Friday, June 28, 2013

In Which I Somehow Angered Nature

Today, I took a short time during my lunch at work to head outside into the garden. My eyes had been dry and a bit itchy, but to be honest they generally are at this point. It's part of living in South Carolina; any time it hasn't rained for more than nine hours, my eyes start to get dry and maybe a little itchy, but never anything more.

Anyway, so nothing of note happens. I wandered around, took pictures of flowers, and then came back inside. I went to the bathroom and while I was washing my hands I noticed something alarming.

The underlid of my right eye appeared to have a gigantic blister, surrounded by angry red skin.

My actual eye, mind you, felt fine; still dry, but it'd been that way all day. My other eye was clearly red on the underlid, too. I took a photo of this ridiculous swollen spot and sent it to two of my best girlfriends, asking them WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

Only, won't lie, my language was slightly stronger than that.

They suggested allergies, and the weird spot went away after about an hour, so I figured they were probably right, shrugged, and went on my merry way.

So then I come home, and I'm in the backyard. I wore a pretty nice outfit today, and I was going to take photos of it because, well, narcissism.

Anyway, I am wearing shoes and everything (although the shoes are woven and have an open-weave pattern), and standing on the sidewalk behind our deck when suddenly the backs of my feet, right at my heels, start to itch. Which is weird, right?

Well, what was weirder was when the itching became stinging pain.  Maybe an angry mosquito, I think.

I started to feel it all over my feet. I felt one bite turn into four, then six, then twelve, and then they started to burn.

At which point I turned tail, raced inside, threw off my shoes and doused my legs and feet in ice cold water from the bathtub faucet.

Because I am Midwestern, and this has never happened to me before, I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out how that many mosquitoes had gotten to me all at once, and why it would burn like that.

At which point, the part of me that has lived in the South for three years come August kicked in and pointed out that they do have ants that bite, y'know.

(I would actually like to note here that being Midwestern is probably not my problem; I really don't have the common sense God gave a goat.)

At which point I actually looked at the little red welts all over my feet and concluded, yes, ants. Of course ants. Also, I felt stupid for not guessing ants right away.

I come inside, and one of my friends tells me that I have got to stop angering nature.

Less than an hour later, after Jason had come home, the dog comes back inside from the backyard smelling like absolute and honest death. He stunk like week-old dead things, his breath and his fur. He'd clearly found something to roll in and chew on, and it was something vile. I'm thinking it may be whatever was left of the rabbit he brought me the other day; he must have hidden some small bit for later.

We stood there staring at him, faintly startled that he even could smell so bad, that it was even physically possible. Eventually, Jason gave him a bath, which helped. His breath was still a powerful incentive to go nowhere near him, though, and we went out and bought doggie mouthwash.

Turns out, doggie mouthwash is a thing that exists in the world.

There are also like seven brands of it, which I find mind-boggling. That means there is enough capitalistic competition for seven completely different companies to feel the need to create mouthwash specifically for dogs. Different sizes of dog even have different mouthwashes.

The world of pet ownership is truly a charmed one.

So we went out for dinner, have come home, and are hanging out before bed. While my swelling appeared to have gone down shortly after I walked in the door at home, I've since looked (since we got back from dinner) and it's just as swollen again, and now the other side is even redder than it was before. I am going to introduce myself to the wonderful world of allergy medicine tomorrow, since I've never really taken any before. I've never really had serious allergies to anything that I would routinely come in contact with before! This is new and not at all exciting.

My sister is allergic to basically everything that is involved with the production of either oxygen or carbon dioxide, and my brother and mom have allergies too. I'd been a holdout (well, my dad and I) but it looks like my time as the Empress of Not Sneezing All the Time is coming to an end.

So... want to take bets on if non-drowsy Benedryl still makes me drowsy? Because I have a long day at work tomorrow and I have no idea how I'll react to allergy medicine.

We might as well have fun with that.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Dr. Indiana Jones is a valiant and steadfast guardian.

He ensures I am safe, and know exactly what threats may exist outside our walls.

For instance, I always know when our neighbors are doing yard work. In his mind, that's probably a threat of some kind.

Granted, he also growls when he sees squirrels, or birds, or that one time when the chipmunk was in our garden...

Laugh if you will...

but when the chipmunk army comes, Indy will be ready for them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Eminently Distractable

I made something wonderful tonight.

And I took terrible photos of it.

But I'm going to tell you how to make it anyway. Because it's so good that you won't even care about my awful photos once you've made it.

Our veggie and fruit delivery brought us zephyr squash and pattypan squash this week, so I decided to throw together something squash based tonight. Then I read Lemony Thyme's description of a summer salad she threw together, and despite her lack of recipe, decided to adapt the idea at least into a recipe of my own.

It made enough for Jason and I to split it for a full main course, but you could eat smaller portions and have a great side dish to go with turkey burgers or something off the grill.

I would tell you about my day here, except that all I did was get groceries, clean the kitchen, and make food. I made a turkey-and-kidney-bean meatloaf (from this recipe) for Jason and I to take to work for lunches this week, and this awesome squash salad I'm trying to remember to tell you about.

Seriously. Focus, Katie. 


Actually, wait, before I focus I need to tell you something. 

So, last week the dog brought us a tiny dead baby bird as a gift. Jason got rid of it, we praised the dog loudly and effusively, he felt very useful as a member of the pack.

Today, after Jason had left for work, the dog brought me something else. He brought me a rabbit. So I got rid of it, while trying to simultaneously praise the dog for his gift to the family and tell the entire world how much I wanted to throw up right now, so loudly our neighbors came out to see if I was okay.

So now that I've made all of you who don't already own dogs never want one...

Shall we talk delicious foods? 

Or should I give it a minute for the idea of that rabbit to leave your minds, so you'll ever want to eat again?

Wait, I have an idea for how to get your minds off the dead bunny.

One of my favorite bloggers just had her baby. Go look at the cute baby, and then come back here and read my recipe. Everyone wins! Especially cute babies!


2 small-to-medium or one large zephyr squash (any yellow squash works)
2 small-to-medium or one large pattypan squash
sweet corn (a couple of ears' worth of fresh, or I used a can because we had no fresh on hand)
1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
Two handful fresh spinach leaves (can use baby or adult, it's fine)
1 large tomato
1 red onion, cut in long slices
Three or four fresh basil leaves, minced
Two large or four small sage leaves, minced
a teaspoon or two of fresh thyme
Red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil (need about two tablespoons, divided)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, if you like a little heat (I do)

Onto the Creation!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. Set a pot of water boiling and put a steaming basket above it. 

Toss your red onion and corn in one tablespoon of the olive oil, and roast in the oven for roughly twenty minutes, stirring after ten. Meanwhile, cut your squash into long, thin ribbons (thin disks for the pattypan)  and steam until just done with the spinach. Remove from heat.

Chop up your herbs and tomato. Toss into a large bowl with the garlic and add the corn, onion, squash, and spinach when everything is done (you want the corn to start browning in a few spots and the onions to be starting to brown). Add in a good splash of red wine vinegar, the other tablespoon of olive oil, your salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Put in fridge to cool. After about half an hour, add your Parmesan cheese and then continue to chill until it's a cold salad.

Then eat and enjoy!

This was super simple, and perfect to make a day ahead. I'm considering re-making this recipe in part to take to a get-together I'm going to soon, because it was so good I want to inflict it on others. 

Wait, that wasn't the right word...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

On Saturdays at Work

Coworker: "I don't know, I just didn't sleep well. I think it's got something to do with the full moon? There's supposed to be some kind of super-big moon."

Me: "The moon? Are you ruled by the tides?"

Coworker: "I wouldn't say that."

Me: "Do you rule the tides? Would you call yourself... the Prince of Tides?"

Coworker: "No... "

Me: "The Minor Nobility of Tides?"

Coworker: "I don't think so."

Me: "The Duke of Tides. You look like a duke."

Coworker: "Maybe the Bureaucrat of Tides."

Me: "..."

Coworker: "Yeah, definitely the Bureaucrat of Tides."


In that, readers, you have my entire work day explained.

Well, the only part of it that mattered.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I'm Sensing a Theme Here

I have trouble reading one book at a time.

I almost always have three or four going at once; I'll pick one up, read a hundred pages or so, and then wander off and pick up a different book and read a hundred pages of that. I never have trouble keeping the stories separate or anything, but if I try to just read one, I tend to lose interest quickly and may never finish the book at all.

Whatever place I am living is always littered with a trail of my reading materials. The family joke used to be (and I assume still is, since I sure haven't gotten any better about it) that you could guess what I had spent my day doing by following the trail of shoes, books, magazines, water glasses, jewelry, and sketchbooks I left lying in various locations around the house.

I would be told to put my books away, and reply that I couldn't put any of them up, I was reading them.

My mother (or father, or sister, or brother or husband or friends...) would look at the roughly seven books in the living room and ask, "All of them?"

And the answer is yes.

Yes, all of them. All the time. I finish one of my grouping of books, I don't keep reading the others 'til I've winnowed it down to one, I just pick up another one to add to the stack.

I make exceptions, of course, for really amazing books. These I will read one at a time, but then I rocket through them and two or three days later I need a new book anyway. (See: what happened when I read the Night's Dawn Trilogy by Peter Hamilton and stayed up until 3 A.M. reading the last book because I could not put the stupid thing down - or when I read This Book is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude Don't Touch It) by David Wong)

So, when I wanted to do a "Currently Reading" post, I realized the problem with that is that I couldn't do a post on a single book. So I decided to do all three, but then I noticed all three books had something in common.

Which, hilariously, I sincerely had not noticed until I started writing this post.

So, currently I am reading three books from my local library system; The Year of Living Biblically; One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs, Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner (who also wrote Girl Meets God, a sweet if inaccurately titled memoir about her conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Episcopalian Christianity; read my review on the blog here and my Amazon review here), and Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill.

While all three are centered on religion, the three books could not be more different in their treatments of it. The Year of Living Biblically sees an agnostic writer (who has made a career out of taking on various challenges; he's read the Encyclopedia Britannica start to finish, lived as a series of experiments, and chased physical perfection, and that's only what he's done so far) begin to spend a year trying to live the life the Bible prescribes as literally as is humanly possible.

It's partially a take-that to those who claim to be "Biblical literalists", when there really isn't any such thing. I've never met a "Biblical literalist" who actually took the Bible literally at all; they just picked and chose a little more loudly than everyone else.

Well, Mr. Jacobs attempts to do the essentially impossible and actually take every single law and doctrine into practice.

I'm only about halfway through, but so far I am deeply enjoying it; and it's definitely a light-hearted break from the other two books, which are somewhat heavier in theme.

Mudhouse Sabbath is a slight book, but a thoughtful one. Ms. Winner has written a small book, partly memoir and partly devotional, about the ways and rituals of Jewish life that she feels add great weight to Christianity as well. She discusses Jewish mourning rituals (the fact that the traditional mourning period in Judaism is scheduled out over the course of a year is definitely something I think should be taken on - mourning continues long after the people stop bringing you casseroles; three years later I am still hit with guilt over not having answered my late grandmother's last e-mail), liturgical prayers, mindful eating, and many other aspects as well. I'm enjoying it a lot. Ms. Winner is always prone to a little more navel-gazing than is absolutely necessary, but in this book it's held mostly in check and adds to her theme and the substance of the book. I am actually considering purchasing this book for future re-reading as well.

Beyond Belief  is an intense book, and I'm not even done. Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised in the Scientology church, the child of two parents deeply involved in their elite Sea Org, herself devoted to the cause. She's the niece of David Miscavige, who is the current leader of the church and whose wife, Shelly, has not been seen in public since 2006 (though the church insists she's just busy). Ms. Hill details growing up at The Ranch, a sort of Scientology live-away camp that treats the children there as essentially free labor to help the church build and grow its land. I have not yet gotten to the point where she leaves the church, but Jenna writes on her childhood well - she mentions questions, concerns, and private criticisms but also makes it clear that she was too young, and had been raised with too much of an emphasis on never asking questions, to really have any clear objections until she was older.

In short, I am reading three books; one on the ridiculous aspects of trying to be perfectly in tune with your religion, one on the quiet peace that comes with its practice, and one on the deep damage that religion can do.

So there you go; there's three.

If it helps, I'm also reading Self, Shape, and InStyle magazines all the time right now. So it's not all important books and ideas on important subjects over here. Sometimes I read about what colors are in season and menu ideas for blasting that belly fat! OMG!

What can I say, I'm a woman with many layers.

Like a parfait.

Everyone loves parfaits.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Define "Damp" In Three Words or Less.

That's damp.

This is damp.

So is this.

That was yesterday, in the afternoon. The sky had opened up on us once early on, and off and on for the rest of the day we had these cycles of terrible humid nothing -  not sunny exactly, just gray and suffocating and tense - then torrential downpour, with no happy medium in between.

 Luckily, it cleared up twenty minutes or so before I had to leave to home, which is a saving grace - people forget how to drive the minute they see raindrops on their windshields.

Last night I made Joy the Baker's Mexican Roasted Zucchini for dinner, and it was delicious and I am telling you to go look up that super-easy recipe and make it. Make it right now.

In other news, I found these necklaces for super cheap at the mall last weekend; I had to return something from online that was too big (!!!!), and God knows I'm a sucker for beautiful pretty jewelry things. I've been looking for a tiny silver necklace I could wear with basically anything, and this starfish from Fiore Boutique (which has sparkly bits you can't really see in this photo) fits the bill. I snagged two of these sort of friendship-bracelet-design necklaces, the one above and one with a more turquoise feel, from Gap (yes, Gap; I hear you laughing, Mom) and I am currently trying to figure out how to make more of my very own.

If I figure it out, you guys will be the first to get linked. I'm a giver that way.

 I absolutely promise I will return here to tell you, unless I don't find anything or if I forget to look entirely. You can probably guess which of those options is more likely to happen.

The last couple of days at work have been crazy busy, and then I'm working on a project for a friend (that I, the eternal procrastinator, put off finishing until the last minute - or, in this case, the last two weeks), so I've barely had time to breathe, let alone blog.

The Fourth of July is coming up rapidly, and I am looking forward to having a day off in a big way. Originally I was going to head back to Illinois to see my family, but we've had some stuff come up, so that won't be happening.

So I will be melancholy, but a Thursday off work is a Thursday off work; you won't hear me complain about that.

In other other news, I really wish people who are retired would stop telling me at great length how wonderful it is, almost always while I'm sitting behind a desk smiling at them or trying to run an errand really quick in the morning before I have to leave for work. Not that I blame them; you've earned it, go have fun! Be free! Free as the wind blows, free as the grass grooooooows...

But I don't need to hear about the wonder and majesty of getting up whenever you please to go hike up in the mountains when I haven't gotten more than six hours of actual sleep in four days and I am rapidly turning into the angry bear from the movie Brave.

Only less cute.

I want you to picture that rabid, mouth-foaming nasty furious magically huge ponity-fanged bear-thing and then I want you to make it less just adorably adorable in your mind, and then you have me for the past four or five days.

If you take anything away from this blog, new readers, I want that last paragraph to be it.; I want you to forever picture me as a giant angry bear.

It'd be a fairly accurate image.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Really Just Wanted an Excuse to Write Bafflingly

I have to time leaving my job perfectly.

If I leave between 4:55 to 5:00 on the dot, I'm fine. No problems! Might get stuck behind vehicles driving more slowly than I would like, but not a big deal... I just have to pay attention.

If I leave any later, though, if we just don't make it out the door or I stop at the store to pick something up (last night, it was delicious turkey bacon), I find myself having to deal with a group of people who take their lives into their hands every time they get on the road.

Who are these people, you ask?

Moped drivers.

Mopeds are sort of bafflingly popular in the town I work in; I can count an average of ten to twelve I'll see in a day, sort of put-put-putting around town past my window. The people driving these mopeds are never wearing helmets, and there have been days where more than half of the ones I've seen haven't even been wearing shirts. Not that I honestly blame them, what with the blazing sun and 15,000% humidity that is a fact of life I haven't quite adjusted to yet.

No, the moped drivers in town don't bother me.

It's the ones chugging away on the extremely busy country highway during my commute home, on the only road I can take that will get me home in less than a hour, that are a problem.

I'm impressed at their serious chutzpah, though.

They can't really drive above 40 miles per hour, and that's at their fastest. The highway I drive to work on, however, is full of hills and curving bits, which translates to a Moped whose engine is screaming I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can at a dismal 20 miles per hour or less the whole way up every single hill, with a line of fifteen to twenty cars backing up behind them.

Cars going the opposite direction - people coming home from Greenville up to the town I work in - are zipping past us at a constant clip, making it so there is just no way to safely pass the Moped drivers.

People pass them anyway.

I have watched an angry trucker (I know he was angry because of the gesture I could see him sticking out his window) fly around the poor guy hugging his moped for dear life. I've watched them be passed by every single car and wondered what it must take to drive the hour from one town to the next (it takes me a little over 20 minutes, but with the speed these guys are driving I'm thinking it's closer to an hour for them) being passed so often and in such dangerous places by angry, impatient, end-of-their-long-workday people driving screaming metal deathtraps.

For me, mopeds are a thing of serious anxiety. For one, if I get stuck behind them I also have to navigate a less-than-safe passing situation, since there is basically only one place where you can easily and safely pass anyone on that road. And only about four spots where it's even legal.

For another, if I get stuck behind someone else who is stuck behind a Moped, I will watch them inch closer and closer to the poor guy sitting on his little scooter, almost touching the back of his vehicle with their bumper, shouting and waving their arms and generally being as much a road hazard as the guy on the Moped is.

I hate getting stuck behind them, because it feels like a holding pattern for an accident that is always just about to happen. It makes me miss tractors from back in Illinois; they may be slow-moving monsters, but they are big enough that you can see them from a mile back, so you have some warning. With Mopeds, the first car in the line is usually nearly on top of the guy before they even realize he's there.

The worst part, though, about Mopeds is that it means I will get home later. Because I will get stuck as one in a long line of backed-up drivers stuck behind a guy put-put-puttin' along the road like it ain't no thang.

Mopeds may not have been meant for highway driving, but some people spit in the face of safety and all reason and common sense.

I try as hard as I can to grab that extra two to three minutes on the road in the evening, because it makes all the difference. The Moped drivers leave their places of business - or residences, I don't know what they're doing honestly but I do assume it's work - at just after five o'clock. So if I can get past the second stoplight of my drive home before they do, I'm safe the whole way.

If I leave even a couple of minutes later than usual, say not getting out of the store until ten after 5 like I did last night, the first half of my drive becomes a monotonous slog of trying to interpret the obscene gestures of the people in front of me and feeling overwhelming pity for the guy on his Moped using a busy two-lane highway on a pseudo-vehicle that was never meant to be there.

I ended up in stand-still traffic last night anyway. There was some kind of accident outside a gas station right as I hit the final third of my drive home. It must have been something crazy, because I counted no fewer than seven emergency vehicles, and that's not counting the cop cars. That's just ambulances, fire trucks, and a couple of lit-up SUV-style things. I hope to God it wasn't someone on a Moped or a motorcycle.

I sat behind a truck... and sat... and sat... and sat. I had kind of had an intuition when I and the rest of the traffic on the road had to pull over for two ambulances and one of the emergency SUV's, sirens blazing, that went flying past us, but still.

I don't really have the self-preservation God gave a goat, so rather than turn off onto a side road when I saw that, I ended up in the line of traffic anyway.

Eventually a cop drove slowly past us to tell us how to take a certain road ("If you turn right and right and right, you'll be fine!") and get around the accident site, which led to the most pitiful line of people attempting terrible three-point-turnarounds you've ever seen in your life. On either side of the highway at that point there are fairly deep ditches and then an awful lot of trees, so it was not an easy turnaround situation... and for some reason nobody wanted to drive the four hundred feet up and turn around in the gas station parking lot.

Which is what I did, because I do not like ditches.

So my drive home, which should take about 25 minutes on any usual day, took around 45-50.

There is a special kind of empty place your brain gets to after your drive takes twice the time it should, where everything just shuts off and you find yourself not even hearing the voices on NPR so much as letting them wash over you. Your brain is nothing but vaguely furious buzzing.

Luckily, the answer to that problem is an easy one; spend about twenty minutes playing with your dog, who doesn't care that you're late because he has no sense of time and no matter how long you're gone, it's been SO MANY HOURS and he MISSED YOU SO MUCH.

The best part of having a dog is that it is hard to be mad that your day was slightly inconvenient when there is somebody who is so happy you are there to play with them that they fall over from sheer ecstasy. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

5 Things Friday - All Links, All The Time

Every time I think to myself, you know, I don't need any more coffee mugs (usually I have this thought while playing the Tetris game that is trying to fit all our mugs on the shelf they belong in), I see something like this, and I realize that there can never be enough.

Or then I see a shirt and I think, maybe enough mugs (as I force the cabinet door shut and it insistently cracks outward, just the slightest bit, pushed by a handle I just can't figure out)... maybe enough mugs...

but never enough shirts, right? I say this while steadfastly not looking at the jillion other shirts in my closet.

I really need to stop going to anthropologie's website. I feel like soon there's going to be some kind of serious talk about spending way too much time on websites for clothes I can't afford.

But my impending clothing and/or mug intervention is not really why I'm posting today.

I'm just going to leave a few links here, some interesting things I've been clicking around on this week.

1. Dressed Up Like a Lady is one of my absolute favorite of-all-time fashion blogs. Cammila wears the weirdest, coolest things and strangest, best outfits with grace and a serious rock-and-roll attitude. The post of hers I want to share, though, is her 'What I Eat' post, or at least the first one of what looks to be a series.

One of the things that I had to look at, when getting healthier, was how my exercise plan was and continues to be a big part of it (albeit one I am keeping to myself, for a couple of reasons), but what I was putting into myself was more important. The regional/local delivery service that we are currently getting vegetables and fruits from is fantastic, in no small part because it's thanks to them that I have been eating enough greens to choke a small donkey.

Now, I don't eat exactly like Cammila does (I am far too much a fan of meat, bread, and my demerara sugar), but the woman knows what she's talking about. Go read! Read! Read and leeeeeeeearn! And keep in mind that Cammila isn't telling you what to do, except when she totally and completely is. Because she is awesome.

2.  The Navajo Nation has been working hard for years to preserve their language and make it more widely spoken and available to the population. One of their latest efforts is also one of the coolest; they're translating Star Wars, from start to finish.

The Navajo language is one of the most complex languages in the world. They touch on it in the NPR interview that this link is to, when he talks about the different types of objects. Well, that counts for nearly everything. The professor who taught my absolute favorite class in college (a Languages of Native North America class I took my senior year; I was one of only a few undergrads and definitely the only art major in the class, I'll tell you that) worked extensively with the Navajo and much of our classwork touched on their way of shaping thoughts into objects; round, small, soft, rigid, flat.

So... that's really cool.

3. This CNN piece of fluff on tomboy style.

'Tomboy' is an interesting term, since it is basically just used to denote any woman that dresses in a fashion that's been declared 'masculine', or at least less than 'feminine' by her particular culture. What means feminine and masculine, of course, changes rapidly with time; less than a hundred and fifty years ago, pink was considered the 'masculine' color (after all, it's a shade of red and what color is more dynamic and manly than red?) and blue the more wishy-washy 'feminine' one.

At some point, fairly recently insofar as history goes, we decided to switch those colors up.

Then, we pretend it's set in stone and I can't find a single baby girl dress for my friend's soon-to-be that isn't pink or so couched in ruffles I can't imagine how anyone's baby is supposed to play in it.

I really like the slideshow, personally, although I may disagree here and there with who CNN declares a 'tomboy', or what makes one. But it's always been nice to see other women in the world who never felt comfortable in the odd, uncomfortable little ruffles and floofy things girls are often informed they are supposed to wear.

This whole conversation makes everyone so glad for my mother that she had another daughter who did enjoy the occasional floofy thing, doesn't it?

4. Merrick's Art's DIY on making a version of the anthropologie patterned-back shirt I like so much. She always makes her DIY's look so great.

This is probably the answer to my "love all the things at anthro, maybe I can afford that single teacup" problem. You know, to just learn how to sew and make my own!

But I think we all know I'm too lazy to do that.

Instead I'm going to read the DIY and then go back to sighing wistfully over the pretty things. And sighing more heavily over their price tags.

Send help.

5. Here's something you haven't been hearing much about on the news; there's a tuberculosis outbreak in upstate South Carolina.

I'm not joking.

An employee at a local elementary school was put on home quarantine after they tested positive. More than 400 people in the school system have been tested now, and more than 50 people have had preliminary positive test (those people are not necessarily contagious; mostly, children aren't. That's something new I learned today.)

The employee I am calling Patient Zero, because I have read too many zombie books. They are likely the first to have the disease of this particular outbreak... and they ignored DHEC's instructions to stay home, lied to DHEC about where they were going or who they had spoken to (and who therefore might be at risk), and changed their story more than once.

So DHEC sent them to "a medical facility", to be "contained". So that they wouldn't continue going places where more people would be exposed to the pathogen. Because apparently when DHEC told this person they had TB, a hugely contagious disease that has been one of the top killers of mankind since the dawn of our species, their response was to go cough on people.

Good job, buddy.

What's even more interesting than that?

DHEC has known about this since March, and the news reports are just coming out now. The superintendent of the school apparently wasn't informed about why DHEC had swarmed all over the school until late May, at which point he sent out notes to parents as fast as he could.

So... would you like to have a conversation about how angry and scared all those kids' parents must be, finding out that their children were at risk and DHEC's response was, 'meh, we'll tell 'em later'?

Well, now it's actually out that DHEC screwed up and, in response, they apparently fired several people.

It's all very exciting.

I have been staring at everyone who coughs without covering their mouth with growing, obvious horror as the days go on, as the school in question isn't actually all that far from where I work or where I live. I am bathing in hand sanitizer at work all day.

I kind of feel like there's going to be a movie about this in six years and Morgan Freeman will play someone wise who nobody listens to until it's too late, and they'll only just barely contain it, and maybe monkeys will be involved somehow.

Wait, I think they already made that movie.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Mad Tagger of Travelers Rest

There is someone who keeps tagging things on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, up near Travelers Rest, with this.

For the longest time, I thought it was the word 'Argyle'... as in argyle shirt patterns, vests, stuff like that. And I kept trying to imagine what kind of person would pick 'argyle' as their Hardcore Graffiti Artist Name. Maybe he just really likes vests, I thought, or maybe he doesn't even know what argyle is and thinks it's some kind of venomous snake in Australia.

I have this mental image of Argyle, the Mad Tagger of Travelers Rest, spray-painting his name on every conceivable flat surface while pushing his taped-together glasses back up and making sure his suspenders are tight enough. After he's done being super hardcore, Argyle goes home to play video games and tell people on the internet what a super-cool graffiti artist he is.

Then I realized...


Argue is the word spray-painted there, not Argyle.

This isn't in any way the name of Argyle the Mad Tagger of Travelers Rest.

This is some kid with a can of spray paint out there thinking that spraying a word like 'argue' on the side of a clock off the Swamp Rabbit Trail will somehow cause the runners, walkers, cyclists, and various and sundry assorted animals they bring with them to really, y'know, think, man. About, like, the world. 

And you know, good for you, kiddo. Although I mostly want to argue with you about why you'd spray paint your super-helpful suggestion on something put up by the city for the public good and not on, like, an empty brick wall or something. Ooooh, or a tree. Wouldn't that be super-political and whatnot.

Honestly, though, whoever you are, I'm not annoyed at you. Not really.

What I'm really annoyed about is that it wasn't Argyle, after all. You don't even understand how happy the idea of Argyle made me.

There's no bespectacled graffiti artist sneaking out in the middle of the night between Bioshock Infinite levels or quantum physics discussions, sweater-vest always on, trying to make his mark on the world. There's no 15-year-old Mathlete just hoping to overhear someone asking, Who is Argyle, anyway? No taped-together glasses, no suspenders, no nerd-graffiti-subculture in Upstate South Carolina headed up by the shadowy figure of Argyle.

This makes me sadder than you can ever know.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Things From My Phone

I cannot tell you how much I love having short hair. I end up growing it out over the course of a year or so, because I am terrible at doing more than the occasional trim, and then we cycle back around to South Carolina's incredibly humid spring and summer and I can't take it anymore. Usually around the time I realize I have done nothing but wash my hair and pull it back in a ponytail for a week straight, I decide it's time to visit the nice people at Great Clips and listen to them tell me you have so much hair fifteen thousand times while most of it finds its way to the floor.

On the other hand, the humidity is still nothing to sneeze at (or rather, the air is the thing that is making me sneeze forever and always), so headbands and I? We become very, very good friends. And we are going to stay friends until the temperature gets back into something I consider manageable.

Which... will probably be late October.

In any case, I have barely taken any real photos at all with my regular camera this week, so I don't have any good stuff to show. Also I received some less-than-stellar news yesterday, so I'm not exactly feeling overly effusive.

Here's a few things from the last several days that are helping brighten my mood:

The bracelet I bought at Artisphere and my two new bracelets from Liz Daly Designs in downtown Greenville. Between those three, they will go with essentially 80% of my summer wardrobe. I'm still eyeing the turquoise and orange from Nicole Wayne, though.

I've got a wedding anniversary coming up, right? That's a reason for presents, isn't it? I don't even know. Do you even get presents at five years? Is there some kind of etiquette for this?

I don't know why I'm even asking; I am terrible at etiquette. I still have to remind myself not to stick my elbows on the table when I'm eating.

(Also I know I took that photo in my car, but I swear upon all that is holy that I wasn't driving at the time.)

Puppy playdates!

Jason had some friends over last night, and a couple I had previously not met came by, Hester and... I do not remember her SO's name, which makes me a terrible hostess, but in my defense I wasn't actually there most of the night. In any case, they brought their little four-month-old pile of extra skin and cute over and he and Indy got on like gangbusters.

It was actually really difficult to get them to hold still long enough to even get a photo this good.

I'm debating blowing it up poster-size and tacking it up over the bed with white text over it that reads "THIS IS WHY WE NEED ANOTHER DOG. LOOK AT HIS LITTLE FACE."

Because why have one dog when you can have two dogs, right?


There's a great scene in an earlier season of the Simpsons when they visit Australia, and Marge tries to order a cup of coffee and it turns out they don't know what that is, they only serve beer. That scene runs through my head literally every single time I am buying beer.

Last night before meeting my friends for dinner, I stopped over at Community Tap, a locally owned beer, wine, and growler store. My original plan was just to pick up that four-pack of local Greenville brewery Thomas Creek's new Chocolate Orange IPA, but I ended up walking away with Vanilla Cream Ale, too, which we had before and really liked. I'm not usually an IPA person, but Jason and I tried the Chocolate Orange last night and agreed it's probably the strongest IPA we've ever tasted. Nice and super-hoppy, a really strong flavor, bright citrus notes. I really enjoyed it! If you like a really mild IPA, though, you may not like it.

I picked up Edible Upcountry while I was there, too, a local foodie magazine that has expanded more and more in the couple of years we've been living here. I know at first I could only find it in a couple of places, but it's kind of exploded now! My favorite natural foods store (and coffee bar, not coincidentally) in Pickens carries the magazine now.

Our first tomatoes! They hardly count right now because they are the size of my thumb, but I noticed while looking them over today before I left for work that we have at least eight of those little things starting to pop up! I am so excited for fried green tomatoes and then ripe ones later on!

Jason and I planted an herb garden out front this year, as well as keeping a hanging basket strawberry bush (that is producing exactly two strawberries at a time, which is... kind of problematic if we want to do more than eat them in two bites), and then we have this tomato plant and a hot pepper plant, too.


Fried green tomatoes.

Cannot wait.

I force Jason to make most fried things. Something in his southern blood means he is better at frying stuff. Don't argue with me; we've proven this through many, many attempts and pseudo-failures on my part and the seemingly effortless perfectly crispy frying on his. In my expert scientific opinion, southern people are just better at frying stuff.

Except pumpkin blossoms.

I am a boss at pumpkin blossoms.

These Old Navy shoes.

I am living in these shoes right now.

They're cute enough to wear nicer places, but casual enough to just wear with jeans and a T-shirt wherever I go on my day off, too. I have them in which off-white color and in black, but it's really the off-white that I find myself pulling on every other day or so.

Being as they cost me something like 15 dollars, I don't actually expect them to last much longer than this summer (I have a somewhat similar pair of orange shoes I bought last year that have basically no rope braid left on the back already), but I think I've already gotten my money's worth.

So, yeah.

Those are some things making me smile right now.

I hope at least one of them made you smile, too.