Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's been awhile, hasn't it?


I don't know. I haven't been feelin' it too much lately, but the last couple of days have been lovely. I didn't get any pictures, since I hadn't realized how low my battery was until I tried to take the camera downtown with us Friday night and it gamely turned on, and just quickly turned off again. Sad little camera.

In any case, the following things have happened:

1. Jason bought a little old Ford truck to go back and forth to work in.
2. A week later, the truck wouldn't start. We spent a hilarious three or so days getting it towed to the dealership, taking it home running fine, and finding out the truck wouldn't start again the next morning. Everything's fixed now, but that truck needs to start earning its keep, s'all I'm sayin'.
3. I got a new job! I will be starting the 24th, Monday through Friday, first shift for training for a few weeks. As is my usual notion, I'm not really going to say WHERE I work, because that can get a bit shifty... employers tend not to like that. But I am excited for my new job, not in the least because the compensation is going to be worlds better than what I've been getting... I'm excited to get Jason and I 100% back in the black, finances-wise.

So that's the big stuff that's happened.

Tomorrow, I'm going to take a couple of pictures of the leaves as they're starting to turn here. And then I'm going to post those pictures here.  I will make this happen.

I've been having a tendency to think about posting, then kind of shrugging or getting pulled outside for a walk or to watch a movie or any number of myriad other things. But I like writing here, keeping a record, keeping people up to date.

So let's get back into that, shall we?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

... well then.


It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks.

Between working, carving out time together, and time spent with friends Jason and I haven't had a ton of time to sit back and relax... at our own house, at least. So I haven't had much time to sit and work on any of my photos or to get anything up here.

So I took a picture of my feet the other day, because these are some of my favorite shoes. So there you go. They're cheap little things I bought on clearance at Walmart something like two years ago. I think they've held up very well, considering.

So at least you know I'm doing something, even if that something is taking pictures of my own feet.

There was a week of temperatures that were delightfully lower and less-humid than I have been used to... fall is finally, finally, finally coming. I joyfully dug all my sweaters and winter clothing out of storage, all but singing to myself about it.

Of course, it's not really cold enough to justify my winter stuff, not just yet. But I have successfully worn at least one sweater in the last two weeks, and that makes me very happy indeed.

I am working hard to get back on track here. It's so hard to make myself sit down and really just write something out or work in Photoshop to get my pictures post-worthy. So many ways in which I need to get more disciplined.

Ah, well.

My goal for tomorrow is to post up another one of my Mindless Consumerism posts... this one may be fairly sweater-focused. It's a very sweater mood I've been in lately: I long for cooler temps all the time so I can bundle up in soft warm things throughout my whole day (or at least, the time I'm not at work).

I'm hoping to work on getting more photos ready, too, so I can have something to show you! I have photos from the Indie Craft Parade to get up on here, maybe a couple of things from when we went to visit Griz at Hagood Mill (Griz is who Jason apprenticed for back when he first got into blacksmithing).

I have so many things I want to do.

Now to just carve out some time in which to do them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

This is kind of rambling. And by kind of I mean really.



This week I did the following:

I worked. I had delicious chili as made by my friend Shelly after work on Labor Day (oh yes, I worked on Labor Day. Holiday pay is a pretty good incentive). I inhaled pumpkin spice lattes all week long once they started on Tuesday. I met up with friends again for friend-time Wednesday night. Cue more working. I made some sort of strange southwestern chicken dish for Jason last night for dinner. We agreed we should probably get groceries soon. I did not work today. I went to the library and turned in books and got more books, I had coffee with my friend Sherrie while she was on her lunch break at work, I petted the cat.

I've done a bit of drawing, which feels fantastic.

Tonight, more friend-time. This has been a week of friend-time... really, the last couple of weeks have been. It's been pretty nice.

Jason has a job! I just realized I never updated here (although my facebook companions are well aware of it). He works day shifts, so we'll need to pick up a second car. We are excited to finally have gotten a lucky break. Crossing my fingers for more to come.

It has finally started to cool down a little bit. We've had some pretty nice, breezy days. I can't wait for fall, even if it does set in almost a month later than back up in Illinois. I dream about sweaters and my SmartWool socks and buying some new long pants for fall. I have lots of mundane dreams, really. Sometimes I dream about grocery shopping. Occasionally i have had dreams about hanging out with the cat. Seriously.

I'm going to settle in to some reading and working on the grocery list for now. Tomorrow, Jason and I are going downtown as is generally our usual plan for when I have Saturdays off... but tomorrow there is something called the Indie Craft Parade happening downtown and I would like to go see it! And maybe take pictures. And maybe blog about it later.

You can never tell with me. I'm all wild and crazy-like.

Maybe I won't even go read. Maybe I'll just go lay down in the sunlight like a cat. I'm pretty sure I could purr if I tried hard enough.

Today, while driving here, there and everywhere, I heard a really good interview on NPR with Friar Lyndon Harris, who was in charge of St. Paul's Episcopal Church (the tiny chapel across the street from the World Trade Center) on September 11th, 2001. The Cherokee County Arts and History Museum is doing an exhibit right now with all kinds of artifacts and stories about what happened with St. Paul's at the time.

He talked about 9/11, what it meant, what happened with St. Paul's. The podcast is here. I teared up while driving, I laughed along with him when he laughed. I recommend the podcast to anyone who has the time or inclination to listen to it: most of the interview is about what happened after the day itself, how St. Paul's dealt with being turned into an impromptu memorial site, a place to counsel, to rage, to grieve and to help.

By the end of the interview, I was really, really impressed with Fr. Harris.

And that's all I've got to say for now.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All I've Got, For Now


a photo taken at Table Rock when Jason and I went hiking a couple of weeks ago. I'm not feeling very talkative lately; make of that what you will. Don't mistake it for inactivity, though; Jason's current status of job-seeking means that my time when I'm not working is often pretty well scheduled to keep us on the move, because he spends all day in the house and I know from my foray in joblessness last year while planning our move from Illinois to SC that sitting around the house gets pretty darn boring. Jason is much better at activities than I am.

This is good, in that it's meant a lot of friend-time and family-time, both of which I need and thoroughly enjoy. It also means that I'm doing a lot of things and am not exactly relaxed enough to blog about any of them terribly often.

I don't know. I've been pretty stressed out lately, which is always something that ends with me fairly scatterbrained. I was able to take a good long walk this morning, just me and my ipod, and get some thinking time in. I don't know that anything came of it, but any time I spend just kind of grooving to music I consider to be time to get my brain back in order, at least a little bit.

A coworker and I were discussing the idea of writing a tell-all memoir about working as baristas in a bookstore coffee-shop. We threw around the idea of titles like But This Is Exactly What You Ordered, Sir or Dispatches from the Espresso Machine. Or No, Ma'am, I Cannot Give You 20% Off Because You're Just So Nice.

Well, Jason has a lead on a job, so I'm pretty hopeful today. He is off taking care of that sort of thing, while the cat and I have staring contests and I try to talk myself into doing anything but playing the "oh I'm not at work I'm going to allow myself to rest" game, which is nice but doesn't actually accomplish anything.

Then again, relaxation in and of itself can be an accomplishment. I think I'm letting stress get to me again, which is never fun for anybody.

I'm stuck in a cycle of art block. I don't have inspiration, and hardly ever have the energy, to try and create anything. It never did just come on command; that's not how inspiration works... or at least it never has with me. It's part of the stress, too; the more I worry (about money, about our five-year plan, about my eroding list of things I had hoped to get done before I was 30, the next six months, the next ten years... it goes on like that), the more I stress out, the less likely it is to ever come back. It's easy to say "Well, just worry less," but it certainly is not nearly so easy to carry out that advice. I know I need to worry less, but that's not actually how worry works; I don't call that into being any more than I can simply pull inspiration out of thin air.

On the other hand, I got home from work last night and settled in to reading and watching some Netflix off and on, and when Jason got home from a meeting he was at we spent our whole night laughing like little kids at each other, which was fantastic. And evenings like that are always fantastic. I was essentially not anxious for a good few hours in a row.

I need to figure out how to let myself breathe, and not spend time trying to figure out which thing is going to go wrong next, how we're going to juggle adult life long enough to make it to what I can only hope is the next lucky break (we're due to get one eventually, right?)... you would be surprised the kinds of things my brain will come up with when it comes to finding stuff to worry about.

I can't just will myself cheerful. That's never been a talent of mine.

I can't just shrug it off. So I suppose I need to draw on the strength I know I've picked up from all the women who have been in my life, stand up a little taller, and hack my way through it 'til I get there.

I just kinda liked the mental image of myself taking a figurative machete to anxiety-trees. I mean, come on, picture me trying to hack my way through ANY kind of vegetation without somehow injuring myself. Even if it is metaphorical vegetation.

I don't want it to be assumed that I'm unhappy. About 80% of my life is pretty awesome. I'm happy with my husband, with my friends, with my family.

I am just an anxious little person, and late spring and summer this year have not been the uneventual type of seasons that allow me to put that anxiety somewhere else for a while.

I need to stop looking at all of this jumping from hope to hope as something wearying, and start looking at it the way little kids look at jumping from rock to rock across a creek without trying to touch the water. Sure, you don't want your feet to get wet and there's a constant chance that you'll fall in, but there's a reason little kids do that as a game.

Well.

That ended up a lot longer than I meant it to be.

But I suppose if I'm only going to update every 8 to 10 days or so, I might as well let myself ramble a bit, huh?

Besides, I wouldn't be me if I couldn't turn a "Well, I should post up a picture or something and show people I'm still around" update into three pages of where my brain is at right now.

I'm going to go watch Anthony Bourdain on Netflix now.

And snuggle my cat.

And it's going to be awesome.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lazy Sunday

After a pretty hard week of work, I have today off (and this coming Saturday off!) and I am trying to make the most of it. By "make the most of it", I mean watch documentaries on Netflix about the Lost City of Z, fitfully work on cleaning the living room, eventually cook dinner, and otherwise do as little as possible. Working on sketches for a painting, too, hopefully.

The best way to rediscover the inspiration and the energy to commit pencil (or brush) to paper, I suppose, is to just force myself to start and try to hide all the absolute piles of awful I produce until I can get myself back into it mentally, too.

The organizational effort is still in its early fits and starts. I took up the To-Do List idea, but it turns out I keep forgetting to take it with me and therefore forgetting what it was I had to do. I have a planner, but I've had some forgetting-to-take-it-places issues with that, too. But I'm getting better.

This is really just a what's-up-with-me quick little update. The answer, in the end, is not all that much.

Last week was not an energy-happy week in any way at all. I'm going to work on that this week.

One thing I definitely have succeeded at is sleeping more, getting the 7 to 8 hours all at once. So that's good. But I haven't noticed any definite uptick in energy from it. I'm as drained by long days as I ever was.

Today, though?

Today, if I want to sit down, I can sit. If I want to go sit on the couch and read about agate or flip through 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern or scribble little thoughts down on a piece of notebook paper, I can just do that.

And I'm not going to take that truth about days off for granted.

Which means I really need to get back to leisurely sipping my coffee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Well, this got long.


How completely and quintessentially me it is to buy a book on organization and then immediately get so disorganized I forget to start my new book on organization.

Which I must admit to you is what happened with my get-organized-week-by-week book. I thought about it, I ruminated on it, I decided I was going to start on this path to a clutter-free me right away.

And then I immediately began cluttering all over the place, quite happily piling books on the couch and letting them live there in blissful harmony with the cushions until I remembered why, exactly, those books were stacked there in the first place.

Those of you who know me fairly well cannot be anything remotely close to surprised by this development. I am the queen of forgetting this plan or that, getting so wrapped up in some new idea that I forget the other ones half-finished.

This week has been an energizing week for me, at least mentally... The kind of week that reminds me that there was something I was meant to be doing.

Oh yeah.

This.



organize now! by Jennifer Ford Berry had the looks of the kind of book I could use; it's broken down week by week, with tasks broken down into smaller ones. Organizing one's life can be overwhelming, even when you are 25, don't own a house, don't have children and have only a husband and a cat making faces at your messiness.

(okay, I don't actually know that's what the cat is making faces about... I just know she makes faces)

This week there were some hopeful developments when it came to our future financial stability and my own willingness to dig myself out of this awful lack-of-creativity rut and get working already; get painting, get drawing patterns for my coffee-bag purse, get working on ideas with a friend of mine for a project that could definitely be very cool.

As it stands, though, I am still at the series of steps on the way to figuring myself out where I'm mostly staring ahead at a large and seemingly never-ending canyon of stuff that needs to be done.

So.

We start at the very beginning.



(it's a very good place to start. I promise I won't start singing.)

Week 1 is, first and foremost, about getting one's head together. Deciding what you want out of your organized life. Deciding to be "cleaner" is all well and good, but if the reason you are full of clutter is because of a dissatisfaction with where your life is... you can empty out boxes and boxes of art supplies but that won't fix the reality that I haven't been working on the paintings I need to be paying attention to.

Er, forgive that sudden switch from second-person perspective to first. I'm writing very stream-of-consciousness right now.

So the very first step on the first week's goals it to answer a series of questions. I am keeping a small green notebook to jot down some of those answers.

Question 1 is actually a series of questions, based on your idea of a 'perfect life': where would you live, what would you do to earn an income, what would you do for fun.

The most important questions in Question 1 are the following:

"What would you do more of?"



My answers:

Paint. Draw. Create jewelry. Take photos. Time with Jason. Garden. Read. Time with family. Craft. Time with friends.

It lets you see what your goals for your free time are, which really is what I'm attempting the most to organize. My job is clear and well-defined, for the most part; it needs no organization on my part. My life outside of my job is what needs to be torn out of its current chaos.

The other important question:

"What would you do less of?"


My answers:

Computer time. TV. Staying in. Nothing. Procrastinating. 

 So I have my answers of what needs to change in my free time.

What I need to take up next week: Making a To Do list of what needs to get done that day, even things that don't seem like that big of a deal... anything that I really need to get done that day. I need to think about what the next year or so is going to look like, as I make each step. I need to consider what I have to change about my current mental state to allow myself to maintain any of the steps I'm about to take.

Not sure if I'm ready for week 2, but I came home from work today with an energy to my step that I haven't had, really, in weeks.

There are some things on my plate right now that could really get big, in wonderful ways, or could blow up in my face.

I am finding myself anticipating seeing which it is, doing everything in my power to make sure it's positive.

So my first steps are going to be to try to dial down all the anxiousness and chaos in my head, and then start applying that to my life outside of my brain.

I really hope this wasn't the most boring blog entry any of you have ever read... this was really me kind of talking out loud to you and to myself. I haven't been talking to my blog really lately. I was never great at the lengthy entries here... there's too much I try to keep at least semi-private. But I'm trying to open up more, and be more honest, as part of what I am trying to accomplish.

I feel like honesty's working for me so far.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Which Your Narrator is Boring

My latte from The Coffee Hound during my visit to Illinois

You may have noticed I did a small amount of not posting last week... in that I basically didn't post at all. Well, last Tuesday was my anniversary with Jason - our three-year-anniversary - and between work and attempting to get out and be active with Jason and yet more work, I haven't really had time to really think.

Except in those short bursts you get when out and about, when you think to yourself, "Oh, I know what a good blog entry would be about!" and by the time you get home you've completely forgotten all about it.

In any case, last week we had dinner at the Trappe Door for our anniversary when I got out of work; we split an appetizer and an entree, and had a beer and a dessert apiece. Our entree was moules and frites; mussels and fries. Oh man, that is a heavenly combination I had never actually tried before.

Wednesday, with my day off sort of wide-open for adventure, we went back up to Table Rock. I still can't hike all the way to the top or even remotely close, but I definitely got twice as far this time as I did on my first try. It's a hike listed as "strenuous", and it is not kiddin' around. I have some pictures, but managed to misplace my cord for getting them into my computer. So more on that later.


A roasted garlic scone from the Coffee Hound

I spent this weekend working: closing shifts Friday, Saturday, and another closing shift tonight. While it's nice in that I get to sleep in, it also basically kills any chance of me doing anything especially fun this weekend that I get to tell you about. I could tell you about making lattes and coffee for people, but you already know the basics on that stuff, right?

However, I noticed I had these pictures from my trip to Illinois lurking about, ready to post, so I decided to go ahead and put them up here. Coffee and a scone from a little coffee shop in Bloomington-Normal, on a really nice morning when Mom and I went into town just the two of us and kind of meandered around. We have a very particular form of shopping we do; we wander, back and forth, looking at this or that, until we finally decide we can glean no more fascination from the same stuff in the same store. Only then do we buy.

It is a form of shopping that drives anyone who does not shop that way insane.

As I'm basically killin' time until my closing shift tonight, I haven't got any super-cool plans for today. My next day off is this coming Wednesday. I'll have to do laundry that day.

See, this is why I didn't update... my life is less than exciting. I plan to spend the afternoon working on the magazine version of the "Rule of One More"; taking the parts I like and want to keep for re-reading out of magazines so I can throw them out... making space for more magazines! Yay, more magazines!

Jason does not like my version of the Rule of One More.

Mine is an evil laugh.

Since we're on a roll of 'food-themed' pictures for this entirely not food-themed entry...



Here is one more than I have. It's pumpkin blossoms, sort of a regional thing I suppose; most people I meet since I moved out of the Midwest have never heard of eating pumpkin blossoms. I've noticed squash blossoms appearing in recipes more lately, and it's really the same concept.

Oh man, are they delicious. The taste of coming home in late summer is pumpkin blossoms. Yum.

Oh sure, they look fried and unhealthy and delicious and...

well, they are fried. Also unhealthy.

Also delicious.

Hopefully next time I'll have something a little more exciting than pumpkin blossoms and my work schedule, heh.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

this face keeps me coming back to Illinois


Well. That and all the other hilarious faces she makes.

And the stuff she says.

Oh, and the games she comes up with.

You know.

Basically everything about her.

This is what happens when your niece is incredible. It's hard not to take pictures, even when those pictures are of her making silly faces. I'm debating buying her a Viking hat so we can match. Oh wait. I stole that Viking hat from a friend for those pictures.

Okay, I'll buy us both Viking hats so we can match.

Of course, I go back for my family. To wake up in a house with my siblings and my parents in it, to make endless single cups of coffee in my parents' awesome Keurig thing, to watch TV shows geared towards toddlers and eat fried pumpkin blossoms (YES I got to eat some this year! Life is good) and talk to my sister, to my brother, to my parents.

To help my cousin Melissa celebrate her Independence Day in style.

So now I get to start counting down days until we go back for Christmas.



How tall do you think she'll be at Christmas?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Momentarily Distracted by Consumerism

I am back in Greenville! My plane landed only a few minutes late yesterday, and I saw my brother off to his terminal for his flight back to Austin, Texas and then headed for baggage claim. Jason got backed up in traffic, but it didn't end up affecting that much as to when he got to the airport to come get me... just as rush hour starts in Atlanta, Georgia.

Where the airport is.

And we have to go straight through Georgia to come home.

We stopped at the Atlanta Bread Company place inside the airport, right outside baggage claim, and had a quick kind-of-dinner between 3:30 and 4-ish, figuring getting in any kind of hurry would be a bad plan. And it really would have been. Had we chosen not to eat first...

It took us about an hour to get out of the city. It usually takes us... maybe twenty minutes to a half an hour.

Rush hour traffic does not play around.

Had we chosen to leave before eating, we would have been considering cannibalism by the time we finally got out of Atlanta, let me tell you internet.

It took us forever to get home, but when we did, I was able to pet the cat and settle right back into things. This morning we went downtown to the Saturday market. We didn't buy anything (other than iced coffee) but we did walk much further down the West End of downtown than I have ever gone before, so that was fun. Now we're back and making sure to guzzle some water before we meet up with friends for some lunch at our favorite Saturday meetup place, Cafe Paulista, a restaurant everyone should go to, as often as fiscally possible.

I work late afternoon to close, so boo on that, but yay on getting back to work, really.

Tomorrow I start week 1 in earnest of my book on organizing your life that I picked up. I may keep you updated on the progress, but really, I may not. My current level of chaos is a little much to try and talk about.

I haven't been able to load pictures from my week in Illinois just yet, but I'll try and get a few up from the trip in the next few days. I had a great time being with my parents and my siblings each day again, and getting to see my extended family is always fantastic. We had a really busy week, not exactly a vacation in the strictest sense, but I had a pretty awesome time there. Still... I need some time to get the photos loaded and go through them.

In the meantime, some things I either own and love, or love and wish I owned and am scribbling mad little plans for once our financial stuff gets back on track:
Brazil Nut Body Scrub from the Body Shop. It's for dry skin, as is the body butter I have now that's about to follow, so I can't use it all the time... but it's great for when you've gotten out of the pool or been cleaning all day covered in dust, or spent your day on an airplane. The smell is great; a really light, faintly sweet smell, and while it exfoliates, it's made to moisturize at the same time so it doesn't leave my skin super dry and itchy afterward.

Cocoa Butter Body Butter, from the Body Shop as well. This is what I use after the scrub, and a little goes a really long way. It's also made for super dry skin. But let me tell you, after spending yesterday in airports, on a plane, and then trapped in a car in Atlanta's rush hour traffic... the body butter really does the trick to relax you. It's got a great not-quite-chocolate smell that lasts forever without being cloying or really obvious.



How badly do I want these boots. How very, very badly. Or at least boots that are similar to these boots. I may take up flouncy mid-length prairie skirts just to justify owning cowboy boots like this. Cowboy boots don't look ridiculous in the South, right?

Besides, the company is located in Austin, where Bryan lives! I'd be supporting local business! Well, somebody's local business, anyway.

Maybe I will find boots similar to this, in a price range that does not raise my eyebrows so high they nearly fall off my head.

Maybe.

Still want 'em, though.


A set of notecards and envelopes from Papyrus. I didn't know that store existed until I visited New York City with some of my in-laws and my friend Tea showed me all the awesome stationary. Maybe I'm getting too domesticated, drooling over stationary. I feel a sudden need to go listen to old punk music for a while or dye my hair bright red.






Vanilla Chai Lip Balm from Soothing Touch. I found it at the EarthFare grocery store Jason and I visit sometimes and it is the best lip balm ever... so far. Every single ingredient is something I recognize, which is something I'm striving for overall over time, it actually smells (and tastes) like Chai (due to actual chai tea and vanilla extract), and it's a HUGE bottle of balm, meaning it lasts for a long time.

So those are just some things I thought were pretty cool. Some I already have, some I would like to have. Hopefully I'll get at least a little bit of a tidbit about my trip up in the next couple of days. I don't work until evening tomorrow, so I've got some free time.

The cat conked out right next to me last night, so it's nice to know she missed me. Or, you know, is a cat and therefore just wanted to see if I'd pet her if she laid right there.

She was right.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Illinois

Clearly, I live.

Plane took off exactly on time and landed a few minutes before we were officially scheduled to. I panicked during takeoff, as per usual, and panicked less during landing, which was nice. You would think with the serious amount of flying I've done in the past twelve months that I'd be able to handle takeoff by now, but... no.

So I'm here in flatland, corn and soybeans all around, and it feels... nice. It's too hot here for people to be outside much during the day; I told my dad it feels like home, only less humid.

I have watched my niece scamper, and scheme, and probably a bunch of other actions that start with the letter S. She's hilarious and I keep thinking how different she is every time I'm here.

Last night my niece stayed up later than I did, although she got a nap in the evening so she had the advantage there. I got to wander out right before sleep and see her drawing with glow in the dark sidewalk chalk, which was pretty cool. I didn't even know that existed.

My brother-in-law made a gigantic circle of bread - I mean seriously enormous. We had the bread for dinner last night - there were burgers and hot dogs and fried pumpkin blossoms (YES I got to have some!) which I have pictures of but can't post just yet. I had JW's bread with this sort of meat spread he had brought and delicious goat cheese. So last night's dinner was pretty much awesome.

Right now, we're preparing to meet up with my cousins and aunt for a day of shopping. The downside here is that, with the three of us in the house again, we fall into an old, old pattern. Because I am the youngest, I get up first.

So here I am, typing away, listening to the creaks of the upstairs as my sister moves around, counting down time.

I miss my husband, but it's only a week. We can handle a week.

More later. For now, I am going to think about coffee, but try to hold back from actually getting any, in the hopes that there will be coffee later. Sometimes there's coffee later.

Sorry this was a little bit random - now I can hear my sister making coffee on our parents' Keurig thingie and I think I might have to give in and have some.

Sigh.

I have no self-control.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Overturned



It is raining like a wild creature outside, like the sky just fell open and let all the rain out at once. It was a humid, hot day, so I wasn't surprised to get rain, but... our drive home from the grocery store was kind of exciting. Also full of water spraying up from the tires in perfect waves, which while kind of pretty, is also a little unnerving.

We came in from the rain looking like drowned cats, which our cat did not really at all appreciate. She's currently hiding from the bad bad thunder noises.

I leave for Illinois Friday (!!!!) morning, so it has occurred to me I should probably look into that whole, y'know, 'packing' thing. And then it occurs to me that I really like playing video games a lot more than I like packing. So we'll see what happens.

My plans for tonight consist mostly of fruit, my favorite sarsaparilla soda, and curling up with my husband to either watch TV, play video games, or just be so cute we actually annoy people who cannot even see us.

I'm going to miss him while I'm gone.

But I'll get to see so many people I've been missing for months, and my head and my heart both sing about how it's almost time to leave, almost time for me to be there, almost that moment I'll see my mom and my dad, my brother and my sister and my whole family again. Maybe the bright blue upturned bowl that is the sky in the Midwest on a sunny day.

I don't have a lot photographs lately, just a picture here or there of a fun angle or some close-up of my porch... heh. A pile of photos from my friend's daughter's fifth birthday party that I have yet to get anything done with.

I need to decide what clothes to wear for a week, what shoes to take, if I need any jewelry but my wedding ring. The only time I get truly girly, I suppose, is when I'm packing or if a spider appears somewhere in my house. Of course, what is going to take the longest when packing is going to be the Battle of Books, wherein I try to decide how to limit myself to just one or two books for my trip, because I can't possibly need more than three for just one week, but you know... you never know. What I want to read the fourth book I vetoed at the last second?

Clearly, this is a conundrum.

In any case, dinner is almost ready, it is still raining like some kind of mythical battle is happening outside, and I think that's about all I had to say for today.



If you don't mind, I think I'll go hide from the thunder with the cat, under the bed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

there are days when I need the reminder


photograph is mine, taken in downtown greenville




p.s. yes, I am working on blog layout. It's going to be kinda wonky for a couple of days.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Farmer's Markets and Hope


There are a lot of people in Greenville. Or at least more than I am used to there being in places. Greenville is a sprawling kind of place, which makes it the perfect sort of city for me; full of grass and trees and space to move around in. So I kind of forget that there are so many people here.

Until we go to the farmer's market downtown on Saturday. We arrived about half an hour after it even opened for the morning, so there weren't that many people yet - although there was already a line at an heirloom tomato booth.

The photo above was taken around ten in the morning, when the crowd started to get pretty serious. I think almost everyone with their face towards my camera is wearing sunglasses, because they are smart people who own sunglasses and I should really look into that.

The booths are awesome and varied; a ton of vegetables and fruit, of course, but a homemade pasta booth as well, some local meats, a guy who makes these incredible benches, seats, and bowls out of these slabs of wood he gets to a high shine.


Yarn, in the most beautiful colors.

Jason and I got ourselves a hunk of habanero jack cheese from Happy Cow, a bag of roasted Cajun peanuts, Pepper Jelly, and a pint of blueberries. We settled down to make a snack of the blueberries and the cheese, since we were meeting friends for lunch later.

Downtown is beautiful, and I never get tired of it, really. I could wander there all afternoon, as long as I got to occasionally duck into an air-conditioned store to recover from the constant, unrelenting humidity. I turn into a soggy Yankee after very little time outside right now.

Which Jason thinks is just sooooo funny.


It's been a good couple of weeks, on every front but financially. Financially we're still dealing with a few things (my brand spanking new medical bills being part of it), but frankly, I've been able to spend some time lounging by the pool at my in-laws', eating great (and healthy) food because Jason is a great cook when he's home all the time (and even when he isn't - he's just cooking a lot right now), all kinds of things.

Less than two weeks until I visit Illinois! I can't wait. I'm already deciding what clothes to take in my head and what books I might want on the plane, that kind of thing. I'm actually going to be on the same flight my brother is (he's flying from Texas to the Atlanta airport that I fly out of to go back to Illinois, then we're hopping on the same flight) and there has been some discussion as to whether or not that might help my fear of flying, to have a family member with me.

My husband and his best friend, who still remember my fingernails digging into their arms on the way back from Colorado, may beg to differ on that. But I'm hopeful.

Also, as a side note: Greenville has the most polite graffiti ever downtown. There were just little thought-provoking notes like this:






or one in front of an unoccupied storefront that simply said, "Empty? Empty." Or someone drew a giant pile of Harry Potter symbols on the path by the Reedy River.

There was a dinosaur hugging a duck on the wall under the bridge where we were eating.

I'm not saying there isn't horrible graffiti elsewhere or anything, or stuff I just didn't see. But honestly, cuddly dinosaur hugging a duck beats all that.

Wish us luck on the financial front! We've signed a lease with our apartment complex for another year, so it's nice to not have to pack up all my stuff for the first year since I first went to college. Maybe that's why I hate the month of July so much; it's been my moving month every year for nearly seven years.

But not this year.

Woo hoo!

11 days 'til Illinois.

I'm tappin' my feet and counting the moments.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Placeholder


Working on words, but having a hard time with them, recently. It's not that I'm not doing things, but rather that I'm having a hard time sitting down to write about them. I'd rather stick my nose in a book or make food or go to a farmer's market on a Saturday morning.

Which I will get around to talking about, a little bit, in the morning.

For now, I'm going to let myself settle down and finish out this quiet, lazy Sunday off work with my husband.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I neglect you


For that, I'm sorry.

I need to get back on the bloggin' horse, so to speak.

But I'm a little surrounded right now. We've had another blow happen, this time a financial one and not an emotional or physical one, so my husband and I are a little busy scrambling around trying to figure out what we're doing this time.

Add that to the seemingly unending pile of troubles happening to my loved ones, and everything just feels so weighted.

I count down the days to Illinois. Until July 22nd. Not even a full month. Soon soon soon.

I need a week where my mind isn't lost in trying to think four steps ahead of fate. It's an impossible proposition but I can't seem to stop trying.

So instead I'm going to make a promise to myself.

I'm going to buckle down and focus more on this blog, on writing, on myself, on the things I need to do to make me feel better, physically and emotionally. And let everything else sort of scatter where it may, for now.

We'll be okay.

This sweltering South Carolina summer isn't going to stop and wait for me to get my head together, so I'd best go outside and get on with enjoyin' it when I get the chance.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cloudburst


It rained last night.

I say it rained, but that's not entirely accurate.

What happened was that after a pretty nice day, we looked outside the door of our friend's apartment to realize that the clouds coming in on the sudden uptick of wind weren't just regular gray clouds, they were all but black with the rain that was coming. The kind of clouds that hang low enough that you could almost touch them.

When it rained, it poured.

It dumped buckets of rain on us, all at once. A friend of mine who was driving home at the time was blown into another lane of traffic by the gusts of wind. At our friend's apartment, we all stared out the back sliding doors to his little patio as the wind threw leaves, sticks, and debris all over the place.

A tree fell down, right behind his apartment. Just gave up and fell over, just like that. We didn't even really hear a crash.


The area behind Justin's apartment rapidly became some kind of small lake, full of red clay mud and sediment washing around, like tiny little rapids. Awful, dirty tiny little rapids.

The area in front of Justin's apartment was soon coated in red, fast-moving water as well. It was a little bit like having our own little moat, only it wasn't deep enough to stop any raving Viking hordes and also nobody we know lives in a castle.

... yet.

Give it time.

My in-laws briefly lost power. My aunt-in-law, so to speak, had most of a tree come down in her driveway. A tree blocked the road I use to get to work in the mornings last night, but it was cut apart and lying sedately in the ditches by the time I was on my way to make coffee drinks for the disgruntled cranky masses this morning.

 Of which I was one, having woken up at 3 A.M. for no good reason, sat awake for a while staring into nothing, and finally getting back to sleep around 4 A.M. At least the cat was happy to see I was awake.

I received my E.R. bill in the mail today, which was mercifully so much less than I thought it would be. Seeing as we are currently uninsured (we should both be eligible come August!), I was more than a little it worried. Also less worried at the same time, since we were only in the E.R. for six hours or so, and didn't need too many tests.

I may or may not have done a small dance of happiness around my living room. I attempted to do so quietly, since I'm trying to let Jason sleep.

Goals for tonight: 5 pages of writing stuff (working on character outlines/sketches as per the book I'm currently reading) and some work on outlines. Put away the laundry I did yesterday. Clean the dishes out of the sink, stick 'em in the dishwasher.

Goals for tomorrow: Work, dinner with in-laws. 5 pages of writing stuff.

Goals for Saturday: Work, hang out with a friend of mine to plan things. Plot, really. Well, it's a little bit like scheming when the two of us are together. We have been known to break into peals of laughter that make others suspicious. 5 pages of writing stuff. Maybe.

Or maybe I'll just go to sleep instead of writing.

Hmmn.

Sleep sounds nice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Like a Bee

I'm just going to share a few things and links I'm really liking. My life is not the most exciting of lives right now; I'm working as much as I can. My hours at work jumped up partially thanks to some availability changes from the rest of the staff, partly due to one of our cafe workers heading off into the wild blue yonder (or, you know, one hour north to a different city).

So last week consisted almost entirely of I go to work, I come home, I sleep. Wake up the next morning and repeat. This week looks to be much the same, at least so far.

I still have plans to win the lottery one day. Of course, I would have to play the lottery in order to have a chance of winning it, but let's not dwell on those minor little details, okay?

In any case, a few things:







This photo of a little girl from Benoit Paille's photography, taken at a Rainbow Gathering. Jason and I watched a special on Mesolithic people in Europe living in Doggerland, the land bridge that used to connect the UK to the rest of Europe on National Geographic the other night, and the sort of gravity and seriousness on this little girl's face reminded me of the images they were showing of what they thought the Doggerland people lived like.

I think if I could go back and do college again, I'd major in anthropology or archeology. I might not have any better chance at getting a job, but the history of human life on this planet is incredibly rich and fascinating.



This jewelry display by Shannon Eileen at Happiness Is...

This is pretty much exactly the kind of jewelry tree I need, since I overwhelmingly own necklaces (and just a few bracelets). I look at traditional jewelry boxes, but I'm just not that interested. I like the idea of jewelry trees hung on the wall, and I especially like the idea of ones that I make myself.

I have so many crafty impulses, but I am just so lazy.

It's a terrible conundrum.



My friend Sarah just started up her own blog, A Kitchen Full of Flours. Sarah is the master of "Glance idly at the recipe, toss a bunch of stuff together, magic happens" cooking. She makes desserts a lot. It's probably good for me that I don't live next door and therefore smell those desserts while she's baking them. It's good for them,too!

Every time she put something in the oven, she'd turn around to find me at the table. "What? I've always been here. Is that some kind of fruit crisp thingie?"



Speaking of food, this site shows a variety of photographs including the kinds of food and the weekly cost of food for families around the world. What is so staggering isn't really the cost differences, to me, but the kind of and amount of food people are eating in a week. The photo above is a Mongolian family and their weekly food intake.

It's just interesting to see the differences in what kinds of food people are buying and where.

I'm going to end it here, just for the sake of getting something up on the screen. It took me two days to get this post up, that tells you how busy I am right now, doesn't it?

I'm working today, then doing laundry at a friend's house while working on writing. I picked up a book, Plot Vs. Character. Between that and The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, I feel like I'm fairly settled on the writing-books front right now. You never know with me, though.

The cat is lying on Jason's chair next to me. She is the happiest napping cat in the world.

I wish I could nap.

Oh well. Just have to get through four hours of work, and then I can nap as I please.

Watch me count down the hours.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just This



Not much to say, today.

And that's a good thing.

Just a planning kind of day. I'm laying out goals for myself, for Jason and I, for this whole living-in-the-South enterprise we've got going. So far I've decided that listening to two elderly Southern women talk in a coffee shop while reading a book was pretty much the most relaxing hour ever, and that tells me I need to develop that accent, because I don't even know how someone can be stressed when they've got that lilting soft-consonant thing going for them.

I am scrolling through real estate sites looking at little houses, trying to find the one that sticks out at me, has a little bit of personality, is in our price range, as low as that price range is.

I am still on my nonfiction kick. Right now I'm reading Unprotected Texts and a book on
Saturday Night Live.
I am wearing a T-shirt I bought when I saw The Lion King in New York City and a pair of shorts and thinking, after having gone outside to run some errands, that I love central air conditioning more than I even begin to say.

It's a calm day. Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom, as the opening shot of my epic war against my own apartment. We have a friend coming to visit us in the next few weeks, and I have declared this war in the hopes that my apartment may even look remotely livable by the time he shows up. It's a dream I have, you see.

I have a couple of paintings I need to start working on. Inspiration has been a little lacking these last couple of days, but I think last night I finally hit upon my ideas. Now to sketch out to see how I'll need to plan this and then get started.

Also...

it's time for lunch.


So away I go!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Retail, Retail, Retail (Also Goslings!)

picture is in no way related... but baby goose! Look at his cute little face!
 
So my sister reminded me that I hadn't posted since last Wednesday. I thought to myself, that can't be right... tried to do math in my head, finally just brought up the blog to check, and wow. Okay. So it actually has been since the 11th.

So.

That's quite a while. I really dislike going more than a week. Mostly it's been a combination of my days being full of reading, which is not exactly exciting to write about, or work, which I try not to write about if I don't have to. What I can tell you about work, though, is that if ever you send your 11-year-old daughter up with a 20-dollar-bill and give her your order and then tell her "order whatever you want" while you sit out-of-earshot...

don't seek to blame us when your daughter orders a Frappucino with three different 50-cent add-ons. Turns out that those things are expensive, and also clearly marked on the menu. Please do not act as though we're trying to be deceptive and trick your daughter into buying costly things. She came up with that order all on her lonesome.

Also, saying, "Well, this time I suppose I'll accept this," doesn't actually mean anything. I understand people who get worried, anxious, or defensive when we actually accidentally overcharge, make the wrong drink, make the right drink the wrong way or any number of problems we are actually responsible for. I will go out of my way to make someone a new drink that is exactly to their specifications. That's on us, and it's on us to fix our mistakes.

But seriously, we made the right drink, as it was ordered. We made it the right way. Your daughter read the menu before she ordered; she knew the add-ons cost money. Either discuss ordering cheaper drinks with your daughter or come up with her to the register next time.

 Picture still not related. But look at their cute little feathers!

So that's work.


Well, it's not all work. There's a lot of good things.

But that woman's little hissy fit, and the hissy fits I have seen since I started in retail to begin with, continue to bother me.

In Old Navy the other day I witnessed a woman drive the poor lady working the register close to tears just picking at her about how she didn't seem cheerful enough. The cashier looked a little out of sorts to begin with, and by the time this lady got done with her, she had to step back and ask someone else to take over so she could just sit down, out of sight somewhere. In the end, the woman used the line that has most made me grit my teeth in all my time in retail...

"I used to work in a clothing store, you know! I know how you're supposed to be acting!"

I seriously don't get people sometimes.

When I'm a shopper? I'm a very understanding shopper. If my cashier is a little down or, you know what, even if they appear to be a listless, emotionless robot? Doesn't bother me. I don't really need them to smile their brightest and wish me the bestest day. It's nice, and I do appreciate the effort, but I'm not personally offended if they don't.

I know what it's like to have to come to work when you got three and a half hours of sleep the night before for no good reason, when you're on the verge of tears due to illness or worry or fear, when you're so sick you can barely stand. I know how hard it is to continue to grasp onto the tiniest handhold to get through your day... how time crawls or eventually slows to an absolute standstill.

I like when cashiers are happy, because it means they're probably having a pretty good day. And I like to see that. I try to be courteous, and kind, no matter what. I don't go into any store within a half-hour of their closing time unless dragged by well-meaning friends or relatives (who then take it upon themselves to explain to the sales associates in JoAnn Fabrics about how uncomfortable I am... Mom).

I don't even know anymore. I have like fifty pictures of baby geese.

 Hee.

Working in retail taught me a lot about retail, and who I am as a customer, and what I expect both as an employee and as a shopper. I've never understood people who work retail and then are harder on the associates than they were before. You've been there. You know how five awful customers in a row can make you already defensive and worried when a sixth walks in.

You know what it's like to be so sick you really should be at home, but you can't afford to lose a day's pay, so you stand on your feet for eight hours anyway on concrete tiles and pray you make it long enough to go buy Nyquil after work. You know that the service industry is overworked, underpaid, trying to make a living on scraps of income that would have been unimaginable to our grandparents.

My experience in retail has made me easier on service industry employees...

Sometimes, I don't get people.


I finished reading Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell. I think it should be required reading.

Between that and Malled, that I wrote about a couple of blog posts ago, it's giving me a lot to think about. I know that blogs, on the whole, try to write only positive things. I understand why that is a good draw, if one is looking for a large audience; your readers would rather laugh with you than worry with you, I think. But sometimes, I am not always thinking positively.

Trails of thought like the one above come and go pretty often for me, and have for a long time. I don't dwell on this, exactly, but it does pop into my head every time I am out trying on clothes in Old Navy or JCPenney's or any number of places and see someone giving the poor customer service rep hell for no reason other than to take out their own bad day on someone who is paid less than they are. Every time a customer talks to my coworkers or I like we are year-old illiterate monkeys.

Every time in six years I've witnessed a manager, a supervisor, a keyholder, anyone at all have to grit their teeth to be polite to someone who is clearly trying to see how far they can push before we explode and they can complain to corporate about the "rude employees" to try and get a free gift card for their 'troubles'...

These thoughts pop into my head.

Seriously. Their little beaks!

And they develop, over time, into this almost-cohesive thoughtful post.

Which I write, when I realize I haven't written in days.

And then I go make little cooing noises over adorable pictures of baby geese, or something.

Or what really happens, which is that the cat realizes I haven't petted her for a whole four hours now, and that is not acceptable.

Currently she is staring at me with her absolute saddest "nobody loves me" look.

Maybe she's just worried she can't compete with baby geese.

Their little running feet! Okay, I'll stop now.

I want to tell the cat not to worry; even I can't compete with the startling cuteness of baby geese.

I should have another post up for you tomorrow! Jason and I are headed to downtown today to hang out at the Greek Festival. Let me tell you how wonderful it is to live in a town where the words "Greek Festival" have absolutely nothing to do with fraternities or sororities or college.

Instead... FOOD.

Food and jingly coin-skirts. And Greek coffee, gritty and scalding hot, sweet and cooked over an open flame.

  And I promise, absolutely no meditative ruminations on what it means to work in the service industry into your actual adult years. Not tomorrow.

Because I have a four-day weekend, Saturday through Tuesday, and I am not going to spend it thinking about work.

Boo.

Yah.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What the Hail

Oh what, I can't like terrible puns when I'm making blog post titles?

I mean look at that up there.

That is a terrible pun.

In any case, just as Jason and I began to discuss taking the Lead-Lined Monster (our ridiculously heavy old TV, a  hand-me-down from a former roommate, whose weight is frankly legendary among anyone who has ever attempted to pick it up) out to dispose of it, it began to rain. I mean, just as I was finishing up my dinner after getting home from work.

So we settled in.

It poured buckets and buckets of rain, but that's not so unusual. I noticed the sound of rain hitting our roof was getting weirdly loud. Then I looked at our front steps.

 

"Hey, honey? I think it's going to be a while before we can take the Lead-Lined Monster out."


The hail, for the moment, was small. Not-quite dime sized, really.


We could hear it banging into the roof, but in little sounds, more like taps than anything else.

That didn't last long.

One of my friends, who lives about ten minutes away from us, posted pictures on her facebook of hail cupped in her hand that was not quite the size of a golf ball, and some that really was the size of a golf ball.

Sure enough, the sounds of hail on the roof started quickly becoming something more akin to the sound of someone hitting something with a baseball bat and less like someone wearing tap shoes. So Jason and I stood outside and watched it, from the dubious protection of our front porch.

Turns out hail that big ricochets like crazy. Which you'd think common sense would have told me, but nope. I had to get nearly hit in the face with ricocheting hail three or four (or five) times before I ducked back inside like a smart person.

Only to duck outside every thirty seconds to take more photos.

 

(Note: Our car was under a large tree, which provided some protection from the hail apparently... although our poor little red sports car had to be hosed off after the hailstorm, since it was basically coated in fallen green leaves. My car looked like Christmas! Violent, hail-y Christmas.)



Our basil plants (the Thai basil and the spicy globe basil visible in this photo) were pretty protected where they were, but we did have to move the tomato plant back to safety against the screen doors, behind our chairs.

You can see the golf-ball size hail in a couple places in the photo just above.


Yeesh.

It ended soon enough, and I texted my mother-in-law to make sure they hadn't been caught outside somewhere in it or anything. She replied that they were sitting on their sun porch at the back of the house just watchin' the hail come down.

In her own words, "We are cheap to entertain."

So are we, Robin. I took like twenty photos of hail. I'm not sure what that says about me.


 

Actually, maybe it's not the taking photos of hail, but then taking the time to post those photos up here for the internet to see that says something about how easily I am entertained, huh?

This was actually meant to be a belated Mother's Day post, in which I discuss all those ways in which my mom is awesome. Instead, it's a post about hail, because I am easily distracted and I happened to look at the hail photos first.

My mom is awesome all year round, anyway.


I know she's awesome, because twenty-five years ago she made that adorable hair-bow'd jaundiced little creature above, and despite all my temper tantrums, complete lack of common sense, argumentative teenage years, repeated begging for blue hair (for four years), the spiked jewelry and Sex Pistols t-shirts and my high school boyfriends and tears...  I think I came out pretty well.

I don't wear hair bows, though. I stopped wearing hair bows the moment I discovered how to take them off. Technically before that, since it turns out you can just yank those suckers off when you're two years old and don't have great motor control yet. Even if you have to pull some hair out with 'em.

That I am as delightful as I am speaks highly of her character, because seriously, I'm not sure that I could handle raising a kid like me.

Although I'm guessing just saying that means my kids are going to be terrifying monsters, and my mother will laugh, and laugh, and laugh when they are just like I was.

Hopefully that means she'll be full of really good advice for dealing with problem children after having dealt with her obstinate stubborn little third kid for the two decades it took me to move out of the house.

So. I guess this turned into a belated Mother's Day post after all.

Which means I accomplished my goals for today! Yay!

Cookies for everyone!*











*I do not actually have any cookies. Although if I did, I would totally share.