Where are you from?

Today someone asked me the simple question, “Where are you from?” Every time someone asks me that question I get confused and I don’t know how to answer. So the questioner went deeper, “Where were you born?” “Wisconsin.” “Well, where did you grow up.” “Um, define grow up…”

Baby Katie with parents (in Wisconsin?)

No, I’m not a military kid, I’m a professor’s kid. We moved as my dad changed jobs. The confusing question for me is where did I grow up. I spent ages 4-14 in Alaska, but 14-21 in Kentucky. So where did I grow up?

My family with our dog, Traveler, in Alaska
Alaska in many ways feels like home. My formative years were there. I got my first driver’s permit there and it’s just cooler (literally and figuratively) to be from Alaska than from Kentucky. It took me two years in Kentucky to stop saying I was from Alaska, but I still felt torn. Now, it generally depends on the occasion whether I say I have ties to Alaska, but I rarely say I’m “from” there.

Family picture in Kentucky

Spending only seven years in Kentucky, however, doesn’t make me feel justified in saying I’m from there either. I usually go with the line “my parents are in Kentucky,” when asked why I’m heading there. Being from there leads to a conversation about why I don’t have a drawl or about basketball (about which I know almost nothing…)
At the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 2007. It was about -30F.

Now, thankfully, I can use the line, I’m from Minnesota. It’s a line which is, at least temporarily true. (This also leads to the realization that I have spent 17 years of my life at or above 43 degrees North latitude, so from now on that’s the line I’m using 🙂 )
I’ve never felt like I’ve been without a homebase, because my parents have always worked hard to make where ever we lived be home. It’s only when I get asked “where are you from?” that I get flummoxed. I’ve been yearning for Alaska today because my hometown ‘hood, as it were, made the NYTimes travel section. I’ll write about that tomorrow, but it brought up some intense homesickness and longing for home. While I know that Alaska isn’t my home anymore, seeing the pictures and hearing the stories made me remember a time when it was. And that makes me smile.

Board Game Goodness

This may be a short post because I burned my right thumb while on a cooking spree this evening. It was not the spree that burned me so much as it was a misplaced hot pad. Whoops. Luckily it has lessened my appetite for the chouquettes that lie on my counter. But more on
them in a later post when I actually fill them with pastry cream or other goodness.
Today I was at lunch with some folks from church. It was our 20s/30s/40s group which is not a singles group, but a group for people in their 20s/30s/40s. It used to be for people in their 20
s & 30s, but then one of the mainstays turned forty, so they extended their reach. For such a wide age range in such a large church (700 people on a given Sunday) it is a small group. We had 5 for brunch today. ANYWAYS. At brunch the topic of cranium night came up, as
in, “Katie should make red velvet cupcakes in the shape of brains for cranium night” and then the three people who didn’t know me asked if I played games. Which amused me. I then tried to explain the plethora of games I have at my house. Then they asked if I was a geek. I laughed.

Big pile o’ games and miscelany on the floor. This is the “popular” pile. If this were high school, these would be the first games asked to the prom. They would definitely wear letter jackets, even when it was 90 degrees out. They are THAT cool.
So here’s a list of all the games that I could find in the condo. (I’ll star those that I have not personally played.)
  • Carcassonne – Build a monestary. Farm. Rob. Knight. Screw up other people’s cities.
  • Carcassonne Inns & Cathedrals – The above but with cathedrals!
  • Settlers of Catan – Make Ben lose. Put the robber on his best tile. Ruin his road.
  • Settlers of Catan (Collector’s 3D edition) – Admire the pretty pieces.

This is the 3D edition of Catan. In the fancy chest. But you can only play with four players, so we never use it. But it sits on the shelf and is pretty. It is VERY good at that.
  • Starfarers of Catan – Curse the broken rocketship.
  • Settlers of the Stone Age – Try to figure out how in the world this is related to Settlers of Catan.
  • Settlers of Catan Card Game* – Play Catan, but with fewer pieces.
  • Catan Traders & Barbarians – No memory of this.
  • Dominion – Get more cards. Shuffle. Play cards. Get cards. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. Loose.
  • Agricola – Plant stuff and buy animals. Before the other players do. Otherwise you starve to death (not in real life though).
  • Eurorails – Build trains and carry stuff across Europe. Make money.
  • Robo Rally – Program robots. Realize you don’t know left from right. Get shot. Fall in Pits. Repeat.
  • Xactica – Lots of colors and numbers and betting, but without money. Play with someone who already knows how to play, cause it’s impossible to explain. (By the makers of set.)
  • Corsari – The PIRATE game! 12 colors, but it only looks like 8, especially if you have bad lightening or eyesight. Make the best fleet before anyone else can and set sail.

Ignore the large stack of casette tapes on the right. They stack well with boxes of playing cards.
  • Chez Geek – Played once. Thought it was stupid. You can be a slacker. That’s all I remember.
  • Unexploded Cow – I assume the goal is to not explode the cow. But I forget 🙁
  • Set (x 2) – Any trait has to match every card or be different on every card. Then it’s a set (if there are three). Yell set and grab them.
  • Zar – Uno on crack. Especially if you play with two decks. Which you should.
  • Uno – Who doesn’t know uno?
  • Fluxx – A game where the goal of the game changes. Like the goal could be to have the milk card and the cookie card. Then it’s to have the love card and the peace card.
  • Scrabble – Again, who doesn’t know Scrabble?
  • Friends – Scene It? * – I’m guessing this is some sort of game where you put in a dvd and then have to answer questions about clips from the tv show friends.
  • and at least 6 decks of playing cards – WAR. Spoons. Egyptian Rat Screw. So many choices here. If you want to be classier there’s also cribbage, bridge, gin rummy, and many, many more.
Amusingly, the majority of these games take multiple hours to play and during an
y given 6 month period, there is general preference for one or two of them. Where one of the preferences is always for Robo Rally. So if people come over to play games they will want to play ____ or Robo Rally. Right now the popular choices are Dominion & Robo Rally. Dominion is the new favorite because a) it is new and b) it is short. Every once in a while someone will suggest Agricola, because Agricola is also new, but, unlike Dominion, Agricola takes several hours, so it is always shouted down.
Contrary to popular belief the XO laptop is not infact a game. The “book” to the right of it is scrabble, and the book to the right of that is the large German manual to Settlers of Catan. I’ve never read it because it’s in German. And Ben and I don’t know German. But we have it, so if you come to vist and want to play Catan and know German, you can read ALL about the variations. The Atari Flashback 2 is also not a board game, but it was on the shelf and I was lazy.
So, if you come to visit and do not bring your own games, these are the choices you will have. Unless there has been games night between now and then and they have learned about a NEW game that is the new favorite that we must go out and buy immediately. In which case that would be the obvious choice to play. If you don’t like any of these choices I suggest you bring your own games. Or avoid the subject altogether and come armed with “topics of discussion.”