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Month: December 2019

2019: the big 4-0

2019: the big 4-0

let’s go year in review! it’s always fun to go over what i wanted to do in the prior year, not only to see what i accomplished but also to see what i thought was important to accomplish (and what didn’t happen). so, 2019, how did we fare? let’s take a look at the good ol’ to-do list:

  1. well, what would a new year’s to-do list be without “take more photos” as number 1? i mean, it’s almost expected at this point. so, take more photos.
  2. visit the state parks i want to visit. after last year’s whirlwind visits, now i know which parks i want to go back to. i’ve got an itasca trip already planned. i’d like to head up to grand portage and actually spend time there. i also wouldn’t mind camping at blue mounds.
  3. is this the summer i perhaps run TWO half marathons? maybe! we’ll see what happens. i’m already signed up for the earth day half, and training starts in 3 weeks for that. seeing training on the horizon gives me hope that winter will come to an end.
  4. put in new floors in my house. i’ve got flooring for the entryway, which is my test subject. if that goes well, we’ll give the kitchen a go and see what happens from there. this also means i’ve got to paint my cabinets.
  5. i signed up for a yoga program through fightmaster yoga and i hope it makes me more diligent in my yoga-ing. i do yoga pretty often, but it would be great to make it a daily thing.
  6. speaking of a daily thing, remember when i blogged EVERY DAY for a year? i don’t know if i should try that again or if i should just think about it and dismiss it.
  7. do something interesting with nate – i like that on my list because it makes me think about something interesting to do with him. 2018 was a good year for doing stuff; let’s make 2019 a good year too!
  8. I GUESS I’M TURNING 40. i hope something happens for it.

this wasn’t a bad list! here’s what happened:

  1. i don’t think i took more pics. i DID take photos at two weddings and for a large family this year, though. i guess that’s something! i take wedding pics about once every 4 years, and every time i remember why i don’t do it that often! the wedding pics were two weekends in a row, too, which was pretty insane. well, it happened, i did it, and now it’ll be another 4 years til another wedding.
  2. i did visit a few state parks this year! we went to itasca in early june and it was really fun to spend some time there. jane and i went up the north shore over labor day and camped at jay cooke and judge cr magney; we also checked out grand portage and drove up to canada while we were at it. on the way back or to somewhere, guess what i did? i picked up another state park passport. so i’m not a less-intense mission to visit them all once again.
  3. i did NOT run two half marathons. and that’s ok!
  4. i also did NOT put new floors in the kitchen. and that’s ok!
  5. i DID do yoga almost EVERY DAY this year. i bet there were maybe 20-30 days of non-yoga-ing due to vacations and other weird things, but overall i did a TON of yoga this year. you know what has benefited from this? MY ARMS. my arm muscles are glorious.

    (please ignore the goo on the mirror)
  6. i did NOT blog every day. i had trouble doing kablpomo this year. i blogged twice – TWICE – in february. i don’t know if there’s just not enough interesting things I can think of that deserve a whole blog post or what, but i feel like it’s hard to sit down and put 400 words to posterity. i don’t know.
  7. did i do something interesting with nate? we went up to duluth over new year’s 2019. he took a week off over thanksgiving and we drove to the cities and did some staycation stuff. we went to whole foods together (first and probably last time for both of us). we went to the state fair. is that interesting enough?
    1. on a side note, i did some traveling this year! while it wasn’t with nate, i feel like it should still be noted because looking back, i should have put it on my list. i went to san antonio for a conference in march, and in october, i went to mexico!
      1. on a side-side note, i GOT MY PASSPORT. i haven’t ever had a passport, and the last time i’d been out of the country had been in 1997. this past year i went to both canada and mexico, and now i can go to more countries! woo!
  8. yep, turned 40. it happened!
top ten of the ’10s

top ten of the ’10s

before i dive into my year in review, i thought it would be interesting to do a DECADE in review. that’s right; we’re throwing caution to the wind and counting the 0 year as part of a new decade (sorry, dad).

so i thought about the best times i had in the 2010s. some days were really easy to count as a top ten day, but toward the end of my top ten, i was having trouble figuring out which deserved a spot and which didn’t. there are, of course, a lot of trips that i could have counted, but ultimately, the day had to be something really outstanding, and there was really only one trip i went on that was really outstanding. i also counted days/moments of clarity that, while pretty boring to an outsider, changed my life going forward.

and i’m still not sure on what my #10 of the ’10s is quite yet. i’m going to write up the rest and see where it lands when i get there.

  1. best black friday evah: i don’t have a blog post about this one because of the great blog migration failure of 2011, but BF 2010 was THE BEST black friday evah. i had scoped out a $500 fridge at sears and decided it was time to replace my top-freezer fridge. this was back in the old days (haha) of when black friday was actually on friday, so jane and i woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get to sears by 4 a.m., sat in the parking lot watching a movie on netflix until about 4:20, walked in, dodging the fanny-pack wearing, cruising old ladies, straight back to appliances, where i placed my order. we were out of there in 10 minutes and back in bed by 5 a.m. later that day, jane used an expired macy’s coupon (25% off!), and we won on scratch-off lottery tickets. i know there’s something else i’m missing about this day (i think jane had another expired coupon she used), but we STILL aspire for all black fridays to be like this one.
  2. Cali: everything about visiting california was AWESOME. it was WARM. sunny. the ocean. a couple days were standouts on this trip: the day jane and i went to HP world was just the coolest thing ever. you were IN hogwarts, just drinking butterbeer and trying on your house robes. of course, it’s all fun and games until you decide to go on a ride without your dramamine, but even the hour it took me to get over my motion sickness (while sitting in the three broomsticks) was still better than being at home. we also drove up the PCH to santa barbara (in our CONVERTIBLE) and ended that day at the santa monica pier, looking out across the pacific as the sun set. then the drive home, jane had a real-life video game moment when she realized she was driving the road from one of her racing games! the worst part of the day was that jane missed the turn to our hotel. but if that’s the worst part of the day, i’ll take it. #thankskim
  3. TED stalking: one day in 2013, jane and i decided to go to crypticon because ted raimi was going to be there. (my top three days all involve jane. liz, you gotta up your doing stuff with us game.) we knew it would be a little fun, but we didn’t realize it was going to be THAT fun. but first things first: that morning, we ran the big gay race in the cities, which was the start of the fun. after we got to crypticon, we found ted and had a picture taken with him, and he autographed my joxer picture. this was after we told him we sang the joxer song the night before in preparation (to which he looked a little scared and wondered if we were going to break into song right then). we went to a couple sessions, checked out the merch, watched a cosplay pageant, got a TWEETED REPLY FROM WIL WHEATON,
    tweettook a break and went to a halloween store at the moa, then came back to the bar where we got two glasses of free beer from the bartender. then we went to the halloween prom and watched as ted came in and danced with some chicas! then we decided to stalk him a lil bit (but not too much because we didn’t want to get kicked out). after the prom, we did a circuit of hotel room parties and drank way too much (well i did) and i ended the day barfing from all the drinking. excellent. also, jane knows that the doubletree is not physically by the hilton now.
  4. starting running: in 2011, i got on a scale and decided i was too close to 300 lbs for comfort. i also was uncomfortable in clothes, chairs, and other things. so i decided to start running. other than a brief stint in the summer of 1998, you wouldn’t find me running anywhere at any time. when they made you run the mile in high school, i was sure i could walk a mile faster than run it. but, one day in november of 2011, i made a conscious decision to just start doing it. i paid for a monthly fieldhouse membership at st. ben’s and printed out a couch to 5k schedule. and i stuck to it. the first  day i ran a whole mile nonstop? i felt so accomplished! one day i was scheduled to do a mostly run, little walk for 3 miles, but i decided to just run the whole 3 miles. somewhere along the way, i became someone who runs. i’m still not fast, but 8 years later, i still run regularly, and i run long. i’ve taken three or four breaks due to foot injuries, but other than that, i have run at LEAST once a week for 8 years. since then, i’ve run four half marathons, a bunch of 5ks and 10ks, 3-ish trail ragnars, and countless hours on my treadmill, pavement, trails, and in the woods. it’s never a wonderful experience. what’s wonderful is knowing i can do it and then doing it.
  5. first half marathon: in 2016, either liz or i (oh look! a liz moment!) decided to convince the other that a half marathon was a good idea. at this point, i’d been running regularly for 5 years, so why not? i trained, but not as much as i should have. the half marathon was ok, but at that point, anything more than 8 miles was just such a drag (i had lost some weight at this point, but i was still only about -50 at that point (-90 now – holy cow!)). so the end was really tough for me, but what the training and the half marathon did was tell me “hey, you can do this too! see if you can keep doing this.” since then, liz and i have done a half marathon every spring. my training has gotten tons better, and our time has gotten better each year too. i’m hoping for a sub-12 minute mile this spring.
  6. accepting the roch job: after working at merrill for 5 years during the recession, i was ready to do something that was a little more attuned to what i actually wanted to do (although working at merrill made me an extremely adept adobe-shortcut wizard). i found a relevant job in rochester and decided to apply for it. lo and behold, i actually got it and was ready to put in my two weeks’ notice. the day i put in my notice, i drove home in the gathering dusk (because i worked til stupid 10 p.m. but at least it was may) and felt so good about life in that moment. remember in jerry maguire when he’s in his pontiac trying to find a song to sing to and lands on “free fallin” and you can relate because we’ve all have similar moments? that was me, except it was nicki minaj’s “starships” and in a nissan altima.
  7. SC Tech interview day: my interview for my current job was the easiest interview of my life. i don’t know if it was because i finally felt like i knew what i was doing, or if it was because i knew i wanted that job because i wanted to get back to central mn so dang it, it was going to be great. but the thing that was good about this day, in addition to the interview, was that nate drove up with me and we stayed overnight in st. cloud. if he hadn’t come up that day with me to my interview, i don’t know if we would necessarily be back here. it was a very familiar, very grounded day for both of us, and i’m glad it worked out like it did.
  8. charlie’s alive: when charlie had his accident, they put him in a medically induced coma. we had no idea what he would be like afterward – they’d just taken out a racquetball-sized piece of brain and who knows if some of his motor skills or memories or brain functions would be lost. so when he came out of his coma, and he looked at aunt rae and looked confused, who then pointed and told him his mom was on his other side, and he turned to see her, then responded to questions by squeezing their hands, omg. aunt rae called us (liz, jane, and me – we were on our way to the hospital) and told us what happened, and we jumped up and down in a huddle in jane’s driveway. that was probably one of the best days of my life so far!
  9. corn syrup: in early 2010, i watched a doc that finally changed a life trajectory: king corn. it basically talked about the food industry and how corn is in a ton of our processed foods we eat, and then it dove into big ag subsidies and a how high fructose corn syrup is just, well, the devil. so i decided to try to not eat any corn syrup (not just hfcs) for a month. and i did it. and after a month, i realized that food made with real sugar was better tasting, and actually a little better for you than corn syrup (i did a lot of research while i was abstaining from corn-derived sugar). so, i continued to try to not eat corn syrup (or devil’s syrup as i like to refer to it now). since that 2010 experience, i’ve relaxed a wee bit (mostly in social situations), but the food industry has really turned around, too. items that i avoided in 2010 because of devil’s syrup now list sugar as the sweetener (and NOT corn sugar – that’s just a obfuscating term for DS). the organic/simple ingredients trend has really become more mainstream, and it’s easier to find food that’s fewer ingredients these days. i knew that my crusade had come full circle just in the past couple months when i went to buy ice cream (have to get the expensive stuff because DS is cheaper to make ice cream out of) and kemp’s – KEMP’S – had scrounds of “simply crafted” ice cream in the freezer made with sugar.
  10. where i get hung up: what is #10? there are a couple items i feel could fill out the top ten of the ’10s. it could be visiting all the mn state parks in 2018, but that was more than a moment. that was an ordeal (altho a very satisfying one!). it could be a couple of the trips nate and i took: when we did a southwest loop in 2018 or headed to utah in 2010 (my favorite part of that trip was the 2 overnights we spent in the black hills on the way back). memorable for sure, but outstanding? not sure. it could be wizardworld, but that was for sure not as fun as crypticon. it could also be getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to take photos of sunrise over the SE minnesota valley towns. it could be the day i submitted my passport paperwork: that’s a moment with future.

    but what i think i’m going to choose is something a little mundane. nate and i were living in st. joe and i had just gotten back from an evening run – so this is narrowed down to 2012 summertime. i came in the house, poured myself a glass of iced tea, and headed out onto the deck where nate was standing with the cats for their supervised outside time. i plopped down on the deck and stretched out, chatting with nate about what was going on as the sun set on the other side of the house, casting a pinky purply bluey haze in the east across the short backyard, pond, small field, and copse of trees – trees forever in central mn. i don’t know why i still remember that evening. maybe it was because of the timing of nate on the deck when i came back from a run. maybe because it was just before i started commuting to roch/austin. maybe because of the time of year (sprrummer is the bomb, y’all). or a culmination of all put into one memorable moment that i just won’t forget.

rudolph then and now

rudolph then and now

one of my favorite “get ready for christmas” memories when i was little was waiting for rudolph to show up TV. there is something missing in today’s streaming world where we’d have to watch and schedule our tv-show watching because if we didn’t, we’d miss it.

so when rudolph was scheduled to be on tv, we’d make sure we marked it on our calendar, because it was an event. instead of eating supper that evening, we’d get a sneak peak of christmas eve fare (which for the wallace fam is like snack central). my parents would cut some cheese up, put out some crackers, open a can of smoked oysters (i don’t know how canned meats became a symbol of fanciness for us, but it did), and *gasp* let us eat in the living room! my sibs and i would fill out plates and then sit on the floor in front of the tv to watch santa berate rudolph and anything out of the norm until it’s useful.

of course, we didn’t know that at the time. watching rudolph now is so cringeworthy. donner wants to cover up rudolph’s nose, a bunch of his peers call him names, and santa is pretty awful. and then there’s a whole island of misfits! what a bunch of bullies. you have to admire hermie though; the guy left the elf shop to pursue his dream of being a dentist even though his fellow elves wanted to force elfdom on him.

sorry to ruin rudolph for you. but come on. the end would have you believe that all is well, but i doubt that. i’m glad i wasn’t this cynical when i was eating smoked oysters on the living room floor.

chasing christmas

chasing christmas

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”

there is nothing that resonates at christmas quite as much as charlie brown when you’re an adult. even though he’s in the body of a child, his thoughts and attitude toward christmas are very much an adult ones. everything about a charlie brown christmas digs deep into your chest and sits there for a while. meanwhile, the music is fleeting; by the time you realize what vince guaraldi’s piano means, it’s too late to know that it’s meant for you. and no matter how much you try, no matter what you do, nothing – nothing – can make christmas quite what it was when you were a child.

most of the time, in my case anyway, i feel like i’m going through the motions: put up a tree, make cookies, watch the movies. and while i enjoy all those things, it’s still missing. the anticipation, the excitement, the hope, the “first time” ness of the christmas experience.

some of it may be that the season starts in october and stops abruptly the day after christmas. the calendar location of christmas is such that the celebration should start almost directly after our axial tilt starts to glean a little more light at the ends of our days, but instead, we are celebrating encroaching darkness. (i understand that this is hardly noticeable to the average person. but solstice-time celebrations are all about bringing the light back.) by the time christmas actually gets here, we are so christmassed out that we don’t feel like christmas is actually happening.

and i would bet most people suffer from the “i don’t feel the way i’m supposed to feel” that charlie brown feels.

there’s a great webcomic by the oatmeal about how to be perfectly unhappy. it posits that it’s ok to not be happy all the time. that happiness is a constant state that means you’ve gotten to the point of accomplishment. thinking about it, the majority of my time is not spent in a perpetual state of happiness. it’s more likely that most people exist in a state of okay-ness. maybe being an adult is realizing that a lot of the time we don’t feel the way we’re supposed to feel.

“christmastime is here. happiness and cheer. fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.” that this line in the song is set to one of the most melancholy tunes does not surprise me.

so perhaps it’s best to think in terms not of how we’re supposed to feel. maybe we should think in terms of how we do feel and go with it.  for a moment or two in october i remember that christmas is coming and i get excited. when i see rows of christmas decor for sale in october, i get irritated. i know the day i put up my christmas tree is going to be a lot of work but i like looking at the tree, so i’ve resigned myself to the work. if you think of christmas as a constant happy time, most of the time i don’t feel how i’m supposed to feel.

but then i see christmas lights on a lone tree in the distance. step outside on a cold night when snow is falling and hear a total, encompassing silence with the whiteness of the snow reflecting to light up the darkness. unwrap my favorite ornaments to hang on the tree. open the door to a pile of packages that just came in the mail. pull out the time-life records to play on christmas eve. watch “it’s a wonderful life”. take silly pics with the fam just to irritate my dad. listen to “o holy night” and its crystal clear high note.

it’s then i feel a little bit of christmas excitement that i feel was ever-present when younger. and it’s ok that it’s not ever-present now. it’s ok to be just ok. i think charlie brown represents what’s best about being an adult at christmastime: you might not feel how you’re supposed to feel, but, even though you may not meet expectations of those around you, you still chase moments of christmas. and if you’re lucky? you catch them.

homeward vignettes

homeward vignettes

i passed a dead cat on the side of the road on my way home this evening. one of the hardest things i’ve ever had to do was knock on a door after i hit a dog. i was 17 and driving the family safari van with my sibs in the back. it was a 45mph road and dark out, and the dog literally came out of nowhere in front of my passenger-side headlight. we stopped and looked around in the dark for the dog, but we found nothing. i felt sick as i headed up to the nearest house and told the woman who answered the door that i probably hit her dog and i didn’t even know where he was.

i love seeing christmas lights on people’s houses out on backroads. they’re like beacons in the dark eveningtime. i wish people would keep them lighted through the end of february to get us all past the doldrums of winter.

there is a short dead-end road in avon proper where every house is decked out with christmas decor. the neighbors have worked with each other to string lights across the road, criss-crossing from tree to tree to create a twinkly colorful surround-light experience as you drive half a block and then have to do a 45-point turn around to drive back.

is an artificial tree to a real tree like a kindle is to a paper book?

when i was early 20s, i thought 40 was ancient. now that i’m 40, i think 80’s not so old.

every day i think about how i’m pretty lucky that i don’t have mental health issues like some people do. sure, i have anxiety that’s more situational based than anything else, but my seasonal depression pretty much disappeared after i started running on the treadmill through the winter (even tho i’m still sad about no light, it’s just a general “awww, the sun’s down” and not “sigh the sun’s down time to curl into a ball and cry”). there are several people in my life who have varying degrees of depression, and it’s hard to know how to help besides just being there and telling them what i see. i think maybe that’s all a person can do.

i got my christmas poinsettia today (my only xmas decor in the house). next week i’ll get a tree. time to watch some christmas movies.

hold up

hold up

everybody’s talking about how their christmas decor has been up for two weeks and i’m over here like “hmm…maybe i’ll get around to it in two weeks.” i’m still rockin my autumn decor!

actually, i’m waiting for my new COUCH. i ordered it on veterans day weekend, and they said it should be here either this week or next week.

i got this one in a burgundy/purply color with some bear/moose fabric pillows. the chaise longue part is on the other side, but details details at this point.

so, once the couch is in, i’ll at least start to pack up the autumn decor and maybe think about getting out my christmas stuff.

the treemonger

the treemonger

the story was that the blood-sucking deer were prevalent in these parts, or so the treemonger heard. he’d never seen one, and he didn’t think he was likely to lay eyes on one because who’d ever heard of a blood-sucking deer? but then, he didn’t leave his home much, and he rarely left his grove of evergreens for too long.

his trees of life were his constant focus – whether joy or struggle, or both, as he came to realize most days. this far north, it was rare to see a copse of trees of any size, let alone his sizeable grove he maintained. it was his family’s land and trees for decades to the point of centuries. the evergreens on the west grew in orderly rows; to the south, they were interspersed with some fruit trees that his father had planted on a whim and managed to thrive; looking to the east, shrubs dotted the understory of the tall pines, which the monger never understood; and to the north, the trees were scattered and wild, despite how orderly his family had tried to plant them.

in the middle of the trees stood his small home and the greenhouse that was five times the size of his living quarters. between the two buildings squatted a small wood-burning furnace and a stack of split logs in rows next to it. next to his greenhouse was the small barn that housed his animals: chickens, a cow, and three barn cats that left him mice in exchange for milk from the cow.

despite the whispered rumors and stories from travelers who stopped on their way from somewhere or to anywhere, he didn’t believe the blood-sucking deer existed. why? because his chickens had never been touched. he figured if the blood-suckers were real, his livestock would’ve been lunch by now. just the other day, he’d run into a traveler on the edge of his grove while checking a tree that was nearing the end of its life after a windstorm. he was sputtering about some ghost horse he’d seen over the harvest in his hometown to the south. the treemonger just shook his head and muttered “nonsense” to himself.

now that the days were getting colder, the treemonger spent a lot of time making sure his spring saplings were doing well. he pulled a wagon of mulch through the lines of the trees to the small trees, making sure that they were fully protected from the cold that would be sweeping across the tundra. after he finished up mulching, he’d go around with a water tank on wheels to give them one last drink before the ground completely froze. already there was snow on the ground, but the monger could tell the trees would still take some water, so he made his rounds.

after he pulled his mulch and water into his greenhouse (and stayed a bit longer than necessary to warm up), the treemonger headed out for his evening walk on the long drive to the edge of his property to check his trees down that way. the sun was already low on the horizon, though it didn’t get much above the horizon at all this time of year, so it was difficult to see very far, but he was used to the light and knew his way. when he got to the edge of his property, as was his method, he circled around and took in the area before heading back.

to the north stood two women, like they were waiting for him. the treemonger just stood still and stared for a moment.

“we were wondering if you’d come down this way,” said the taller one as she stepped closer to him with her arm extended in a handshake. the treemonger shook her hand, then looked over at the other visitor, who didn’t seem to want to move any closer. he looked at the woman who was shaking his hand and then again at the other one.

“You may have to invite her onto your property,” said the taller quietly, then glanced back.

“i welcome any visitors who happen across my path. please feel free to join me in my home,” the treemonger rambled. he doubted he’d ever said such nice words to anyone. suddenly a warm whoosh of wind gusted across the top of his head and over to the shorter woman, and she visibly relaxed and started forward.

“hi, i’m mariah,” she said smiling, hand reaching for his.

they walked in silence up to his cabin, which he knew should be warm. he glanced sideways at the two women: the taller one was walking in silence, eyes resting on the buildings ahead, but the shorter one kept glancing up and around at the trees. he huffed into his mustache and shoved his hands in his pockets. if they started going on about blood-sucking deer, he’d kick them out.

“your greenhouse is impressive,” said the taller as they passed the building. “how long as the grove been in your family?” people had always assumed this had been his family’s pastime, but none had been so overt.

“onwards of 200 or 300 years, i’d reckon.”

the taller one nodded. “i’ve seen this grove for many years from afar but had never needed a reason to come visit.”

the treemonger held the door and they all tromped inside and removed their boots. he gestured toward the chairs around the table, poured them some tea, and remained standing while they each took a tentative sip.

“you’re wondering why we’re here,” said the shorter – mariah. he nodded. “we need your help. well, specifically, your trees.”

the taller one sat up straighter, and he noticed now that she was no village woman. no traveler. neither of them were. their actions, their dress, the way they talked – they were important.

“you know how you had to invite me in?” he had wondered about that. the wind was especially unsettling. “i’m a hedgewitch – evergreens tend to keep me out of certain areas, especially private property.” he frowned at that. this was treading on blood-sucker territory. “you know it’s true,” said mariah. she’d seen his reaction. “you felt the wind and the air.” he did have to admit that much. he nodded.

“your trees are special. they’re owned evergreens and keep away certain paranormal beings. some just need a gentle nudge, like me. others – well, they can’t even be in seeing distance of the boughs.”

those blood-suckers- no wonder he hadn’t seen any, if they existed. they couldn’t come near his property. he wondered if they would even be able to come near him.

he must’ve muttered something because mariah continued: “yes, you wouldn’t have seen any of the blood-sucking deer. or the other. this whole area has some kind of aura, if that makes sense. it’s even on you. i wish i’d had some of your pine needles with me when i’d had to kill the herd or had that encounter with the other.” the taller one put her hand on mariah’s shoulder.

“so…” words caught in his throat and he cleared it. “so what do you need with me?”

the two women looked at each other. the taller one drew in a breath and withdrew a letter from her pocket, then slid it across the table toward the treemonger.

“we’re from the pole. we have a problem.”