Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Kind of Constellation

There is a spider who lives in our cactus planter outside. He is the size of the white part of my pinkie nail and oddly crystalline, nearly see-through. He looks like a spider made out of some kind of slightly dull quartz, or a deeply flawed diamond. He has made himself a tiny web, with a heavily woven piece at the center that he sits in, all day, waiting. He's woven it between two cacti, and he never bothers anybody or tries to leave his web, so I leave him be.

It rained this morning, and I never did remember to move the cacti in beforehand.

So now he has a tiny water starscape suspended along the lines of his home.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Blegh. Blegh is a Word, Right? Let's Say It's a Word.

Overdid it yesterday, apparently. Jason and I had to run an errand, which was alright, and we had lunch, where I became sleepy and didn't feel great but that was okay. Then we went over to my in-laws for dinner and I nearly fell asleep at the counter two or three times. The ride home was no fun at all.

Dinner was fantastic, by the way; my sister-in-law just spent a few weeks over in Italy taking a cooking class abroad, and she cooked for us last night to show us some of what she learned. We had delicious caponata, which I have never had fresh before, and then a dish whose name I never learned but I suspect is some variation on "chicken with grapes and cashews". That was really amazing, too. Dinner with my in-laws is always awesome, so I'm glad that I went. Jason and I had a really good time.

By the time we got home, though, I was beginning to regret my choices and basically just laid down on the couch and read a book until I could fall asleep.

I woke up today incredibly sore, not particularly happy, and feeling like despite my seven hours I had hardly slept a wink. I've just sort of dozed in and out all day. Jason stopped by during lunch, which I managed to be at least a little bit conscious for. Otherwise I am basically good for nothing today.

I may not have much positive to say today, but here, have a couple of really pretty things I've seen on etsy lately. At least I'll feel like I gave you guys something worthwhile in return for you reading all these words.


Made by a local Greenville artist, which is even cooler. I kinda really need this in my life. I would love to have it hanging on my wall above the TV, and it even matches my orange wall.

Hmmm... I plot.

So there. Now I feel like we're a little bit back on track. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Never Nap Alone

One is my stalwart and loyal guardian, watching to ensure no one disturbs my sleep...

and one is just waiting for her chance to step on my face.

I love animals.

Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Things - To the Sea and the Sun

1. This song by Laura Marling, which is where the title for this post comes from. Laura Marling is a strange, vaguely supernatural creature; younger than me, her voice is oddly wise and there is a gravity to her and her music that makes her seem far older than she is.

My favorite song of hers is Devil's Spoke, but she has this new album that just came out and it is amazing. She's been a little bit of an open secret to people who love this kind of music; the people in her scene, who do similar music, have been getting more and more famous but she remains a huge influence that doesn't often find her way onto the bigger music websites, until this new album.

When I saw them review her new album on NPR, I squealed out loud. I would love for her stuff to become more accessible to your average Joe in the USA.

Listen to this song; there's a sense of old mountains about her music, a mix of blues and spirituals, bluegrass and 60's folk music and a woman outside a cabin in the 1930's Appalachians playing a guitar.

2. This maxi dress by Laura, who runs the shop kupukupuapparel over on etsy. It's a T-shirt dress with pockets, a gorgeous peacock-blue teal, and looks like it is made of the most comfortable material on the planet. It's basically the perfect fall dress.

Now I just have to decide if it's eighty dollars the perfect fall dress.

I find myself musing over what I could wear with it; sweaters, in the fall and winter, so that it becomes more a skirt than a dress. Cardigans and boots to make it appropriate for work in our air-conditioning, which I could do year-round. By itself with piles of jewelry and sandals in the summer...

I just like to daydream.

Don't judge me.

3. In December of 2010, half a year's worth of rain fell in a single day around Uluru, of the famous Red Rock of Australia.

When this rain fell, it created rare bursts of waterfalls running down the rock, a thing of absolute beauty. Uluru takes your breath away; it's easy for me to see why the aboriginal Australian faith has Uluru at the center of everything. It's on my bucket list to see it in person one day, but I keep running into the problem where Australia is thousands of miles away and also full of things that are trying to kill me.

Well, to be fair, it's full of things trying to kill everybody.

In any case, the photo above is taken from a blog post I stumbled across. It's definitely worth going to look; the post consists of a series of photos showing the rain sweeping in, lingering, and then a rainbow after it's gone... and then the gorgeous series of photos of the water running down the rock.

Go look through, and tell me that Earth is not an amazing place, full of incredible things.

4. This is an evening ensemble from 1853 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I would like us all to take a moment and be thankful that we no longer have to wear dresses that are this elaborate.

I realize that I probably have more than a couple of readers who would adore getting to dress like this on a regular basis, and trust me, I would love for you to dress like that, too. Just so long as I don't have to.

This tomboy loves her pants, and her T-shirts, and also really really really loves not having to wear petticoats.

On the other hand, I would kill for a button-up in that fabric.

Well, maybe not kill. I would definitely kick someone in the shins for it, though.

5. Watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame the other day (what? Disney movies help time pass! What did I just say about not judging me?), I realized all over again how much I want to see the cathedral itself. I know that the effect will be somewhat spoiled by all the other tourists just like me snapping photos of every column, but I want to see the Rose Windows with a need bordering on the pathological.

These are some of the greatest works of art ever made by man. The South Rose Window is huge, and in effect are a series of images allowing even the most illiterate person to walk through the Bible.

Stained glass is incredible, beautiful even in small doses, but the Rose window is one of the best stained glass pieces of all time.

I would just absolutely love to see it in person one day.

So, there you go. I've brought you music, fancy dresses, not-so-fancy dresses, stained glass, and waterfalls in one of the driest parts of the world.

Anything cool on the internet you've found yourself lingering over today? Put a link in the comments! You know I could use the entertainment.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Smile of Encroaching Insanity

I have taken fifty jillion photos today. Of coffee, of the dog, of the cat, of my own blankets, of tea, or  a flower, of the dog again...

Guys, it has not even been a full week and I am LOSING MY MIND from cabin fever.

 I have a possibility of three more weeks of this before I'm cleared to go back to work. That photo up there is the forced smile of a woman rapidly going mad from boredom.

I can't do much; if I stand up for more than five minutes at a time I get suddenly very tired and must sit down again. I have been forbidden from being useful, because to be useful is to expend physical effort, and I don't have the energy to spare. I read, but sometimes the brain is weary of words. I watch Netflix, but sometimes I get so tired of TV I want to throw it across the room, but I couldn't do that anyway because I can't lift anything right now. I make endless cups of tea because the time to boil the water, steep, add honey and milk and drink it is at least something to do.

I haven't even put on anything but yoga pants since Friday morning when I left for the hospital. Sometimes I put on jewelry and then take it off again.

I colored puppies in my coloring book. Strangely, that helped.

I nap a lot, but while I wake up feeling refreshed, and I am tired again ten minutes later.

Jason comes home for lunch right now, and that is a serious bright spot in my day. Today, a friend of mine came and hung out with me for a while before lunch, and I cannot tell you how much that helped, just to chat with someone who is a part of the Outside World. I feel like Quasimodo, peeking out the window at the neighbors and singing glorious songs about Out There.

And I have do this for weeks longer.

I am going to put together a 5 things post for tomorrow just to have something to do. That'll take some time, right?


Eh, who am I kidding.

I'll be back on Pinterest in ten minutes, and asleep twenty minutes after that.

And yet somehow still bored.

This has been your regular update from the land of the overly dramatic, exaggeration-prone ladies.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Care Packages & Candy

I received a box in the mail today, a care package from my family back in Illinois.

I have a hunch that my niece was allowed to dictate much of what went in. See if you can't guess why I think that.

All of this was inside:
a coloring book (with puppies!)
a box of crayons (which I promptly spilled all over the place)
A stuffed horse, which my aunt made
Werther's Originals Coffee hard candies
A mosaic of an owl made by my niece
A set of Build-a-Buddies
A coffee-scented marker
A Draw-by-Marker coloring book (with Hello Kitty!)
a puzzle (of kitties!)
an on-the-go drink tumbler from my hometown
a huge rolled-up paper in which my niece drew, I imagine, herself with her arms out to hug me from ten hours away. Cue tears.
A lion on the chest of the girl in the drawing, which she helpfully labeled 'lion'. Because I love the Lion King so very much that my five-year-old niece tries to include references to it in the things she draws for me.

a mug, also from my hometown!

I had mentioned that I was excited that our tiny little hometown had made branded coffee mugs and to-go cups, and my plan for my visit for the Fourth of July had been to pick a couple up while I was in town. You can take me out of McLean, but you can't take McLean out of me, you know?

That visit was canceled, since recovery is taking up all my sick time and most if not all my remaining vacation, but they brought my family and McLean to me!

My niece is five-going-on-thirty. She is growing up way faster than she is allowed to, and I have told her this before, but she insists on aging whenever I'm not around nonetheless. Tricky girl.

Today's care package arrived on a day when cabin fever had seen me try to sweep the kitchen floor... which, big mistake, by the way. Also I need to stop admitting to this stuff on Facebook, since this particular attempt to clean got me scolded by my friend Sarah and found my sister typing out my whole name in her comment, which everyone knows means you are really in trouble. 

Now I have all these things from the people at home, and it's wonderful.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go get myself hopped up on sugar and color me some puppies.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Progress is Measured in Coffee Cups

Today, we decided to try out my progress so far by making a trip to the nearest Starbucks drive-through, which is something like twelve minutes of driving (round-trip) plus however long we sit in the line itself.

By the time we returned with my hazelnut macchiato, I was ready for a nap.

I had literally woken from a nap minutes before we left to try Starbucks in the first place.

So... maybe not ready to re-enter the world just yet.

Oh, well. Can't blame me for tryin', right? Especially when coffee is the carrot at the end of this particular stick.

So far I spend my time sleeping, reading, sleeping, watching documentaries on Netflix, sleeping some more, and endlessly scrolling through Pinterest and Etsy, since I can do both those things on my phone from the plush safe haven of the couch.

In case you're curious, I have located roughly 654,562 pieces of clothing and/or jewelry I would like to own in the last few days. And I have pinned them all.

It's an exciting recovery life I lead.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I Stood Up By Myself Today

We take our victories where we find them.

I was sent home from the hospital Friday instead of having to stay overnight, which had been the original plan. I would have been excited about this, but the remaining anesthesia did not allow me to feel emotions for a couple of hours after we got home.

I had two small cans of ginger ale, a metric ton of water, and two sips of soup, but I couldn't seem to actually want any food so we rapidly gave up on that idea. I mostly slept, woke up to take more medication, and slept some more.

I ate a normal amount of food yesterday, which we are considering a good thing. When I felt actual hungry last night, I was vaguely surprised by it.

Jason has had to help me stand nearly every time; he made a comment early on about how he knew it wasn't in our vows exactly (we wrote our own), that this is pretty much the definition of "in sickness and in health". He's so supportive that I feel like I need to apologize for how much I need him right now, but then he tells me not to and that's what he's here for, and then I apologize for apologizing, and it's just a cycle.

It's humiliating to be a grown woman who cannot stand up on her own, but that is starting to come back, slowly. I can shuffle around the house now, bent over like an elderly Russian grandmother, to open the fridge and squint at milk and make myself endless cups of tea.

Friday night, my mother called and we talked for a little bit. My throat still hurt from intubation, and it's sort off and on but starting to feel better now. I am a swollen little ball of person, though. That... apparently takes a few days to go away.

 Yesterday I had a pretty steady stream of activity for a while; my mother-in-law came bearing delicious muffins from the Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery for us, and our friends Cory and Lauren came over with a Chai latte that may have been the most delicious thing in the entire world. I am debating sending Jason out to get me one this morning, but I'm not sure if that's just ridiculous or not.

We also received the above flowers from our friends Sarah and Josh. Sarah is on top of sending me flowers when stuff like this happens, let me tell you internet.

I thought I would shuffle over here long enough to tell everyone I am mostly conscious, and I'm home, and I love ginger ale. There is something deeply, endlessly comforting about ginger ale when one is not feeling well.

And also chai.

Ooh, and muffins.

The people who love me are the best, and I am very lucky to have every single one of them.

I am luckiest to have the husband who helps me stand and has been sleeping on the other couch the last two nights so that he's right with me if I need anything, the kind of husband who passes out when needles go into me, the man who asks me every twenty minutes if I need anything and who keeps telling me not to overdo, not to push myself too hard, because he knows that if he doesn't I will grit my teeth and pretend I don't need help, that I won't take as much medication as I should, that if left to myself I will make it worse in an insane attempt to pretend doing so will make me better faster.

This morning, I watched the sun come up through the blinds while he napped next to me and listened to him breathe. The moment I so much as shifted position, he came out of a deep sleep instantly and asked if I needed anything.

In sickness and in health, indeed.

Friday, July 19, 2013

5 Things - Luck and Protection

I go in for my medical thing today. I am sitting here drinking black coffee, which isn't my favorite, but I'm not allowed to have any food or not-see-through liquid today, and I can't even have any water after 9 am today. By the time all this is over with I will be a raging hungerbeast.

I am allowed to have Pedialyte, which is the last thing I plan to drink before my cut-off time. I bought some at the store yesterday, along with the prescribed anti-bacterial hand-soap and body-soap (which we don't keep in the house normally, I don't worry about that stuff). The cashier at the register smiled and said, "Aw, how old is your sick baby?"

This is the second time a cashier at that store has assumed I have a baby.

She was pretty mortified when I said I didn't have one, so I tried to explain why I was buying Pedialyte, but I'm pretty sure I just messed her morning up right there.

Ah well.

I could use some good luck (which is my way of saying I am totally fishing for good luck thoughts from my readers, haha) and I thought I'd use it as inspiration for a 5 things post.

Here are some good luck charms I found on etsy, some of which I kind of wish I was carrying in with me. I know that I can find examples of most of these things elsewhere on the internet, but I just like etsy.

1. The hamsa, which I have talked about my love for previously, is considered a symbol bringing good fortune. It's often paired with or contains an 'evil eye', to help protect against those who wish you ill. The Jewish version of the hamsa often contains Hebrew writing and the stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel, or fish, which are considered good luck symbols all on their own.

The necklace above is off etsy, from Jenny Rodriguez at PureLifeForever. I also really like this bracelet, this vintage pendant, and this T-shirt.

2. The rabbit's foot! This is a good luck symbol all over the world, which suggests to me that it's a fairly old good-luck charm, since we see it in Europe, Asia, Africa, and even North and South America. As I'm not a fan of actual cut-off rabbit's feet, I prefer the little charms like this that suggest it without having to be gross.

This necklace is from Anna Holder over at ArmadilloJacks is perfect. I'm also a fan of this necklace with multiple charms and this bracelet.

3. Barnstars! People don't know much about these, but if you've ever seen a horseshoe hung over a stable doorway for luck, it's the same concept. Sometimes it's not the traditional five-pointed star but a circular wagon-wheel shape instead. Serves the same purpose, though; to bring good luck and protection to the barn or house.

They're mostly seen in the Pennsylvania/Northeastern area of the United States. I currently have a hamsa on my wall for good luck, but if we ever have a barn in my idealistic hypothetical future house that I already have planned out down to the last beam of wood, a barnstar is going to be a part of it.

Or maybe I'll just paint my own barn quilt, since I love those too.


The above take on the barnstar concept is from Gregory Morris over at SlippinSouthern. The colors and the fading/aging look perfect for my hypothetical barn. I also like this photograph of a small, cast-iron version, and this many-pointed star on wood panel with a Welsh love-knot painted over it.

4. Wishbone! No, not the dog with the awesome TV show from my childhood. I miss that show; I learned a lot of lessons from that dog. Although now I've gotten distracted.

Wishbones are a symbol of good luck that nearly everyone recognizes right off the bat; there's even an understanding that if you find a wishbone, you and a friend should make a wish and pull, and whoever gets the bigger half gets their wish. This has never held true for me, but that may be because I only ever wish for a horse and the wishbones are probably tired of it and want me to pick a new wish.

Next time I'll wish for a dog the size of a horse. That'll show 'em.

I love the baby onesie above, made by Rosin Bean James at KitchenInk. Other wishbone goodies are this 'lucky shot' necklace, this art print, and this pretty wrap bracelet.

5. The albatross, which received somewhat of a reputation hit after the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but is not a bad-luck sign. It's considered by sailors to be a sign of a lucky voyage, and in the poem the narrator turns that luck bad by killing the bird out of spite.

Which kind of seems like the narrator was asking for it, because who kills an albatross, really.

The print above is from a photograph, and you can find it in Ian Latham's shop, ElmosPhotos. I am also a fan of this abstracted pewter-color necklace, this giclee print, and this interesting piece with embroidery over an ablatross illustration.

So, there you go. Five lucky charms, and hopefully by thinking so much about them they'll all help me out.

I'll see you a few days, intrepid readers.

Cross your fingers, toes, and eyes and wish me luck!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Stuck-at-Home Sanity Kit, Part 2

The other half of my sanity kit is a little bit less cohesive, but just as needed.

First and foremost, is the tea.

While wandering the Spice & Tea Exchange that just opened downtown with my friend Lauren on Monday, I picked out an Earl Grey Creme for Jason (... and I to share) and I also wanted something light on caffeine or caffeine-free, for hot tea I can drink later in the evening.

I picked out Berry White, and let me tell you that Lauren had to explain the joke to me because for whatever reason I didn't connect the name of the tea, with... y'know... Barry White.

I am suitably ashamed of myself.

This tea's main selling point for me was the presence of lychee, and lychee scent (a sweet, light smell) is really prevalent. This is a tea that needs no additions except for maybe a little bit of honey.

Also, Snowflake tea from over at Tealoha was picked up because I had run out of the first batch I bought just as they opened. I am going through this coconut-and-almond black tea like it's going out of style, which maybe it is, I don't know. Is there a 'style' for tea? In any case, it is stocked alongside Berry White.

I've also got honey from the Bee Well Honey and Natural Market store up in Pickens. Local raw honey is pretty much the best.

And then there are the DVD's.

Is there anything more comforting when you're home sick than watching your favorite TV shows, episode after episode, until your brain has gone completely numb and you fall back asleep?

Well, I'm assuming the snuggly cat will be more comforting than that, but the DVD's will come close.

I have my favorites represented here, because I can guarantee they will be watched. Archer, the Venture Brothers, the movie Clue (which I will lay against any other comedy and Clue will win), and...

The most important movie I own for when I am feeling low.

The Lion King.

It is my favorite movie. It is the movie I play when I am sick, or sad, or hurting, or just feeling in need of something I know will make the world seem like a better place. I have seen this movie more times than I can count. I saw the musical on Broadway thanks to the incredible generosity of my in-laws. I saw it in Greenville when it played at the Peace Center and squeezed Jason's hand too tightly the whole time. I own two copies of the DVD, for some reason. I think I stole one from my parents.


I plan it to be the first thing I watch when I get home after my medical thing is over, and I guarantee I will feel better when the credits roll than I did before I put it in.

I had my second and final appointment before the medical thing today. They took blood, which I never enjoy. I had the happiest phlebotomist in the world, which was both infuriating and completely not infuriating, because she was too nice to be annoyed at.

Also, for some reason the nice people in clinics are always deeply shocked when I tell them I don't have any food allergies. I have no idea why this is. There are still people with no food allergies in the world, right?

I'll see you tomorrow... and then I'll be going dark for a bit for the weekend.

By which I mean I will be on the couch, asleep, while Jason makes soup.

Because he is awesome.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Stuck-at-Home Sanity Kit, Part 1

There are two parts to my kit for how to not lose my mind while stuck at home recovering from ridiculous medical stuff.

This is the first part, arguably the most important. I can live without a lot of things, but when I feel bad, books are the first place I turn.

I have magazines for when I'm too sleepy from healing (and, let's face it, I will probably have to take a painkiller or two) to focus and books for when I'm awake but don't care for that whole 'get up and walk around' madness. Because I tend to rocket through books like I'm trying to break some kind of world record, I tried to grab more than one.

For the magazines, I have Garden & Gun, InStyle, Self, and Marie Claire; easy, fizzy things my brain can buzz around without having to land for more than a couple of minutes at a time in any one place.

For later, I have Books of Adam: The Blunder Years, a new book out by one of my absolute favorite of all-time bloggers, as well as A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (I am a sucker for "I grew up in a small town" memoirs... you can all probably guess why), and finally This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust. It's a study on how the sheer number of casualties from the Civil War (total war deaths are estimated at around 620,000, and some people say as many as 30% of Southern men between 18 - 35 died in the war) affected American society overall and how it changed our trajectory as a nation. I am looking forward to this, because I am morbid and don't judge me. One of the best books I own is a study on how the Black Death changed European society and, to an extent, the long-term trajectory of the Western World in general.

You'd think someone who struggles with anxiety, freaks out about the slightest problem, and tends to be a bit of a hypochondriac would not enjoy these books, but... what can I say, I surprise even myself.

Now, that is one-half of my absolute must-haves to survive being stuck home; books and magazines, something for my brain to bubble in and something for my brain to feed on.

Tomorrow, you'll see the other things that are going to keep me from going stark raving mad while I'm here counting seconds until I'm cleared to go back to work.

I'm going to post today, tomorrow, and one will go out Friday morning. After that it'll be radio silence for a little bit, because nobody needs to read what I would be typing while on painkillers.

At least Jason will be there to write down anything too ridiculous not to remember.

He's a giver that way.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lists Because I Can: My Weekend

The following things happened over the last few days:

1. The sky looked like that one night, and all that purple was too beautiful not to share. At the very top of one of those trees was a bird singing to me, but he's too small to see in the photograph. 

2. I started working on my stuck-at-home-because-of-medical-stuff sanity kit. Due to a medical issue that I would prefer to leave of an unspecified nature, I am going to be trapped in my house for the better part of a month. I want to make sure I do not go completely crazy, so before Friday Jason and I wanted to have everything lined up; we're going to deep-clean the house this week, I've gotten a couple of things to keep me going. I'll share them with you in a bit when I can remember where my camera went, heh.

3. We went to the Grand Opening for a new local brewery, Quest! Neue Southern and ASADA, awesome food trucks, were there serving food for the event. Jason and I were actually really impressed at how well Quest managed the crowd; they had a line into the tasting room for people paying with credit, and a line for people paying with cash that went to a tent outside. The food trucks were stationed far enough apart that there was no chance of their lines overlapping or becoming confusing.

Jason and I picked ASADA this time; I had a nopale (cactus) and mushroom taco that was basically heaven on earth and now I am spoiled for all other food and nothing will ever make me as happy as that taco did. Well, except for the beer! I tried Quest's IPA, the BPA, and the Coffee Stout. I'm a dark beer girl, so I wasn't surprised that I wasn't the biggest fan of the IPA or BPA. They're good beer, lots of character for pale ales, but I tend to like a beer that can double as supper, should the need arise, and the Coffee Stout did not disappoint. It was basically a loaf of delicious chocolate-coffee bread in a glass, just the way I like it. Very smooth taste; the coffee was not a bitter flavor, but almost a sweet.

4. While there we hung out with a couple of friends of ours; my friend Jessi who is the light of my life and love of my heart gave me some of the best things ever; three gourds to sand down and paint! I am the happiest person alive every time I look at 'em. I mean, the picture doesn't look like much because I haven't washed and sanded and primed them yet but GOURDS. You may remember that I am a fan of gourd art. Now I get to make my own! Well, after I'm not longer on medication after my medical thing.

5. I ate a lot of delicious foods.

6. The sky also looked like this one night, which was decidedly more ominous than the pretty purple above. That night, I drove home from work out of one crazy-dark storm cell, into three minutes of glorious sunshine, and then into a different crazy-dark storm cell. The second one hailed on me.

I did not like that storm cell.

7. I received a bridal shower invitation this weekend and a wedding invitation today; I am unreasonably excited about both of these things. Even though there's a distinct possibility I will be very drugged up at the bridal shower still, from my medical thing.

8. I had tea with my friend Lauren today over at Tealoha, which I have now been to three times since it opened. Because I tend to become very loyal very quickly to places I think are delicious. We wandered over to the Charleston Tea & Spice Exchange, which is brand new in downtown Greenville. I may or may not have walked out with an Earl Grey Creme for Jason and a White Berry Tea for myself. By 'may or may not' I mean I totally did.

Spice blends! Looseleaf tea! Jalapeno sea salt! Adorable tiny wooden bowls to house your salt in! Mortar and pestles! Did I mention the tea! Chocolate salt! Chocolate tea! Chocolate everything!

 Frankly, I'm just happy I made it out of there without having to give them the deed to our house to cover the bill.

9. I also spent some time relaxing at the library, which was mostly to try and start my week in the best possible frame of mind. I forgot to eat lunch before I left though, and found myself absolutely starving. I grabbed lunch in the in-library coffee shop, the Palmetto Bean Cafe; I had their grilled cheese and soup lunch option and it was great! A Tuscan chickpea soup, and the grilled cheese was crunchy and gooey exactly the way it should be. It's all about comfort food for me this week.

10. I spent a lot of time worrying about little things in order to try and keep myself from remembering that I am actually worried about one big thing. I am rapidly losing the battle against my compulsive nail-biting.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Photo from frecklewonder via Google Search. Website doesn't work anymore, but I credit anyway.

Skunks in the Upstate clearly do not want to live.

I say this because at this point I can no longer count in any meaningful way how many of them I drive past or around on the highway on my way to work in the morning. That awful stink of theirs fills the air, not as a warning but as a goodbye; you don't get it until you've gotten just past the body and it follows you for far longer than it has any right to.

Oh, sure, roadkill is an equal-opportunity tragedy for small animals anywhere at all, but the skunks seem to have mastered the art of finding the wheel of a truck or the bumper of a little four-door sedan.

Do I see opossums here and there, the occasional groundhog or even someone's cat or dog whose life has been cut short? Sure. I've even seen a few deer, that constant menace in the fall evenings.

But I don't see any of them in such great numbers as I do the skunks.

Maybe they finally realize how bad they smell and could take it no longer.

Maybe it's the heat and the humidity, the sun shining too hard on their black fur, driving them mad.

Maybe it's just that there are a whole lot of skunks in the Upstate and this building pile of little black-and-white roadkill is hardly a speck compared to the number of them lumbering just out of sight behind the trees, snorting at their foolish brothers and sisters, keeping to themselves.

When I was in college, there was a bit of a pet skunk on campus. I can't even say whether or not that many people knew about him, only that it seemed like everyone I saw was completely unsurprised by his presence.

He came and went, minding his own business, hardly threatened by the students who were always late to class, moving too fast to pay him much attention.

 He lived on their litter; I would see him more than once gently working the wrapping off somebody's left-behind fast-food until he could get to the delicious half-eaten hamburger bun underneath.

We called him Charlie.

Well, I called him Charlie, and so did most of the people I pointed him out to. So that's got to count for something, and it's as good a place to gain a name as any.

I would see him come crawling out of storm drains at dusk, or notice him napping in the bushes behind our legendarily confusing English building. Once, late at night, I saw him walking down the same sidewalk I was at 9:45 at night, about fifty feet ahead of me, ambling like any gentlemen enjoying a bit of a fresh air.

Though I had a soft spot for Charlie, I am not a stupid woman; I gave him a wide berth, rather than take the chance of surprising him too close for safety.

I am not a fan of skunks, even if I was a fan of Charlie's. I wonder what happened to him after I graduated with a vague sort of wistfulness; in college, the squirrels and chipmunks are all half-tame from the attentions of surprisingly gentle co-eds who feed them bread and almonds and pumpkin seeds, leaving them in little piles for the critters to pick up on their way to the nearest tree. Administrators and professors will rail against the unnatural treatment and the dangers of over-domestication, but I saw more than one of those same professors leaving out a walnut or two when they thought nobody was looking.

When I go for a walk at Furman University I'm reminded of this, as the ducks crowd close to me, hoping I am as gullible as the students they charm with their ducklings, the older folks who come with bags of stale bread. My dog scares them off, but even then they keep an eye on me, just in case it turns out I was holding food for them all along.

I liked that we had Charlie and not just cute chipmunks and ducks, clucking little squirrels and geese.

We had one of those least-liked animals, lumbering and quiet, who went his own way He had looked at us and declared us mostly harmless, even if we were students at a once-upon-a-time party school, most of us still charmlessly hungover on our way to class on Mondays.

I "accidentally" dropped a bit of my Starbucks scone more than once, stopping at a safe distance to watch him walk up to it, look at me, gobble it up and then wander on.

Don't get me wrong, guys; I don't mourn those roadkill-skunks. They went into the road, they made their choice. Also I wouldn't feed a skunk today, no matter how tame it looked, because I have a dog and dogs and skunks are drawn to each other like smelly magnets.

I also like to think I've gained enough common sense to know that you shouldn't feed a skunk because it's a wild animal, but... well, you've met me, right?

The roadkill skunks just make me think of Charlie, and I know that even if he were a Southern skunk down here right off the highway, foraging in the woods, you'd never have seen him out in the road.

The kind of skunk that figures out how to use co-ed lack of common sense to make a daily banquet for himself just by making cute faces is not the kind of skunk that ends up as a lump on the side of the road.

That is the kind of skunk who is going to live.

P.S. I only just learned, while looking up a photo for this post, that whenever you read someone talking about a polecat in very old American fiction, they're talking about skunks. I DID NOT KNOW THOSE WERE THE SAME THING.

Mind = blown.

I guess this ruins my sort of poignant moment I had going there, but I don't even care.


Monday, July 8, 2013

I Will Not Think About My Feet, I Will Not Think About My Feet, I Will Not...

 Did you guys know that you can be so itchy that it wakes you up out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night?

I know that now.

I know all about that.

I learned some other interesting things too, at four a.m. Saturday night (... Sunday morning?) while trying not to lose my mind; namely, that fire ant bites are not like mosquito bites. They don't itch right away and then gradually calm down over the next few days. They itch a little at first, you feel fine for four days and then suddenly your entire foot feels like it is crawling with awful.

I am going slowly mad from it.

For whole, glorious hours yesterday I was able to not think about it, but every time I stop being busy enough to be distracted, it becomes the only thing my brain will even admit exists. There is no planet earth; there is only the itch. I am going to the store today to buy a gallon bucket of hydrocortisone.

I mentioned in my little bit about being homesick at the end of my last substantive post that I would probably be reading more than normal, my usual way to deal with such things. Well, it's true; I've finished two books in three days, and that's with running around for the holiday and not even having as much time to read as I would have liked. It's nice to fall into words, you know?

I can even sometimes forget how much my feet itch for five minutes.

Yesterday, Jason and I went out, just the two of us, to wander around downtown, hit up one of the museums, have lunch, just be together. It managed not to rain the whole time we were down there, which in Greenville is kind of a miracle right now.

The Reedy River is up, although not nearly as bad as when one of our friends was down there Thursday. We could see where it would have been creeping up and over the old crumbly mill-wall that runs alongside the walking path for a bit, but by the time we were there it was mostly back to normal, just a wee bit louder than usual.

I still went and stood in the spray for a while, because while I may not be a fan of being on a boat, I am someone who nonetheless really loves to be near running water.

Then I did what I do best and took a bunch of pictures of Jason without telling him that's what I was doing. He's starting to get a sixth sense for these things.

Seriously, guys. This is our downtown. Giant granite rocks and a river running muddy for over a straight mile of winding park. And it keeps getting bigger. 

The thing we like about Greenville is that it's keeping its green space. I get claustrophobic in cities; I can't understand how New Yorkers can fall so much in love with living in a place that is all concrete and light bouncing off tall windows. They, do, though; New Yorkers are famously people who may complain about the heat in the summer and the ice in the winter but nonetheless could not stand to live anywhere else. But I don't quite get it. All that closed-in space makes me nervous, I don't like the concrete and not being able to feel the bowl of the sky over you.

Greenville, though, has been growing in a way that still keeps the green spaces. The Swamp Rabbit Trail, after all, is essentially one very thin long green park that runs straight through large parts of the city, letting you surround yourself with trees (and honeysuckle, and a little kudzu, and tons of wildflowers) only blocks away from some of the busiest highways we have.

I know I spend a surprising amount of time gushing about Greenville on this blog, and I really have no plans to stop, unless Greenville stops being awesome. 

I don't see that happening.

Hilariously, I've just received my first fashion magazine that mentions Fall Style!

It's July.

It's not even the end of July, it is the hottest, early part of July. Looking at these models in sweaters is a kind of deeply amusing I can't even come up with words for. I mean, walking outside right now is like just walking right into a sauna, only South Carolina has found a way to be more humid than a room purposefully filled with hot steam.

I am told it's good for my skin, and my in-laws (who are lifelong South Carolina residents) do all seem to have fantastic skin.

Maybe I should just take their word for it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tomboy Style, of a Sort: I Can Make Anything Odd

Haven't done one of these in a while, have I?

It's not that I haven't been wearing interesting things; personally, I think I have been. I even managed to get my feet covered in fire ant bites while taking photos of an outfit, ostensibly to show you guys, a week or so ago. Well, obviously that didn't happen. The ants got to me before I managed to take a decent photo of myself.

Maybe the ants were trying to tell me something about my outfit. I don't presume to understand the behavior of those evil Southern cousins of the cheerful Midwestern sugar ants I grew up with.

Hopefully I can find a halfway-decent outfit photo for you.


Really, this is what we've got to work with?

Seriously. This is the best full-length photo I took and even I look vaguely embarrassed by myself.

These black stretchy pseudo-cotton pants I found at Old Navy, but they were something like six inches too long thanks to being "extra long, for girls in heels!" As far as I can tell, the only girl who needs that extra length is a girl over six foot five. I'm glad Old Navy gave her the choice, but those of us who are a foot shorter than that would like pants that don't drag!

I hemmed them myself, by hand. Which is why I will never ever ever show you the wobbly, well-meant stitching along the bottoms. It took me nearly five days of working whenever I could stand to sit still to finish it.

I should also note here that I'm really, really bad at sewing with my hands, so everything takes way longer than it would others.

The shirt is from the Gap, a store I've had to grow into. My family had a running joke about my distaste for Old Navy and Gap back in the day, but in my defense I mostly wore punk T-shirts, safety-pin jewelry, or Goodwill stuff I cut up back then. I had to grow into shopping at Old Navy and the Gap, or at least grow out of that point in my life when my utmost dream was to have blue hair.

A dream denied, thanks to my mother's insistence on me having hair colors that can occur in nature.

I mean, come on. Blue is a color in nature! Lots of flowers are blue! Blue jays are blue!


I had to make up for it by dating two guys in a row that had blue hair at one point or another.

(Although by the time I was out of the house, I didn't want blue hair anymore. So... make of it what you will.)

The moccasins are from Target, and are basically my way of taking your average outfit and making it a little bit odd. Which is basically my specialty. The thing is, I found these moccasins online, and I ended up with two pairs because I love them so much. I'd have five pairs if someone (who shall go unnamed but who I MIGHT be married to, just sayin') hadn't put his foot down.

He just doesn't understand my free spirit.

My free spirit needs more shoes.

The two necklaces are the same two featured in this post; the friendship-bracelet style is from the Gap, and the little starfish from Fiore Boutique. I tend to wear my new jewelry so often I basically wear it out when I first get it, and I feel like this starfish will definitely find itself in that situation quickly.

The bracelets, on the other hand, are much older; the silver chain-style bracelet is something my Grandma Swearingen gave me out of her jewelry box a few years ago, when I was in high school. My Grandma has the best jewelry boxes, I swear. When I was little and we went over to her house, one of my favorite things used to be to sneak back into their guest room, where she kept her jewelry laid out on a kind of dresser in front of mirrors, and just... pick it up and look at it. I have a couple of things from her over the years, and they're some of my favorite and most-worn pieces.

The orange bead-bracelet I bought back in college at a school-sponsored craft fair. There used to be a necklace that went with it, but the necklace went to pieces one day and I'm not sure I ever found all the beads. They're scattered across a place I lived three apartments ago, no doubt still undiscovered.

Like... treasure.

Sort of.

And of course... the socks are from SmartWool.

Because where else would they be from?

So homesick it's silly. I was supposed to be in Illinois for the Fourth of July, but that didn't happen thanks to a nasty little piece of news that is stealing almost all of my vacation time for this year. My brother (who lives in Texas) is even in town, and getting he, my sister, and I in the same state can be a bit of a juggling act. Not to mention that I should be seeing my niece in person, not photographs.

I'll deal with it, and probably do more reading this weekend than even I would normally do, but it's pretty lonely over here without my family. Sometimes it's hard to believe I decided to live so far away on purpose, and I wonder whether I should have stayed there.

But then I think about my hilariously weird and perfect and wonderful friends, and my amazing in-laws, who took me into their family like I was always a part of it and they couldn't imagine me anywhere else, and I know why we're here, and I wouldn't leave for the world.


I need to get obscenely wealthy so I can see my family whenever I start to miss them.

So... like every other week or so.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


You know your Midwestern heart has begun to shift over to a Southern one when you check the weather report and hear yourself saying, "Oh, good! It's only 85 degrees outside!"

Perfect for a long walk, right?

Six miles later, you discover you've consumed something like 30 ounces of water in less than two hours.

So has the dog.

Oh well.

At least my sunscreen held up.