On snow – getting lost in it and getting over it

One of my primary justifications for moving away from Portland to the Midwest was the weather. I wanted four seasons, not the paltry one and a half (consistent rain and slightly less consistent rain with sporadic sunshine) offered in the Northwest. When I explained this to people, there was some scoffing. They, quite patronizingly I thought, warned me that it is cold, like really cold, in Chicago, and it snows, like really a lot. Well, I grew up in Montana, where the first frost comes in August, Halloween costumes have to accommodate parkas and snow boots (if you could come up with an idea that legitimately incorporated a turtleneck you were absolutely going to win best costume in the school Halloween parade), and you can ski in April. How much colder could Chicago be?

Like way colder. There are differences between the winters in Chicago and Montana. Chicago is humid and windy, so the cold works it way through your clothes, skin, and muscles right into your bones, while Montana is very dry so the cold just stings without eating away at your flesh. Also, I lived in a much smaller, cleaner town, so the snow didn’t take on the greyish-brown cast the snow in Chicago does. The most important difference though, is one that had never occurred to me until just a few days ago. When I lived in Montana, I was a kid. I didn’t have to get food or go to work in the snow. Instead, I got to play in the snow. In Portland, anything more than an inch of snow shuts the city down, but in Chicago, nothing shuts down for a mere six inches of snow. You still have to go to work. You still have get your own food and anything else you need – it’s just more dangerous.

Long story short, I’ve amended my view on snow. It’s lovely, but I don’t need to have it around regularly the way I thought I did. Before I moved to Chicago, I thought a real winter was a reason to move somewhere, but now I know that, if anything, it’s a reason to move away from somewhere.

P.S. The best part about my half-baked love of winter, is that Chicago and Portland both had their first snow in the same week. Now Portland’s first snow will probably also be it’s last, while Chicago still has a good three months of winter left in it. But still, it’s a little ironic.

1/16/2012 = Fun times in Portland

1/12/2012 = Dirty snow in Chicago

P.P.S. Alison, De wanted me to let you know that we were wrong – Chicago’s weather is worse than Portland’s. I’m pretty sure you were just being nice and supporting my wing nut weather dreams, and I appreciate it, but we can give up the fight now. Portland wins the weather contest by being marginally less bad, but significantly more livable than Chicago.


Our new roommate

I think most of you, dear readers, have lived with me or John or both of us at some point, so you know more or less what we do with our days. Basically, we stay at home a lot, and we do our fair share of watching tv and movies. So in some ways, moving to Chicago and living with John’s grandmother hasn’t changed our lives much. We spend a lot (I mean a lot) of time at home, and we still spend quite a bit of time parked in front of a screen. Other things have changed though; for instance, we don’t watch many shows made in the last thirty years. I’ve become a discerning fan of vintage television: M.A.S.H. and Cheers are reliable classics, The Odd Couple holds up pretty well, and Taxi is bearable if there is nothing else on, but All in the Family is utterly unwatchable. Unfortunately it’s the one show that John’s grandmother actually enjoys watching. I mean, she thinks it is laugh out loud funny. That could be because she’s hard of hearing, and it’s the only show where at least half of all the jokes are screamed instead of spoken.

John was once famous for sleeping away the morning, now he wakes up each morning no later than six thirty. You see, his grandmother likes to get up nice and early for breakfast so that she can be in the living room for a nine o’clock nap time. This means two things: John goes to bed early, sometimes earlier than me, and sometimes, every once in a while, John does not get enough sleep, and he is just the tiniest bit grumpy. Now, I’ve actually got grumpy covered for this relationship, and we can’t really have both of us walking around grumbling and snapping and muttering. Fortunately, John is so rarely in a bad mood that when he is, I’m shocked into my best behavior.

We spend a lot of time with our new roommate, and really she’s a pretty good one. There are a lot of very interesting stories to share. She does all the dishes after every meal. She only gets mad about two things, linty lint traps on the dryer and hair in the shower drain, both pretty reasonable complaints. So what, if there are more occasions for storytelling than there are stories for telling, or that the dishes take sooooo loooooong, or that she puts her pants on backwards every once in a while. Really, who doesn’t put theit pants on backwards sometimes?

Our new roommate's style icon



Haaaappy New Year! I don’t generally make resolutions, but I am this year. They are more numerous and longer than I expected them to be. Sorry, dear, busy readers. If you do read this overly long and indulgent post you will be rewarded with my true opinion of Glee and a picture of my new hair cut. Here we go…

1.) Do not buy anymore yarn until I have knit through at least two thirds of my stash. I have much more than I could possibly use in a year thanks to a yarn buying compulsion and very generous friends and family, so I should be able to resist all yarn sales and other fibrous  temptations (except Fig Newtons) without once running out of things to knit with. Oh, and no more sewing patterns or fabric until I actually start sewing.

2.) Take advantage of living in Chicago. Yes, it may seem to be dirty, huge, and inhospitable, but it has plenty to offer. More museums than I really need, theaters all over the place, and a ton of neighborhoods to explore. I may feel daunted and unsettled in this massive city (lovely, pocket-sized Portland is much missed by this one-time unenthusiastic resident), but I’m going to be brave, buy a map, and get to know my new town.

3.) Blog once a week. I like writing, I like having a (mainly one-sided) conversation with people I don’t get to see anymore, and abandoned blogs are so sad. I also hope that giving myself a number will keep me from feeling bad each day I don’t blog, but for that to work I’ll have to remember that blogs are for fun not for serious. You’ll all still like me if I don’t blog. You might even like me more.

4.) Be patient with myself. I need a lot of sleep. I am not a multitasker. I have a quick temper and several other emotions that at times seem to be only loosely connected to what is actually happening in my life. I don’t learn things instantly and with perfect recall. I often prefer being at home rather than out in the world experiencing things. Sometimes I just have to sit and stare instead of accomplishing very important accomplishments. These are all things that I don’t like about myself and  try to change or refuse to accept, but when I am too hard on myself, I don’t improve faster, I just get tired.

5.) Be patient with other people. Everyone has their own deal. Whether they’re the buttface who doesn’t signal before turning or the idiot who won’t stop asking me the same crazy questions over and over, they are not trying to make my day miserable, they are just trying to get through their own day – a day that might be difficult in ways that I know nothing about. When I’m too hard on other people, I just get angry and tired.

6.) BUT when patience fails or is not deserved, don’t shy away from confronting the dumb dumb who is making me feel bad. I’m twenty-five for pete’s sake, I won’t be afraid of letting people know when they are hurting my feelings or getting in my way. I have first hand experience in the pitfalls of being indirect and passive, and it involves a lot of festering and confusion. Sheesh, I’m confused and festered enough as it is.

7.) Share a picture of my new haircut.


That was an was an easy one.

8.) Don’t watch so much TV. Originally I was going to say don’t watch any TV, but that’s just crazy. TV is so good. (Did you know that there is going to be new episodes of 30 Rock and Downton Abbey? January has never looked so bright.) Nothing goes better with knitting than TV, and as I mentioned before, I have a lot of knitting to do. But you can have too much of a good thing, and so can I. So, I’m going to try not to watch TV while I do other things, like cooking, sewing, applying for jobs, and blogging; and I’m going to try not to watch shows that I don’t really like just because I want to watch something. Glee, I’m looking at you. You auto-tuned the fun right out or your musical numbers, plus I don’t know any of the songs you use anymore, and too many of the teenage characters are spoiled rotten, sex crazed sociopaths with non-existent parents. Although I appreciate that you treat hot button issues like coming out and being out in high school, teenage pregnancy, bullying, and drinking, the way you treat them is unrealistic and cloying, and you seriously lack strong, sane female characters. My new motto is, “If Glee is the only thing to watch, turn it off!”

9.) And finally, relax. 2011 was a crazy year involving two moves, three jobs, one incredibly stressful research project, one graduation, and too many moments that I just couldn’t handle, and I don’t ever make it any easier on myself. I would love it if 2012 was a calmer year, but it probably won’t be, so I’ll have to be the calm one. Hopefully most of the resolutions above will help with that, but I’m also going to stop trying to control everything and focus on the things that I can control, stop second guessing myself, don’t worry about how an experience could be better and just enjoy what is happening right in front of me, and don’t give myself ultimatums and unreasonable expectations.


Did you make resolutions?


Merry Christmas!

Hi friends! I know I haven’t been writing much (truthfully I haven’t been doing much of anything – I’m starting to wonder if I have a very mild case of mono), but I have been thinking of you all a lot. Chicago has insisted on not snowing  despite my prayer, and Boise has come through with it’s traditional grey-brown Christmas. All of this non-weather makes Portland’s damp but green holiday scene seem oh so festive. Not having a white Christmas (even though I am not in Chicago for Christmas) really defeats the purpose of moving far, far away to a town famous for snowy winters. At least we still have corrupt public officials and Polish food.


Reliably meaty.


Reliably slimy. And fluffy.


But I’m getting off track. What I really want to say is Merry Christmas! I hope everyone’s holiday is bright, warm, green, and Portland-y.





A short prayer

Get going thou fluffy

bastard, and pile up thine self on twigs

and things. Art we in Florida or Norway,

for God sakes? Amen.

– Paul Child

Is this really too much to ask for?

Amen. I’m not usually a fan of poetry, but I always enjoy an frustrated appeal to the weather. Especially when it’s so funny.*

And the blog is not dead. I never want to let it be said that when Cameron Giese quits things she does it half heartedly. When I say I won’t be writing a blog entry everyday, I mean it, but I didn’t mean to stop all the way. Since last time, I have started and quit a new job that was just exhausting. Now that I’m marginally employed once again, I should have more time for resting and blogging. Yay.

I hope you are all having better luck with snow – whatever that means to you.

*I found this poem – well really it’s just part of a poem – in a biography of Julia Child by Noël Riley Fitch. She and her husband, Paul, had such fascinating lives. I recommend the book for reading, and I nominate Julia and Paul as must-have guests at those “anyone in history” dinner parties we all throw sometimes. Not only will they keep the conversation flowing, but Julia could cook!


I am a delicate flower

And I know when to admit defeat. NaNoBloPoMo (or whatever you’re called), you win. I officially fail. I cannot post a blog post everyday. I’m busy with things that are not fun to write about – unless you all want to hear about changing banks, buying black socks, and spending hours online trying to figure out how to get somewhere. No? Me neither. These things are no fun.

As I mentioned above, I am a delicate flower, so it’s sort of miracle I can type at all, much less write blog posts.

See? No fingers. It makes typing almost impossible and completely exhausting.

Posts will resume at a more humane, I mean botanical, pace. This is good news for you all as well because I was going to have to post about some ridiculous stuff.


One soggy day

John hoping there wouldn't be a repeat of the 25' waves that closed this very bike path about a month ago

So, many moons ago, John and I finally (after almost a whole month of waiting – I know that doesn’t sound long but there were jellyfish involved) were able to check out a pass to Shedd Aquarium from the library (yay for Chicago Public Libraries!) (I’ve heard that Portland has a similar program, but I could never find the passes, and Chicago’s museums are more exciting that Portland’s) (This is the last of the gratuitous parenthesis, I promise). If you want to see more than just the main hall of the aquarium, it’ll cost you about about $70 for two people, so you can see why the pass was such an important part of this outing. Unfortunately, the pass only covers admission to the main hall, so we still spent about $55, and we didn’t even see the shows with the dolphins and belugas. I wouldn’t pay that much to go again, although I could see spending the $8 on basic admission, if I needed a hit of aquatic animals. Once we got over the sticker shock, it was pretty fun.

Nope, no Dunkin' Donuts over there either

We took the long way into the aquarium because I wanted to see Lake Michigan. It’s pretty much how a remembered it. Very wet. Then we got down to business. Which it turns out was also very wet.


Jellyfish are basically self-propelling digestive tracks


These were the cutest.

More jellyfish - who knew they were so photogenic?

John with jellyfish

I know we took lots of other pictures – of little tiny frogs, a river otter, dolphins, gross eels, and one crazy tank jam packed with animals from a Caribbean reef. There were hundreds of fish and amphibious things in one humongous tank in the middle of the aquarium – including manta rays and hammerhead sharks (which I think would be an excellent nickname for me (I know I said no more gratuitous parenthesis, but I believe these were strictly necessary)). These animals just swim round and round the tank all day. It was amazing, and some how not sad in the way that zoos are sad. Maybe I only feel sympathy for animals that look like they would be fun to touch. Although jellyfish look like they would be fun to touch, and I feel no sympathy for them. But they don’t feel anything, so whose hardhearted here? How could something so squishy be hardhearted? The world is full of mysteries.