Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Fairbanks managed to fool me once again. I put away the long underwear too soon because it was -15 this morning and all I had for a second layer on my legs were some very, very thin leggings. Since I also left my heavy winter coat at home it was a cold walk. (My torso was warm enough in my jacket, but my legs froze. My coat is long and would have mitigated some of that.) Brr! Have I learned my lesson? Probably not.
My house is full of craziness this week. Rehearsals every night for "Jesus Christ Superstar", which by the way would be a totally forgotten musical if it wasn't on a religious theme. The music isn't great and the storyline (as a story) is sort of meh. But theatrically we're doing some neat things so if you're in Fairbanks it's totally worth coming to see. (It's being performed at Friends Church, over off Lathrop.) I know, what a rousing endorsement, but I'm serious that it's still worth seeing. The cast is great (if Judas can ever pull it together--which is fun to say, by the way) and as I said, there's some theatrical stuff which is really neat and thought-provoking but I don't want to give it all away.
The upside to my being so busy, however, is that it's spring break (a term I can never say without thinking of this) so Shane is suddenly not terribly busy. He's got a bit of homework to do, but mostly he's got free time so he's been doing the house chores and the cooking. He's loving this time off. He's getting back into an exercise routine (which he has neglected since the start of the semester) and doing all of the other little things he hasn't found time for until now.
Spring break also means that I get Friday off as a holiday, although work is so slow that I honestly don't know why I don't have the whole week off. (I could take vacation time, but I'm saving that for important and fun things this summer, like our freinds' wedding and possibly a dipnetting trip as well.)
I feel like I haven't talked much in the past few months about sustainability efforts. Honestly, there really hasn't been anything to report. Other than normal stuff (trying to reduce our garbage, buying locally as much as possible, etc.) there really hasn't been much to say. Umm, we're trying to eat what we have in our freezers so that they'll be ready to be cleaned out and then refilled this summer? I'm sure you're fascinated by that tidbit. However, I will say that the dog is thrilled about this since we've found a bunch of freezer-burned salmon that we're cooking up and feeding to her.
But, spring is coming! The reason I was tricked about the temperature this morning is because I'm fairly confident that Breakup is starting. Waaaaaaay early, which is a bit scary, but personally nice since with a bit more melting I can start biking everywhere again and perhaps even start the gardening a bit early this year. I received a seed catalog back in January and mixed with my joy was a bit of disappointment knowing that I'd have to wait months to get a start on my gardening. (Have I mentioned how impatient I am?) I'm not actually going to buy any more seeds this year since I have plenty from last year. As alluring as the thought is of getting new varieties and trying new things I really do think that it would be best to concentrate on improving my skills with what I already have. I'm going to try to do much better with my peas this year (plant them outside a bit earlier, plant more of them), and I have other goals that I wrote down at the end of last year (and I'm so glad I did write them down).
I'm going to try new things too. I didn't get a single parsnip to germinate last year so this year I'm going to start them indoors, in toilet paper tubes. The cardboard roll will decompose, but it will be wide enough during that process that it won't constrict the parsnips. Also, since they're long they will provide the parsnip with a decent start of good soil. If I can gather enough tubes (anyone else want to start saving them for me?) I'll probably start some carrots that way too, since other than my small Parisienne carrots mine were a failure last year. But, I'll still have to wait a few more weeks until I can even think about starting plants.
Which doesn't meant that my green thumb is totally going to waste. There are always houseplants! At work I've propagated several new spider plants and added to the general greenery. I've found more places to put some so our library is going to be covered in spider plants soon. :) In addition, I can start some new cherry tomato plants as soon as I remember to bring the seeds and dirt from home. I'm not going to do any beans or peas at work this year, since that didn't work so well last year, so I've got space for about four cherry tomato plants. That should give us enough tomatoes each week for a few salads, once they start producing.
At home, since two of my plants died while we were away for the holidays, I also started two new spider plants. I'm looking, always looking, for more places to put new plants. I found a tutorial on Pinterest about how to make a sort of hanging plant holder out of old t-shirts but the question is, where would I hang it? Hmmm....
On the non-sustainable, very expensive but sort of (sadly) necessary front, Shane and I are finally looking into buying a car. We've set ourselves the end point of the last week of April to find a car. If we can't find a used one that we want by then (finding a used, manual Subaru Outback that isn't ancient is tough!) we'll bite the bullet and just buy a new one. We think we might have found one, and we'll find out today if it gets sold before we have a chance at it. (It's also in Seattle, so the logistics are difficult. Thank you, Dravis, for helping us!) I'm hoping that the people who are looking at it this morning say, "Oh, wait, it's a manual?! Never mind."
The reasons we're finally buying a car are many and varied, but the most pressing one is that Shane's job will start in mid-May and he'll need reliable transportation to get out there. Last summer he rode his motorcycle as often as possible but it has several recurring problems and isn't as reliable as he wants. So one of his projects this week is to sell it on Craigslist. He's already got one offer, but for a lot less than he was asking, so cross your fingers that the other guy is willing to come up a bit.
We've had so many conversations lately about things. Like, will Shane buy a different (and different sort of) motorcycle this year? They are far more efficient than any car (to get to camp last summer it took about $5 in gas) but we're not sure if it would be worth the initial cost for a job which he's maybe only going to have for this summer. It depends on a number of factors, which are also conversations we're having. Like, what will we do about employment during the autumn? Shane has decided that, as wonderful as it was to be able to focus only on taking classes this semester, he wants to get at least a part-time job in the fall. He'll ask if there are any office jobs with the mining company, but if not...? The unknown factors drive me crazy in conversations like that.
We're also figuring out what we want to do with the money he makes this summer. How much we want to put toward student loan debt, how much we want to put into savings/investments. I sort of feel that reducing debt is just as important as saving, but with the low interest rate on the student loan debt and the higher interest rate on the investments (look at me sounding like an adult! a really boring one....) Shane would rather focus on saving. I made a pretty good argument, however, that our monthly bottom line is just as important, and how much we pay each month toward the debt (which is, admittedly, more than the minimum already) is a large chunk of change. When I put it in terms of, "Well, rent is $X and the debt payment is $X, which only leaves $X out of my pay for everything else," that made an impression on him. The fact that the third $X, the one for "everything else", barely covers electricity in the winter was probably what did it. So, I think we've got a plan worked out that both of us are happy with.
I love spring. It's a time with lots of renewal, lots of change, and lots of things to look forward to. 2013 is going to be a great year.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Radio silence and snapshots of my life

I have had no energy. The thought of doing anything above and beyond what I absolutely feel I must has made me want to turn into a giant whiny baby. Part of this is because I've had so much which came to fruition in the past week or so (Symphony concert, both of our birthdays) and part of it is because I got the stomach flu last week. (Yes, Hannah, it really was the stomach flu.) Side note: don't decide to clean out your cat's litter box when you have the stomach flu. Telling yourself, "Oh, well, I'm home and I have the time so I should take care of that..." is a bad idea. Talk yourself out of it.
A little bit of my malaise, I'm sure, is also because I'm just flat-out feeling overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. I've barely kept up with the reading for my class, which in turn has made me feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole. (Literary criticism. We've gotten to the point where there is no Truth. Or if there is Truth, it's all completely individual and based on our own perceptions, experiences, and knowledge of ourselves. So maybe there are many Truths? Except, we can't ever really know ourselves even because we deceive even ourselves. But looking outside to the author for Truth is even worse. The author is dead, meaningless! You must look inside for the Truth which may or may not exist and which you might or might not ever find. Just to paraphrase what I've learned so far....) The mental gymnastics involved in going through one school of literary criticism each week is fun, but also rather trying.
In addition, there's been a lot of work stress lately. Of the I totally don't want to work here anymore kind. Projects I'm working on have no real direction so my coworker and I have been alternately scolded for not doing things we were told not to do, and then scolded for doing things we were told to do. I've also had to deal with a lot of office politics bullshit, and have pretty much decided that I just hate the administrative people I have to work with. One lesson learned, however: keep all email communications, even if they don't seem important. I was yelled at for not giving someone information that I'm quite certain I sent to her--several times--but I deleted the emails which would prove me right. From now on, when I deal with certain people I'm going to save each and every email.
The fact that I have to just pisses me off.
On top of being sick, the past week or so has had moments like these:

Just as I was putting my coat on the other day to leave for work (a few minutes late already) the cat threw up at my feet.

Last night Shane and I got to have this conversation at about 9:00,
Me (in the bathroom): Crap!
Shane (in the bedroom): [mummbles something]
Me: What?
Shane: Umm, you just said 'crap' while in the bathroom. I hate to ask, but what's wrong?
Me: Oh, I just realized that I put my underwear on inside out this morning and didn't notice until right now.

Leaving for class the other night, I was packing up my bag. I'd loaded some pdfs of the reading material on my Nook and just as I was grabbing it off the desk, the dog decided that she needed to go outside. So I forgot my Nook and looked totally unprepared in class.

None of it is major, but so many little things add up. I feel like my brain is melting, or like someone is gaslighting me.
There is also stuff that I haven't wanted to put on the blog, but I will now with an explanation. We started looking into buying a house. We're not even sure if we think it would be the best decision right now, but it was something we at least wanted to look into. I didn't think it would take so much effort just to look, though. Real estate agent wouldn't even talk to us unless we got bank approval, so we had to fill out tons and tons of forms, and then we sort of scraped by with the bank. Which we realized would happen, thank you student loans, and is part of the reason we hadn't been entirely sure this would be the right decision in the first place! So...I sort of feel like we jumped through all these hoops to probably arrive at the decision that we're still not yet in a position to buy a house. Probably.
The one really, really good thing to come out of all this is that Shane and I have been talking--almost endlessly--about future plans. Well, not plans. Shane hates that word, because plans always go awry. But ideas about what we'd both like for ourselves, where we think we're headed, all of that good stuff. You know, plans. But all of it is very general, because most of it is based on things that we don't/can't know yet.
So I've kept my own sort of radio silence, not wanting to just complain constantly. We have had some awesomely fun things going on. Our birthdays were over the weekend (they're back to back) and that was fantastic. Even with all of the busy-ness with the Symphony concert and the extra rehearsals for it, it was wonderful. We went to karaoke Friday night and I strained my voice (I was still recovering from being sick after all). Saturday night we had a bunch of people over--close to 20, I think--to talk and play games. No one stayed too late (most cleared out by about 12:30) but it was a great time. Sunday we got to celebrate by ourselves. It wasn't anything big, we just went out for Thai food (gift from my parents--they sent money so we could do that!) and enjoyed each other's company.
We have so much birthday cake left in our house. Well, birthday desserts since Shane's not a huge fan of cake. But holy cow. I've eaten so much sugar in the past few days as we try to get rid of it without wasting it. I'm very much looking forward to going back to our normal good eating habits.
And back to exercising, since I didn't really do that at all when I was sick. I feel lazy.
This week is sort of my recovery week. I'm not sick anymore, thankfully, so I'm gearing up to Get Shit Done once again. Our house is super clean (great side benefit to inviting so many people over!) except for the kitchen, so I don't really have to worry about that so much. I'm going to focus on getting caught up on schoolwork, on getting myself a little ahead with my own personal projects, and spending plenty of time relaxing to gear up for next week. (Hell Week for the show--at least 3 hours of rehearsal every night starting next Sunday and culminating in the first show on Friday night.) But, I get next Friday off as a holiday!
This is sort of related, in a general looking at the bright spots way, but a friend of ours joked that if our dog had thumbs, she'd be calling 911 all the time. And it has become a running joke in our house. "There's someone on the sidewalk! They might be a potential intruder, call the cops!" "I'm cold. Someone stole all my hair. Call the cops!" "Mom's 2 minutes late coming home. She's been kidnapped, call the cops!" "Mom bumped something and said ow. She broke something, I know it, call an ambulance!" It doesn't get old, at least not to us.
So, there are bright spots to look forward to. I'm hanging onto those as hard as I can.