Thursday, August 30, 2012

Art & Water Drops


I love Thursdays. Even though I have to go in to work, I don't have to leave until nearly 11:30, giving me plenty of time to hang out, relax, and have this house to myself. I could, of course, choose to use this time to be productive. Being who I am, of course, I don't.

What I'm doing instead this morning is scrolling through the websites of some of my favorite artists, trying to get my art-brain working. I did a bit of sketching yesterday, sketching I was actually somewhat happy with, so I'm trying to get my head back in the right place to really get involved in working on these sorts of things again.

A couple of the artists and galleries I'm clicking around on today:



Kelli Davis, whose work is sweet, offbeat, and her colors just a little bit muted. If you want to really fall in love with her stuff, though, go look at the animations she's done. "Birds of a Feather" is my favorite.


Lawrence Yang's "Giraffe Mountain". It's ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper. I love Yang's stuff. His use of color is great; sometimes bright, sometimes muted, but always really suited to the mood of the piece, and his stuff is always just a little bit silly. Look at that tree up there. That is my favorite tree.


Johanna Ost's koi tattoo design. I've been following Johanna Ost's art for years, and it's been fun to watch her evolve and change over time.

Little Red, by Katie Ryan. Katie Ryan is actually one of my top ten favorite artists, mostly because she uses this freedom of line that I aspire to. This particular piece I like mainly for the trees, the red of the riding hood, the torn hem of the dress.



This piece by Cory Godby. Cory Godby is actually a local artist based in Greenville, and I first saw his stuff at last year's Indie Craft Parade. His pieces reference fairy tales, mainly, or at least a world in which the concepts in fairy tales are real. My favorite pieces actually have his version of giants in them, but today I wanted to look at the indigo blue and the way he painted the light from the golden apple the girl is holding.

I think we'll go ahead and end with something that is perfectly silly and happens to me all the time:


From Marc Johns' blog, which is entitled Serious Drawings and which is anything but. His things are a reminder that if you're not enjoying yourself at all or having a good time, there really isn't any point to creating art... you're just creating visual misery at that point.

So if I start to get stressed, I hop over to Marc Johns' site, and I smile, and then I remember that I do this because I love it, not because I have to.


Also, I found the perfect water droplet on a leaf after it rained a little yesterday morning at work.

That is all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American Barn Quilts

On Saturday at work, we had a book signing by a Georgia author named Suzi Parron, whose book on barn quilts has just been published. I was vaguely aware of what barn quilts were, although not that there was any sort of movement behind them or that they were that widespread.

Barn quilts are essentially large outdoor paintings that take a square from a specific quilt pattern or design and recreate it in a 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 form. It's either painted directly on the wood on the side of a barn, or painted on separate panels which are attached to one another and then affixed to the side of a barn (traditionally; now you find 'barn quilts' on historic homes, art studios, stores, any kind of place). They tend to have some incredible colors to the, and very graphic design sensibilities (since quilts are designed in a geometric way, and then you have to make them visible from the road when you're putting them on what is frankly the broad side of a barn), so after looking them up a little bit I decided to take a break from work to sit in on Suzi's talk and buy her book.

This is my second-favorite barn quilt so far:


The photo is hosted here.

The above is a barn quilt, for example, from Kankakee County, Illinois. This photo comes right off of Suzi's blog, which I totally recommend to anyone who finds this even remotely interesting.

For those who are not interested at all, here is a really cool sci-fi webcomic that I am sort of obsessed with right now. Great writer/artist, good ideas, solid execution... Knock yourselves out.

I actually really like barns, because barns feel a little bit like home. For the maybe two people who don't know this, my dad's a farmer and I grew up in and out of the barn at my grandparents' farmhouse, befriending not-quite-feral barn cats who nonetheless came running to my grandmother's call to purr around her legs.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve my cousin Jake and I clambering up the wood ladder and swiping away cobwebs so we could go hang out in the barn's "attic", the immense empty storage room at the top. I remember a basketball hoop and a basketball that was basically flat, and the smell of old wood and hay, shouting to hear our voices echo, barn cats milling around the bottom of the ladder meowing for attention. I'm pretty sure we played Star Wars up there at least a couple of times, although how barns, cats, and basketballs fit into Star Wars has since escaped me.

It made perfect sense at the time.

Candle in the Wind Studios - photo here.

I've been thumbing through the book pretty much nonstop since I bought it. Suzi has some great photos, and her talk on Saturday was great. She did a slide show of barn quilts while she spoke, starting with the very first one she herself saw, then going into the history from the first quilt going up eleven years ago to where we are now - where less than half-a-dozen states don't have a quilt. I had no idea the trail was that big.

The reason this came up is because the museum I work at is officially going to be a part of the Upstate South Carolina quilt trail. We've got the frame set up outside, and we just need to get our actual block finished and placed within the frame for everything to be set, as far as our part goes.

That's what made me think of barn quilts again - and then I sat through Suzi's talk and realized how interesting the designs really are.


With Love, From Letitia in Dover, Tennessee - photo found here.

I am an unending champion of what is often considered "primitive" or "folk" arts. Often these are things which take real craftsmanship and patience, but don't get the same respect as contemporary paintings and sculptures. This has partly to do with "folk" art often being more function-oriented than form-oriented - think of quilts or wrought-iron gates... and it also partly has to do with these useful arts being sort of ubiquitous; I mean, who hasn't owned a quilt for keeping warm when it's cool outside?

Barn quilts basically combine three awesome things for me - truly vibrant and gorgeous painting, community effort to preserve historic traditions like barns and quilting (these trails come together often as an effort of town preservation committees), and barns. Without any serious need to store hay in huge amounts in most of the country at this point, barns are starting to disappear.

 One of the reasons our drive back to Illinois, when we must make that 12-hour trek instead of just a two-hour flight, is less awful than it might otherwise be is that I like watching barns pop up and the land flatten out into the geography and landscape I find most recognizable... so it makes me sad to see fewer barns than I used to.


Larson's Corn crib. Kankakee, Illinois. Photo from here.

This is just something that I'm getting into, and I thought some of the people who read my odd ramblings here might be interested in it, too. I feel like I've let my painting go so much and I really only just started drawing again regularly, and the last few weeks it seems like things that kind of inspire me to take it back up again keep popping up.

Maybe I should start listening to these sparks and get back into the creating things place...

I had such a good time when I was there before.

On a related note, a bit of info for you guys; I used to have an art blog that fell into disrepair and disuse when I stopped painting and drawing quite as much. I'm going to shut that blog down for good, and instead I plan to do the occasional update here, on this blog, about whatever I might be creating at the time. Those posts will be titled The Giant's Eye, however, so you'll know by that title when the update is an art update.

I know I posted first my second-favorite barn quilt... so I wanted to post my absolute favorite. I'm only sorry there aren't any better pictures of it. It's also a local barn quilt out at Split Creek Farm.



The quilt square used is from a design called Echoes of the Past. You can find a photo of a full quilt made using the pattern over here... although I like the colors in the above barn quilt quite a bit better.

Me? Like vibrant colors? I'm sure you're all completely shocked.

Like I said, this is just another in a list of things recently that has made me think that I need to start pulling my acrylics and paintbrushes back out, especially now that we're settled in the new place and Jason has started working on getting his blacksmith shop up and running. Last Saturday he and his dad (and our friends the Spiveys came to help some, because they are awesome) moved an old workshop that was on our property when we bought it, and they're beginning to set up the space that we'll be putting his shop in.

When I was showing the book to Jason, I said that I feel like we could make a little barn quilt square of our own, but I don't know where we would put it. He suggested on the side of his shop, once he's got it up.

I just want that on the record, folks... that it was his idea.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nine

Today:


 Watching a runner fly by us on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.


An old train car gone to rust, reminding us that the trail used to be railroad tracks.


We started the walk early enough that the morning glories hadn't yet curled up to hide from the heat.
They were everywhere, in all sorts of colors.


Coffee (me hot, Jason iced) and lunch at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe.

 (I had something called a pogacha, which appeared to be like a delicious calzone of beef, feta, and spinach, Jason had a turkey sandwich on rosemary bread.)


A painted tree on a big hunk of granite, sort of a cheery reminder on the side of the trail to enjoy all this nature around us. Also it makes me want to start painting on rocks (again).


What appears to be wild bamboo grows everywhere along the edges, if you know where to look.

Where does the title for this entry come from? Well, nine is the amount of miles Jason and I walked today.

My feet are very angry with me. So are my legs. 

Also my thighs... 

Basically, everything from the waist down is full of rage at my choices. On the other hand, I successfully proved to myself today that I can walk nine miles in one go. I'm going to call that an achievement.

So, now that I know I can do it...

Well, I'm going to go get a bike so I never have to do it again.

Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Things - Art, Tomatoes, & Sappiness

1. I know I already mentioned these on Instagram, but I would like to reiterate my love for this teal-and-ivory scarf and this little asymmetric bird necklace I was able to snag on serious sale at Fiore.


Mostly I wanted to share this because I think the tiny golden bird is adorable. And also because I like the color red.

... and also blue.

Also purple.

I just like colors.

2. The Indie Craft Parade is coming up!


This is one of my absolute favorite Greenville things. The Huguenot Mill is just behind the Peace Center downtown, and a bunch of local artists, photographers, and craftspeople absolutely pack the building for a weekend. They set up vendor stalls and there is live music and food/drink as well. Were I a woman of incredible wealth, I would probably bring home a truckload of stuff from the Indie Craft Parade.

This year it's September 7th, 8th, and 9th. Unfortunately I can't go Saturday, what with me having a job that likes me to actually be there on the days I'm scheduled to work, but I'll most likely drag Jason (and as many other people as possible) with me Sunday. 

I love this because you don't just see painters or photographers - you see people who make their own jewelry, mugs, beaded/braided rugs, terrariums, prints, T-shirts (I bought my current favorite super-soft T-shirt from a group called parachute here last year), and there was a stall that did customized blue jeans made to your exact specifications. On top of that, the artists and craftspeople involved are mainly within my generation. It's always good to wallow in what other artists my age in this town are up to, especially since I myself have been pretty lax since we moved to Greenville and I'm looking for some inspiration.

I took photos of the things we saw last year? But I took some pretty terrible photos because I was too excited to hold still, so... forgive the quality, there.

Imagine giving a puppy a camera and then showing them a cat just out of reach, and that's about where my brain was.



3. The other day, while running errands, I stopped by the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery, which is probably officially my new favorite place to buy coffee because they are always rockin' the Jamaican Me Wild/Crazy flavor and I'm not ashamed to say that anything that has "Kahlua" as part of its flavor profile is all right by me...

Wait. Got distracted. Back on track.

In any case, they have local vegetables, too, and I grabbed from avocados and peaches. I remembered that Jason had told me once that my father-in-law grew beefsteak tomatoes and Jason thought they had a really good flavor, so I grabbed a couple of those, too.

When I arrived home that night, I mentioned to Jason what kind of tomatoes I had bought.



He came over and hugged me, thanked me, and pointed out that it was really cool that I had thought to get a specific brand of tomatoes based on a conversation we had so far back that neither one of us is 100% sure when it happened.

It made him happy, so it made me happy to buy it for him.

In short, that was my 'we are so sappy when we're home, you guys don't even know, count your blessings that we reign it in in public' story.


4. This gorgeous family of owls by Annya Kai:


 I love her stuff because she uses seriously vibrant color (which shouldn't surprise any of you), and she does some of the most painfully adorable owl designs I've ever seen. All of her prints are really affordable, too, which makes me happy; so many artists overprice even their prints until it's difficult to get them to sell. I plan to lay waste to this woman's print collection whenever we have to turn one of our spare bedrooms into a nursery.


This giraffe print is absolutely perfect, too. You can find all sorts of awesome over at her Etsy shop.

Sigh.

I need a giant well of money.


5.  Jason and I went on a walk tonight, pushing ourselves to go farther than we have been going. We ended up walking a little over five miles in all, and I took some pictures, although it was starting to get to that part of the evening where nothing I shoot is in focus thanks to the rapidly dimming light.

I managed to get a few pretty decent shots, but overall it wasn't a terrible successful evening, so far as photography goes.

I was able to capture this moment, though:


I think that shot alone makes the whole thing worth it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The View From My Deck


Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs--

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On "Frugal" Fashion & "Budget" Shopping

I have a confession to make: I read fashion magazines and blogs like it's goin' out of style.

GET IT?

Ha ha... ha.... ha.

Okay, so that was a really bad pun. I could not help myself.

Bear with me and I promise I won't make any more.

I read Lucky and InStyle so far as magazines go, occasionally picking up Marie Claire or Glamour when in the bookstore with a cup of coffee and some time to kill... even the very occasional Vogue.

I used to read Vogue somewhat religiously way back in the day, although 'read' is a very loose term. As a middle- and eventually high-school wannabe artist, looking at the images in Vogue was actually a great way to get a sense of how the human body can contort. The women in Vogue are often in the strangest positions, and with their clavicles and shoulders photographed so closely, I would even get a sense of how the bones connected to one another.

Eventually, I bought a couple of actual anatomy books and Vogue fell by the wayside, replaced by actual instruction and drawing from life.

I still tend to think now and then about all the very strange looks I used to get from the odd teacher or administrator during class who caught me carefully copying the way the bones in a woman's wrist were shadowed by the careful lights placed just off-camera.

Although that is in no way what I actually wanted to write about today... but I guess you can just consider that little anecdote a bonus "Katie is weird" story to light up your day.

I try not to disappoint when it comes to providing you with "Katie is weird" stories.

In any case, I read those magazines, though mostly just Lucky and InStyle (and also Garden & Gun and Whole Living but don't you judge me because I can absolutely tell that you are judging me). I read the occasional fashion blogs as well, because don't judge me.

Fashion magazines (and the really successful, monetized fashion blogs) have this odd disconnect with the world most people live in. For example, they write that they are 'obsessed' with the perfect motorcycle jacket which one absolutely must have and which will go with everything  - which just happens to cost over $1,000. Which is more money than my brain tells me any article of clothing should cost unless it is dipped in pure gold.

What I've been thinking about, though, is my increasing incredulity about what is considered "budget" or "frugal" fashion.

To show me a $72 T-shirt that is "an incredible value! Really, it pays for itself! Look at these seams!" is to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that your frugality and my frugality live in whole different income brackets.

Possibly different universes.

Don't get me wrong - I am a huge fan of the concept of frugal fashion spreads, lists of ways to get the look you're going for without dropping your entire paycheck. I am such a huge fan that I give myself pats on the back whenever I pull off a particularly successful shopping spree (give myself a smallish budget, stick to it or come in under it). Despite my steadfastly less-than-stylish tomboy instincts, I do like to get ideas from magazines, and it's even better if those are ideas I am actually capable of affording.

I do find it bothersome, and I wonder if others do as well, to see something labeled as frugal, cheap, or "value-oriented" and realize that it's not just out of my particular budget at this particular point in my life, but out of the budgets of most people. Or if it's in their budgets, it's as a one-time splurge; a pair of custom-made jeans you may not be able to afford except due to some kind of financial windfall, or the "investment piece" - the expensive handbag, shoe, piece of jewelry, etc. that you budget carefully for with the intention of keeping it for years and years.

Obviously the men and women running these fashion magazines are not themselves hurting for money, and to them their $90 bracelet or $275 date-night dress aren't investment pieces at all - they are heavily budgeted cheap buys. I don't really even blame them for the problem, exactly; would a fashion magazine/blog that is both for-profit and actually attempts to showcase seriously budget-oriented style actually be able to make a profit? We seem really inclined to cling to the dream, the photoshoots and items that we like to believe that one day we might afford, those clothing items we would buy like hotcakes if we just had some more money.

I'd like to see a magazine that attempted to actually be stylish and stick within, say, something that someone making $50K a year or less would be able to afford, but I realize it's not really part of a dream to look at items from Target or JCPenney, Kohl's or even Walmart. There are some blogs operating like this, and that's at least a start. But I don't know that those blogs are monetized, and if they even are I couldn't tell you if their owners and operators are making a serious profit on them.

I just know that it is, occasionally, a little bit isolating to realize that the "Outfit for Under $100" special (in which each individual piece of said outfit must be under $100, not the outfit itself) does not contain a single piece I could afford except for maybe a single finger-ring... and sometimes not even that. Yet this is the magazine writer's (or sometimes just the guest stylist's) idea of rock-bottom budget prices. It's... annoying, I guess, at least annoying enough for me to write a blog post about it, and if you've made it this far I assume it annoys you, too.

It's all castles in the sky, I suppose. I'm not sure that I can really fault people for which castles they choose to build, and there are clearly thousands upon thousands of people who can afford these things so easily they don't think anything of it. To the magazine editors and writers, and the guest stylists they utilize, it's a sincere attempt at being careful with money. It's just that their "careful with money" is my "there goes our grocery budget for the month". No one can really be faulted for that; it's just a fact of life.

It is something I've been thinking about, though, and I'd be interested in any opinions on the subject you'd be willing share... just e-mail me or leave a comment through the comment form below.

Maybe it's my understanding of what is frugal that's out of whack,...

But I'm still not going to buy a $72 T-shirt, no matter how great the seams are.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Denali

A few entries back, I told everyone to cross their fingers that my parents had a fun (and safe) time in Alaska on their cruise. I've been following my mom's occasional updates as to what they're up to on facebook with probably unseemly interest. Despite Jack London doing his best to heavily imply that Alaska should only be visited by people who are not me and my family members (none of us are sporting the somewhat gigantic beards all his heroes seem to wear so easily), I'd love to go see Alaska myself.

My parents are having a blast.

Mom even sent me this postcard:


They saw Denali! Or, to those who like to use the name the Americans imposed upon it when they decided they didn't much like the idea of things having been named before they got there (by the Koyukon Athabaskan people and later Russians - who just named it the Russian translation of Denali), Mt. McKinley.

Obviously they did not climb Denali (and weren't so close to it as the buses in this photo), but I think just getting there is seriously cool.

Actually, thanks to what I've seen (and the bit I've heard) of their trip so far, I am adding Alaska to my list of Places I Want to Go. Mom has taken photos of moose and caribou and had coffee and seen a glacier, and I know I'm forgetting some other interesting things, too.

Also, she has really good handwriting.


I'm really glad they seem to be having such an awesome time. When they come down to SC for Thanksgiving, I'll hopefully get to see piles and piles of pictures and hear stories until my ears bleed, except that hopefully my ears will not actually bleed. But I may hug my parents until they cannot take it anymore, at least.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am, endlessly, to finally have a job wherein I don't have to scramble to figure out how to get enough time off to see my family and friends?

I'll get to (finally) see Illinois again at Christmas, to see how tall my niece has gotten and hear her speeches detailing what she's been up to, see my big brother for the first time in way too long (he lives in Texas, and when I worked in the call center I wasn't able to get to IL the last time he was in the state because the call center thought a personal life was something you had when you were unemployed, and to ask for vacation was tantamount to treason).

I'll get to congratulate my brother-in-law on finishing his awesome canoe and taking it out on the water. Maybe I'll even get to see the canoe itself.

Most importantly - I'll get to see the already deeply charming baby girl my cousin Josh and his wife Beth had. It's their first child, my aunt and uncle's first grandchild, and she is a sweetheart from the photos I've seen. I just received the first 'Stella postcard' with a photo of her face. She looks just like her daddy, except Josh isn't really into hairbows.

My parents being in Alaska has, oddly, made me super homesick for Illinois. I think I just want to hear their stories about it in person, see their photos, see them.

I loved getting this postcard, though. You can't really tell from my photos there, but I have rested the postcard on Sova Zena so that I can look at it all day at work.

Especially during the humid late summer, it's kind of nice to look up and see a mountain just absolutely covered in snow, and think, in other places there is cold air. Maybe not here - at least not now - but in Alaska, their mountains have snow, and my parents are there.

They've been talking about this trip at least since I was 18, and they are there.

Even if I don't think my mother's going to bring me home a caribou as a souvenir.

Not even a baby one.

What is a baby caribou even called?

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 Things - The Purple Platypus Edition

I'm not feeling very well today, so instead of some sort of actual attempt at coherence, I'm just going to leave you with a few pretty, odd, or interesting things. You can decide which is which.

Note, however, that I have somewhat of a hefty rant about the concept of "budget/frugal fashion" as it seems to apply in Magazine World vs. The World That Actually Exists that will no doubt be popping up on your computer screens soon. I started it yesterday, and then didn't feel well enough to finish it, so it's just sort of knocking about my brain trying to make itself known, while my brain just whines about how it doesn't feel like thinking today.

 You may want to consider that a warning instead of something to look forward to, depending on who you are.

I am wearing as close to pajamas as I can get without breaking my work's dress code, which means my favorite big purple sweater with a bright yellow tank top, soft cotton gray pants that are supposed to look dressy - to be honest, they just look a little bit like they have an identity crisis - a pair of striped SmartWool socks that come up to my knees for warmth (yes, it is August in South Carolina and I am very cold; that should tell you how well I feel today)  and purple slip-on shoes that may as well be fuzzy slippers for how cozy they are.

I put on a headband and pulled my hair back, because the hair will not cooperate today and I am in no mood to force it. The hair is a wild and untamed beast, and some day someone is going to show me how to use a flatiron. Until then, the hair does what it wants. I'm not sure I'd have the energy to flat-iron it even if I knew how.

I'm going to be lucky if I don't fall asleep in my coffee.

In any case, I think I told you there would be some things today?

1. This is my favorite older woman ever. I want to be her when I grow up. She is like Betsey Johnson, with more glitter and fabulousness.



She is Desiree from Pull Your Socks Up, and she is that sort of zany, why-should-I-care-what-the-world-thinks brand of delightful that I aspire to. I may not wear glittery zebra-striped platform shoes when I'm her age? But that will mostly be because I would fall over all the time if I did.

Also I would leave glitter trails everywhere I go.

You want to spend some time just grinning your face off at a perfectly lovely, wacky person just having the best time ever? Go read Desiree's blog.


2.  I went to the library, and I checked out this book:


I am working my way, slowly, through what is essentially a history of the evolution of poetry written in the English language. Some of the early poems are essentially songs with unknown authors. I've just made it past the (somewhat large) Shakespeare section.

I like poetry. I know a lot of people find poetry inexpressibly boring, but I think that's mainly the fault of everyone being exposed to the wrong poems. Poetry is neat; it's life, and all that life entails, encapsulated into short forms.

I respond with shock to people who say they don't enjoy reading. It's not that I think that people should have to read? I just like it so much that I have a hard time grasping why anyone wouldn't. The problem  almost always seems to be one of A. having been exposed to reading as a punishment or hardship early in life without any kind of saving grace, or B. having had the wrong kind of reading forced on them when they were young.

Reading is such a huge part of my life, and so is poetry; a whole shelf on my bookshelf is basically devoted to books of poems I've picked up here or there. Sometimes I even write some.


3. I am super into owls lately. Between Sova Zena, bags I've been trying to figure out how to sew that I find online, and this necklace I bought on sale at JCPenney, I'd say I"m a little bit hooked.


I mean, come on. Look at its little owl face and its big owl-y eyes.

I can say owl until the word loses all meaning. Owl owl owl owl owl.

Owl.

Scuba!

4. The Swamp Rabbit Cafe, one of my newer discoveries (thanks to my friends Lauren and Liz) along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, is awesome. They have coffee and scones and sandwiches and deliciousness, but they are also a small grocery store with local and organic vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and... other stuff too! I mostly get stuck on the cheese, to be honest.

Well, and the coffee.

Coffee coffee coffee.

What were we talking about again?

RIGHT. Swamp Rabbit Cafe. Sorry, my brain kinda wandered off there.

They are officially one year old in September, and they are throwing a party. I am totally going to that party.



... albeit not on a bike like the one in the ad there.

Although that bike would be fabulous.


5. I am in love with the color purple.

Well, not the book or the movie, exactly, although those are very nice, too... the actual color purple. The nice, jewel-toned royal purple is kind of all over the place right now, and I cannot express how happy that makes me.

I have purple shoes and purple socks (these are yesterday's socks/shoes; also SmartWool, though)...


I have purple sweaters from Mast General Store downtown (this is yesterday's sweater; today's is long-sleeved and warmer)...


... I even have a purple hair-tie in today.

I think I need help, or to just declare myself royalty and call it a day.

Well...

Long live the Queen!

We are totally amused.

We also need more coffee.





(also you've probably noticed that there is no platypus in this particular list of 5 things... unless you count me. I am adorable and vaguely venomous. I regret nothing.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Storm & Thomas Wyatt


.

a piece of poetry for your day:

Sir Thomas Wyatt
(1503 - 1542)

"They Flee From Me"

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, 'dear heart, how like you this?'

It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

So... weekend.

So, I actually did take some pictures of this weekend, despite my being half-convinced I'd just be having so much fun I would forget.

Well, sort of. I mean, I remembered to take a few pictures, and then I forgot for large blocks of time, and then I would remember again. Most of my pictures are of sweaty people near bikes.

But I ran down the battery on my (woefully undercharged) camera to do so, and it seems that since the last time I had to charge the camera was before our move... somewhere there is a treasure chest with my camera charger in it. I'm not sure where it is, but I know it's in the house.

So...

I had a good weekend!

Sarah came in on Thursday afternoon, only a couple of hours behind schedule. She'd already finished one of the books she brought with her, so we knew we'd have to hit up a bookstore before she went back, or she would run out of reading material all too quickly.

Things that happened:

Friday, I took Sarah downtown where we wandered Falls Park, got photographed by the Sav-a-Lot Road Scholars (two interns doing a cross-country public relations trip; they were really nice! also they gave us Sav-a-Lot gift cards! obviously I am the blonde in that photo and Sarah is the brunette), had lunch at Coffee to a Tea, one of my favorite downtown places to grab coffee and delicious bagel sandwiches, and generally enjoyed the day.

(Part of that day's enjoyment may or may not have involved meeting the lovely Lauren and the three of us shopping at Mast General for maple candy (for me) and other old-school candies (for them), sarsparilla and a neat purple sweater (both for me)... maybe. Maybe not.)

We ended up meeting up with some of my female friends at the mall that night for some serious shopping time, which I did not hesitate to make the most of. I had a bunch of basics to get at JCPenney, snagged some sale shoes at Payless (these shoes!), and utilized my awesome Fan of the Week discount at Fiore, which is seriously my new favorite place to get jewelry and drown myself in scarves.

Note: when we moved, we discovered that I, a self-declared tomboy, own more shoes than my deeply girly friend Sarah F., who is a saint and a woman who wears heels often. This amuses me. On the other hand, she owns more dresses than I have owned my entire life combined... so I'll call that a draw.

Saturday, we met up first thing in the morning with some friends, rented some bikes from Reedy Rides and rode the Swamp Rabbit Trail from downtown Greenville up to Travelers' Rest, had lunch at the Cafe at Williams Hardware, and then rode back again. It was an 18 mile bike ride, my personal best so far even if it's a pitiful little number to people who actually ride bikes regularly.

At lunch, there were eleven of us. We were officially some kind of bicycle gang.  I expected us to break into dance and start snapping our fingers at any moment.

Although only Liz actually spontaneously burst into dance.

I would say we were pretty formidable, except that some of us rode bikes a whole lot faster than others so we were never together for long while actually riding. Our actual groups in action rarely numbered more than four, which definitely still counts, but you have to admit that four people are less likely to intimidate than eleven. Four people make you wave and smile; eleven make you a little bit nervous.

Jason fell over three times, because he has not ridden a bike in over a decade, and this bike was more than a touch temperamental. My bike was fine, except that it really didn't like fourth gear and it turns out that fourth gear is my favorite gear. So... we had some disagreements about that.

I had decided to have an egg salad sandwich for lunch, since nothing else was really tripping my trigger (except for the peanut butter pie that Sarah had at lunch. I reeeeeeeally could have done some damage to that) and I don't know if it was just the extra burst of energy my muscles put into trying to end the bike ride as quickly as possible to save themselves or not, but on the way back I ended up riding even faster than I had on the way to lunch.

I'm hoping to take up regular bicycle riding as an exercise thing, because bicycle riding is the only kind of exercise that has really remained fun for any length of time to me. We'll see how this goes. The trail actually comes within a very short distance of our house, so it wouldn't be hard to just hop on and go for a ride.

Afterwards everyone split up to go home and take SO MANY SHOWERS. Because we were all kind of ew.

 Saturday night, my friend Sherrie threw a dinner party of sorts for some folks full of delicious foods and I was able to make my awesome Honeysuckle Moonshine drink recipe for Sarah... but then I ran out of moonshine. So I suppose we'll be a-trottin' on over to Dark Corner Distillery pretty soon to stock back up.

Sunday was blissfully, mercifully unplanned. We went to the bookstore for Sarah, ogled the kittens and puppies at Petsmart, ogled lawn mowers at Lowe's, and ogled bicycles and clothing at R.E.I. All in all, it was all just a nice relax-y oglin' time.

 It was also Eat Like a Kid Day for us, apparently. I had oatmeal squares cereal for breakfast, we had grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches for lunch, frozen yogurt for a snack, and pizza for dinner.

I won't lie; I very much enjoy Eat Like a Kid Day. It is the best kind of food day.

Monday, I drove Sarah back to the airport. The drive back was a little bit lonely.

So that was my thoroughly awesome weekend, which I totally have pictures for, only you can't see them because I sort of killed my camera and cannot find the battery charger to resurrect it with.

Now I am settling back into the regular way of things. I finished the last library book I was working on (along with reading a short but moving book I finished in about four hours), and now I'm starting this book.

Today was pretty busy at work; lots of paperwork to catch up on, one of my vendors came in to switch our her current inventory and let me choose some new things to showcase, we had some people in testing our alarms which meant ear-shattering high pitches for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

But now I am home. We have eaten breadsticks and amazing salad Jason made, we need to unpack our house still, and I kind of need to sweep.

Ah... routine.

It'd be relaxing if it didn't involve so much doing stuff.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Katies

Just got word that my friend Sarah's flight was delayed, so she won't be in the great state of South Carolina with me until tonight. In any case, she'll still be making it in this afternoon. Really, the only thing that changed is that I just realized I could have slept in until whenever I wanted, or watched cartoons, or something.

Wait.

It's only ten a.m.

I can STILL go watch cartoons!

... wait.

What cartoons are even on at ten a.m. on Thursdays?

I am so out of touch with what the hip young kids are watchin' these days.

In any case, I thought I'd introduce you to the museum's gift shop mascot and queen:


I bet you thought I would just going to show you a picture of myself, huh?

Well, I may be in charge of the gift shop, but I am no queen there. Truly, it's Sova Zena here who is the true ruler. She watches to make sure I am working hard, she wears a tiny crown of little plastic fake pearls that I found on her head, and she is always scowl-y.

And if you think it's weird that I am telling you about a mascot to my gift shop that I named and gave a tiny crown, you should keep in mind that I am not the only one who thought of having Sova Zena for a mascot. My forty-eight year old male coworker is in on this, too.

Whenever he's been sitting at my desk while I'm on break, I come back and Sova Zena has her wing draped with resigned frustration over her eyes.

It seems fitting.

As for me, though...


This is the only expression I ever get.

Now, you may ask yourself why it was I was taking cell phone photos of a stuffed owl in the afternoon instead of, y'know, greeting visitors to the museum, showing them around, or answering their questions about the museum itself or the surrounding small town we're situated in? What with me working the front desk and all?

This is why:


Nonstop torrential downpour for something like an hour straight, lighting and booming thunder, enough wind to whip the standing water down the street.

Trust me; ain't nobody loves a museum so much they'll brave that.

Well, I'm sure there's someone, but they weren't in town that day.

The thing about South Carolina is, despite the part where I've been posting images of rain nearly every other day for about two weeks here, and a few on Instagram, we are still in a drought. This is good stuff, don't get me wrong, but South Carolina has been fighting a drought since before my husband even graduated high school. This is definitely helping, though.

Even if I wish there was enough to send some to save every family farm in America.

Well... I've made the guest bed, done a couple of loads of laundry, emptied and refilled the cat's litterbox, swept up the guest bathroom, and laid out various soaps, shampoos, body lotions, and whatnot like some sort of awesome hotel, I'm running the dishwasher, and I'm abuot to light some candles.

I'm going to call today accomplished, and I've only been awake for three hours.

Now I think I'll take myself up on those cartoons.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Singin' in the Rain



It started dumping buckets of rain just after I finished my lunch.



Because I am a mature and responsible adult, I decided to grab an umbrella and go run around in it while I still had a few minutes left. Please ignore whatever it is my hair is doing up there, because really my hair makes its own choices completely independent of me.

Sometimes I see pictures of myself and think that I look like my father.

I don't know how I feel about this.


There is nothing like taking a break out of your grown-up workday to go jump in mudpuddles and watch frogs and tadpoles swim around under the surface of a pond the sky is just pouring on.

Simply nothing at all.


I try to run around the garden as often as I can, since I usually am done with food about halfway in, but often I get so distracted reading my book that I don't realize I've finished eating until my hour is almost up.

Not today; today I went outside and I had a time.


I began to debate staying out here until they finally had to drag me back in.

 It'd just be me and the frogs, singin' in the rain instead of answering the phone, puddle-jumping instead of number-crunching, taking photos instead of sticking stamps on envelopes.


Just me and the frogs.

Then there was a bright flash of lightning and thunder followed on its heels.

Well, I abandoned those frogs to their thunder-y fate and went right back inside.

I had been out for less than five minutes. 

I have not gone out again.

This is, of course, because I am a grown-up and mature and etc and so forth, and it is totally not because I hate thunderstorms and have an irrational fear of them.

Nope.

Not me.

I just wanted to get back to addressing those envelopes that badly.

Monday, August 6, 2012

No Time to Chill


I'm not going to lie, you guys.

I had a really good weekend...

and I have absolutely no photos of quality to show for it. Part of the problem is that my weekend was so good that I didn't really feel like pausing to take photos, except for roughly one time, and when I did that it was too bright for the pictures to be any good, really and plus I was still having such a good time I wasn't trying very hard to get good pictures.

You'll just have to take my word for it.

The Order of Awesome Stuff goes as follows;

Friday we met some friends for Monterrey's, margaritas, and then giggling on their couch until we finally had to make our excuses to leave so I wouldn't be completely useless at work on Saturday morning. I was a little cranky, but sufficiently useful if I do say so myself.

Sunday we met a buddy downtown and ate brunch/lunch/whatever at Ford's Oyster House, using the gift card that the Greenville Convention & Visitor's Bureau sent me. Jason had the brunch buffet, which he described at delicious and totally worth it. Things I know I saw on his plate (briefly, before he ate them); a pecan muffin thing, shrimp and grits, steamed oysters, bleu cheese, chicken and waffles, and little breakfast biscuits with some kind of pork in them. Justin had jambalaya with sausage, shrimp, and chicken (also delicious-looking) and I had a spinach salad topped with fried oysters, some parmesan cheese, and some kind of dressing that had bacon in it. I do recommend Ford's highly - especially because they serve oysters! I am the biggest proselytizer for oysters, let me tell you Internet.

It was a really good time! The three of us ended up exploring Rock Quarry Garden, a pre-Civil War granite quarry that's been turned into this neat sort of hidden gem just outside of downtown Greenville. It has a stone bridge, a waterfall area full of rocks to clamber around on, and an area to the side with kind of a small cove of bamboo. It seems to be a popular site for wedding/engagement/maternity photography.

We ended up meeting a third friend, hanging out for a bit with tea (and water!), showing the guy's the new house, and then going our separate ways.

I am ridiculously sunburned from Sunday. My shoulders are so very, very red. So... lobster-like, really...

I keep thinking one day I will tan instead of burn. I don't know why I think that.

Today I met my friends Liz and Lauren for coffee and lunch at Barnes & Noble (along with my friend Jenn, who works there and we were able to snag on her lunch break), and then we drove out to a frozen yogurt place and it was just so much good weekend time. I am overwhelmed and just want to rest.

Which is kinda funny, since I am going to go to work for two days and then take another weekend when my long-time friend Sarah will be flying into town... so that's another awesome weekend. A very long awesome weekend, since I'm driving up to snag her from the airport on Thursday and she'll be leaving Monday. I love very long awesome weekends.

After that, though, we are going to take a break from awesome weekends, and settle for quietly content and frugal weekends so that Jason and I can start saving up for our long weekend coming up in October. And then after that our hopefully long week in Illinois for Christmas.

My parents are leaving for their cruise to Alaska tomorrow, so I'd like everybody to sort of send good vibes into the universe for their safe return. I am a worrier (if all the anxiety posts hadn't, y'know, clued you in to that... or maybe you're new) so I will be biting my nails nonstop, but I know they're going to have a great time. This vacation has been a long time coming for them... I know they've been discussing the Alaska cruise at least since we went on our family cruise back when I was 18.

I'll see if I can't cobble together another couple of blog posts before Sarah gets here... after Thursday, all bets are off on whether I'll be able to take photos, or if it'll be a repeat of this weekend where I write it down for posterity because I got nothin' to show you except my words.

Oh, and that flower up there.

But then I took that photo last week at work, so...


 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Awesome in Two Ways Today



Four years ago today, on a blistering hot August day in southern Illinois, I married the man to the far left in this picture. The best decision either of us could have made, I think, in choosing our marital alliance.

Together, we could rule the world!

We'll settle for ruling the plot of land and the house we just bought, though, and eventually ruling dogs and small children and then sullen teenagers.

I'm sure, looking at the above photo, you're likely thinking to yourself that I could have chosen a more romantic photo to represent my wedding day; and in the past I have. But this is my second-favorite photo from my entire wedding, not just because we're making faces but because this is my wedding party, and we are having a great time.

Later, some of us may or may not have drunk too much wine before speech time, and those speeches may or may not live in infamy and get brought up repeatedly every single chance I get, or at least until I forget about it again because I may have also had too much wine before speech time.

In any case, this is my annual chance to tell you how cool Jason is, and how I love him. So there you go. Aren't you glad we had this talk?

Speaking of awesome things, by the way -

I am active on Twitter, which likely surprises no one who pays any attention to the front of my page since my twitter feed is on there. This is a very odd sentence to write, and I find it very cool how words like twitter and feed change over time, with technological advancement. Someday etymologists will examine these rapid changes with some fascination.

But that's not really what I want to talk about.

Although now it kind of is.

But, back on track!

I kind of tend to come and go on it, but lately I've been following lots of Greenville-centric feeds, and some of them followed me back. I've been posting on twitter (and facebook, and everywhere else I can get my little claws into) basically nonstop about the move and the house-buying, and recently I received a reply from the twitter for the Greenville Convention & Visitor's Bureau wishing us a happy move and asking about our time in Greenville thus far.

We ended up having a good conversation about it being, essentially, my two-year anniversary since the move to Greenville (almost on the same day as my wedding two years prior to that). They offered their congratulations, and then asked me if they could send me some things as a kind of anniversary gift for living here.

This is what I received:



Two Greenville pens, a notepad with a congratulations written on it, and that silver thing back there is a really neat coffee/water thermos with the Greenville city logo on it! Add to that, something indescribably cool; they sent me a gift card, so that Jason and I could try out somewhere new to eat!

Jason and I spent most of last night, after I got the package, just occasionally looking at each other and repeating, "That is really cool," before going back to whatever it is we were doing. Then, fifteen minutes later, "... isn't that really cool?" And so on and so forth.

Completely out of the blue they sent me some cool stuff, and I am very seriously appreciative. I can add this to my 'Greenville stuff' haul; I current have a mug and a magnet and will soon be adding a T-shirt to the collection.

 I'd like to say thanks to the Greenville Convention & Visitor's Bureau for the gifts and the well wishes!

I picked the right city to buy a house in, clearly.