another way my husband and i are the same

I typed that headline mostly to make Brian shudder.  We are crazy about each other, but we aren't really 'the same' in very many ways.

Today, though, I joined his ranks.  He underwent psychological evaluations last year as part of his masters program.  I underwent psychological evaluations yesterday to figure out what, if anything, I can do to help my brain.

I really like the shrink.  He was recommend by my doctor and he's really easy to talk to - something like Jeff Bridges' inflections meet Edward Hermann's manner of speech combined with a benevolent older professor with a bow tie and funny socks.

I can't decide whether it'll be nice good or bad to know the ins and outs of my crazy.  Part of why I put off the eval for more than a year is because of insurance, but I might also be a little nervous to find out just how permanent the damage is.  You know how there's someone older in your life - a parent maybe - who sometimes refers to his/her youth with 'when I was your age, I could remember anything, and now I don't even know where my feet are'?  Yeah, that's me, now.  And I'm 25.  

I get the results back in a couple of weeks.


my love/hate relationship with jason mraz

I have been in love with Jason Mraz's music since the first time I heard him do an in-studio gig with Matt and Ramona. Wuv, twu wuv. Once I figured out his name (and how to spell it) I scoped his website and the merch store. He had two CDs for sale. One was a live recording for $12 (Live at Java Joe's) and the other was a studio recording of something or other (Waiting for My Rocket to Come, I think) for $15. Being the poor college student I was, I picked up the Java Joe's CD.

BEST CHOICE I EVER MADE, short of marrying my husband. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this CD, and incidentally I am shattered that I can't find it anymore. He is so talented, and you don't really get a good feel for what his music is really like if you're stuck listening to a studio track. This CD is just him and his hand-drummer. I am not a good reviewer at all, so I will leave my ravings at this: AWESOME.

The drawback is, I got spoiled. I don't really like most of his radio releases because I know how much better they would be, live. They're basic and crude and have so much potential but ultimately are a let-down.

I have been yearning to see him in concert, in a small or smallish venue, for a long time now. We're talking years. Like 6 years. That's kind of a long time. And the reason I've been waiting so long is that he has never come to my town. He's come near my town, but never close enough to be attainable for my tight budget and need for not driving back home at 3am. Resignation and despair.

NOW. Shift gears a little bit.

All the cool kids know about Pandora by now. If you're not cool yet and you want to be, the transformation is simple: check out www.pandora.com and enlightenment will come to you. On my pandora, I have a particular station that plays several of the songs on Jason's latest record, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.

I definitely want to get this one, to bring my Jason Mraz CD Library to a total of 2 albums. I can already tell that I will love it. It's just a matter of time.

Enter my dilemma, with some dallying at the beginning.

We are having a whirlwind Thanksgiving. The plan is to leave town Wednesday evening to overnight with my family. Get up early and finish driving to Brian's homestead. Friday or Saturday, drive west to Asheville to hang out with (and in my case, meet) two of Brian's cousins - and oh yeah, attend the farewell concert of Brian's favorite folk singer, in his (the singer's) home venue, which is something Brian's wanted to do for more than a decade, he says. And then eventually we will end up back in Richmond sometime Sunday, to collapse and return to work.

Did you catch that? We are in an entirely different state on the day before and the day after Thanksgiving. To see family. Many hours away. For a holiday.

If you're smart, you know where this is going.

Jason Mraz is going to be in RICHMOND at the NATIONAL on the day before AND the day after Thanksgiving. In case you aren't paying attention, I live in Richmond. He's coming straight to my town. Not DC, not Charlottesville, not Virginia Beach. Richmond. (Well, maybe he's going to those places too. I don't know.)

I have waited for SIX YEARS for this day (these days) to come, and now that they are on the books, I won't be able to make it. I won't be able to go!! To a concert I've waited 6 years to come to fruition!!!

I love you, Jason Mraz, and yet I hate you, so so much, right now. You have toyed with my heart and I am growing weary. I have been loyal and supportive, defending you to nay-sayers and expounding on your virtues, but I don't know if I can last another 6 years.



If I have done my research correctly, then my conclusion that this, ladies and gentleman, is a pheasant, and more specifically, a hybrid of a Golden Pheasant and a Lady Amherst's Pheasant, is correct.

If I have done my research correctly, then my conclusion that this hybrid is not found in the wild in the US is also correct.

So could somebody please tell me why this guy was in our back yard this evening?

I am not kidding.

My question is this. What would YOU do with an exotic pheasant hybrid on your premisis?

when hearing voices goes bad

So, yesterday I had a work meeting in the middle of a day, at a location 2 or 3 blocks from my house.  So, I decided to eat lunch at home after the meeting.  And a part of my lunch, I decided, should a hard-boiled egg.  

There are some weeks that feature a hard-boiled egg every day for lunch - these are the weeks where I have my stuff together on Sunday afternoon - and no matter how hard the weeks go, my hard-boiled egg makes life a little more bearable.

With this realization in mind, I decided to boil up 5 eggs, for lunch every day this week.  So I set everything on the stove and started cleaning up the dishes from last night (because, as you could guess, my stuff was not together on Sunday).

I was shifting some things around on the counter (lots of dishes, y'all.  It's embarrassing.) when I heard a funny noise, coming from the pot.  I got closer.  It sounded like cheeping.  I AM NOT KIDDING.  I turned the radio down, lifted the lid, and saw 5 eggs being boiled.  There were tiny streams of bubbles coming out from each one.  The cheeping was definitely coming from these eggs.

I told myself I was crazy, set the lid back on the pot, and turned the radio back up.  

About 20 seconds later, the cheeping sound was louder, and the pot was rattling around. WHOA.  I lifted the lid again and noted that the water wasn't boiling hard enough to cause rattling.  I looked at all the eggs closely to see if there was any commotion....nothing.  I decided that there was water on the burner and that it had started boiling and escaping, which caused the rattling.  (I have one of those glass stove tops.)

I turned the radio up really loud and left the kitchen.  I'll be sure to let you all know if I get any sad, disturbing surprises in my lunch. 

In other news, Eli apparently likes to eat egg shells.  Who knew?


chinese crested

I had a dream last night that I went to the mall, and there was some kind of doggie event going on.  I met a Chinese crested.  

In case you don't know the breed, I should inform you that they don't have much hair.  

I almost got a Chinese crested back when I was looking for the pet that ultimately became Eli.  I was down to cresteds, Italian greyhounds, and papillons as my breeds of choice.  Turns out I couldn't find a breeder that had the hairless cresteds, and I was afraid that an Iggy would be too fragile for my rough-housing family dogs, so papillon it was.  

Most days, I'm pretty happy with the choice.  And Brian would probably agree that of the three breeds, the papillon is the least 'heinous-looking' - suffice it to say that he and I have VERY different tastes in small dogs (ie, he doesn't have a taste for them at all).  We'll be adding a larger breed to our family as soon as finances and commitments permit.

This is the only real 'experience' I've had with a CC tho, other than watching dog shows.  Weird that it came three years late.


Booking Through Thursday

Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is ok too.  Name as many as you like - sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful.  Or maybe that's just me.

I had a surprisingly hard time thinking of any literary couple I particularly like.  And then I remembered - Mike and Rebecca from the Monk Upstairs.  She is busy busy busy; he was a monk for 20 years.  There are elements of Mike and Rebecca both that remind me of me, and also elements of both that remind me of Brian, so they make a really interesting read.  And I love the ways you see them compromise and stretch to support each other.  I think they really do make each other better people.

Monk Upstairs is actually a sequel (to the Monk Downstairs) and I haven't read the first book yet - in which they become the couple.  They were already well-established by the time I met them.  I imagine it will be fun to see their history play out!


I would like you all to meet our pumpkin.  We picked him up at the Lakeside United Methodist bazaar last Saturday.  They had some GREAT pumpkins - all shapes, sizes, and various stages of smoothness and otherwise.  We were charmed by this guy's knobs and bobbles all over.  I'd never seen one myself, actually, and it was instant attraction.  We haven't discussed whether or not to put him under the knife.  It would require careful planning, but I know Brian has the skills and vision to make something fantastic, should we choose to interfere with nature.  

He is lounging on our front porch in all his warty glory while we debate his fate.

Eli's not sure what to make of his new friend.


booking through thursday

The Setup, from the Booking through Thursday website:

Okay–here was an interesting article by Christopher Schoppa in the Washington Post.

Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.

But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.

So, the question is his: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?

The answer:

SO MANY. There are so many books I have kept around because I am just waiting for the day for the right mood to strike, the right amount of free time, and optimal interplanetary alignment to cause me to pick up "that book" and get it read.

I appear to have made the commitment to read more books this year, as evidenced by my have-read list (look over to the left), which is already tremendously longer this year than it's been in a long time. The majority of these are books that had sat on my shelves, through two moves, just waiting to be read. Some are books from the library that I'd been meaning to read for years (the Narnia books, Friday Night Knitting Club, Kitchen Privileges). Only three of these books are new acquisitions (Wild at Heart, Sushi for Beginners, and Balzac) through PaperBackSwap. Peace, Evensong, Monk and North Haven are required reading for the class I'm taking. All the rest are mine and had been mine for quite some time.

You should probably know that I cull my books at least once a month. I've also stopped requesting books on PBS unless I really need or really want them - no more 'hey that sounds good' requests. My ultimate goal is to have my collection whittled down to just the essentials - the most loved, most useful, and most sentimental books.  And I'm proud to say that the out-going stream is a little swifter than the in-coming one.  I'm also making good friends with the neighborhood library branch.  In the meantime, I've got shelves and stacks and piles to get through.

Right now most of my reading is for my Theology in Literature class. It's a great class and I love the reading list, but I do have a moderate amount of baseline frustration that I'm not making any "progress" (and in fact, I'm ADDING to the list of tomes I ultimately want to read). But with that said, a sampling of the titles up to bat once I finish the class include:

First Things First, by Stephen Covey

The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller

As usual, we'll see what book ends up screaming the loudest when I'm browsing for a new read.


bragging rights

I would just like to say that I am so proud of my husband.  He's really been through the ringer the past few months, and the past week especially.  A bomb went off in his face Thursday that would have sent most people to the loony bin, and he's been able to find more silver lining than gloom.

I won't go into details because I am so pissed off at TIIC that I'm seeing red, but I am very impressed with the way that he has dealt with this unpleasant situation.  He's been upbeat, motivated, reasonable, and anything but 'disrespectable' in trying to figure out a solution. After having all weekend to ponder his next steps, he had about 4 hours to wield a machete through some Grade-A Presbyterian order (aka bureaucracy) and I'm encouraged to see that the administration supported him the whole way.  I couldn't be happier to be his wife.

There are a few more things to tend to before everything is back on track, but I know he will come out on top.  I am sure of it.

I'm so proud of you.


eli the menace

You may or may not be aware of the tiny dog living in our house.  He is 3 years old, his name is Eli, and he likes to wear sweaters when it's cold, which can be loosely defined as 'October through April.'

One of the rooms in our house is the study - aka the Man Cave, but the Brian version.  No big screen TV, no recliner.  Just a mission-style desk, some coke paraphernalia, and all kinds of electronic gadgets.  (And mountains of books, papers, etc.)  Eli also has a crate and a doggie bed in the study, so the boys spend a lot of time back there.  

Brian discovered a wad of tissue that Eli has torn up and left all over the floor.  He came out to where I was, and told me his latest theory on the dog.

"I think that because I leave a mess in the office, Eli thinks he should make a mess in there too."

I told Brian that flylady says our children are always watching.


weekendular bliss

As is usually the case for us, October has been somewhat heinous, so we decided to take some serious solace in this past weekend.  We carved out 2 commitment-free days and vowed to make the best of them - a 'staycation' of sorts.  And it's been glorious.

Yesterday we puttered around town doing random stuff we wanted/needed to do.  Unfortch we made it to the (Lakeside) farmers market a little late and the honeycrisp apples were all gone, but we got some good ones anyway.  We also picked up a very pimply awesome pumpkin from Lakeside UMC.  We hit one of the new 5 Below shops and the Trader Joe's at Short Pump (note:  that place is MAYHEM at lunchtime on a Saturday) and came home with some nice treats and candy for the kids.  We also went out to Virginia Center Commons, which is another huge shopping complex.  I picked up some Vampire teeth at the creepy halloween shop.  We got some donuts from a little league baseball team.  I spent an old gift card at Michael's for some yarn for a project I've been wanting to do for a while.  We poked around the Barnes and Noble trying to find things to drop another gift card on, and came up with a $6 copy of Hamlet with glosses on the opposite pages of the text.  

We came home, caught the UNC/UVA game (go Heels!) and I stamped around the kitchen in disappointment over the OT loss while Brian did a few more errands.  I made Steak Diane for dinner - neither of us had had it before and it was great!  And so easy!  And because we hadn't run the dishwasher yet, we ate on china.  When's the last time YOU ate on china?

Today has been another slooooow day so far.  We cuddled for a long time, watched a couple movies, and the next few hours will be for 'work' - school for Brian, baking for me.  

There's not much I wouldn't give to have one more day.  It's been great to slow down.


education vs. intelligence

As spurred by a recent conversation with a friend, I have been musing the difference between education and intelligence.

There seems to be a general acceptance of the idea, at least in the circles I frequent, that there is a big difference between the two. The main thread of the argument is that anyone can read and learn - become educated, that is to say. But not everyone can take their own knowledge base and analyze it, apply it to theories and circumstances, or essentially 'do' something with it.

Education can expose a person to all sorts of new ideas and perspectives, but that's all just input. Intelligence is where education is measured. It's the output mechanism. And you can be very intelligent without having much education.

I, myself, have always struggled to flex my intelligence. The education part has always been easy for me - I love learning, taking in new knowledge, making connections, cross-training, and whatnot. I was labeled the 'smart kid' for a while, because I could spit back any fact I'd come across in the previous several years. I could figure things out pretty well, too - including the 'mechanisms' behind standardized tests, so I generally aced them. I loved, and aced, algebra, because it was all about figuring out which rules applied to which strategy.

It was always the 'analytical' assignments that tripped me up - the abstract thinking (geometry) and those proofs you had to do in philosophy.  You can't approach these the same way you would a formulaic problem in algebra or all the nuances in a poem.  (Incidentally, I do much better with poetry when I can see it.)  And abstract art?  I could stare at it all day and say how it makes ME feel and even enjoy the experience, but figuring out the artist's intention is maybe not the easiest part for me.

How about you?  Does your education inform your intelligence, or is it the other way around?  What are your thoughts?


my wish list (UPDATED)

(Note: my friends and family sometimes request updates to this list.  I swear I'm not reposting because I'm gift-crazy!)

One of my tricks for when I'm feeling the pinch a little to much and I develop a major spending crave is to make a list of all the things I'd spend money on, if I had it. One of these days I might post it as a wish list, for no other reason than to engage my penchant for sharing too much information.

Of course, this is all in addition to being able to blow $30 or $40 every couple weeks on dates with my husband.

And now, the wish list, in no particular order, that needs no introduction but got one anyway:

1. a yarn swift and a ball winder

2. yarn. ANY yarn. especially bamboo yarn, or artyarns beaded silk, or some noro or especially some koigu painter's palatte premium merino (kpppm) gloriousness

3. either of the mason dixon knitting books, or a book with Aran or Celtic patterns
(10/16/08 - thanks for the other books, ma!)

4. a big cutting mat for sewing (16x20 or larger)

5. a t-square

6. a good honing steel

7.  a good paring knife

8. a cast-iron skillet

9. a big 'regular' skillet with a cover

10. a fountain pen, maybe pelikan brand


11. a bread (and dough) machine

will you be my pen-pal?

When I was little, my best friend moved to Pennsylvania.  Our parents were pretty tight, so our families kept in touch.  And being young girls, we decided to be pen-pals for a while.  We had the whole thing - secret codes, doodles, sparkles, whatever.  I kept all my letters for a while, but they got lost in a move somewhere along the way.  I still miss them.

When I went to Europe after graduating from high school, I met a guy (tall, dark, handsome, super cute, German, named Colin.  Swoon.)  Colin and I exchanged addresses and actually did a pretty good job of staying in touch for about a year.  And then as we both got more absorbed in our own college lives, things dropped off.  I know I have those notes somewhere, but I haven't seen any of them in about 5 years.  Sometimes I think about trying to write him again if I ever found that address, just to see what happens.

I think I'd like to try that whole foreign pen-pal thing again.  It seems like a very cool, mysterious and still child-like thing to do.  How often does someone you know bust out a story about his or her pen-pal in Iceland or Ireland or Tel Aviv or Brisbane?  We all know 'real mail' is super cool.  But real mail from another country?  Majorly super cool.

I think if I had a pen-pal, I would want that person to be from a completely different world than mine.  Outside the US would be awesome.  There's not a whole lot cooler, in my mind, than a hand-written letter with funny-looking postage, postcards from a small town I might not ever see, photos of a foreign back yard with who-knows-what in the distance, pressed flowers and ribbons and bookmarks.  I also romanticize local maps - the non-touristy kind.  And by 'romanticize' I mean 'I want them and I will frame them if you send them to me.'

In my mind, the pen-pal notion feels something akin to blogging, to an audience of one person, and much more slowly.  With a twinge of nostalgia.  And memories of Laura, and Colin, and all the little things I wish I could share with a stranger.

So with all that, I ask: will you be my pen-pal?  (and if you are from outside the US, will you pretty please be my pen-pal?)


love you, richmond

I moved to this great city from a great North Carolina town. I knew I would be happy here, but mostly because I planned to get married.  I knew that Richmond would be charming, and would be a fine setting for some of the best years of my life.  I also knew I wouldn't be here very long.

My first real visit was to Carytown right before Christmas; the next time I came up, I hung out in an old seminary hidden away in Ginter Park.  I didn't have much money, but I was certainly charmed.

When I moved up, I tried really hard not to fall in love.  I tried to keep the city at arm's length.  I couldn't afford to do otherwise.  Do you know how heartbreaking it is to live in a great town and not be able to afford to see a lot of the best parts?  I tried ignorance.  And ignorance was only mildly blissful, because deep down, I knew what I was missing.

My first job with the temp agency was at Old City Hall.  I was awestruck - I worked in a castle!  Overlooking Capitol Square!  I got to hang out with some serious history, every day.  I could poke around the financial district with the lunch carts and the dignified architecture.  Revelry!  I was there when the mayor had that insane meltdown with the school system, too.

I moved into a great neighborhood on Northside.  I got married, and my husband moved in.  The rent is more than we should be trying to pay, but the giant yard and the low (basically zero) crime and daily little pleasures that this part of town bring make it worth the pinch.

I kept my head in the sand as long as I could.  But somewhere along the way, Richmond snuck into my heart.  I love this city.  I love the Main Street Station and Capitol Square.  I love the farmers markets and the way the Sauer factory smells.  I love the quirky VCU students and the fact that it took me a year to figure out the difference between Richmond and Henrico.  I love that the White House of the Confederacy is jammed in the same area as a huge university/hospital and an interstate.  I love the canal and the annoying cobble stone streets.  I love all the art/design companies in converted warehouses and the quiet atmospheric restaurants and breweries and book shops.  I love the huge support for the local nonprofit network.  I love the way the city clings to history and the way it invests in local politics.

I love Richmond.  I don't know how it happened, but I am 100% in love with this town I call home, and I wish I could stay here a long, long time.



Mmmmmm, naps.  What is it about naptime that is so delicious and so enticing?  

There are some people who are able to take a nap whenever, wherever. They can just turn off their thinking mind and sleep whenever an opportunity presents itself. My husband is one of these.  He was the guy who slept in the fancy library between classes. I had an adult friend back when I was in high school who had the super-ability to sleep on demand, no matter what. This came in handy when she had a newborn - she could turn her body on and off in time with her baby's.

I'm not the same way. I'm one of those folks who has to be in the right frame of mind to get in a good nap. I have to be tired enough but not exhausted, and my mind has to be clear - or at least slow enough to stop.  I can't nap when I'm harried. For me, the best kind of nap takes place right around dinner time and ends with the yummy smells of dinner being cooked.  Two hours is about the right time for me - but usually when I nap, it's the 'crash' kind of nap in the evening and not the power-nap kind that the Mayo Clinic advocates here as a short-term compensation tool for having too little sleep. These guys suggest that anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes for a nap is optimal.  

The article also says that we aren't getting enough sleep (duh!) and that a quick restorative nap in the early afternoon can be a tremendous help.  20 minutes, that's all it might take! 

Maybe I ought to take a blanket to the office. I wonder how well that would go over! Actually, I don't wonder...I can pretty much guess.

Now. Is it just me, or is bacon one of the very best smells to wake up to?


the power hour, and i don't even mean televangelist kind either

Earlier this week I shared about the tickler file I built as a result of the time management class I took a few weeks ago.

The instructor, who is wonderful, by the way, has a blog where she periodically posts about topics related to her field of study, which is psychology (surprise) and more specifically, the application of psychology in the workplace.  (How many points for that sentence?)

I came across a post about what she calls the power hour. In this, she describes a practice her friends have, which they've dubbed the power hour.  Through the week, they keep track of all the stuff that needs to be done around the house - repairs, special chores, whatever.  Saturday morning, they set a timer for an hour and they go around doing stuff on the list, task by task by task.  When the timer goes off, they stop.  Anything that didn't get done goes on the list for next weekend.

May I exclaim for a minute?  This is an AWESOME idea!

It harkens to some of the FlyLady principles - especially the part about setting the timer and stopping when it goes off.  And then BEING OK with the whole list not being done.

And because there are two of them puttering around doing stuff, they're getting two hours worth of work done.  Who has time in their schedule to spent two hours on housework?  But an hour on a weekend is something that most folks could make happen, I'd wager.  And do you have any idea how much you can get done in an hour, when all you're doing in that hour is getting stuff done?  It's HUGE.  Note: having the time limit ensures your whole weekend isn't swallowed up by to-dos.  Doesn't that spell relief?

Plus, what a great reason to procrastinate productively!  It's so easy to see a need for something - a repair, a fix, a hack, whatever - and get sidetracked by it.  Either you're distracted by it, trying to remember to get it done and wondering when you'll be able to make time and feeling guilty by not getting it done already, or you have to bring everything to a screeching halt and fix it immediately.  Neither of these is a good option. Take three seconds, write it down, and trust yourself to take care of it in the right time. Having a list, and a set time to handle the list, is a great option.  

This is a fine example of teamwork, too, for all us cohabitants.  I haven't had gobs of marital experience, having been married less than a year, but I have learned by now that teamwork is a great way to approach things, especially shared things like a home.  In doing so, the pressure is off of me to do everything, and it's off him too.  We aren't martyrs to our roles and we support each other equally.  I don't feel like I'm coming home to a second full-time job, and he doesn't feel like he has too much on his shoulders, either.

We're young.  We don't have a whole lot of money.  And we're both busy with semi-erratic schedules.  We're just getting started in our lives together and we're figuring things out.  What are some of YOUR life-hacks to take care of the odds and ends of living while you're too busy having a life?


booking through thursday

What was the last book you bought?

a coffee table book of 'space photos' - planets and stars and whatnot.

Name a book you have read MORE than once

to kill a mockingbird. i have read it probably 13-15 times.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

anne lamott's traveling mercies changed my life in a big way. it set in motion a big internal struggle over what really constitutes a 'good Christian' and whether there actually is such a thing. she was very much NOT the conservative evangelical Christian i'd spent my whole life accepting as 'right.' and yet i couldn't dismiss her, because her writing was so captivating. it validated her, to me. BIG big struggle, perhaps the biggest one i faced in college.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

sometimes the cover matter, but mostly through recommendations.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

no preference, but i read more fiction right now because i'm in a literature class.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

beautiful writing, as long as it's meaningful. there are different kinds of beautiful.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

scout finch, from TKAM

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

peace like a river, by leif enger; interpreter of maladies, by jhumpa lahiri; and metaphors we live by, by george lakoff and mark johnson.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

i finished a couple of books in the last 2 weeks - balzac and the little chinese seamstress, by dai sijie; and evensong, by gail godwin. evensong was the first book i've read by godwin and it certainly won't be the last.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

i gave up on great expectations a few months ago.



A. Attached or single?  Attached. quite attached, in fact

B. Best friend? Brian (aka my attachment)

C. Cake or pie? CAKE!  

D. Day of choice? Saturday

E. Essential item? Hair elastic

F. Favorite colour? Light blue.  Really, almost any blue.

G. Gummy bears or worms? Worms!

H. Hometown? Charlotte.  It's true, what they say about Carolina girls.

I. Favorite indulgence? Giant Hershey bar.  Oh yes, Hershey's chocolate runs through my veins.

J. January or July? January please! 

K. Kids? We'll see.

L. Life isn’t complete without? Family. Music. Design. Humor.

M. Marriage date? Dec. 1.  We're coming up on the anniversary...any suggestions?

N. Number of magazine subscriptions: 1 - Whole Dog Journal.

O. Oranges or apples? Apples, most days

P. Phobias? the one where you're afraid of tight spaces, and the one where you screech and run when you see a bug of any kind

Q. Quotes? The task of healing is to respect oneself as a creature, no more and no less. Wendell Berry.

R. Reasons to smile? NBC 12 was reasonable.

S. Season of choice? Fall

T. Tag 5 people.  Brian, Kim, Steph, Jax, and Lara. (ps, Lara, you need to invite me to read your blog.  srsly.)

U. Unknown fact about me? I eat the exact same thing every day for lunch.

V. Vegetable? Right now I'm in a major yellow squash phase.  Got any good recipes?

W. Worst habit? I sometimes assume the worst about people.

X. X-ray or ultrasound? X-ray, they're a lot less invasive and there's no cold goop to deal with.

Y. Your favorite foods? Bread. Butter. Bread and butter. Carrott cake.

Z. Zodiac sign? The one in mid-April.

You're it!


time management

I recently took a time management course through the Especially for Nonprofits program at VCU. It was awesome. The professor was (and is) Elaine Kiziah and she is FANTASTIC. Mucho recommendo.

Time management is one of those wonky things that demands a somewhat significant investment up front from people who don't have the time to spare in the first place. The thing is, you just have to carve it out to make it happen, and it might take more than a day. Funny how that works. But in the same way you have to spend money to make money, you have to find time to make time.

One of the books we talked about was Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but I did page through a copy and I've familiarized myself with his processes a bit via blogs and podcasts. His method is all about maximizing every minute you have, to build toward your bigger goals. (Other folks like to look at the big goals and use a more top-down method for productivity.)

One of his hacks is the thing I like to call 43 Folders (mostly because I used to listen to a podcast called 43 Folders, and I never knew what it meant until I took this course). It's a tickler file - a system for having a folder for every day of the year. It's meant to be a home for physical items that you need to deal with on a given day in the future.

When I moved into my office, I'd 'inherited' this weird container thing for hanging files - it's almost like half a mesh file box, minus the lid part.  Or something.  So I pulled that out and filled it with my 43 folders - one with each number, 1-31, and one with each month of the year.  This is set up so that each day of the year has its own folder.  1-31 apply to the rest of this month and the beginning of next month, and the files are slipped behind the folder for next month, as the days go by.

SO, today, October 6, I will go into my office and see my tickler.  The folder with #6 on it will be in the front, with 7 and so on behind it.  Behind 31 is the November folder, and behind November is folders 1-5.  behind 5 is December, January and so on up through October.  I'll pull out folder 6, which is for today, take out the contents, and slip it behind the 5.  It becomes the November 6 folder.

It's really easy to use.  For example, if I have a meeting next Thursday but I got the agenda in my email today, I can go ahead and print the stuff out and stick it in the 16 folder. That way it's out of my inbox, I can check that off my to-do list, and it's in a safe spot until I need it.  And if I get an invitation for a dinner next March 23rd, I mark my calendar and then stick the directions in the March folder. When I've made my way to March, I'll pull out the folder, distribute all the items to their date folders, and stick March in the back for next year.

I really hemmed and hawed about making this tickler, for some reason. I kept thinking I could come up with a system that would work better for me. Maybe I could, if I really wanted to sit down and plan, or research all over, but this one works just fine and I had the stuff to make it happen. Besides, I had already missed 2 days of work taking this class and I needed to put some of this time management/productivity business to work, fast!

It's pretty janky-looking, because all the folders are recycled so they're soft and ratty and have writing all ove rthem, and actually that drives me crazy a little bit. (I also realized in this time management class that I am a visual learner, and I'd had no idea how greatly visual clutter distracted me until now.) But, I work for a nonprofit. And Lord knows I don't have the spare cash to get it myself, right now. Maybe when the Staples Reward check comes in.

The system is pretty cool, really. There's a folder for each month, and then for eacy number, 1-31. Combining these in the right order gets you through every day of the year. Pretty sweet, no?  You can learn more about ticklers here or here and you can see some photos on flickr.  It's a great tool, and I'm thinking of a way to adapt the system for home use too.
Anybody out there looking to get rid of some clean manilla folders?



A conversation that may or may not have just transpired between my husband and me:

"Sanskrit has 96 words for love."

"In this country, there are 89 guns per 100 people."

Betcha can't guess who said what.

this blood's not my type

I have recently realized (again) that I have no idea what my blood type is. And for a girl who has had gobs and gads of medical testing in the past couple of years, and is startlingly in tune with her body, this is a startling revelation.

This isn't a case of knowing at one point and then forgetting.  I'm really not sure I've ever known my blood type.

This is an important thing to be aware of, it seems.  I've had the first aid training and CPR certification and what not, thank you ARC, so I know that I really ought to know this.

So I'm wondering how I can go about finding out.  I've had a lot of blood work done in recent years - does anyone know if testing for type is a part of 'blood work' or if it needs to be specifically requested?


booking through thursday

what, in your opinion, is the best book that you haven't liked?

The absolute best book that I've read in the past year, and ended up not liking, was Midwives by Chris Bohjalian.  The prose was mind-blowing.  The story was so well-told, and really interesting to boot.  I even came away from this book thinking that maybe, just maybe, I would consider a home birth if I ever had kids.  It was gentle, subtle, dramatic, and incredibly moving - and had some touches of To Kill a Mockingbird, my very favorite book of all time.  I will always remember Midwives.  

I loved it to the very end.  the very last paragraph of the very last page.  I wish I hadn't read it, because that last page spoiled the entire story for me.  I'm still bothered by it.  And I will probably never read that wonderful, delicious book again, because of that last page.

If you are a novel reader, I highly recommend Midwives to you.  And you can decide for yourself.


dear neighbors, i promise i don't hate you even though i suggested that i might

So after Monday's debacle of honesty and maybe perhaps way too much jealousy and later a pinch of grow-the-hell-up, I've made a full recovery.

My meltdown was ridiculous, and I hope that some folks got a chuckle out of it.  Do I really hate the neighbors?  No, not at all!  I'm actually really looking forward to getting to know them.  One of the great things about not knowing someone yet is that there is plenty of room to imagine all the potential greatness in what could become your friendship. 

It's times like Monday that make me remember that it takes time to make deep, real, full changes.   My aspirations today are a departure from what they'd been for many years, and clearly there are still remnants of old thought patterns that need to be dug up.

This has also been a wonderful exercise in grace, to my new neighbors and to the shapes they've already taken in my mind.  Not to mention that a year ago, I would have obliterated my sense of self-worth with huge guilt trips and weeks or maybe even months of 'I can't believe I actually felt that way' regrets and embarrassments.  Regretting humanity in all its raw, clawing ugliness is no way to live. Progress, not perfection.

It seems the new neighbors have moved in, or at least have started moving in.  They're married now, at least according to the writing on their car, and I also know their first names, thanks to the same writing.  It seems their friends went a little easier on the decor than ours did.  Either that, or they washed their car after the wedding and wrote a nice, tasteful 'Just Married ___ and ___ on the back windshield.  (I probably would have done that too, if we could have spared the cash for a bottle of white shoe polish.)

Shortly after Brian and I got home from work/school this afternoon, we noticed the dad had pulled up with his truck and had some furniture.  Brian decided to go over and offer to help unload, but they were too quick and by the time he got over there, they'd already finish and had shut themselves inside.  Oh well, maybe next time.

I'm going to hit the Walgreens to buy some sugar - it's on sale AND I have a coupon - and then I will begin drumming up ideas of what to bake for them.  I'm thinking maybe this cinnamon bread, from the always-yummy Baking Bites, will work.  There's something therapeutic about making something so comforting from scratch, especially if you're adding an element of making silent amends to the ingredient list.

And now it's your turn.  How do you handle yourself when you are recovering from the whiniest, most embarrassing tantrum you've had since...the last one?