Thursday, January 31, 2013

Because You Haven't Seen Enough Yet

Because there can never be enough.

Indy, who is beginning to master walking into the crate of his own power before we leave! He still needs a little push, but we don't have to pick him up and deposit him in there anymore. He does start makin' the sad face as soon as we start putting on our shoes, though.

He has also discovered a deep love of stick-chewing.

And rawhide lollipops from Petco.

And his new cotton-and-rope duck toy... also from Petco.

Really, he just loves Petco.

 and I promise we still have a cat. She just won't stay still, and this is the best photo of her I have gotten in the last couple of weeks, so... make what you will of that.

She makes sure Indy knows who's boss, but he wants to play with her so very badly. It is both adorable and sad. When we crate him before we leave, she will routinely come over to his water bowl and start drinking out of it. He'll sit there and stare at her through the bars.

I think, come on, cat. That is just mean.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Wordless Wednesday - Instead, You Get Sappy

I left work at 4:45.

I just got home here at 6:45.

Normally getting home from work takes me about 30 minutes.

Tonight, I drove against wind gusts that blew my car across into oncoming traffic. When they were not doing that, they were blowing around rain so that I couldn't see any further than the taillights of the guy directly in front of me. Because it's the mountains and they hate me, fog was rising from all the water, so even when the wind let down and we could see... we still couldn't see.

I drove in thirds, because cutting something that sets off every panic response I have into smaller tasks helps me to keep calm. It's a trick to help deal with my anxiety. It worked, for the most part.

Just drive until you hit the first stop sign. That's your first sign.

Just drive until you hit the stop-light by the gas station. That's your second sign, you're mostly home.

Just drive until you're home. That's your-

And, because the universe is capricious and hates me as much as the mountains do, there is a tree blocking the road less than a mile and a half from my front door. Completely blocking it. Both sides.

I did the most cautious three-point turnaround I have ever done in my life, almost entirely blind, and started back the way I came. I called Jason to let him know that I had no idea how I was getting home, since the only other way I knew would involve driving all the way back to the town I work in and I was not going to do that.

At which point, the panic and anxiety and magic-thinking (If I drive any other way I am going to end up dead in a ditch and no one will know, I will never get home, I will be stuck in this storm forever it is never going to end it is never going to end) erupted.

I ended up pulling over at the first of my landmarks on the way to work.

My three-stop system had not worked. The problem with the magical thinking that people with anxiety disorders have is that we have systems. We have rituals. We have things we always do exactly the same way, or certain motions and ways of thinking that will work if only we do them right.

So the problem with the tree across the road was that it meant that my route would not work. I had not done my magical thinking right. Which meant I could not bring myself to drive anywhere new. It meant driving into the dark, in the rain, down roads I had never seen before. It meant fear, and worry, and squinting through my windshield at unfamiliar road signs.

So Jason figured out an alternate route, while I waited at a gas station. I was a damsel in distress, being held in an entirely too brightly-lit neon yellow-and-blue tower against my will. He drove the alternate route so that I could follow him back.

Because sometimes, the best part of love is knowing that when you are too scared to move, there is someone who will come to carry you home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That's About Right

Today, while driving home for lunch, I saw something that made me deeply homesick for Illinois, while at the same time it reminded me that Upstate South Carolina really isn't that different, in the end.

I saw, driving the other way down the highway, a teenager who might have been seventeen or eighteen years old. He was old enough to be out of high school, clearly, but only just. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt that I could have sworn looked just like an old Slipknot hoodie a friend of mine had once upon a time.

The kid was staring intently down at his cell phone, presumably at a text he had just received.

That's not the part that made me think of home.

What made me think of home was the fact that this cell-phone-obsessed teenage boy was driving a bright, eye-searingly blue old tractor, chugging along at maybe 20 miles an hour while angry drivers in angry cars backed up into a long, snake-like line behind him.

I waved at that kid. He had looked up from his phone long enough to check the road, and he waved back and grinned, with the easy outgoing way that small-town people have of assuming that even if they don't recognize your car, you're probably related to someone they know.

Then he looked back down at his phone.

I went on my merry way, and I thought...

Man, am I glad I'm not stuck behind that kid.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Things You Don't Really Need to Know

If you were to sit me down and ask me to describe myself utterly and completely, I would tell you the following story:

When I was a kid, like school age; maybe first or second grade, I got sick. It was the absolute dead of an Illinois winter; there was ice and snow on the ground, though grass, as I recall, was visible in some spots so it wasn't a lot of snow.

By "I got sick", I mean that I woke up with tummy troubles. The kind where if I went to school I'd be asking to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes all day long, that sort of thing. So I stayed home from school, and my mother stayed home from work.

At some point, Mom was doing something. I couldn't tell you what, because what's important was that, lying on the couch, I realized I wanted to go play outside, to go play pretend.

I got up, put on my hat, my coat, and even a pair of mittens (which, my refusal to wear anything on my hands - no matter the chill - is somewhat of a legend in and of itself), I went outside, and I started to play. If I am recalling this correctly (although I may be thinking of another time something like this happened), I was "ice fishing"; by which I mean I was jabbing a stick into an iced-over puddle to make the water flow up, and catching 'fish' (dead leaves) on my stick, whereupon I hung them out to "smoke" on another stick I had placed carefully in the hollow of our climbing tree for just that purpose.

I was really good at imaginary fishing, guys. I was a champion. You should have seen all the fish I caught.

Mom went looking for me when she couldn't find me in the house. When she came outside, I was over by the streetlamp next to our driveway, rolling up a ball of snow for God only knows what reason. Maybe I was going to have a snowball fight by myself. I wouldn't put it past me.

She came over, grabbed me, and started pulling me back in the house, scolding me all the while. "You shouldn't be outside! You're sick!" All those motherly words that come from a place of worry and frustration over their daydreaming, wandering children.

I tried to free myself, and when that didn't work, I explained to her with all the seriousness and superior child knowledge in the world, that it was okay, Mom.

I was just sick to my stomach.

It's not like I had a cold or something.

Because it's totally okay to play outside when sick, even when it is 15 degrees outside, as long as you don't have a cold.

 Of course, I was taken inside regardless, all full of righteous anger and indignant, wounded pride. The next hour or so was spent fuming until I forgot about it entirely and started doing something else. Drawing tattoos on my sister's old Barbies or playing with my Grand Champions or Breyer horses or something.

Now, if you give that story some thought, I believe it will tell you everything you will ever need to know about who I am.

Oh, wait. Combine it with this one:

Somewhere in my parents' yard, behind a bush, is buried the leg of a small plastic foal I played with as a child. His leg broke during a fight between him and another foal wielded by my childhood best friend Rikki. We made a solemn vow to bury his leg and come back for it later. We carefully buried it and marked the place with a little standing-up stick.

I have never seen it since.

I was maybe eight or nine when this happened, and I still remember what spot we buried it in, but I can't remember the names of people I've met ten times and had long conversations with.

That's everything you need to know to understand me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Everything is Cancelled Until the Ice is Gone

That Martian landscape above is the current top of my car.

Yesterday there was some discussion of an incoming winter storm and how we should prepare for it. I received no fewer than four messages from friends and family who were (mostly facetiously, I hope) advising me to go pick up bread and milk. In the South, if there should be any upcoming situation which might threaten to disrupt your access to these two things, it is akin to the Apocalypse, and must be prepared for.

This morning was mostly just gray, like most mornings are, so I figured it had broken up and wouldn't be anything. Until Jason noted that there was a thin coating of ice on our back porch from sleet.

I was at work for a couple of hours; they've shut the whole county down and sent us all home. We were pretty sure once they closed the schools around 10 that we would be next in line.

That half-hour drive was... interesting.

I basically drove home on a giant stretch of ice they were still calling a road. I know my car pretty well; me and Carl (yes, his name is Carl) have been together for almost ten years now. I know when my tires are having a hard time finding purchase, I know the slight pulls on my steering wheel. I basically coasted home as much as I could.

If you ever start to feel your tires skid or like you might be beginning to lose control, don't brake. I cannot stress that enough, and it's a piece of advice that it appears people are not being given in their Driver's Ed classes.

Just let off the gas, guys. Don't yank the steering wheel; you should be able to come back into control by letting off your accelerator and just barely touching the wheel whichever way you need to get back to. Braking only makes it more likely that you'll totally lose control.

I witnessed three separate people who went off the road after slamming on their brakes, a bunch of people already in ditches or just sitting in the road with their hazards on. A girl three cars in front of me hit her brakes, lost control, and slammed her (thankfully empty) passenger side right into the guard rail. (I stopped to check on her, she was okay; rattled but okay.) Granted, that's better than if the guard rail weren't there and she slammed into the ditch with the trees, but still.

Once I hit Greenville, the roads were more wet than frozen. I am holing up in my house for the rest of the day and you can not make me go out there.

Not even for Starbucks.

Indy, on the other hand, finds this sleet stuff on the porch totally cool, until I expect him to go out into the (cold, wet) yard to do his business.

Then he's not happy about it at all.

Well, I'm just going to hang out here and worry endlessly about everyone I know who might be on the roads out here today, as well as a friend of mine hopefully about to board a plane in Ohio to come home for the weekend. I am hoping the part where he's coming home to his beautiful pregnant wife will induce the universe to be kind.

I have a lot of faith in the universe.

Added, several hours later:

 My faith was misplaced. My friend's flight was delayed, pushed back some more, cancelled, he was placed on the last flight from DC to Greenville... and now that flight has been cancelled and he's stuck in DC for the night.

I will no longer place my faith in the universe.

I am debating placing my faith in hot sauce.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Strange Thing

This morning, after four straight days of rain, South Carolinians woke up to discover some sort of satellite hovering in the sky.

Attempts to contact the satellite went unanswered. It is not stationary, but its movements are slow and seemingly constant. It was first sighted in the east.

Some suggested the satellite is Russian in origin, others that the United States government is responsible, that the satellite is some sort of spy machine keeping track of South Carolina's movements.

The satellite is giving off some sort of bright glow, making it impossible to look directly at it or gain any details of its structure, makeup, or mission.

Its presence, nonetheless, is welcome, as it seems to go along with the sudden and unexpected reappearance of the sky.

 It turns out the sky is blue; this came as a welcome reminder to South Carolinians who had begun to think that perhaps they had been mistaken in childhood and the sky was supposed to always be gray and awful.

Attempts to contact Governor Nikki Haley went unanswered, and local government officials had only this to say:

"Y'all, that is the sun. You remember the sun, right?"
No comment.
This is intrepid reporter Katie, signing off so she can go frolic in the light.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Too Much / Not Enough

I have an interesting relationship with rain.

Growing up a farmer's daughter, one learns about rain in terms of its absolute inability to ever be just right. It's the proverbial bowl of porridge and all the farmers of the great Midwest I hail from are like a hive-mind Goldilocks, never quite satisfied.

There is always too much rain or there is not enough. There is no middle ground. In Illinois, we inevitably lean towards the latter. There have been summers, though, where rain fell like someone had overturned buckets through the hottest months, when we were begging for it to be dry, to let the corn and beans dry out like they're supposed to.

There have been years where those saggy yellow-brown cornstalks wilting under the weight of their overburdened ears, water counting the time in drips off their husks, are the saddest thing I can imagine. There have been years with over dried tiny little stalks with hardly any ears between them all but catching fire after so many weeks with no rain at all. Fields of soybeans with huge empty patches where floodwater collected, fields of beans with cracks of dry dust where no water has collected at all.

Ever have a day where you're in and out of the rain so much your hair never actually dries?
Today is that day for me. I've had wet hair since 6:30 AM this morning when I took my shower.
It's... It's just magical.
As such, I don't particularly like rain. I did my fair share of puddle-jumping as a kid, but rain to me continues to be too much or not enough. It's essentially just how I'm wired to look at it. There's this burst of joy when it starts, this mental now it's raining optimism, but it goes away pretty quickly, and leaves behind a ground that is too soggy or too cracked and dry.

The idea of 'too much' seems somewhat laughable at this point, when so much of the country is essentially bone-dry, when the corn harvests suffered from one of the worst droughts in quite some time.

I call home and hear that there is not enough rain, and it's not a farmer's affectation, it's true; there just hasn't been enough. All year. Longer than that, really.

Upstate South Carolina has been an interesting adjustment, the last couple of years.

Here, we talk about severe droughts while rain falls, slow and steady, all day long. The amount of rain that isn't enough here would be almost too much back in Illinois.

For example, it's been raining since late Sunday basically nonstop. Oh, sometimes it quits for an hour or two, but inevitably it starts right back up again. It's not like it's really pouring, so much as heaven is just spitting on us with incredible consistency.

"It's good to see the rain," I overheard one of our visitors at the museum say today. "But it's still just so dry. I wish it'd rain a little harder so we could get enough."

I look outside at the soggy ground and dripping trees and shrug. Indy hates his bathroom breaks when it's raining like this; apparently he doesn't much enjoy getting his delicate doggy paws wet. He has to be pulled by the leash into the yard, and then goes as fast as he can manage before trying to trot right back into the house, giving me the same sad face he gives me every time he has to go into his crate as we leave.

Often when I'm asked what the news from Illinois is, I'll answer in terms of the dryness of the ground, only realizing a little belatedly that the people asking aren't really interested in what my dad's fields are doing right now. There's a joke in an episode of Family Guy that I love; Stewie (the talking baby) is sitting at a diner somewhere in Nebraska, trying to start up a conversation with some locals. He tries talking about sports, to be met with noncomittal grunts. He asks about something else that elicits essentially no response.

Then he asks about corn, and all the guys sitting around him smile and reply, "Oh, corn! There's always something new with corn!" and begin talking over each other in their sudden enthusiasm to tell Stewie all about it.

That was essentially my childhood in a nutshell, only you could replace corn with beans or the weather and get much the same response.

Ask a farmer about rain sometime.

I will bet you, whoever you are, five dollars here and now that he or she will answer in terms of too much or not enough.

(Note: I will not actually bet you five real dollars. But go ahead and ask anyway.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rainy Day Monday

It's pretty dreary in Greenville. It's not raining so much as it's spitting, the sky is flat gray, the roads are just shiny enough to be annoying. Indy is apparently somewhat of a delicate princess about getting his little paws wet in the rain when he goes to the bathroom; I basically have to pick him up and deposit him at the bottom of the porch stairs to get him to go out in the grass. Or keep him leashed, which he hates even more when he's in the yard.

Today was Indy's first vet appointment. Everything went basically according to plan. The doctor was nice, although he really reminded me heavily of my cousin Ryan and my cousin Jake, as if the two of them were smushed together, given black hair, and deposited in South Carolina. It was a little disconcerting, I won't lie.

I was a little bit of a nervous wreck before we went over there, though. It was like taking my kid to the doctor, and I don't even have one yet. I was so worried Dr. Davis would listen to his heart and then tell me something was terribly wrong. Turned out I was worried about nothing, which is... pretty much par for the course for me.

While we were there, he was worrying at something in his mouth and Dr. Davis looked in and figured out one of his baby teeth had come loose and was hanging at an odd angle. This goes to show you; while I knew intellectually that dogs lose their baby teeth, it had never occurred to me that Indy's would come out now. I had this idea that they all dropped out really early on.

It was a tiny little sort of molar-tooth.

My dog is basically teething. I can't tell you how odd that is to my brain.

Odd and also the cutest thing ever.

Yesterday Jason and I decided to go out for a little bit of a date and had a great brunch at Coffee Underground downtown (we'd never tried their brunch before! Suuuuper dark coffee. Delicious crab cake eggs benedict), took a nice long walk. Since the only day we really get together is Sunday, we always try to make the most of it if we can and spend the whole thing together.

I finished my history of Russia. There's a lot of context to Russia that I think we, as Americans, are simply not given. It's a country whose long history I find deeply interesting, because they've always come back to autocracy, no matter what. Lenin and Stalin supported a Communist Russia in name only; their governments were stridently autocratic and took almost none of the opinions of the Russian citizenry into account. Indeed, many of the tactics that Russia's leaders resort to are the very same tactics the Bolsheviks were deriding as 'tsarist' during the revolution. Gorbachev tried to put in a few small changes, but didn't really realize what a waterfall economic and political change can become. Once the people know they can speak up without being 'disappeared', they will. Once the people can get a hold of news from the BBC or other areas that are not subject to government censorship, they will realize what's out there they haven't seen, and odds are likely they will want to access it.

Their experiment with a limited form of democracy in the 90's was disastrous for their economy, in no small part because the government and its foreign economic advisers were pushing a rapid privatization scheme that didn't take into account the effect of such immediate change on your average Russian citizen, a scheme that allowed a few rich men to amass basically unimaginable wealth. Similar issues with rapid privatization have happened in other countries that were previously socialized when it came to their economies; trying to push through capitalism without a transitional period is almost always going to be disastrous for the country's citizens.

So, in any case, I finished this book.

Now to start on this one.

I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty Russia'd out by the time I'm done with the second one.

Maybe I'll read a nice fiction book about sunshine and rainbows and unicorns next.

As somewhat of a salute to rainy days and Eastern Europe, tonight's dinner plans are to make Beef Paprikash. I'm using one of my new cookbooks, the one I received as a Christmas present; the Farmer's Cookbook. The cookbook is set by month of the year, with recipes and ideas for January, February, March, etc. It keeps things seasonal and easy to find.

They have some cool stuff about curing meats, breadmaking, fermenting, and canning stuff, too.

Somewhere back there I turned into someone who's vaguely domestic.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Friday, January 11, 2013

5 Things - The Meh Edition

Feeling a little under the weather today, so I'll keep the commentary to a bare minimum.

Here's 5 things that strike me as pretty cool this week:

Photo from the Chocolate Moose, my favorite place to get cupcakes in Greenville.

1. Southern Living is having a contest to pick The South's Tastiest Town, and Greenville is on the list! Which I definitely think is pretty cool. Greenville is getting a reputation for being sort of a little foodie's paradise, and there's a reason for that.

On the high-end side, we have Devereaux's, American Grocery, the Lazy Goat, Rick Erwin's Nantucket Seafood, and many others. Places like the Bohemian, the Overlook Grill, Ford's Oyster House, Blue Ridge Brewing Company, the Owl, Everyday Organic, Puerto Vallarta, Coffee Underground... there's just no end to neat places to eat. I've walked four and a half miles to have lunch at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and had a great time (and their iced coffee is one of the smoothest in Greenville!)

I urge any Greenville folks, or even people who've been to visit and enjoyed the food, to go over and vote for us!

I realize I adopted this town and it's not really my hometown, but that doesn't mean I don't love it just as much.

Also how long do I have to live here before I can call it my hometown? I'm not clear on the rules for that.

2. Tiny Confessions over on etsy. Christopher Rozzi does a series of small paintings of dogs, cats, and others (like a witch or Frankenstein's monster) with the true story of what's going on inside their heads that we don't really get to know.

Some of them are sweet, like the above and this one, and some are just sort of hilariously spot-on, like this. I think the Stormtrooper one is awesome, too.

 I am considering e-mailing him to ask if he'd do a custom piece. Hm...

3. I like to look at beautiful clothing from other eras I would never willingly be forced into. Case in point, above.

Gorgeous, but I don't even want to describe to you how uncomfortable I would be.

Although I do own a shirt-and-tank combination in almost exactly the same colors that I wear all the time.

So... make of it what you will.

4. It may not be a pretty soup, but in the depths of winter (even a surprisingly balmy winter like Greenville is having right now) I always end up with cravings for French onion soup.

This recipe uses Guinness and good Irish cheddar. Beer and cheese? I'm in. You had me at 'beer'.

You might be thinking I should save this 'til March for St. Patrick's Day, but I think I'd rather just make it twice.

Pencil that in for next week's grocery run...

5. Wooden cameo necklaces by OnceAgainSam. Sarah Mandell a local Greenville etsy-shop owner. Her stuff is also available in a few different places downtown, for any locala who come across this (Liz Daly, Brew & Ewe, Art & Light Gallery).

I just really like the look of all the little wood cameo necklaces. She also has cuff-style bracelets available with the wooden cameos, which is honestly what I'm really staring heavily at and dreaming about my birthday.

I think I'm just craving jewelry lately.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go back to my current library book, a history of Russia. Although to be honest, it's about 2/3 a history of Soviety Russia and about 1/3 the rest of the time Russia ever existed. It's a little disappointing, but a very good book; I was just a little bit more interested in pre-Soviet times.

Ah well.

That's why the library is a place of paradise; I can just go get another book on Russia there.

There is much rejoicing.

And look, I kept my promise. Not a single dog photo in sight.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Because This is What the Internet is For

Because you just can't see too many photos of a puppy, right?
Am I right?
All of these photos were taken with my cell phone. I have about five thousand more. Just wait, my friends... You'll see.
Although I am going to solemnly swear, here and now, that the next blog post I do will not have a single photo of our dog. I will make that promise to you.
Even though you can't even tell if my fingers are crossed behind my back.

Monday, January 7, 2013

So... dog now?

Dog now.

Jason and I had decided that after Christmas, we'd start visiting the local Humane Society and look for a dog. We were leaning towards an adult dog who would already be house-trained. Yesterday was our first serious visit.

And we came home with a five-month-old puppy.


This is Indiana.

You call him Dr. Jones.

Our plan for yesterday was to go to the shelter and look around some, then go downtown to hit up the library, a coffee shop, and then have dinner with Jason's parents and sister (she's going back to school, taking her GRE today! fingers crossed, Hunter!).

What happened was that we went to the shelter and... dog.

We visited the puppy room first, figuring I was least likely to want to take home a puppy. There was lots of fuzzy bundles of wiggle in there (we saw at least three of the smallest puppies adopted while we were there). There were some older puppies in crates against the wall. Indy was in one of those (his shelter-name was Ozzie, but it doesn't seem to have been a name he already knew).

Jason immediately said, "That dog is gorgeous."

He was also quiet. He came right up to the bars and licked our fingers, whined a little bit, but otherwise was a pretty quiet dog. We went ahead and looked at the adult dogs, but eventually went back into the puppy room to ask if we could take Indy out and look at him.

The Humane Society puts you in a "bonding room" when you take out a puppy; it's a small, square room with a concrete floor and a drain (for obvious accident-problems), a couple of chairs and... you bond with the puppy. They give you a tennis ball so you can play, and are there to answer any questions you have.

(I would like to note here that the volunteers and employees were really nice; our particular guy who helped us was an employee named David. He was friendly, and really helpful!)

Jason and I both knew after maybe ten minutes we were probably taking this dog home. He's old enough to housetrain to wait until I can come home for lunch, at least, so we thought... we've got a chance here. So we picked up the puppy, a crate, food and water bowls, a toy... and got ourselves a dog.

His placard just said "retriever mix", but we're thinking chocolate lab plus pit bull based on his face and shoulder-shape as compared to the rest of his body. He is a little wiggly ball of happy, though. He liked the car ride quite a bit as we went over to Starbucks (because Katie without caffeine is a twitchy Katie), but became really nervous when I went into Starbucks alone and he and Jason were still in the car. We figured that was a good sign that he would be pretty pack-oriented.

(I would also like to note that David told me that Starbucks is one of the biggest contributors to the Humane Society. So when people ask why I buy Starbucks coffee I am going to just yell "FOR THE PUPPIES!" and run away. Or, you know... explain like a grown up.)

We grabbed a couple more supplies (especially dog shampoo, because he is a small dog who was rocking a powerful smell) and headed home. By the time we went to bed last night, we were suspicious that we had a dog who had basically house-trained himself. Every time he's outside, he just... takes care of business, and he was snuffling around the door earlier when he wanted out. He's really social with other dogs; he's become immediate friends with our next-door neighbors' dogs.

We had no issues last night; he whined for all of twenty seconds and then went straight to sleep in his crate and was quiet (and accident-free!) til morning.

We played that dog into exhaustion before dinner. Dinner with the in-laws was lovely; we ate at a restaurant downtown. When we came back, Indy was very happy to see us.

(Yet another parenthetical note, because I am apparently loving parentheses today; so far, he got too close to the cat's face once. She hissed and swiped at him (but didn't put her claws out). Since then he's kept a safe, curious distance and she just blinks at him. She seems to have figured out he's not allowed on the furniture and basically lords it over him that she is. Clearly this will be a loving pet-sibling relationship.)

We gave him a bath (which he was less happy about, but he did hold still for us) and then dried him off as best we could, wrapped him in a blanket to help him warm up, and he went straight to sleep.

Like that.

The moral of this story, I suppose, is that the Humane Society is awesome and you should brace yourself for cute dog photos. I mean a metric ton of cute dog photos. I have had this dog for less than twenty-four hours and I've already spammed you.

You're all used to the cat photos, so I suppose this wouldn't be too big of a shift for you.

Have fun with that.

Friday, January 4, 2013

5 Things - the Bears & Bogs Edition

The problem with having so many days off, I've decided, is the pretty decided lurch one has in getting back into routine. This week has been full of having to talk myself out of bed even more so than usual. Short as it's been (four day week! Woo!), it's also felt interminably long.
Ah well. I'll just keep drinking tea around the clock, supplementing with coffee, and then trying to figure out why I feel over-caffeinated, and deciding I need to mull over the problem with more tea.
It's a vicious cycle.
In any case, here are 5 things I found cool this week. Disclaimer; one of those things is not alive. Although I do feel like he makes up for it with his jaunty cap.

1. This National Geographic article on bog bodies.

All over northern Europe, in Ireland, England, sometimes even over in Florida, they find bog bodies. These are bodies preserved by having been thrown, placed, or simply by finding accidentally interred in peat bogs. In Europe, the bodies they find often are clearly the victims of ritual sacrifice; the nooses they were strangled with are carefully left around their necks, sometimes the extra rope carefully placed on their chests. Some of the bodies are of teenagers, some of older people.

The Tollund Man, one of the most well-preserved of the bodies found, had eaten a mix of wild seeds that have led researchers to think that the ingredients of the food he ate were probably part of the ritual. Odds are likely that the man knew what was to happen to him, because he had roughly three days' stubble on his face, indicating that he had stopped shaving.

Here is what's cool about bog bodies; we can look at what they ate for lunch. We know that the man did not shave for roughly three days before his death. These are things we can prove. The exceptional preservation means that some of these bodies were mistaken for more recent murder victims, because to the untrained eye they hardly look like they've been in a bog for 10 years, let alone 2,000. Or sometimes as long as 8,000 years, as in the case of one woman who apparently drowned in a lake that became a bog later, and preserved her skeleton. Nearby, at what would have been the coast of the lake-that-was, they found a settlement dated to nearly the same time frame, making it somewhat likely that the woman whose skeleton they found lived in that settlement.

In a bog in Florida, they found an incredible place of burial; 168 skeletons, placed with burial goods. Many were children. One was a 15-year-old boy with spina bifida. That may not sound terribly remarkable, but keep in mind we're talking about Early Archaic hunter-gatherers, who took the time and felt it worthwhile to expend the effort to take care of and support the life of a child who would almost certainly have been paralyzed from the waist down. This actually tells us a lot about that particular group of people and what they felt valuable.

Archeology is incredible. I've said before that if I had school to do over again, it's probably the subject I would have gone into as a major. I really regret not having taken more archeology and anthropology classes while I was in school.

So... now that we've finished today's archeology lesson...

2. This scarf.

My friend Jessi made it for me as a Christmas present. It is bright and perfect and today wasn't nearly cold enough to get away with wearing it, but I did it anyway.

There was much rejoicing.

3. This print of a watercolor painting by Marisa Redondo, who goes by River Luna on etsy. Her paintings are just kind of perfectly natural and whimsical and I spent a surprisingly long time yesterday morning before work clicking through one after another.

Aside from animals like owls, foxes, bears, and deer, she also does some cool work with feathers and flower-shapes.

Go check her out!

4. You probably noticed above the painted rocks next to the bear painting above. Those aren't done by Marisa, but by a friend of hers, Amy Komar, who goes by artistinthearctic.

Above is one of Amy's standalone pieces. You can hold it in the palm of your hand, but her tiny dabs of paint are just so carefully precise. Love the colors, too, although anyone who knows me could see why I'd be drawn to this one.

She also paints on old keys, pieces of wood, scissors, tree hearts, and wrenches. It's really something to look at and contemplate; I thought a lot of her stuff was absolutely beautiful.

Apart from the above, these three pieces are my favorites of hers.

5. This mug.

Yes, it's from Starbucks.

No, I feel no shame. Why do you ask?

Yes, I realize that Jason just bought me a new coffee mug for Christmas.

No, that doesn't lessen the love I feel for this one.

Yes, I realize I'm just having this argument with myself at this point.

No, I will stop when I am darn good and ready to stop!


Okay, I'll stop now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(Not Terribly) Wordless Wednesday: New Year's Resolutions

Maybe number nine should have been "Take more time to think things through so you don't have to cross out what you've already written."
2013 is here! I'm pretty sure we were promised flying cars by now, but I'll try to be patient. I'd sure like to see house-robots doing my cleaning for me, though.
The resolutions above are words representing much larger concepts I'm working on, so I wouldn't assume they are all the obvious things. Although some of them very much are. Actually most of them are probably fairly obvious. I think I just wanted to sound mysterious.
Hopefully now that the holidays are over and things are settling down a little, I can get back into my regular posting schedule instead of bouncing around like I was.
Hmm... maybe I should have made that a resolution.