to work, but try to put a little more planning into it, so I'm not scrambling around in the morning making tuna salad or something. Maybe make a list of things that I like, and that are also healthy, and keep that list with me so I have a roadmap when I go to the grocery store.
  • Try to worry less. This year was a hellacious year as far as loved ones having major health issues, but obviously worrying isn't going to change that one bit. Worrying isn't going to make anyone healthier. Praying might, and I did a lot of that, too. So--worry less, pray more?
  • Read more. I've kind of gotten out of the habit. I spend most of my free time on the computer; I should try to spend more of that time reading. Not that I ever read anything even remotely educational, but that's okay. It's my recreation, I don't make any excuses for it.
  • Take more pictures. I got a wonderful new digital camera, and I've been carrying it with me every day, but haven't taken many pictures. Get into that habit. It's not like film--if they're bad, or boring, they can be easily deleted with no cost or worry.
  • Write more. I'm not going to try to make a resolution to write fiction, or to write for publication -- maybe I will, maybe I won't, I don't want to put that pressure on myself right now -- but write more online. When I'm bored, I'll go online and read blogs and journals, and two things happen, well, really, just one result. One, I read good writing, and it makes me feel inadequate, and I don't write. Two, I read bad writing, and it makes me feel self-conscious, like what I do here is stupid (projecting someone else's stupidity onto myself, I guess), and I don't write. So really, the "resolution" is--pay less attention to what other people are writing, and write for myself.
  • Work on the tarot deck, or at least work on other graphic/artistic ideas. In fact: Make more art. And an adjunct:
  • Think about redesigning this website. Yes, I know it's perfect for me. I like it, too. But I haven't changed it for over three years. Isn't it probably time for a change? No promises on this, but: Play around with new designs, see if I can find something I like better, that excites me.

More later, maybe.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

The Twelve Trees of Christmas

Orlando airport:

Pop Century Resort Food Courtt:

American Adventure, Disney World:

Disney's Animal Kingdom:

Disney Pop Century Resort Lobby:

Disney's Floridian Resort:

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom:


The Christmas tree at our Christmas lunch (at "The Bulldog"):

The tree on my desk in my office:

Tree on top of Jeff's computer at the office:

Our tree at home:

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Covered in cats

Last night's activity--after getting home, heating up a can of soup for dinner, then going to Target and the grocery store with Bob--was wrapping soap. I had picked up some large sheets of scrapbooking paper at the craft store over the weekend with the idea of cutting strips to wrap around the soap bars, then sealing them with a Christmas seal, and that part worked fine. I was less sure of how to label them, and ended up just writing the name on the paper strip with a Sharpie. They're not terribly attractive, but I just ran out of time. I had thought about creating some kind of a cool looking label on the computer, but at this point, handwritten Sharpie labels are better than nothing, I guess.

It ended up being terribly time-consuming--I had to cut the strips to the right length and width, then wrap them around the soap and seal them, then label them, then wrap them in tissue and then bag them, and mark on the bag who they were for. A few got placed in tins lined with tissue paper. It was kind of fun, actually, until I cut my finger with the scissors and had to go find a band-aid. Then when I was finally finished and cleaning up the kitchen, I was loading the dishwasher and stabbed myself with a fondue fork. Not badly, just enough to say to myself, "Enough! Time to go to bed."

Tonight I need to wrap a few things for John and his family--Bob's going out to see him tomorrow--and hopefully get a start on wrapping everything else. The dining room is a complete disaster, with bags and boxes and wrapping paper and mail all over the table and floor. But one way or another, it will all get done by Saturday afternoon when we go over to Bob's folks' for Christmas Eve.

The table is covered with stuff; Bob is covered with cats.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Quick one

We had our own little annual Christmas party tonight, Bob and I. He and his dad had gotten a Christmas tree for us on Saturday, and Bob put it up, and tonight we decorated it. I hung the stockings, and he built a fire, and we watched "White Christmas," ate boiled spiced shrimp and cheese fondue, and snuggled on the couch with the kitties. It was lovely.

Earlier in the evening, I had gone by the office to see Bob and Dinah taking a nap together:

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Saturday, December 17, 2005


I am so tired tonight. It's 11:30. I spent the day out Christmas shopping, and the evening on my feet in the kitchen making soap, and I've got laundry in, and a cat (Dinah) on my lap, and I'd like to go to bed, but I'll probably be up another hour anyway until the laundry is done. What I should be doing is wrapping Christmas presents. Or addressing more Christmas cards . . .

I'm having fun, though. I made soap! I guess I bought all the supplies back in the summer sometime, and I just never got around to doing it. I was recently thinking that it was really dumb of me to spend all that money on the stuff, because obviously I was never going to actually use it, then for some reason I just went and drug it all out on Thursday night and plunged in, and had a great time. I made green tea soap and green tea/hemp massage bars, and honey-scented soap and chamomile bars. Then tonight I made oatmeal-spice soap and peppermint soap for my sister who loves mint, and lavender glycerine soap, but I don't really like it.

I bought a lot of different kinds of soap base to try, to see which kinds I like best. I like the translucent olive oil base, and I like the opaque cucumber- base, which is white. I made the peppermint soap with a goat's milk base, which was nice, too. I didn't really like the clear glycerine, but I think it was just because it ends up looking so sparkly and artificial. I like the handmade, rougher look of the soaps with "stuff" in them--oatmeal, lemongrass, spices and herbs.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I wish that I could stay

Yesterday morning Bob came downstairs and found me surrounded by a pile of CD's. He asked me what I was doing, and I said I was loading up the iBook with Christmas music. He said, "Is all that Christmas music??" and I said that yes, it was. "And," I said, "that isn't even all of it."

(Click for a larger, readable view.)

Bob gave me an iTunes gift certificate for my birthday, so I bought even more Christmas music--a couple of tracks off the Barenaked Ladies' holiday CD, "Barenaked for the Holidays," and a few other random tracks like Fountains of Wayne's "I Want an Alien for Christmas," and Ben Folds' "Bizarre Christmas Incident."

Bob asked me to make him a Christmas CD, and I made him one before we left on vacation; he listened to it for the first time yesterday. When I got home he was singing The Ravonette's "Christmas Song:"

All the lights are coming on now
How I wish that it would snow now
I don't feel like going home now
I wish that I could stay

All the trees are on display now
and it's cold now
I don't feel like going home now
I wish that I could stay

I wish that I could walk
I wish that I could walk
you home

All the lights are coming on now
How I wish that it would snow now
I don't feel like going home now
I wish that I could stay

Santa's coming to town
with sequins in his hair
Santa's coming to town
with sequins in his hair

and he said, "Boy, you've got some weird Christmas music!" I apologized, and said that I'd made the CD in haste and hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about it, and he said, no, he liked it, but it was just weird, that's all.

Last year I made a Christmas mix CD for the guys at work; I might do that again. I sure enjoy it, anyway, even if I'm just doing it for myself. I love my Christmas music collection! It makes me happy, and it made me happy to search out the stuff I didn't have on iTunes, and listen to clips, and buy a couple of tracks. I listened to a lot of "Christmas With Johnny Cash," but didn't buy anything. I can't tell you how happy I was to find the "Ultimate Christmas" music list on iTunes; I have most of them, of course, but it was a lot of fun to go through it and play the clips. I also bought the Monk Christmas episode, since I missed half of it Sunday night (I forgot that it was on), and you can buy some television shows on iTunes now.

Also, of course, I love Christmas movies and books. I rented Christmas With the Kranks a couple of weeks ago when Bob was out of town, and I watched Home Alone one night last week. I should take a picture of my Christmas movie collection, although it's much smaller than the CD collection. I suppose it's only a matter of time before we can buy and download movies through iTunes, then watch out . . .

I've discovered something else this week that makes me happy and puts me in a good mood -- around 9:00, I go up and take a bubble bath, then put on my flannel pajamas with the polar bears and penguins, then come back downstairs and curl up in my chair with the laptop and, inevitably, Dinah.

Because if I don't let her lay on my lap, she pouts:

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Home again, home again

We got home, and I immediately plunged into Christmas shopping. We got home Thursday evening to this:

When we left, there was no snow on the ground, but when we watched the news Wednesday night, we saw that there was a big snow storm going on. I had called my mom that evening (she and Lynn had gone out to Denver to see Ann), and she said that the roads were terrible up by the airport when they got in (my brother picked them up), but by the time we got in Thursday evening, the roads had been cleared and we didn't have any trouble. Except that Bob had to clean about a foot of snow off the car in the parking lot before he could come back and pick us up, snug and warm inside the terminal.

We flew out last Sunday afternoon, and were treated to this sunset from the plane:

I'm very pleased with the new camera. (It's a Canon Powershot SD200 Digital Elph.) I'm still figuring it out, and have just been leaving it on Automatic, but there are a lot of different things you can do with it. It takes wonderful pictures, very clear and sharp. It would have taken better pictures, probably, if we had had more sun . . .

It's December, of course, and even in Florida that means iffy weather. We had sun the first day, but after that, it was cloudy and a little cool, although not as cool as it was last year--last year I think I wore the same pair of jeans all week, since I only brought one pair, and bought a sweatshirt and wore that every day, too. This year I was able to wear shorts a couple of days with a sweatshirt on top, and only switched to jeans the last day.

The pool at our hotel:

We couldn't get a room at our favorite hotel (Port Orleans), so we ended up at Disney's Pop Century Resort. The room was fine, just a little smaller than at the more expensive hotels. I didn't mind the decor, although it wasn't exactly relaxing (not that I really needed relaxing decor, since I was pretty much exhausted by the time we got back to the room at night); the only thing that I did find annoying was that they absolutely blasted Christmas music from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. every day.

The first night I noticed it, I thought it was a television or radio in someone's room. To be fair, the rooms are pretty well insulated, so it was more of a background noise than anything else, but I definitely found it odd.

There never really seems to be enough time to do everything, and this year we had one day less than usual because we couldn't get the room for another night, but we did have a good time. Barb met us, so that was fun.

I love the monorail:

We spent quite a bit of time in England at Epcot. We had lunch at the Rose & Crown one day:

I was getting ready to take a picture of Bob at the phone box (we always think of Dr. Who when we see this red phone box), and a family walking by stopped, and the guy asked if we wanted him to take a picture of all of us by the phone box. We said, well, okay, sure, and he started choreographing us, telling me to get in the box and pretend to make a call while Bob and Barb stood outside. It was sort of annoying, but nice, I guess, for the guy to offer, although you have to wonder, really, what he does for a living. Or I do, anyway. I mean, who would stop and offer to take a picture and then tell you how to pose?

I just now realized, too, that I suppose he could have just run off with the camera (Barb's, it must have been, since I don't have the picture on mine), like that scene in the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation movie . . .

Bob and Barb had a beer:

We had lunch at the Brown Derby at MGM Studios on Wednesday. Bob posed outside for me while we were waiting for our table:

Since we came home to a foot of snow, Bob didn't want me going out by myself on Friday until he'd assessed the situation, so he took me out to breakfast, then we went to the hardware store and bought a new snow shovel and some miscellaneous things, went to the post office and picked up the mail that had been held, then he brought me home and I went back out (the streets were fine) to start Christmas shopping while he stayed home and shoveled snow. I'm not sure who had the better deal . . .

I feel more disorganized this year than ever, I think. Obviously, I waited too long to sit down and make lists and figure things out (and start shopping!), but having vacation coincide so closely with my sister's accident made things even more disorganized than usual.

My sister is doing much better. I'm so grateful for all the good thoughts and prayers that I know were being sent our way last week. The first news I had sounded very bad, and I was awfully scared and worried, but she has improved tremendously since then, and it looks like everything is going to be fine.

I don't think I mentioned it in all the confusion, but Karen in Clarkton, Missouri was the winner of the Indigo Wild sample pack that I gave away for my birthday. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the owner of Indigo Wild, who had apparently noticed that several people had requested catalogs and mentioned that I had referred them. When I got home from vacation, there was a package on the porch with a full size bar of Frankincense and Myrrh soap, plus some more lotion and soap samples. Their stuff just smells absolutely heavenly. I keep a dish of soap slivers in the bathroom, and it scents the whole room. They would probably also be wonderful put into a suitcase or drawer--I wish I'd thought of that when I was packing!

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Good energy

I made travel plans for my mom and my sister to travel to Denver tomorrow, and I'm going to go ahead and go on vacation with Bob and his folks. My sister is doing better. She's still in ICU, but they are planning on moving her out in the next day or so, and things sound much more hopeful this weekend than they did last week. I really appreciate all the good thoughts and words and prayers, both in comments here and in email. I do believe that good energy and prayer makes a difference.

Bob and I went out today and bought new walking shoes since our old ones were a couple of years old and getting kind of worn out. Bob doesn't believe me--going by the number of pairs of shoes I have--but I really hate to shop for shoes. But sometimes it's necessary. With the amount of walking we'll be doing this week, good shoes are a must. So we went to Kohl's and tried on probably ten pairs each, and finally decided on Nike walking shoes. Mine, frankly, aren't as cute as I would have liked, but they are comfortable, and I suppose that's the most important thing.

After we bought the shoes, he brought me home and he went out to have lunch and I went back out to do the rest of my errands. I really didn't have too much to do, just a quick trip through Target and a brief visit to the bookstore. I didn't end up buying anything at the bookstore, I just wanted to take a look and see if there was anything I wanted to get for reading material on the plane. I have a couple of books already that I'm planning on reading, and Interweave Knits and Entertainment came in the mail today, so I'll have those also.

Then I came home, and we went back out to the hardware store to buy weatherstripping for the back door--the garage leads into the living room, and cold air comes in around that door, so Bob put weatherstripping around it. And we called our favorite Chinese restaurant and made an order to pick up on the way home. We picked it up, got home and unpacked it, and we were missing part of the order, so had to go back. We were getting so tired by this point, and I would have just forgotten it and chalked it up to experience, but I had ordered only appetizers, so I wouldn't have anything left over, and they hadn't given us any crab rangoon, which was going to be the main part of my meal.

So we put our coats back on and went back out, and got the crab rangoon, plus the owner was apologetic and gave us free eggrolls, so it was almost worth it.

I had jumbo fried shrimp, and crab rangoon, and spring rolls, and it was just enough, just right.

Now it's almost 12:30 a.m. and I'm still doing laundry--par for the course for the night before vacation. We don't leave until mid-afternoon, so I may leave the packing until tomorrow morning. It's probably going to be another hour before the laundry is done. I'm piddling around packing my backpack and tote bag and computer bag, and deciding what sock yarn to take, and being sure I have everything.

Travel is stressful for an obsessive-compulsive type like myself, even though I've done quite a lot of it.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Good luck

Bob cleaned the oven yesterday. It needed it anyway, but one night last weekend while he was gone I cooked a frozen pizza directly on the rack without a cookie sheet or anything under it, and it dripped cheese onto the bottom of the oven, and it was really bad. He also cooked my dinner--salmon with spinach and cheese--and left it in the refrigerator for me to heat up (he was going to be out last night, attending a basketball game that the daughter of a friend was playing in).

When I got home last night I pulled the fish out of the refrigerator and heated it up in the microwave, and heated up some broccoli, and took my plate into the dining room. He had set a place for me with a placemat and silverware, and there was a four-leaf clover encased in acetate sitting on the placemat.

I thought: he not only cooks me dinner when he's not even home, he cleans the oven, and he goes out and gets me a good luck charm! Or, I thought, maybe his father had it and gave it to him for me--that sounded like something he would do. So when he called me later, I said, "You left me a four-leaf clover!" and he said that he had found it under the kitchen sink when he was getting out cleaning supplies.

So . . . I have no idea.

He said he thought maybe my dad had left it for me there. My dad has worked on the pipes under the sink, but it's been years. I suppose I must have found it years ago and pressed it between the adhesive acetate sheets, but I don't remember it. And why under the sink?? That's the weird one. I don't want to get too fanciful, but somehow it was left there for Bob to find and to leave for me on a day when good luck was something that I desperately needed.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Willa update

Just a brief update to let everyone know that I am still around, it's just that life is a little overwhelming right now, and the journal is taking a back seat.

I always try to be very careful of what I say here in order to respect the privacy of my friends and family, but I also hate to post something that's light and fluffy, when my life is anything but at the moment. Briefly, my sister is very ill, and she is in intensive care at the moment.

I feel like my cell phone has been bolted to my ear--she lives in Denver, so yesterday evening was spent talking to her husband out there, then talking to my mom (several times) and my brother (twice) and my sister, then Denver again (a couple of times), then Barb in California . . . I think I was on the phone from the time I got into the car yesterday evening and left work until the time I went to bed. Well, that's not entirely true. I finished the last phone call sometime around 10:30, then did some web work, did client billings, paid bills and tried to get a little bit organized in case I needed to go to Denver, and ended up getting to bed about 1:00 a.m., I think.

And! I'm going on vacation Sunday! So work is incredibly stressful, my personal life is incredibly stressful, and I'm feeling bad that I can't just cancel my vacation and be with my family. If it was just me, I probably would, but it's also Bob and his parents, and Barb, and while I would just cancel it if necessary, it probably isn't necessary right now--my other sister and my mom will go out if they feel like they need to this weekend or next week, and if I need to go out when I get back, I'll work it out.

Thank God for Bob and his calming presence. And thank God for free long distance cell phone plans.

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