No, thanks, I prefer to stand

In a rare unsupervised afternoon at work yesterday, I converted my traditional sit down desk to a standing desk. Using items I scavenged from vacant offices and the supply closet, I freed myself from all-day sitting to try my feet at standing. Allegedly, standing all day is healthier. It burns more calories, keeps you mentally alert, and is good for your posture. As a woman who values all of those things, standing seemed like a really good idea.

Tall and fancy is the only way to work.

Of course, my mini-freakout may have best waited until after knee surgery. (I was sitting the first half of the day and not nearly as mentally alert as I should have been, clearly.) Yesterday, thanks to my new desk contraption, I stood for about two and a half hours. My feet ached. My back ached. But, I did feel more alert. (It didn’t hurt that I was able to blast Old Crow Medicine Show and shimmy around like a goober all afternoon. This must be why standing burns more calories; it’s much more conducive to spontaneous dancing.)

My hope is that I love standing and will then be able to justify the office expense of a real standing desk. This jury-rigged job is a bit wobbly (I’m on the occupational health and safety committee, so it’s okay), but it’s working great so far. It reminds me of my college days, when I worked retail and was required to stand up all day. I was thinner then, so maybe there is something to all of this standing. I’ll keep you all posted. Today will be my first full-day standing adventure.

Update: At the end of day one, my feet and back ache, and I sorta cheated by finding stuff to do at the back counter, where I could lean the last hour of my workday. But, this feels doable. I’m sure by the end of next week, I’ll be an accomplished stander. Just in time for knee surgery.

In other news, Christmas came and went. My grandpa talked about foreskin during Christmas dinner (don’t even ask for the details, please) and I ate my weight in pie to block it out. I’m sure I’ll be the same way when I’m 84. Let’s just hope, though, that I confine the inappropriate dinner conversation to bowel movements and gaseous emissions. Fingers crossed.

Right now, I’m mentally working through some possible resolutions for 2011. (Speaking of which, does anyone know how difficult it is to play the banjo?) Otherwise, I’m cooking up some doozies. Are you making any resolutions? Why or why not? What are they? Please share!

It’s a Christmas miracle!

In the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, Kramer repeats with great enthusiasm, “It’s a Festivus miracle!” about the most mundane things. I love his excitement. So, I found some of my own. Here are my Christmas miracles. One of these is not at all mundane, the others are decidedly so.

• The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I don’t typically discuss political issues on this blog, but President Obama’s speech this morning had me in tears. I am so proud to be an American today. We are one step closer to all Americans having equal rights and protections under the law. It makes gay marriage really seem possible. I have been so inspired by Maj. Margaret Witt’s fight against her discharge from the Air Force after being outed as a lesbian. I watched her elderly father on the news after she won her court case in September and he was so proud of her. Every father should feel that way about his child. That he stood by her and supported her through what must have been extremely difficult speaks to his parenting and a legacy of character and honor in that family. I know Witt’s case and the national attention it drew had a huge hand in making this repeal happen. She is an incredible woman and her fight has inspired so many.

That said (and a deep breath taken), here are my corny miracles…

• Mary’s Boy Child performed by Boney M, a West German disco group made up of two Jamaicans, a Montserratian, and an Aruban. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m thankful it did. On initial listening, this is the worst song ever made. On the 400th listening, it’s the best song ever made. Of course, I thought that before seeing the video, which is a Christmas miracle! It’s disco-tastic and I love it. This bad day-buster will keep my ass shimmying long after the tree is put away.

Mmmm....butt rolls, er, potato rolls, I mean.

• Successful rolls. Earlier this week, I made the traditional family potato rolls, which I have a history of ruining. (My dad still talks about the hockey pucks I made a decade ago.) While they are not nearly as good as my grandma’s, they are edible. It’s a Christmas miracle! They’re a bit smaller than they should be and the butt-shape is not as well-defined as the rolls my grandma makes, but they turned out okay. I’ll keep practicing; they’re delicious.

• The resilience of Floofy White Cat. In spite of rain, freezing temperatures, windstorms, and apparent homelessness, Floofy White Cat, the stray that roams my neighborhood, is alive and well. It’s a Christmas miracle! I really look forward to seeing him on my pre-dawn walks with the dogs. It’s rare that the boys see him (their focus is limited to things less than a foot in front of their faces), but I’m always scanning for him. Usually, he’s strolling around. Other times, he’s resting on a random doormat or sitting calmly and coolly atop a fence or trash bin. Nothing fazes this guy (or girl). I respect that.

This list may grow as I think of more. In the meantime, what are your Christmas miracles so far this year?

The perfect man…Yukon Cornelius

Yukon Cornelius

Digging out my Yukon Cornelius collection this weekend (part of the holiday decor at my house), I realized I might be  in love with the wily prospector from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But, frankly, why shouldn’t I be? He may be the perfect man.

Consider the following:

• The beard. It’s thick. It’s floofy. It may contain a live ferret. But, Yukon’s beard is perfection. The wavy mustache only adds to its allure.

• He’s motivated. No one works harder than Yukon Cornelius. He aims to find silver and gold, and he won’t rest until he finds it, even if that means inching towards the North Pole and facing giant, pasty wookies. Mush!

• He’s independent. All he needs is a pickax and a team of sled dogs. Seriously. That’s all he needs.

• He’s brave. Size and superior hairiness mean nothing to Yukon. He takes on any opponent and defends his friends.

• He likes peanut butter and despises pea soup. So do I!

• He’s smart. Of all the characters, Yukon is the one you can count on for a winning plan. He even says, “We’ll have to outwit the fiend with our superior intelligence.” Nice vocabulary for a humble prospector. Plus, he knows two important things about Bumbles…they sink and they bounce.

• He values ability over breeding. His sled dog team includes a Cocker spaniel, poodle, Saint Bernard, collie, and a dachshund.

I rest my case.

Scroogin’ through Christmas, ready for a new year

Today is Dec. 10 and I haven’t done anything for the holidays. I have no tree. I’ve strung not one light. I’ve sent not a single card. Rather than motivating me to get my ass in gear, my awareness of the ticking clock is only making me dig my heels in more.

I'm not the only one prepared to ignore Christmas.

So, I’m ignoring Christmas for now and focusing my thoughts on next year. I’d really like to have a much better year. I think I flap my gums a lot about what I’d like to accomplish, then get discouraged when I realize how much work is involved in making sweeping life changes all by myself. After all, just keeping up with my dogs, dishes, and laundry feels pretty daunting already. Factor in a nasty flare-up of depression and a looming knee surgery, and it’s a miracle I accomplish as much as I do. Throwing in additional effort to comb my hair, improve my wardrobe, and stop eating like a cranky teenager feels like more work than I can manage on my own.

But, I’m only getting older and uglier, and another year will be gone before I know it. I really should get cracking on this stuff now, right? Right. I already feel like I’ve wasted every year since I was 26, so maybe it’s time to start getting it right. I hardly know who I am anymore. I used to be much braver. Maybe it’s time to try and cultivate a little of that now.

What are you planning for the new year? How do you get motivated to change? What major changes have you made in the past? How did you finally make it happen? I think I need all the insight I can get!

In the meantime, I’ll work on putting together a Christmas post. Really.

Snow Dog Sunday

We made it out to the wilderness on Sunday and were surprised to find quite a bit of snow.

It was an overcast day, cold and very windy. With my t-shirt and windbreaker, I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the weather, but we muscled through for a couple of hours. The view was incredible and I found a cougar stick, which mostly kept Barley from eating his weight in elk poop.

On the way back to the car, I saw a fox and nearly had a heart attack. It was dark and had the fluffiest tail. Mostly, though, we saw gorgeous views, lovely trees, and lots of snow. A perfect outing.

(FYI, I wore my North Face trail runners and, in spite of some fairly deep snow in places, my toes stayed perfectly dry. A miracle!)

It’s a sign…literally

Hmmm...could this be my destiny?

While traveling down to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I stopped for gas, a muffin, and a cup of coffee. I wasn’t even out of the state yet, my knee was aching, and I’d already spent more than an hour slipping around in icy, rainy, snowy muck on the highway. The Christmas music had long faded and the glimmer of Portland radio was still a ways away.

When in doubt, muffin.

Next to the gas station, I saw this sign. The Haines U-Cut Noble Fir Farm. Oh, if only it were true! I want to be the Noble Fir Farm Haines, the one who tucks faded jeans into huge rubber boots while she trims and shapes the nobles, readying her farm for an influx of holiday tree-cutters the day after Thanksgiving.

If it were my tree farm, there would be a gift shop with canned, homemade cranberry sauce and jam in cute jars, and little owls on all the signs. Barley and Dougal would have christened all the trees on the farm, giving them each at least one good wee. I’d make wreaths and garlands, and sell the woodchips. And maybe some pumpkin bread.

But, if I had a tree farm, why would I stop at trees? I’d finally have my highland cow, my guinea rooster, and my sheep named Travis. Maybe I’d even have a pig. And a goat. It’s a good dream.

I always get moony-eyed this time of year. I wish for big things and different lives, and feel sad for the different lives I’ve had and lost, and wish I could get back. Sometimes, the holidays just make me feel old and far away. I wonder if the Noble Fir Farm Haines ever feels that way. I like to imagine she doesn’t. I like to imagine she’s exactly where she wants to be…and that she’s eating a muffin.