back in 1948

Sometimes I like to go browse vintage sewing patterns.  It's entertaining, yes, but even more, I like to imagine my grandmother in the glamorous outfits.

Even though she grew up the daughter of a working-class Irish immigrant and I imagine fancy clothing was not something she enjoyed, I love imagining her strutting down the streets of Boston in an elegant suit.  Maybe she imagined it, too.

You may or may not be aware that I had the joy of wearing my grandmother's wedding gown for my own wedding.  Candlelight satin.  Long pointed sleeves.  Piping in two tiers around the skirt.  Beautiful.


can i hate the new neighbors before they even move in?

Ok, people.  I need some serious help.  Just yesterday, I was looking forward to having a young, newly married couple living right across the street.  Today, I am full of jealousy, hate, and insecurity.  And it's all because of windows.

Here's the deal.  Several months ago I was (ahem, not employed yet and) standing in front of my storm door talking on the phone with my mom.  I was spying on something unfolding at the house across the street.  There were two cop cars parked and a few of Richmond's Finest milling about the property.  I saw one go up to the house next door, and then one of them spied me and headed my way.  I got off the phone hastily and met the officer on the porch.  He started asking me questions about the guy who lived in that house, but unfortunately I was still pretty new to the area and didn't know anything about him, except that he rarely mowed his yard.  It seems that he had been missing from work for a couple of days and his coworkers were worried about him.  There was a lively conversation going on across the street between a cop and missing-man's next door neighbor, who apparently knew stuff.

Maybe 3 or 4 weeks later, a Dumpster (yes, it's capitalized) was parked out on the lawn and folks were going in and out, obviously doing some 'cleaning' - aka getting rid of all this guy's crap.  And he had a lot of it, and it was mostly old and junky, as best we could tell.  This went on for a couple of months, and then there was a lull.

But not for long!  Soon, new activity started up.  We had figured that the family had taken a break after cleaning it out, and were now fixing the place up to sell it.  This continued to be our assumption for several months.  I realized that we were seeing different people going in and out.  And on one particularly disturbing evening, there seemed a whole congregation of folks, mostly middle-aged, being led by the nose by this one girl in a pink shirt.  She appeared to be about my age, and she appeared to be throwing a tantrum.  A loud, whiney, stamping, door-slamming tantrum.  I wasn't sure what was going on, and I didn't really want to know, either.  I told Brian about the whiney pink-shirt girl later.

Mind you, there had not been a for sale sign at all appearing on this property.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we're in August, maybe.  Brian and Kyle and I are hanging out when I see the throng, again accompanied by Whiney Pink Shirt Girl, on much better behavior today (and, if I remember correctly, wearing a different pink shirt).  Apparently she is HOTT, though, so the guys refuse to believe my story about her previous episode.

Not too long after that, Brian and I were heading out somewhere.  By the time I'd made it to the car, Brian had struck up a conversation with a guy across the street, who had been working on the house.  From him, we learned a few things: he had bought it cheap and had spent the past 4 months fixing it up.  

To give to his daughter after her wedding.

Which is now-ish.

I tried not to hate the whole clan immediately.  Because really, we don't know the circumstances.  Maybe he bought it to fix it up and sell it to the newlyweds at-cost.  Maybe they all bought it together.  Maybe he's a super-hardworking guy who grew up on the streets and made something of himself and he's trying to take care of his children as best he can.  Maybe we misunderstood, and the couple actually bought it but he found it, and he's fixing it up.  

Whatever, all I could hear at the time was 'blah blah blah I'm giving my kid a house.'  And all I could think of was that tantrum I'd witnessed.  And how she probably doesn't deserve it nearly as much as Brian and I do.  And how she and the new hubs probably both have great jobs where they get paid more than I do for doing less work, whereas here we are, devoting ourselves and our youth to great causes for not-much payback and the economy is tanking and that even though we are very responsible with money, who knows when we'll be able to afford to furnish our rental home, let alone purchase one, and not to mention that they're DINK, riding on daddy's coattails coasting through the early years which by the way are supposed to be TOUGH.  No fair no fair no fair.

And then after a few days I got over it.  I have no idea what they're like or what they've been through or what they may go through in the future, and compared to many, my life is charmed, and I just needed to get over myself.

I even got to the point where I was no longer feeling the twinge of jealousy every time I left my house, and actually looking forward to having them move in and wondering what I might bake them.  Neighbors!  Yay!  Fun!

Until today.  When I got home and saw that their old windows had been replaced.  That, my friends, made me want to cry.  Because my windows are drafty and horribly inefficient in extreme weather, but painted shut at the top so as to prevent being able to enjoy mild weather.  (This also prevents being able to take a number of energy-saving measures, and may also prevent us from escaping, if there ever were a crisis during which we would need to exit via windows.)  I have spent more than a year agonizing over my windows and how much I hate them, and how much it sucks that my landlord is a well-paid bachelor who doesn't have to think twice about the cost of oil or rising electricity, so why the heck would he dump in a bunch of money in new windows just to satisfy the tenants? (PS, all in all my landlord is great.  It's just...NO, I don't want to split the costs with you of fixing up YOUR HOUSE.)

For some reason, this whole window thing is poking holes in my styrofoam cup of neighborly love. 


hawaii photos

I'd like to share some of my favorite photos from the trip.

Feel free to add your thoughts, comments, and/or crits.  I am an untrained 'chick with a camera' and some fantastic equipment that I don't know how to use yet.  I work mostly with a Nikon D50, a Sigma 72mm 28-200 lens, and (as of a day before the trip) a polarizer filter.  

Hawaii had lots of brightness, lots of haze, and lots of shadowing - three things I don't know how to overcome.  Take a peek at the best I could come up with!

North Shore

these little birds tickled my fancy.

I liked sitting under the coconut trees and looking up at all the textures and the contrast between the earthy greens/yellows and the wispy blues in the sky.

typical sunset shot.  I was desperately wishing for my tripod.

After clambering all over this outcropping for an hour or so, all my equipment was salty and foggy.  I almost like the haze, though.  The impurity makes it feel like a memory.

Playing with the new filter.

What struck me about this image once I uploaded it was how it looks like architecture.  That's a catamaran sail, by the way.

Showing off the sweet wide-angle lens here, not to mention the sweet scenery.  We snorkled in this cove.

Dear feds: we didn't see the signs because they were on the other end of the beach.  PS, this beach was by far the brightest environment I've ever tried to shoot.  Hotter than hot, visually burning up, even my eyesight was bleached out.

The water and the sand really looked like that.

This was taken before I really got the hang of the filter, but I still like it for some reason.

This outcropping was one of the coolest things we may ever experience in our lives.

Certainly one of the most evocative images I've ever taken...

What did you think?


hawaii review, part the 3

And now, for my last Hawaiian tale, I shall use few words: 

What's a little breakage of state AND federal laws for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? 

Yes, we are probably stupid and definitely ignorant.  In our defense, the 'don't go near the turtles' signs were posted 100 yards away at the other end of the beach - and 99 yards from the ENTRANCE to the beach.  So, a helpful suggestion to all those on the North Shore:  Put signs at beach entrances, not just the places where people are most likely to park themselves.  We aren't all kama'aina.


survival instinct

I recently saw a presentation given by Virginia's own Leland Melvin, a recent - and future - space explorer.  Leland was chosen in 1998 to be part of NASA's astronaut corps, and he went to the International Space Station earlier this year.  He'll be going back up next year.  I wasn't able to meet him because my patience, and that of my husband, wore thin before the throngs of enthusiasts and U of R Importantos did.

Seeing him was fascinating.  The stories he told, the zeal he had for the space program, and the real sense of the importance of space exploration that he was able to convey were all captivating and I'm really glad we got to see him.  He didn't set out to be an astronaut - actually, he was drafted to the NFL - but space is where he ended up, initially as a researcher and later as part of the space program itself.

I took Brian to the presentation because I know of his deep interest in All Things Space, not to mention my own affinity for learning of the planets and the solar system and whatnot.  It was great to revisit some of the awe I felt when I was younger, visiting the Kennedy Space Center, seeing the shuttle lift off, staring up at the night sky.  I did science projects on Jupiter, wrote a paper on the Great Read Spot, I made 'constellation viewers' from aluminum foil rubber-banded over a toilet paper roll and toothpicks to poke holes.  I found a way to incorporate the Hubble Telescope into a giant research paper about the history of photography.  I sweet-talked a receptionist at a research foundation to comp me a special limited edition day-planner with images from space.  One of the few things I splurged on this past winter when we had NO MONEY was a giant coffee table of space images...so who knows, maybe this live-and-in-person encounter will spin off into some sort of formal return to higher education for me, doing some continuing ed studies in astronomy and physics.  Yay science!

The thing that I'm coming away with, however, doesn't have much to do with NASA or the space shuttle.  I find myself ruminating on one thing that Melvin said, regarding the plans to retire the space shuttle program in 2010.  President Bush's vision and direction for NASA these past years has the ultimate goal of being able to live on the moon, and then on Mars, and then who knows.  Melvin said that this movement is important, in case something catastrophic were to happen on Earth, so that we could survive on other planets.

This notion of the importance of survival in the face of destruction of the planet has been niggling at me ever since the whole Large Haldron Collider (aka Big Bang Machine) kicked up a storm.  Why is it so important to us that we survive?  So what, if black holes open up and swallow the earth?  

If one person dies, there is a lasting impression.  People think of that person or even miss him/her.  There is some paperwork to be done, perhaps a ceremony to plan.  Some folks who are lucky enough to be loved, will be missed, and the absence will be felt.  Surprises, even scandals, may turn up in the wake of that death.  There are results.  There are consequences.  Life on earth is affected.

BUT, if we all die, then we are all dead.  We are gone.  Everything and anything that we ever did is gone.  No consequences, no results, no earth left to be affected.  Nothing.

Why does the idea of not existing bother us so much?  Or, to put it more specifically, why am I not bothered by the concept of the end of humanity? 


booking through thursday...

on some other day.

Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school - does the changing season change your reading habits?  Less time?  More?  Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?

My reading habits don't change according to the weather, per se.  They're more affected by changing circumstances, which may or may not have anything to do with reading at all.

I try to read every day.  Some days I spend an hour or two (or more!) in a book, other days it's a struggle to read more than 3 or 4 pages.  I think autumn makes me THINK about reading a lot more than spring or summer do, because I start envisioning cosy evenings by the fire, buried under blankets with a hot mug of tea.

We won't point out that I don't actually HAVE a fire place, because I might cry at that.

I think my tastes in reading are somewhat determined by circumstances, also.  That is to say - when I am on vacation, I like to read really light novels.  But when I'm heavily entrenched in work-mode, or when I am feeling motivated to build up and maintain some semblance of intellect (that is to say, MOST of the time), I'd rather pick up a book about language, or a biography, or a fantastically written novel.

And then, when I've read too many of these, I find something light to read.  Cus you know, steak is great and all, but you can't have steak every night.


when bad dreams come to life

I woke up pretty early this morning to a serious bad dream.  In my dream, I was coming home from work and I noticed that something was wrong with the front door to the house.  The storm door had been torn off its hinges, and the door frame was splintered where the deadbolt crossed.  The door itself was gaping open.

At first I was filled with dread.  Oh great, we've been robbed.  I was pulling out my phone to call the cops, when I remembered that Brian had Eli were in the house when I'd left a few hours earlier - and now, there was no sign of them.  THAT is when the panic kicked in.  By then, I'd found the phone and I'd dialed 911.  I ran up the steps, knowing (this being a dream and all) that I'd find my husband and my dog, both in bad shape.  Brian was unconscious but breathing and looked like he'd been in a fight; Eli was awake, laying on his side, and his back leg was bleeding a lot.  

I don't know what upset me more - Brian being out of it but not badly injured, or Eli being conscious, in terrible pain, and not knowing whether he would make it or not or even how to try to help him.  

The very worst part was knowing that I couldn't go to the hospital and to the vet at the same time.

Do cops take animals to get care when this kind of situation arises?  What happens?


hawaii review, part the 2

One morning we took a catamaran ride for a couple of hours. Being Irish and naturally pale as a ghost, I was sure to layer on much sunscreen. Problem was, I forgot to do my chest, and I was wearing a halter-top with a bit of a dip in the front. Two hours out on the open seas later, and I'll be seeing the outline until next February, at least. Oops.

BUT, another adventure paid off with a much longer lasting (and less painful) result. On one of our last days in Hawaii, I ended up finding 3 pink pearls, one of which was pretty big.

Caveat: I 'found' them at a jewelry counter, as part of a sales pitch. But still!!

So how it happened was, we were at Hilo Hattie's to check out all the hype, and I mentioned to Brian that you can buy an oyster, open it up and see if it has a pearl. I told him it was pretty hit-or-miss, that I'd done it once when I was younger but mine was empty. I spotted the bowls with the oysters and I was pointing at him, when one of the salesladies told us to pick a key and see if it would unlock this big trunk. So we each picked one; Brian's di
dn't work, but mine did. I opened the trunk and pulled out...a coupon for 40% off one oyster. What the hay, we figured. I have not-so-much-good luck so I didn't think it would turn up anything.

But, I ended up with this giant pink pearl. We decided to look at some ring settings because I already have too many necklaces as it is, and I picked out the cheapest one I could find that was big enough for the pearl. Pretty sweet! Brian said something like, 'there it is, your big honeymoon souvenir.'

The saleslady heard the honeymoon part, got all excited and said that since it was our honeymoon, she would give us another oyster. We went over to the register to see her mount the pearl on the ring setting, and she came back to the counter with another oyster. (HELLO PLOY) We went for it anyway, knowing we would absolutely not be buying anything else so what's the harm in getting another free pearl?

Only, there were TWO inside this oyster. And also pink. Imagine that.

So she drilled holes in them to be mounted later, and Brian and I got googly-eyed over making them into something special later to give to some offspring or other, with the cute honeymoon story attached.


hawaii review, part the 1

Well well well. We got back from our honeymoon more than 2 weeks ago and you still don't know much about it.

I've never been a big fan of huge brain-dump reviews of vacations that I didn't take, so I won't be taking part in that practice, but I would very much like to point out a few of the things that I think are generally more interesting than a rehashing of an entire itinerary. Consider this the first of a few installments.


We stayed at one of the Wyndham hotels in Waikiki. It was a great location, once we were able to find it! Let's just say, I think I am better in the navigation role than Brian is, when running on no sleep and trying to navigate an entirely new place. I think this probably has something to do with my being more accustomed to travel, reservations, and knowing that most resorts include directions in their confirmation letter... HE's definitely better at the actual driving part, though. It was an adjustment for me to be the driver, we'll say that.

Our room (suite!) was great. One of the funny things about it was the built-in friends it provided. It was humid but not necessarily hot, so we didn't bother with the A/C and just left the balcony doors open the whole time. As such, we were greeted most mornings by two pigeons looking for (demanding!) their breakfast. As in, they would land on the balcony, start making noise, come INTO the suite, make more noise, and then we would give them some bread. They would eat, hang out a little bit, and then make their way to their next balcony. Some people would think this is gross...I found it hilarious and I was quick to oblige.

NOTE: The last full morning, we slept in a lot longer than we usually did and I was actually awoken by the birds and their demands. Confusing at first, but then funny.
Speaking of mornings - I'm not sure exactly why this is, but there isn't really a sunrise in Waikiki. The sky just goes from black to grey to blue, and then it's day. It's like God is turning up the dimmer switch on the island. The sunsets, however, are fantastic.



quick freebies roundup

We had a steady trickle of freebies to hit the inbox this week.  Onward!

I'll go by category today, because I'm feeling the organization vibe today.


One L, which is a true story of one particular first year at Harvard Law, courtesy of the free table at the school.
Campbell's Creative Cooking with Soup, also courtesy of the free table.

Things that go in the bathroom:

More Kotex samples
A whole roll of Scott toilet paper!  The extra-soft factor will make Brian very happy.  He's a little picky about the TP duds.

Money and related things:

Two checks, for $3 each, for completing surveys.  It's not major money, but it's regular, and it usually covers my PBS habit.
The big 2008 Consumer Action Handbook, AND brochures about savings and investments, and general citizen information, courtesy of the US Government.  That means courtesy of me, and maybe you.  Cheers!  I haven't really poked through these yet, but the handbook already looks pretty interesting; it seems to be all about being a savvy consumer across the board.  

If any of the government stuff interests, you go here and here to see what else might tickle your fancy.


about that book thing

Ok, so, maybe I'm a couple days late with that update that I promised last Saturday, but whatever.  Updating now.  

I tried finishing off the Feast of Love, but I couldn't really get into it, so I'm shelving it.  I finished North Haven in a couple of days, no surprise there.  PS, very cute, the end made me cry (in a good way) and all that. 

I'm now working my way through the next book on the syllabus, called the Monk Upstairs, by Tim Farrington.  Apparently this is a sequel, but I haven't read the first book.  

I'm really liking it so far, because it some ways it reminds me a little bit of Brian and me.  I'm not a lapsed Catholic and he is far from monkish, but when it comes to our spirituality, he (being a Presbyterian) is much more contemplative than I (being a recovering evangelical) am.  

One of the things I am enjoying learning about the Presbyterian way of doing things is the way that every move is carefully considered, and there is a heavy theological emphasis on discerning God's will, and taking as much time as is needed to do so.  When 'the Presbyterian thing' is done the right way, it's really remarkable and very admirable.  There aren't many places in today's hustle and bustle that emphasize such careful consideration.  

(Then again, sometimes there aren't many places more prone to stifling change and growth.  It's all about using tools the right way.)

So, all that to say, I'm liking the book so far.  Farrington's writing style is right up my alley (sparse, insightful, and full of simile and metaphor) and I sometimes feel as though I'm peering at extreme versions of my husband and me.  So, beyond enjoying the story and the writing, I'm liking the personal connection I feel.

Have you ever read a book that instantly reminded of you, or a version of yourself or your life?  What did you hope to learn?  What did you end up learning?


the necklace post

You know how sometimes one tiny simple little change can make a world of difference?

One of the things I inherited from my mom is an affinity for jewelry.  I also inherited her tendency to wear only a few different pieces, despite really really liking just about everything in the jewelry box.

I am a major culprit of 'out of sight, out of mind' -ism and I've been spending some months at home and at work coming up with solutions to help me NOT forget about things.  So as such, my jewelry box, which basically would hide my stuff from me, was not being my friend.

Sometime back when it was cold, I decided I wanted to get a necklace stand to display all my cool metallic stuffs.  I ended up finding this sweet wall-mounted one on etsy, handmade from copper wires.  It's awesome; I just wish that I'd ordered the bigger one!  As it is, it's nearly reached capacity with only about 2/3 of my collection.  The stuff that needs repair, needs cleaning, or is (now) ugly still sits in the box, to be resurrected someday maybe.

And you know how everyone says that you should make an effort, every day, to do some self-care?  Well, for me, I decided that I'd like to look nicer.  I'm not really a great dresser, I would rather sleep than get up early to style my hair, and putting together an entire, complete ensemble has always been a challenge for me.  Just ask my high school friends.

(On second thought, don't.)

But in this whole weird intertwined self-helpy developmental PROCESS I've been going through lately, I began to want to know how to look better -- along with learning how to make my house look better, and finding ways to get my stuff done more reliably and more efficiently.  You know, learning how to get my act together on all fronts.  Self respect, self care, blah  blah.

Enter this one tool, and poof.  Big difference in my appearance AND my psyche.

Celebrate the small stuff, people.  There's way more of the small stuff.


look, not scrutinize

In an attempt to catch up and keep from drowning in unread items in my Google Reader (are we sensing a theme?), I came across this quote, and it made me stop.

The instructor reminds us to "look, not scrutinize" at our reflections in the mirror.

I got to wondering - how many of us are really capable of doing so?

I like to read a lot of advice/self-helpy type things (surprise!) because I have a proven track record of maybe not knowing everything (surprise!) and input is generally ok. In my couch-surfer 'research' and have-read lists, I've come across tales of so many broken women, who approach clothes shopping with shame, avoid or obsess over the scale or the clothing size, and can't see themselves in the mirror without also being critical.

This is no way to live.  You know it and I know it, and we need to do something about it.

You know that scene in Mean Girls (I KNOW you've seen that movie) where Cady is with the Plastics at the lead girl's house (Regina?  With the psycho mom?), and they each take turns saying something bad about themselves in the mirror (big nose, visible pores, stuff like that) and Cady has to make up something ridiculous?  Because it never occurred to her to sit and scrutinize herself in the mirror.  Can you imagine passing your reflection and NOT immediately harping on what you wish would change?

Who out there doesn't have a running list of flaws and has to MAKE UP something bad about themselves? Not many of us women-folk, I'd be willing to wager.  But how different would your life be if you dropped the scrutiny and went for acceptance instead?

Wasn't it Ghandi who said that you had to BE the change?  Poking at your limp cheeks or your muffin top or your unbelievably wide hips and huge thunder thighs that defy physics every time you squeeze into a pair of jeans (HELLO) won't do a bit of good.  Being realistic will, though.

I'm lucky(?) enough not to have a full-length mirror in my house.  This isn't intentional - it's just that I've always been able to find something more important to spend $15 on than another mirror.  Some days it sucks, especially in the midst of a shoe dilemma, but other days it's nice that I can only huff and puff at my head and shoulders.  Some of my favorite features happen to fall on my head and shoulders.  The scale is kind enough not to let the state of things overall fade into oblivion.

Stop and think about how you look at yourself.  Are you kind, or are you too critical?  How would your life be changed if you could observe yourself, silently noticing without judgment?  What if you could only see the things you like about yourself - how would that affect your day?


more the glories of vodka

Now, when you're on as strict a budget as I am, there is one reason and one reason only for the use or consumption of vodka, and that is: triple on the rocks.  Works wonders for ay number of life's little (or big) problems, as far as I'm concerned.  

And just so you know, the last time I remember consuming vodka was months ago.  There always seems to be more important to buy, like soap and electricity and rice.  I swear I'm not a junkie.

If, and when, that glorious day comes, when I will live in such fiscal comfort as to be able to consider expending the juice on things other than personal consumption (as if!!) I will refer to this handy list, which I am about to present to you.  Because as it turns out, vodka is more wonderous than I could ever have imagined.

See here:

Ease a Toothache (no, seriously) - if you're stuck without a dentist in quick reach, swish a shot of vodka around the area that's hurting, it will help disinfect AND numb the gums.  And then you can get yourself to the dentist asap.  (Or have someone drive you, because I mean, really.)

In keeping with the minor medical theme, make a tincture - get a jar, stuff it full of fresh lavender, and top it off with vodka.  Leave it in the sun for three days, strain it, and then use at will to rub into aches and pains.  The scent of lavender can bring all kinds of relief.  Be your own medicine man!  or woman!

Get rid of mildew - when you use up that spray bottle of your mildew-blaster of choice, give vodka a try.  Spray it on, let it sit, and then scrub it off with a(n old!) tooth brush.  I actually really wish I had some in the freezer right now to give this a try, because my old tub is starting to lose the war, if you know what I mean.

Shine your tresses - we've all heard about stuff from the fridge to get all kindsa shine - none of which I've been brave enough to try.  But 1.5 or 2 ounces of vodka per 12 ounces of shampoo will kick up your hair's game.

Beat the deet - if using store-bought bug spray gives you the ickies, try getting a spray bottle of vodka instead.  Spray it all over as a defense, or go on the offense if one won't leave you alone.

Preserve flowers - you know how you can add 7-up to fresh flowers' water?  Vodka and some sugar will do the same thing.  Don't forget to change it out every day, too - this really does make a difference.

Speaking of shiny - spruce up your glass, porcelain, and chrome with a combination of vodka on a cloth and some elbow grease.

Do you know of any other uses for vodka, beyond the bar?  If so, share them and put my ignorance to shame!


recap of awesome free stuff collection

Some VERY exciting things came into our household the past couple of weeks!  None of these cost us a thing - except the gas to drive a couple miles.

First, the mail.  

Pictured, you will find:

One book, courtesy of PaperBackSwap, aka my new best friend.
One Glad trash bag.
One Ponds face wipe thing.
One Dove shampoo/conditioner sample
Two things from the ASPCA - a fridge magnet wi
th the number for animal poison control, and one window decal stating how many and what kind of animals are inside, in case of emergency.
One $50 gift card to the local movie chain, courtesy of MyPoints, so that Brian and I stand the chance of maybe getting in some date nights even tho money is going to be super-tight this semester.  Seriously, y'all, MyPoints is legit AND awesome.  If you'd like to give me props and sign up for the program, leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll get you the referral.

Second, the plants.  I picked up a couple of plants off craigslist.  One is a struggling little aloe plant that I'm sure I can get back to top shape.  The other is "supposedly" a spider plant.  I was pretty bummed when I realized its misnomer, but hey, a free plant is a free plant.

PS - if you live in Richmond and you'd be willing to share one of your spider plant offshoots with me, I would be eternally grateful.

Third, some pearls.  These came from Hawaii.  More on them later.

And finally, a package!  From Japan!!  Brian's awesome cousin Jackie and her family live in Okinawa right now, thank you USMC, and apparently she was feeling particularly generous when she hit up the dollar store one day.  

Pictured you will find, as best I can tell:

Two balls of acrylic antibacterial yarn, which I plan to work up into some kitchen cloths or scrubbies.
One green and white kerchief, which I have hidden from Brian so that I can use it to decorate the table rather than see it turned into a bandana.  You can do that when you're the wife, you see.
One white-and-dots pencil case?  This will go straight to my knitting box and hold all the little odds and ends like tapestry needles, stitch markers, row markers, counters, etc. together.
One really funny mousepad.
Three Hello Kitty packets of something food-related?
One green packet of something else food-related?  These came wrapped in a recipe, but I haven't quite been able to piece them all together.  
One mystery-sign that definitely involves the Japanese symbol for poops.  Maybe it's telling me to clean up after my pet...
One card depicting two frogs singing Song of Happiness!

We came back to the house all wonkified from many hours of air travel and being back on the East Coast and whatnot, and had this box of treasures to get the energy level back up.  So, thanks again, Jackie & Co. (as I'm sure your thank you note hasn't reached you yet, given that it's still sitting on my desk...because I'm good like that.)


National Read a Book Day

Did you know that it's National Read A Book Day?  I celebrated by checking out 6 books from the library, all of which are for a class I'm auditing at Union-PSCE this semester.  Awesome.

Since this weekend has been designated a 'mandatory low key' weekend, I'm contemplating doing the little bit of housework that needs doing, and then spending the entire rest of today reading Good News from North Haven by Michael Lindvall.  It's one of the library/class books I've checked out, and it's the first on the syllabus, and it's little.

You may note on my current projects list that I am reading THREE books at the moment.  And if you've read my blog for very long, you've probably caught on that I'm more or less a monogamous reader.  I don't like having more than one book going at a time - unless I'm working on a novel AND a scholarly book that takes a while to digest and can be read 2 or 3 or 4 pages at a time.  As is the case right now.

I've been nibbling away at Metaphors We Live By.  This is one of those books I picked up in college after taking this awesome class on etymology, and have thought about reading ever since.  We spent at least one class meeting specifically discussing metaphor in the English language, and referenced it many other times.  It's a topic that has stuck with me.  And, after a slew of novels, I decided it was time to get back to some smart reading!

Problem is, it's a little too smart for my current brainage.  I can only take it a little bit by bit - 3 or 4 pages at a time is the most I can handle in a given session.  And who wants to read a book, 3 or 4 pages at a time?  So I doubled up and threw in a novel.  My reading routine for the past week consisted of as much Metaphors as I could handle, and then I'd take up The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter until it was time to do something else, like sleep or get out of the car.  Problem is, I am nowhere near done with the novel and it's time to start reading novels for school.

Hence the plan to bust out the first school novel today and pick up the pace with Feast so that I can devote the novel slot to all the books to be read this semester.  But more about the class later.

How many books do YOU read at a time?  (Audiobooks count as books in this case.)  Or, if you don't read books now and stick to articles and blogs (or nothing!), why don't you do the book thing anymore?

I'll report back tomorrow on the status of the personal book challenge.

note: ETA links


we're ALL back now!

Eli's back!  Oooooh I missed my little cutie-pants so much!!  Now the whole family is back together, and maybe we can return to some real normalcy this weekend.

That is to say, perhaps we may consider finishing this whole unpacking business!

I have so much fun stuff to tell you about.  Be looking for photos and some tales from Hawaii, some tips on some great (household) uses for my poison of choice - vodka, all the free stuff that came to town in the past couple weeks, and maybe even a recap of our first 'autumn' trip to the market.  I can't wait!


a big first

I was wading through the 7 (seven!) voicemails left during our honeymoon, and I came across a fabulous surprise.  

I, ladies and gentleman, have received my very first recorded phonecall from a politician.

That's right, Sen. John McCain called my house and left me a message.  Actually, it could be that he left Brian a message, but I will pretend it was me, and be very happy.

I've been aware for years now that it's customary for politicians to mass-call folks, but I never received one of these calls myself.  Until this grand, momentous occassion when Sen. McCain personally invited me to watch the RNC.

Ok, so it's not really a big deal, and and I don't plan on tuning into the RNC much if at all, and I don't actually remember registering as a Republican when I registered to vote anyway, but still.  I feel like a real adult now.

Now could somebody please explain to me why the "unbiased" media covered a Category 2 hurricane in lieu of the RNC?

what i need

I am tired, people.  Very tired.  It's been a short week, yes, but even short weeks can be loooong when you've got Teh Jet Lags.  Throw in some big new stuff at work on top of playing catch up on top of a couple important projects exploding, not to mention a living room full of semi-unpacked luggage (STILL) and you've got...me.

In light of all the recent tiredness and crankiness and uninspiredness, I have elected to post yet another meme.  The "hey, wouldn't it be funny to google '[your name] needs' and see what pops up?' meme, to be exact.

Real entries are coming soon, I plomise.

We'll see if any 'Ashley needs sleep's pop up.  Without further adieu, I bring you the Ashley Needs meme, infused with my own speI
Ashley needs to keep wearing stuff like this (guess which celebrity?)
Ashley needs an escape (i think part of the problem is that i just had one)
Ashley needs help: my intuition is that something traumatic happened to Ashley 
Ashley needs surgery on her leg after being attacked by Jillian (WWE is so klassy)
Ashley needs a singer (eh)
Ashley needs a prayer (maybe)
Ashley needs a hero (got one)
Ashley needs baby formula (no thanks)
Ashley needs time off (perhaps another long weekend?)
Ashley needs you like water in her lungs (i wonder what this would apply to...)
Ashley needs more support
Ashley needs a sister (not at this point in my life)
Ashley needs a home that is well-structured and able to provide the special care that she needs (YES!  PLEASE!)
Ashley needs to get something off her chest (you may be interested to know that this is a collegiate newspaper column about boob size.  and while i can relate to the author, the article itself pretty much sucks.)

and finally (and this one made me laugh out loud, even tho i'm not a boy)

Ashley needs money, but his manager thinks being part of a boy band tour is a bad career moove.