NEW MOM!!!

Well, it’s been awhile but I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious to you. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. In fact, I have some really exciting news…. I’M A MOM!!

Eleanor, my beautiful baby girl was born in March. And in retrospect I’m really sad that I didn’t write about the whole process. WOW what a trip its been! I have learned so much.  I’m not quite sure where to begin – trying to process the strange notion that you have another human inside of you, watching your body change in ways you never would have thought possible, when the contractions start the realization that you’re just going to have to grin and bear it until the epidural arrives, to meeting your new little human for the first time. It’s been almost three months since she’s was born and looking back it has all just slipped by so fast – probably in part due to the fact that for the first month she only slept for 1 to 3 hours at a time and it all seemed like one really long day. Which reminds me… I have a bone to pick with everyone that offered me advice when I was pregnant. They all said “sleep now while you can” or “once she’s born sleep when she sleeps”. My mental response to this was “No problem! I did grad school. I know how to go with out sleep.” Well, what they all failed to mention is that IT DOES NOT STOP. What I mean is, during grad school you might need to pull a couple of all nighters but at one point you can crash. And you can crash free and clear of any sense of continued responsibility (for the most part) – you had done what you needed to do. With a little one your job is never done. You’re not free and clear and I don’t think as a parent I ever will be again. This might be the biggest mental shift I’ve had to go through. As a woman that is having her first child later in life, I’m so use to being responsible for only myself. My life has been about me. That’s just a fact. Sure, I have friends and family that need me from time to time but I am not responsible for them. There is a small sense of loss that comes with knowing I will never be unburdened again in that way. But with this tiny sense of loss has come a huge sense of overwhelming love and I have never felt so fulfilled before. She has brought so much joy into my life. Eleanor is magical.

I have fallen in love with this little girl.

I have fallen in love with this little girl.

Consolation Prize

A while ago I got the brilliant idea to create a bookshelf out of wood from pallets. I saw some hipster post about ‘reuse and recycle’ with tons of pretty pictures of all the creative things you can make out of pallets. And, don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s a wonderful idea and one day I may still embark on this adventure. However, due to my current situation there were some fatal flaws in this master plan, which are: 1) I live in a studio apartment, 2) I own a ford focus, 3) I don’t really have any tools, 5) I suck at hammering and 4) (did I mention) I live in a studio apartment! You may be asking yourself - Weren’t these things you considered before you decided to start this project? Why yes, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me! That’s what I thought. Let’s start with bringing the pallets home, shall we? So, finding the pallets weren’t a problem, but finding ones that fit into the trunk of my car was. After searching all over town I was lucky if I found one that would fit. OK no problem, one pallet every few days, that’s fine. I wasn’t in a hurry. Once I got one home I then had to take it apart. I watched a YouTube video on how to do this using boards to pry the pieces apart. No hammering, sounded good to me (remember I live in an apartment complex – too much noise is not a good thing). I successfully reduced the most beautiful pallet I’ve ever seen down to just 3 pieces of usable wood. I wasn’t in a hurry but at that rate I’d be dead before I had enough wood for a nightstand let alone the massive array of bookshelves my heart desired. So, hammering it was. Once I got a few pallets taken apart I realized that they were all different sizes. Which would have been fine if I had had the space to store them and then jigsaw puzzle them together but I didn’t. My plan relied on me building as I went along, so I started cutting them down to size…. with the weakest handsaw in the world. My life was passing me by right before my eyes. After weeks of struggling, bound and determined to win, the realization of my unrealistic expectations set in and I admitted defeat. I gathered the small amount of wood I had been able to collect, nailed it together, sanded and stained it. And voila!! My consolation bench to match my re-holstered chair. I don’t like admitting defeat but this time I was bested by my unrealistic expectations.

Stool.jpg

Goal # 111 – 145 Northern California Hikes

I once read an inspirational article, the gist of which was to create a list of 101 goals to help you achieve more in life. Sounds good, right? So, that’s what I did. It was actually MUCH harder than I thought it would be. Coming up with 101 different things that were worthy of being a goal was tough! However, as time went on I found myself adding to that list and (as you might have gathered from the title of this post) have now added to the original 101 goals list. It just continues to grow!  I have just completed my 40th hike and thought I’d share this goal with everyone. When I first moved to the Bay Area and started exploring North Cal I was in awe at how rugged and beautiful it can be here. It inspired me to want to explore more. So, I bought 2 hiking books – one specific to the bay area and the other more general to North Cal. In total, the two books listed 145 hikes. I decided that walking all 145 hikes would be a wonderful thing to add to the list. Achieving this goal would mean time outside in the fresh air, seeing places I normally would never go see and I would be getting some much-needed exercise!  Well, I have now done 40 of the 145 hikes and let me tell you it hasn’t been easy. It has not really been the hikes that have been the problem (although some have been much more difficult than others. Some are easy, ranging from less than a mile up to more challenging trails of 16 miles. The biggest problem would be not having done adequate research first. I found trails that had been closed due to fires, hiked miles up a mountain to find the trail deeply covered in snow, coastal trails totally covered with tide waters and, more importantly, running out of water and finding myself having to drink from the local stream. A rooky mistake I know! But in my defense I thought there would be water available at the trail head only to find out that the campground was closed and therefore the water was shut off. After driving HOURS to get there I didn’t want to turn around so I tried anyway, failed, and that is when I ended up drinking water from a stream…yeah, that was fun later. Its definitely been a learning curve.  Well, I’ll keep you posted on how the next 105 go.

I once read an inspirational article, the gist of which was to create a list of 101 goals to help you achieve more in life. Sounds good, right? So, that’s what I did. It was actually MUCH harder than I thought it would be. Coming up with 101 different things that were worthy of being a goal was tough! However, as time went on I found myself adding to that list and (as you might have gathered from the title of this post) have now added to the original 101 goals list. It just continues to grow!

I have just completed my 40th hike and thought I’d share this goal with everyone. When I first moved to the Bay Area and started exploring North Cal I was in awe at how rugged and beautiful it can be here. It inspired me to want to explore more. So, I bought 2 hiking books – one specific to the bay area and the other more general to North Cal. In total, the two books listed 145 hikes. I decided that walking all 145 hikes would be a wonderful thing to add to the list. Achieving this goal would mean time outside in the fresh air, seeing places I normally would never go see and I would be getting some much-needed exercise!

Well, I have now done 40 of the 145 hikes and let me tell you it hasn’t been easy. It has not really been the hikes that have been the problem (although some have been much more difficult than others. Some are easy, ranging from less than a mile up to more challenging trails of 16 miles. The biggest problem would be not having done adequate research first. I found trails that had been closed due to fires, hiked miles up a mountain to find the trail deeply covered in snow, coastal trails totally covered with tide waters and, more importantly, running out of water and finding myself having to drink from the local stream. A rooky mistake I know! But in my defense I thought there would be water available at the trail head only to find out that the campground was closed and therefore the water was shut off. After driving HOURS to get there I didn’t want to turn around so I tried anyway, failed, and that is when I ended up drinking water from a stream…yeah, that was fun later. Its definitely been a learning curve.

Well, I’ll keep you posted on how the next 105 go.

The Making of a Big Comfy Reading Chair

So, I wanted a big comfy reading chair but I didn’t want to buy one…. spoiler alert, it is definitely NOT easier nor cheaper to refurbish an old chair! After hours of watching YouTube videos (the end all and be all of how-to’s) I decided I was ready to embark on an adventure and re-upholster that old chair. After all how hard can it be? In retrospect I should have contemplated my response to that question just a little bit more. It all started easy enough – find all the staples and pull them out. All right, I can totally do that. Armed with a screwdriver and pair of needle nose pliers by the end of the day I had just a few springs attached to a wooden frame. Then began the process of slowly rebuilding and reinventing the space around the chair, which mainly consisted of pulling and then stapling fabric over padding to that wooden frame. Surprisingly enough, I did manage to complete the project without stapling myself to it. However, somehow - and the mechanism by which is completely unfathomable to me -  staples have somehow found there way into my carpet and embedded themselves there. Seriously, they’re everywhere. I hate shoes and go barefoot whenever possible, however I am now contemplating slippers due to the omnipresent tiny metal spears throughout my carpet. Most of the work wasn’t too bad, at least until I got to the arms, which I did last with the exception of the back of the chair. Here in lay my challenge. I wanted big comfy arms, something you could really snuggle up to but the existing infrastructure was … lacking. So, I sewed and I stuffed and then I did it all again. And well voilà! I successfully created the monster you now see in the pictures before you! I don’t think reupholstering is one of my innate skill sets.

Chair Before and After.jpg

My ideal place to write...or not?

When I think of my ideal place to write I think of somewhere quiet, somewhere with no phones and no Internet, somewhere I can’t be distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And no, turning off my phone doesn’t count because in my heart of hearts I know its still there, waiting for me, and that there is a new Netflix show that needs to be binge watched. However, I now know that I need to be more careful in the things that I ask for. The last two weeks I have had just that, no cell service and very limited Internet, the perfect situation for writing…or so I thought.

As it turns out being in the middle of one of the driest deserts in the world during the summer season (currently summer in South America) isn’t the idea location to work on finishing up the second book in the Language of the Dead series where a freezing cold winter just happens to be taking place. Apparently there are limits to even my imaginations!

For the last two weeks I was doing fieldwork in the Atacama Desert in Chile looking at the microbial ecosystems. If you’ve read my bio you’ll know that my day job is being a research scientist, which I love because it lets me do cool things like going to the Atacama Desert in Chile! But with only fieldwork to focus on I thought I’d have some time on my hands to get some more writing done. Well, I was right about that but underestimated the power of my environment. So sadly, I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be on the writing front but I did get to do some recreation reading. I finished three novels on the trip (reviews coming soon!).

Hot, Dry and Windy!

Hot, Dry and Windy!

Let's Get Started...

Well, I’ve been posting Lana’s story every Monday but I thought it might be nice to share on a more personal note. I’ve been reading some fantastic books lately and have a bit to say about them. Although I have to warn you, I’m a little all over the place with my reading habits but mainly I focus on fiction. I’m not so much into romance novels but to be fair I don’t think I’ve really given them a real go. Hmm… I’ve never really thought about it before but I guess when I daydream or let my imagination wander I envision crazy, wonderful adventures and heroic stories, not so much about that perfect love. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against men or relationships; in fact, I like them both very much. But to me, each relationship I have, be it with a family member, friend, or lover is exactly what it should be. I’m not saying they are perfect (I would have to be in a relationship with my clone for that to happen ;-) but I guess I just don’t feel the need to dream about what that perfect relationship would be. So, I’d have to say what I read falls in line with what I daydream about. Anyway, more to come soon!