Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cold and Flat. And Cold. Did I Mention Cold?


Oh, hey, look! I have a face.

Look at that.

Also wrinkles.

(Have we discussed how much I am not ready for wrinkles?)

In any case, I am livin' it up in Illinois right now; if 'living it up' means 'going to bed at like 9 pm because my brain thinks it's past my bedtime and waking up at 4:30 am because in South Carolina Jason and I would be waking up for work now...'

It's like living it up. I'm a party animal, clearly.

Christmas Eve I took two plane rides - one from Greenville to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to Bloomington, Illinois. The first ride was mostly uneventful; it's the shortest plane ride, you're really only in the air for about half an hour, other than takeoff and landing.

I always warn my seatmates prior to takeoff that I am, shall we say, a "bad flier". My seatmate, who looked about five years younger than me, turned wide eyes at me upon hearing my warning and said, in a soft timid voice, "... this is only my second time flying."

I looked her in the eye and said, "Well, then I'm really sorry for this."

Then takeoff started.

It was a fine ride, and I really only made her a little bit nervous. The second plane was... a touch more interesting. There were lots of interesting smells from people who just don't feel like taking care of their personal hygiene, bless their hearts, and a baby who cried about 75% of the trip... only falling into blissful, silent sleep three and a half minutes before we landed.

My seatmate for the second flight had her phone out through most of landing, even though you're not really supposed to do that. However, when the plane was coming in I looked outside and I had just about enough time to think, "Woah, usually we're farther back on the runway where that big silo looks like we're BEHIND it before we touch down - " before our wheels hit the runway and the pilot slammed on the brakes.

We all jerked forwards, and my seatmate hit herself in the face with her iPhone. It was a supremely satisfying moment.

Then we were off the plane, and the most important thing happened:


I saw this little girl in person.

Well, and also my sister and father and mother. But also my little niece, who is rapidly turning into my not-so-little niece as she insists on getting older while I'm away.

We killed some time running last-minute errands (and lunch at Steak n Shake! Because there is no post-airline food quite like chili and cheese fries, and that's not a joke) before we came back to pick up my brother and finally, the VanHoorn family was in one single location. It's been awhile. Bryan and I both do this crazy thing where we decide to live whole states away. It's madness.

Christmas was its usual flurry of excitement, mostly because I get to watch my little niece discover presents from Santa (and the crumbs of the cookies they put out the night before, the empty chocolate milk glass, the evidence that the reindeer had a carrot-y snack...) and watching her open our presents is always awesome. I think I did pretty well on the gifts I got my family this year... I was pretty proud of myself.

I received some awesome gifts, too. Actually, that first photo up there is me wearing a present from my Mom and Dad (the shirt, from Boden, my favorite brand in the whole world right now) and the necklace was a present from my friend Sarah, who knows my intense love of hamsas.

So, the quiet mornings waiting for other people to be awake give me plenty of time to blog, although obviously I kind of wussed out on that by just posting a photo yesterday (as my cousin Beth reminded me, ha), so... here you go.

I'm in Illinois.

It's very flat.

It's very cold.

There are still dregs of snow.

There's my parents, and my sister and brother and brother-in-law, my family in general and my little niece in particular in all her wild glory.

Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Although it would be nice to rediscover the ability to sleep in.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I Am Truly A Profound Philosopher

Blow-drying your hair is kind of ridiculous, as a concept, right?

I mean. I get out of the shower, squint at myself, and then plug in a big hot fan that I point at my head for several minutes, while frantically brushing to keep the tangles from just taking over and turning my whole head into the patch of thorns the hyenas throw Simba into in the Lion King. Eventually, when I can't stand it anymore, I turn it off, hope my hair is dry, and go eat breakfast.

I do this every morning, mostly.

It takes several minutes. By the end of my life I'll have spent hours drying my hair.

Probably whole days.

When really, I could have spent that time getting five or ten extra minutes of sleep. I'd tell you I could have spent that time learning quantum physics or disproving the law of gravity or something, but let's be honest here; I'd just go back to bed and we all know it.

Still.

Rather than stay in bed - that nice warm place where I would happily spend every morning until around 9 am if our mortgage company would start accepting hand-drawn doodles instead of money as payment - I drag myself up, take a shower, and I point a hot fan, making an unpleasant noise similar to the vacuum monster, at my head for ten minutes.

Really... it's baffling.

Monday, December 16, 2013

5 Things - The Cotton, Constellations, and Christmas-y Edition


1. This cotton boll wreath DIY, from Anne at On Sutton Place.

I saw a photo of a cotton boll wreath posted by Garden & Gun (which everyone knows is my all-time favorite literature-soaked-in-booze-and-blues magazine of the South) and got to thinking... I want to do that.

Not that I don't love our current wreath, which is a little bit more traditionally Christmas-y (and also very, very fake)... but I kinda like the idea of this white-flecked wreath instead.

Hers may have a little too much going on for me, too much in the way of sunflowers and color and such.

I may just want that fluffy white ring. Of course, that also makes me want to paint our front door a nice, deep brick red.

I want to paint everything brick red, lately.

Jason, can I paint our front door brick red?

You can find other DIY's on how to do it if you click the link-through to Garden & Gun's DIY (which also includes a tobacco wreath), or here at Cottage in the Oaks. 



There are lots of pretty prints in the shop, but this polar bear print caught my eye. I love the moody colors and the constellations themselves. Would love to have this hang on a wall in the guest room, right above the bed.

So pretty.


Also Ryan is based out of Chicago, Illinois, so let's show some home state love here.



3. Time Magazine names Pope Francis the Person of the Year.

I realize everybody else is already talking about this, or already has, and there's nothing new to say about it or anything. I'd still just like to go ahead and give a high-five to Pope Francis up there. You know the Pope is doing the right thing and saying what needs to be said when he's already being decried some kind of Marxist-Communist-Socialist-Fascist by political media (note, guys: you can't be all those things at once. Pick one name to call the guy and stick to it.)

Can't help it; I like this guy. I liked him from the start, and I like him more for shaking things up in a stagnant atmosphere of overwhelming luxury in a religion that claims to care most for the poor and downtrodden. He replaced the traditional Papal "throne" with a simple wooden chair. He refuses to drape himself in the gilded cloth his predecessors wore. He has fired officials who would not reign in their luxury. He's made the most important point of all; we miss for the forest for the trees when we argue so much over tiny details and don't realize there's this whole world of people out there who can, and should, speak to each other rather than shout.

Time's Person of the Year is always an interesting selection process to watch; it's not meant to be an honor, exactly. Remember that Adolf Hitler once graced Time's Person of the Year cover, and it wasn't because Time magazine admired him. Time looks to find people changing the world.

This time, at least, they found someone who appears to be changing things for the better. I definitely support that; so much that I went out and paid for a copy of the issue, which I don't usually do. I usually read old copies at my in-laws' house when we're over there. But I wanted to support this choice, so I bought it.

Well, and a National Geographic and Mother Earth Living magazine.

I need airport reading for next week.

Which reminds me; I'm leaving for Illinois in eight days!

Time to start freaking out!


4. My outfits have officially become Christmas themed. Someone help me.

This was last week. I'd turn it into a Tomboy Style post, but I managed to get some kind of thing under the lens on my camera, which we haven't quite figured out how to open up and clean yet. Once we do I can go back to regular photos, but until then we're stuck with this cell phone magic here.

I doooon't think the cell phone photos are quite good enough to carry a post on their own.

So here you go - shameless outfit-plugging in a Five Things post.

Don't hate me. I just love sweaters.

In Case You Want to Recreate This Mess:
Sweater: L.L. Bean, here.
Skinny jeans: Old Navy, old. .
Evil Boots: Target, here.
Scarf: Gift from my mother-in-law and her exceptionally awesome taste
Poinsettia Pin: JCPenny, ancient (had it since high school).


5. YES. YES I NEED THESE. I NEED THEM FOREVER.

I don't even have anything to say about this except SHARK SLIPPERS. SHAAAAAARK.

One day you will be mine, slippers.

One day.

So will these.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Always Remember to Thank a Teacher: Repost

Last year, on this Friday, the Newtown School Shooting happened. A few days later, I wrote this. I'd like to repost it, because it fits pretty much entirely with how I'm feeling still.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted here, on December 19, 2012,
Editorial cartoon link here.

A teacher may stand for your child when they are in need.

It's essentially the same thing I put on facebook, and yet...

Everyone wants there to be a "magic fix". We are mired so deeply in the need for justification and for there to be an easy equation of "If we do this, the bad stuff won't happen anymore," that we can't see the forest for the trees.

It's deeper than that, and deep down, we know it.

Without acknowledging the complexity of what goes into such a tragedy, we will continue to hack at the Gordian knot with a kitchen knife.

The problem is not God being taken out of the schools. I loathe that idea with a passion, because i loathe the concept of a God so unloving that He would allow carnage to occur as, what? Some kind of punishment? Was He punishing the six-year-olds? What sort of explanation is that?

It's not because there are too many guns or not enough. A gun is nothing without a finger pulling the trigger. Don't mistake me on this; I am not comfortable with guns, and am a staunch advocate for better regulation of the firearms industry. I support a ban on clips with more than ten bullets and a ban on assault rifles being sold to the public.

But I also have friends who own rifles, and pistols, handguns and shotguns and all sorts of things. I have loved ones who hunt. I have loved ones who have taken me to a shooting range, invited me to try it out despite my discomfort. They have tried to educate me. They are knowledgeable, and careful, and work hard to combat the idea of gun owners as crazed killers just looking for their chance.

A gun is nothing without a finger to pull the trigger, but it is designed for one horrible purpose nonetheless. To cause harm to a living thing.

There isn't any one problem.

The truth is that we don't know how to fix this. There isn't any one way. Our culture glorifies violence too heavily, ignores or victimizes the mentally ill, makes needing help a kind of shame. We glorify and demonize firearms in the same breath. We are clearly wrong, and have been wrong for much longer than most people want to admit to. There is no "good old days". The "good old days" are just the time when the terrible things weren't reported, depending on who they happened to. The "good old days" are just the days when it was easier to pretend, when the memories are rosier and your mind wants to focus on the positives and not the negatives.

All that said, there is something much more important to do.

Go thank a teacher for the under appreciated and overwhelming work they do, often underpaid.

Go thank them for three hours after every school day spent planning their lesson for the next or helping out students in need. Go thank them for every time they've bought a kid a backpack when they couldn't afford one, every time they've been there to buy lunch for the kid who goes hungry. Thank them for their patience, for their work, for serving the greater good of the community.

Thank them for standing between children and the world.

Thank Victoria Soto for hiding her children, for being the one thing that stood between them and horror.

Thank the teachers of Sandy Hook who lived, and those who died. Thank those who read to their students to keep them calm while gunshots popped in the hallway, and those who tried to confront the gunman and lost their lives in the process.

Don't say his name.

Say the names of those teachers, and their students.

Say them over and over and over and over again, until they are the only names left in the news. Until we have forgotten him.

Until we remember that the most important thing we can do now is make sure we remember them.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Worst Kind of Call

Kind of a weird week.

One of my coworkers died, very unexpectedly, Monday night. When my phone went off at midnight, I couldn't swim up out of sleep fast enough to answer it. To get a call after 10:30, though, has always meant the worst for my whole life, so I knew it wasn't a good thing.

Bleary-eyed, I stared for what felt like an hour at the local-area-code number. Normally I know my boss's phone number, but I wasn't even awake enough to grasp that.

Voicemail ping.

I blinked.  

It's midnight.

I also had three text messages, all sent within minutes of each other, by a coworker.

I ended up tip-toeing into the bathroom to listen to the voicemail (I keep my phone on vibrate, so it wasn't loud enough to wake Jason, too). I sat in there, staring at the text messages, blinking stupidly as I tried to process what it meant.

How strange and surreal the next day was.

There was a sense of constant motion and also a sense of sitting very still; of phone calls that needed to be made, endless phone calls. Emails, emails, emails. People in and out asking for details, asking about it, confirming rumors they'd heard from this person or that one. Running up to the site he worked at, to the post office, here and there... and at the same time business as usual proceeding, along this sort of surreal order. Answer phones. People come in to meet with my boss at their scheduled times. Greet those who pop in to ask about it. Dust something. Rinse. Repeat.

Discover that the monthly event at the site my coworker ran, which we are canceling out of respect, was published in the local newspaper that morning before we were able to get the notice out. To-do lists and phone calls.

Discover today that a different local newspaper also published the event. That'll mean more phone calls.

Today was similar to yesterday, although a bit less hectic; more phone calls, fewer people actually stopping by.

Tomorrow is the visitation and the service.

I hadn't actually seen him too often lately; while he's a coworker, he works at a different site than I do, so except for when he needed to drop something off we didn't really get to talk that often and lately he'd been pretty busy, or I had been on vacation, or he'd been on vacation, or all those things together at once.

I keep thinking it was such a cheat, because he had Christmas vacation coming up and he'd been counting the hours down to it. He was close to retirement, he was counting days. Such a cheat, to him and to his family. Such a loss and it just feels like I should be able to write in some kind of complaint about this, to say, give him a year with his family, damn it. He'd more than earned some time, he'd more than earned his retirement.

So, yeah.

Kind of a weird week, and a sad one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter "Wonderland"


Endless raindrops
Can you hear them?
in the road
the puddles glisten
Watch cars swerve and cyclists dive
as everyone forgets how to drive
and tell yourself it's a Winter "Wonderland"

South Carolina, there should be sunshine
Instead, this gray and gloomy time
still, we hang lights off the trees
on Main Street and McBee
in celebration of this Winter "Wonderland"

In Illinois, the land would be frozen
Although that means our cars would slide right off the road
but in Illinois we'd get to build a snowman!
... while waiting for our car to be towed...

Later on, we'd drink hot cocoa
I guess we also do that here, so
it's still cold here, too, although
my socks are soaked through
thanks to this gray and rainy Winter "Wonderland"

When it snows
once every four years
We race to get a picture
Frantic Facebook updates
to show all seven snowflakes
Just like a Winter Wonderland

It's been rainin' for a week
and that ain't grand
So don't tell me
it's a Winter
Wonderland...






This song brought to you by Jason and I's chilly Christmas shopping trip yesterday.

Yes, we sang the lyrics out loud as we worked on them while walking down Main Street.

Yes, some people stared at us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Weird Ones

Photo from an Alice-in-Wonderland Halloween party at Katy's house. I'm the doormouse in the back.

I read a lot of memoirs where the writers talk about being the "good kids" in school, looking askance or with outright fear at those punk kids outside smoking. They talk about being afraid of the goth kids in their dark eyeliner and darker clothes clustered around someone's locker in the hallway. They were intimidated by the oddballs who never spoke in class or the other oddballs who spoke too much.

They pull their backpacks closer and hurry by, in the books and the movies, and sometimes those weird kids stop to look at them and sometimes they don't. There's always this sense that there is some deep danger inherent in eye contact, that those oddball rejects will cause some kind of trouble if one of the good kids looks them in the face.

It's kind of funny, I think, because of how jarring it is to me to read those things; they're kind of high school cliches, aren't they? This idea that the kid in nice, sensible tennis shoes and a T-shirt would be afraid of the guy with the safety-pin stuck through his nose. It's been the cliche in a thousand movies and books.

We take these things for granted; it's a shorthand way for the writer to say, I was normal in high school, so very normal that I was scared of those who were not normal like me.  I was average. I did not stand out. I was normal, when compared to those who were not.

We all know how it feels, or I should say most of us do, to stand slightly off to the side; intimidated, sure and certain that we do not stand out, and they do. That those kids with blue hair and mohawks and piercings must be supremely confident and sure of themselves, standing on their own solid ground.

If I ever wrote a memoir dealing with high school, it'd have to be a little bit different.

I'd have to start with, I was one of those punks you were all so afraid of.

Well... sort of.

 Prom. Aw, we're so cute. I'm... the one with the hair in the back.

I wore studded belts and chokers, sure; spiked when I thought I could sneak it without our Dean of Students noticing. My eyeliner was caked on so thick I had raccoon eyes, drew little swirly designs with it like Death from the Sandman series. I wore men's blue plaid pants with zippers sewn at random all over them and straps hanging down my legs, Sex Pistols T-shirts I bought in size Youth Large so they'd be fitted. I bought clothes at thrift stores and cut sleeves off the shirts so I could wear a men's button-up as a vest, wore thrift-store suitjackets like eighties armor. My favorite pair of shoes I've ever owned in the whole history of my life was a pair of black boots absolutely coated in buckles, knee-high leather, with a five-inch platform; they were a gift from my then-boyfriend's older sister after a horrible car accident made them impossible for her to wear.

I dated boys with blue hair, tall natural-blonds who wore lots of black and listened to heavy metal music (well, so did I, but still). One of my exes, still a good friend later, pierced his own ear with a safety pin while we sat in our school's theater waiting for after-school play practice to start. He "sterilized" the pin by holding it over a flame from his lighter. I was endlessly impressed when he barely flinched.

We were the lurkers in the hallway. Teachers assumed when something bad happened, someone like us had done it. When there was a trouble kid, it was never those good kids in their T-shirts they looked at first, it was someone like us. There was an endless bafflement among adults because half our group of friends was made of those kids in the T-shirts and sensible shoes, and the rest of us wore safety pin necklaces and black eyeliner and sarcasm. 

We knew we looked like trouble to the grown-ups; they never made any secret of assuming we were. Some of us even decided that if the assumption was going to be made, we might as well live up to it.

Technically, this is move-in day at college. But I'm wearing the punk pants. So there you go.

We - are at least some of us  - were those kids in the movies and the books, the ones used as backdrop scenery to show, not tell, the main character's discomfort, to put him or her on the outside of a cloistered circle. Maybe I didn't smoke, but some of my friends did, and sometimes I stood outside with them. Sometimes we watched other kids hurry past, shoulders tensed against some kind of assumption that we would mess with them.

We were those weird kids.

But we were also good kids.

We read lots of books. I spent almost all of my high school career driving a truck borrowed from my family's farm, a blue-and-white Ford with keychains of Belle and Animal from the Muppets swinging and chiming; when Dad needed to use the truck, he would take it back and have to change the station from the heavy metal rock station to the country he preferred. The cheerleaders and football teams got drunk on the weekend, while we ate popcorn and chips and drank pop and watched movies at someone's house.

My mother and father knew where I was all the time, and that was true for the vast majority of every single one of us, whenever we were together. Our parents knew where we were, knew who we were with. My parents trusted me; I was treated like someone who had already earned their trust, and in turn I made sure they had no reason to ever take it back.

I am the queen of leaving detailed notes with phone numbers, addresses, names, and timelines. I started doing that in middle school, and I've never stopped. 

I'm not saying I was a saint; trust me, high school is way more fun when you're not. I'm pretty sure saints don't swear like roughneck sailors, and I picked that up around age 12 and never quite managed to stop. I'm not saying that we were angels; some of those same friends I trusted with my life were the bane of every teacher's existence, were kicked out or suspended for one thing or another. But when it came to each other, we were good kids. 

It's just... sort of hilarious, to me, to read writers constantly using this memory of the scary kids with black clothes and punk hair and piercings, all aloof and cool and rebellious, looking down from on high at the main character's awkwardness. Confident and serene.

It's funny because we were uncomfortable, too. High school is discomfort and sometimes agony personified for so many of us; those who swan effortlessly through are the rare exception to the rule. We were uncomfortable, too. We had, mostly, been treated shabbily by peers when we were younger and had developed who we were as a response. Sometimes home wasn't great, sometimes it was; many of us had been dealing with bullying and hostility for years. We developed our own code.

Anyone who knew what to look for could look at us and know.

We are not normal, and we don't want to be. You can come be not-normal with us. We are not average; we know that because we have been told over and over and in a thousand ways by adults and other kids that we do not belong, that we are lacking, that we are not good enough for them. So here; take one good long look, and see how we don't belong. We didn't want them or their approval, anyway.

We had, for the most part, been branded as odd or different or unacceptable in some way by our peers long before the black clothes, eyeliner, the swearing, or the apparently unacceptable music came into play. I've written about my worst teachers before; I think a lot of what formed who I was in middle school and who I became in high school was my developing a personality that could stand as a defense against those upcoming teachers or the other kids before they could even get in the first blow. It was more than just me that had been targeted young. We had, as a group, been put outside the "good kids" long before there was any reason to do so, and we decided to make that who we were.

It was never a surprise to us to see the kids in the sensible shoes scurry by without making eye contact; we were wearing our armor for a reason, for exactly that reason. Because they would scurry, while we pretended to be confident and aloof. We had each other, and the cool and standoffish look was all the other kids would ever see.

I was one of those kids that you were so afraid of, memoir writers.

We were good kids, too.

I just wish that we had all stopped to talk once or twice.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hair Day


There are days where I look at my hair after I finish blow-drying, but before I brush it, and I think... 

"Maybe I should just walk around like this and see how long it takes someone to say something."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ice & Expectation


While my parents were here, South Carolina had an honest-to-God cold snap. Well, our version of a cold snap, anyway.

My parents, Jason, and I would walk around town watching the populace bundle up in their parkas, their children looking like tiny round balls that consisted entirely of winter clothing layers. I had to wear my winter coat occasionally. I wore a sweater every day.

Jason took to wearing sweaters, something he fairly rarely does.

We had to snuggle under roughly all our blankets at night.

It was wonderful.

That cold snap is over with; it's been warm, but also rainy and miserable and gray and foggy nonstop for almost three days now and I'm really ready to hand that back over to someone else. I am not a person made for gray skies. The thing I miss most about the central Illinois landscape is those cold, clear days in the middle of January where you can go stand by yourself in the midst of a plowed-under cornfield, dirt crunching under your feet, and feel the weight of the sky on top of you, the sun everywhere but without warmth.


Still, we had those cold days and I loved them.

I got up one morning to see frost just everywhere, patterning up the table on our deck, even on the railings and covering the nails.

I had to snag a few pictures. It was just too pretty not to.

I received a Seed Savers organizational catalog in the mail a few days ago, and now Jason and I are full of starry-eyed dreams for next year's garden full of open-pollination or heirloom varieties of everything. We already get a weekly delivery from Mother Earth Produce (which I heavily suggest anyone in the Upstate and western NC look into!), but I still think it's be cool to do a few rows of the Three Sisters in the backyard, some new herbs and peppers in the front.

We'll have to replant the basil - we shamefully let the last harvest before the hard frost go to waste and didn't freeze or dry it, just letting the plant die. We are bad, bad people.

I wouldn't worry about us too much, though.

We may dream about gardens, but we haven't quite hit the "let's get chickens" stage of homestead lunacy just yet.

Goats, yes.

Not chickens.


It's less than 20 days until I fly out to Illinois to see my family for Christmas. It's no fun to be leaving Jason here (he couldn't quite pull off taking the time off work - my medical thing back in July used up his time when he stayed home to take care of me for a few days - boo surgery), but to see my niece and my sister and my brother, my parents and my extended relatives and the farm, too, which is its own kind of relative...

I won't lie, guys.

I'm pretty excited.

Sad that my two families - my family and my in-laws - can't all live just a wee bit closer to one another so we could all do Christmas together, but still excited!

I'm liable to have my bags packed two weeks early, at this point.

Maybe this is just a sign that I need to win the lottery so I can fly everyone out to have Christmas all together.

I'll get right on that.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oh, hey


Well, you may have noticed I essentially disappeared for several days.

My parents fly in every year for Thanksgiving, and I got so wrapped up in enjoying the weekend that I really hardly took any photos of it. I will say that I am immensely glad that one of the photos I did manage to get was of the delicious banana pudding my mother-in-law made for dessert.

It was a good weekend, all of it, every inch.

Thursday we picked up my parents at the airport and drove straight to Thanksgiving lunch. Food, Food, 'n More Food, surrounded by my awesome in-laws. SO MUCH FOOD. I made two stuffings - the oyster stuffing from Real Simple's 10 Ways to do Stuffing a couple of years ago, and a Chestnut Apple Stuffing out of the Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving catalogue. It... seems to have been popular. There was also broccoli-cheese casserole, a sweet potato dish, other food... honestly the clearest memory I have is of the banana pudding, though.

That and the pumpkin cheesecake.

Which I may or may not have eaten alongside the banana pudding.

I admit nothing.

Friday my parents and I wandered Greenville's downtown while Jason worked. I stopped by Mast General and Southern Fried Cotton to look for ideas for Christmas. We grabbed beef jerky from the new jerky place; super excited to try all of it, especially the buffalo jerky - I am a giant dorky beef jerky fan. We even grabbed some popcorn from Poppington's. Locals - my favorites are the Greenville mix (two kinds of cheese + caramel) and the jalapeno & white cheddar blend. Those are the BEST. Except maybe for the others, which are also good. I will selfishly eat all of both bags and then make Jason buy more if he wants to eat any.

Mine is an evil laugh.

Saturday, we drove up to Asheville, North Carolina and did something super cool -


We met up with my childhood best friend and mind-meld partner Rikki, for the first time in something like seven years!

That's... actually a really old photo, on the left. I just like that we never stopped being adorable.

That's a scarf Rikki made that I'm wearing, by the way. It is super awesome.

We met Rikki at Early Girl Eatery for lunch, a place that I knew was popular, but I didn't realize how much. We waited an hour to be seated, but it was definitely worth the wait. I had a great catfish sandwich (Jason had one too) with fried eggplant on the side, Rikki had a tofu scramble that I was definitely eyeballing for next time, my dad had the meatloaf, and Mom a tempeh reuben. Seriously. Try that place. (Only make sure you put in your names with plenty of time to wait without being so hungry you eat your own arm).

Because it was Small Business Saturday, I made a point of purchasing a couple of items - I snagged a book on the Vanderbilt family's fall from fortune and Sarah Bessey's new book from Malaprop's (my favorite bookstore of all time, just puttin' that out there), got a pretty art print (not this one, but the same artist) from ZaPow Gallery, and Jason bought beautiful cutting boards that are really more serving boards, they're so lovely, at the Woolworth Walk.


Finally, we had to bid farewell to Rikki and to Asheville (although not for nearly as long this time - that's a promise) and head back to Greenville.

Sunday was a little more leisurely; we were able to hang out at the house, took Mom and Dad on a walk around Furman's lake with the dog. Had a great dinner at the Bavarian Pretzel Factory, which is rapidly becoming Jason and I's new favorite restaurant in town now that it's actually near enough to be convenient for us to go eat there. Seriously, guys. German food.

You know it's going to be food when half the people eating are speaking German when you enter.

Today, Jason was back at work and Mom and Dad and I hung out for a while, had some lunch at Southern Culture (so I could send them off in true southern style!), and then I dropped them off at the airport.

I'm about to make soup for dinner, using the leftover oysters from my stuffing.

It's... less exciting now, with them gone.

On the other hand, the dog literally passed out three minutes after eating dinner, so maybe we could use the recuperation.

Less than a month until I set my feet back on flatland soil!

CANNOT WAIT.

Hopefully I'll have recovered from Thanksgiving by then.