Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Part 3

I am thankful for:
  1. Wildlife. It is amazing how much wildlife we see even in the middle of Austin. Our apartments are on the Barton Creek greenbelt so I’ve seen raccoons, a coyote, a coral snake, and a possum.
  2. Volunteer Opportunities. I have been so rewarded by volunteering walking shelter dogs and mentoring. Both can be a challenge, but are worth it. Dog shelters are incredibly smelly and loud places (no matter how well run) and the dogs can be unpredictable. Mentoring kids from various backgrounds is hard because it is difficult to measure progress and sometimes the kids seem indifferent. Both are worth it!
  3. A Supportive Spouse. It is amazing to have a spouse that is positive. I believe everything works out as it should, but sometimes it helps to have someone remind you.
  4. Pasta. I love Italian food and there is nothing quite so wonderful as homemade pasta and pasta sauce.
  5. Air Travel. I have some flight anxiety (mainly related to inclement weather while flying).  However, without air travel my opportunities would be greatly diminished. Plus seeing the earth from the air is a map maker’s dream come true!
  6. Abundance. I have never lacked anything in my life. I’ve always had choices of food and clothes. I’ve always had access to medical care. I’ve always had a nice clean, safe place to live. I am blessed.
  7. Scotch. A good single malt scotch is a pleasure to enjoy on a cold winter night (I hardly touch it during the warmer months). While I have not noticed striking differences between a good $15 bottle of wine and the pricier bottles, quality aged scotch is worth the money.
  8. Air Conditioning. I think most businesses could stand to run the AC much less or at a higher temperature, but I would not want to do without air conditioning during Texas summers. During the day I could tolerate it, but it is so hard to get a good night’s rest when you are hot and sticky.
  9. Visual media. I am going to lump photography, art, and film all together in this category. These arts enrich my life in many ways. Visual media can be inspiring, thought provoking, beautiful, or just plain entertaining. Through visual media I have gained knowledge and insight that the written word alone could never convey.
  10. Coffee. A cup of coffee in the morning is a great way to start the day. I prefer black, unflavored, medium to dark roast (half decaf/half caffeinated).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cat Harness

Yesterday I bought a cat harness. Why would I buy a cat harness? First off, I've heard they are useful for car trips with your cat. Secondly, my cat has seemed interested in going outside and he really doesn't get as much exercise in the small apartment as he did running around the house.

He was not thrilled with the harness being on at first, but he got used to it quickly. We went out for a brief test walk. He sniffed around some in a grassy area and walked along a rock ledge.

I was most surprised that he was willing to walk up the stairs of his own volition (especially since they are open stairs). He remembered where our apartment was and how to get back and bounded right up the stairs to our door.

So far, I'm pleased. Here is a link to the manufacturer website: I picked mine up at Target for $7, but they only had medium size. I had to cut and re-sew the body harness because it was a bit too tight due to the material looped through the adjusters. It is nylon so I was able to seal the cut with a lighter to prevent fraying and I used heavy duty fishing rod thread which seemed to work well. PetCo also sells them, but they also only carry medium size in stores.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Part 2

I am thankful for:

  1. An awesome job. I love my job. I love my co-workers. It took me awhile to realize not everyone loves what they do. If you don't love what you do, find something else. There is something out there that everyone loves to do and that will make you enough money to live comfortably.
  2. Access to great music. Between YouTube, what I own, and Pandora, I have enough amazing music to enjoy for a lifetime. Plus it is exciting to think what new musicians and types of music will emerge in the future.
  3. Opportunities. I am surrounded by myriad opportunities to learn new things and try new things. The internet is a great tool to seek out these opportunities and learn things for free.
  4. Family. I do not have the closest knit family, but they are all special in their own way. I also get along with all of them. I had a conversation about fighting with parents at work recently and could not recall fighting with mine since they were making me learn my multiplication tables in 2nd grade. Perhaps I did and have forgotten, but we certainly haven't fought since I've been an adult. All my family has the foresight to let other parts of the family live their own life without trying to dictate their ideas and beliefs.
  5. Pets. Pets bring life into a home. I can not imagine living in a home without them. I've been without a pet for awhile when our dog passed away and when my previous cat moved in with the neighbors. Coming home to a house without a pet seems a little lonely. All my pets have always greeted me at the door which makes a pleasant welcome home.
  6. Pork. I love food in general, but roasted pulled pork, carnitas, and bacon are near the top of my list. So are duck, goat, and venison. We eat a fair amount of vegetarian dishes which I enjoy, but nothing beats a well prepared meat dish.
  7. Wine. Along with those delicious fatty meats you need some wine. A glass of wine with dinner is a great way to end the day. Red wine has a lot of health benefits and it makes every meal a little more civilized. We even take wine camping (and yes they make decent wines in collapsible bags specifically for backpacking - perhaps the best discovery at the Amtrak station/farmer's market in Tuscon).
  8. Good health. I love biking to work and being active outdoors. I thank God I have always been healthy enough to enjoy outdoor activities.
  9. Washers and Dryers. Most modern conveniences I could live without, but the automatic washer and dryer are not one of them. Occasionally I have had to wash a few clothes by hand. It is a pain and very hard to get them thoroughly rinsed and not stiff when dry.
  10. Travel options. I have personally met people who have not traveled more than 50 miles from their home. I can not even imagine such limitations. My parents sacrificed to pay to send me to Australia and New Zealand when I was in high school. Since then I have traveled to 7 other countries and around our own country a fair bit.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Part 1

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the food! I love seeing family I don't see very often. I love thinking about what I have to be thankful for.

Even as a kid I liked Thanksgiving better than Christmas. My mom and I rode the train from Kansas to Illinois every year at Thanksgiving to visit her mom. To this day train travel is my all time favorite mode of travel. I love traveling by trains, watching trains, the sound of trains, the rocking motion of trains. Also, my mom's mom cooks every bit as good as my mom and I loved everything she made. I loved visiting a small town and being able to walk from one end of town to the other.

When I got married, we went to my brother-in-law's house for a few years to celebrate. One year we didn't celebrate with family (I can't remember the circumstances) and instead ate turkey sandwiches while kayaking around Canyon Lake. It was windy and chilly, but we were the only ones out on the whole silent lake so it was a special memory.

After we bought a house, we hosted Thanksgiving for several years. I loved all the cooking and having everyone over. I loved having my in-laws stay for several days after and eating delicious leftovers for days in a row.

We recently sold the house, so things will be different now. Regardless of where we celebrate, I think this will always remain my favorite holiday. I love to eat and especially love all the traditional foods. I also love the attitude of thankfulness. I think that is why Christmas never wins out for me. Thanksgiving is just about eating well and being content with your life and family, whereas Christmas is laden with so many other obligations. The older I get, the more I try to make Christmas like Thanksgiving. Nothing you can buy can make you as happy as what you already have.

This month I will post things I am thankful for.