12.23.2009

A little something for everyone

I'm looking forward to some time off between Christmas and the New Year. Obviously, I'm excited to ski and run and play with the dogs (that's like saying, "I'm excited to breathe and consume oxygen."), but I'm also looking forward to making progress on my new quilt top, binding my first ever quilt (!), and completing some cross-stitching projects. (Yes, the f-word is always funny. Why do you ask?)

Here's one pattern I won't be completing, though. In fact, I shall now delete my browsing history and never return to this page again.

Till I write again, enjoy this iphone shot of our tiny tree flanked with delightful treats for Brad, the animals, and, perhaps, moi!

Cousin Eddie

We all have a Cousin Eddie.

A socially inappropriate, tight-pants-wearing, slicked-back-hair-having, offensive in every way relative who makes you cringe every time he (or she, I suppose) opens his mouth. Cousin Eddie is loud, embarrassing, and seemingly does things only to drive you batty.

And most of the time, he succeeds.

Not this year, though. Thanks to the helpful PSA below, we can all learn to identify Cousin Eddies before they've reached their full humiliation (of themselves and others) potential. I know I'll be paying close attention to the warning sign:

12.16.2009

A bit much

Want:



From the terribly British sounding Cox & Cox. 85 pounds is a hefty price for a pillow, though, especially considering my dogs' tendencies to drag pillows about the house so they always have a soft place to lay their furry heads.

Maybe I'll make one. I bought the pattern for this quilt a while ago:

....so perhaps I'll make both, get all my British ya-yas (yes-yesses?) out, and then be done with the Union Jack for a while.

Not (bloody) likely, though, as I am currently carrying a Union Jack wallet, wearing Wolford tights, pulling on my wellies as often as is reasonable, mainlining Earl Grey, and cyber-stalking every British blogger I come across.

I'm having flashbacks to that episode of Arrested Development where Michael starts dating Rita (the MRF) and peppers his Californian vernacular with the Queen's English. Bloody hell.

12.15.2009

A sneak preview....

We asked our friend and housemate, the extraordinary photographer Matthew Turley, to take some photos of our pack. We wanted to send our loved ones holiday cards with our photo on them because, well, isn't it obvious? I mean, it's a photo of us! Hello?! Make room on the mantle!

Some of you will receive one of the cards soon, so I'm sorry for ruining the surprise (but really, when I emailed you asking for your address, what did you think would happen?). I know other bloggers suspend the big reveal until their cards have landed, but not me. I can't wait. Patience is for punks.

And anyway, these are the out takes, not the photo we went with for the card, so you'll still be a little bit surprised.

I love this one, because it's a wonderful example of Arnie's earnestness. There's huge activity happening here--people talking, people moving around--but Arnie is saying, as he often does, "Hey, mom, do you want to talk about it? I'm right here if you need me. In the meantime, let's just hold paws." Red is, naturally, very suspicious of the whole thing.


And in this one, you get a great sense of how we spend most of our time. Talking to the animals. We're just like the Doolittles.


And just in case you started to get a little too comfortable, Red is here to remind you that you're on thin ice, pal.

12.10.2009

She Likes to Be Different

With all the Mormons here in Utah, the celebration of Christmas is just sort of assumed, and few thoughts are spared for the other celebrations that take place at the end of December.

I’m not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or anything at all. My beliefs are most aligned with Paganism, but as I uphold few of the rituals, I can’t really claim it. Plus, I don’t own a goat.

Despite this, I take offense when people assume that I observe Christmas (I do, but that’s not the point). From Thanksgiving on, I hear “What are you doing for Christmas?” at least once a day, and each time, I stiffen with indignation.

“Celebrating Kwanza,” I replied to my hairstylist.

“Lighting a menorah,” I told the cashier at the Nordstrom Rack. This retort was diluted, though, by my having to explain what a menorah is.

In truth, I’m doing neither. I’m planning to ski, nap by the woodstove, watch movies, and pet the dogs. I’ll send out cards, give (and happily receive) gifts, eat once-a-year treats, and drink lots of wine.

I’ll celebrate the snow and the fairy lights, the longest night of the year and the longer and longer days to come. I’ll observe—at least, according to the Gregorian calendar—the end of one year and the beginning of another.

And I’ll watch this commercial (a favorite since childhood), and congratulate Eat’nPark on its long-running, harmonious holiday greeting. God (and Allah and Kali and Buddha and the clairvoyant goat in the pasture) help me, it still makes me smile.

12.09.2009

Oh yeah...

We turned on comment moderation recently, to combat all the bot spam we've been getting. We forgot we did so, though, and all your kind and lovely comments were piling up, unpublished. Please accept our apologies, and know that the problem has been addressed and is unlikely to occur again.


Signed,
The Editorial Overlords of the Wasatch Report*





*Arnie and Red

12.04.2009

Heaven is for Harlots

Because I am in my thirties and no longer exercise upwards of 3 hours a day, I rarely shop at Forever21. Occasionally, though, when I need a dress for a specific do, a little something I’ll probably never wear again, my sartorial sense deserts me, and I find myself drawn to the sounds of pop music and teenage girls fighting with their mothers.

Yesterday was one of those times. With the annual “Dress Like a Trollop” party* on the horizon, I grew anxious, knowing that nothing in my wardrobe of cashmere sweaters, jeans, scarves, and painted clogs would do. Thus I found myself prowling through horrifically merchandised racks of cheap fabric and gauche colors, looking for something a little hipper than a turtleneck sweater dress (the option awaiting me at home).

Surprisingly, I struck gold, in the form of a classy LBD. It was stuffed behind an array of artfully torn, cropped tees declaring “I Love Nerds,” and it was perfect. With cap sleeves, a nipped waist, and a tulip skirt, it was positively Hepburn-esque. The shocking thing was not its ideal silhouette, but its fabric—decent suiting material, and lined. I can’t find it on the Forever21 website, leading me to believe that it came from a far more sophisticated place (J. Crew, Nordstrom, the strip club around the corner) and was left on the rack mistakenly.

I tried it on gingerly, a bit afraid to look in the mirror because fluorescent lighting and junior sizing are nasty critics. But it fit beautifully. I was shocked. I glanced at the price tag ($27.90), and hurried to the cash register to make it officially mine.

On the way home, I congratulated myself on finding a party dress so efficiently (it was the first—and only—one I tried on). I was thrilled, too, that the dress was suitable for work on those rare days when I make an effort to look professional. (Long gone, those halcyon days of running at lunch and not bothering to change out of shorts and trainers for the afternoon.)

After greeting my dogs for the obligatory 10 minutes (cuddle, cuddle, cuddle, snuggle, snuggle, roll over, kick legs, bite the air, repeat), I pulled the dress out of the bag and hung it on a fancy padded hanger (probably worth more than the frock).

That’s when I saw them.

Small black letters on the bottom of the plastic yellow bag: “John 3:16.”

What?

I picked up the bag, sure that I was missing something. This is a store for slappers-in-training. It is not an emporium closely associated with biblical ethics.

Despite the ubiquity of John 3:16 (think sign-holding fanatics at baseball games), I’m a heathen, so I had to Google it. God gave his son because he loved the world, and if you believe this, you’ll go to heaven. Something like that.

Sidenote: look how close heathen is to heaven!

Ok, whatever. But why is Forever21 telling me this? A trip to the store’s website revealed no overt mentions of religion, though the plus-sized line is called Faith21. Being something of a conspiracy theorist, I could probably come up with some subtle references if I cared enough to comb the site, but I don’t care that much.

I’m grateful that we live in a place where people are permitted to express their opinions and beliefs, sneakily or otherwise. It’s the connection, or lack of, that’s giving me pause. If Forever21 wants me to keep the bible in mind, why does it sell the trashiest clothing I’ve ever seen? I’m serious, my LBD aside, this is the go-to store for trampy little harlots in need of something sexy. It’s the perfect spot, actually, for ladies shopping for the annual, “Dress Like A Trollop” fete.

Oh dear. I hope no one else shows up in my dress….



*Not really, but it don’t most corporate holiday parties seem that way?

And why is the turtle in a fez?


But then, if you have to ask....

They're all delightful.

12.01.2009

Again with the Etsy

I know. I've become nothing more than an Etsy advertiser. I ask you, though, when the website offers prints such as this one:

Can you blame me?

I mean, come on! He's eating his tie!

Get it here.

11.23.2009

Diary of a Lazy Blogger

We went to Boulder last weekend. It was great fun--we saw lots of good friends, ate some wonderful food, hiked (me), climbed (Brad), strolled, laughed, and stared longingly at the many hip boutiques we don't have here in SLC (me). I'll have a recap for you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these photos.

Here we are after stuffing ourselves with pizza and ice cream. We were hanging with the Reid family, and were "color splashed" by Little I, who'd just downloaded the app for his iPhone.


I was feeling sort of nauseated in that picture, because instead of opting for an age-appropriate ice cream flavor, I had to have "Birthday Cake," which comprises vanilla ice cream, rainbow sprinkles, a swirl of vanilla icing, and cake batter.

I know. I just threw up in my mouth while typing that. I have no idea why it seemed like a good idea yesterday afternoon...maybe it was the hangover (damn you, Rio margs!), maybe my blood sugar was low. Either way, I'm pretty sure I'm diabetic now.

Despite my unfortunate taste in frozen desserts, we liked the ice cream parlor. Brad especially felt right at home; he doesn't care for those no good hippies either.

11.13.2009

I've arrived

Not only have I received my first blog heckler, I'm also getting comments from spammers, along the lines of, "viagra, viagra, viagra, viagra."

I owe you a real post, I know. Something more than lion dogs and links. Don't worry, it's turning cold and snowy outside, ideal writing conditions.

In other news, a warning:


Buy the shirt at Snorg Tees.

11.12.2009

Arnie's next Halloween costume

Wow. Not weird at all.


Best Website Ever

To all my readers who are big readers, check this out:

What Should I Read Next?


It's just what it sounds like. Plus, you get the added bonus of not having the supercilious librarian look down her nose at you when you ask for Chick-lit recommendations.

11.10.2009

Veg-e-tables!

Bicycle. Me monster...me not picky.

I love him.

11.08.2009

A Wonderful Weekend

It went something like this:

Trail running with Arnie
Coffee
Skiing
Baking oatmeal, chocolate chip, peanut butter cookies
The Penn State game
New ring from Sundance
Dinner with friends
Wine
Hummus and chips
Brie and crackers
Precious sleep
Trail running with Arnie
Backyard beautification
Hike with a friend and Arnie and many, many dogs
Pasta with pesto and fresh parm
Family Guy spoof on Roadhouse
Lots and lots of Arnie-time. I think he enjoyed it, too.

At one point, I gave Arnie a butcher bone. He wasn't quite sure how to approach it....









I said, "Get it, Arnie! Get it!" But he was still unsure...












Eventually, though, he figured it out.

11.02.2009

Tell me...no...let me tell you

Why do I not own this fellow?

It's one of those dangerous nights when I think, "We need some art!" and tear through Etsy, adding things to my cart all willy nilly like.

Does anyone say that anymore? Willy nilly? Well, they should.

$83 is a lot of money for a frivelous novelty I'd probably be too embarrassed to wear most places, you know, being over the age of nine and all, but still, it's pretty damn cute.

Back to art, though. Ever since I saw an exhibit of his work at a climbing gym in Oakland, I've adored the work of this fellow. Check it out. Curious birds wearing colorful masks and sailing in and out of dreamy lands. Just lovely.

Then there's the sweet, endearing work of Creative Thursday. Again, curious animals often wearing people clothes. Ok, so I have a type.

But there's more! (I don't shop on Etsy much, so every time I do, I go a little, "Oh my god, and look at this!" I think the same thing happens to first-time H&M shoppers.

I'm not a huge black and white fan, but I do like this little guy. Ooooh, and I love the feeling here....plus, it's from an artist at "Mad River Studio," and everything from Vermont is wonderful.

Moving on....Oh, this one's very sweet. And I can't help but be charmed by this one...

And aw, I like this one. And are you kidding me with this one? Bears and cupcakes? Please! It's too cute!


I know. It's too much. Don't worry--I don't expect you to click on all these links or, especially, to experience the same delight from them as I, but oh, how entertaining Etsy can be when one has a cold and is couch-bound.

The rare and mythical Arnie-corn

A furrrrocious beast.

10.29.2009

Five


I Hear

Coughs and sniffles.
Neil Diamond on Pandora Radio (Quiet, you. Neil rocks.)

I Taste
Coke Zero.

I Smell
Pacifica Spanish Amber—invigorating, earthy, woodsy.

I See
A stack of work orders I shouldn’t be ignoring.

I Feel
Anxious to go home and take Arnie for a run.
Lucky that I can.
Excited for dinner with friends tonight.

10.23.2009

Taking My Demons for a Walk in Traffic

I. Exercising My Demons:

Recently, a few people—some I know quite well, some I’ve never met—commented (here or via email or in person) on the honesty of this blog. Hearing that gave me pause, because while I think I know what they mean, I also know that nothing on the page before you is entirely straight up.

It’s edited—thoroughly read and reviewed—even after it’s posted. I think about how the words sound, not so much to impress you, but to make sure I’m happy with their rhythm and weight. That kind of thing.

I guess what I’m saying is, this isn’t me talking—this is me looking at what I have to say, observing it from the other side of the dashboard, just like you.

And while it’s not always honest, it’s at least always cathartic. Even if I don’t say exactly what I’m feeling (to protect the final wisps of anonymity I tell myself I have), I at least tap on the keyboard until I feel a shift, feel cleaner, like I’ve exorcised the demons.

Of course, writing doesn’t always work. As calming as can be, it can also rile me up more from time to time, lock me into a spiral of negative descent. And when that happens, I think of M and the dinner party.

Well, the quiet moments after the dinner party, to be more accurate. Our guests long gone, we were sitting at the table savoring the last of our wine while Brad started on the dishes and Arnie and Red hoovered smashed brownie crumbs, snuffling around like truffle pigs.

I don’t remember how it came up, but M proffered that nothing, in his opinion, beats exercise at quelling feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.

Normally I’d counter with lines from Lexapro and Effexor ads (“mental illness is still an illness,” that sort of thing), but this fellow, M, is human honey—healthy and sweet and golden and good—so when he shared his theory on exercise as a panacea for angst, I listened.

And I thought about it.

And years later, when I’m all jacked up on self-inflicted pain and writing isn’t helping, I think of M and the dinner party, and I take Arnie and Red for a walk or a run, or I go to the gym or skiing or swimming or to a yoga class or to Crossfit.

I move. And just moving—shaking and stretching and jumping and getting fatigued—snaps everything back into place, restores my perspective.

It works—exercising my demons.


II. Here’s Your F%*cking Honesty:
So, is exercise enough? If I make a conscious effort to track my mental wellness (checking in with myself, keeping an emotions journal, being honest about what I’m feeling and why I might be feeling that way), can I stop spending hundreds of dollars on my anti-depressant? Lord knows I loathe those wine-colored pills—they taste awful, and I don’t like being dependent on them, especially when I’m not sure they’re completely effective.

So readers, in the name of unveiled honesty, that’s where I am today. I’d like to be drug free. I’d like to be less numb and more engaged. I’d like to be as social as I used to, to gather my friends around me frequently instead of being so withdrawn.

But I’m afraid to go it alone, because I’ve been medicating for over a decade. I don’t know what to expect, whether I’ll even be able to get out of bed, let alone out the door for a self-improvement run. It’s scary to step into the street when you can’t see what’s coming.

10.05.2009

An Exercise in Normalcy

In one of the first traditional acts of my adult life, I demanded that we carve a pumpkin last. Brad, being kind and willing to cater to my whims, not only agreed to this rare act of domesticity, he also took control of the knife and did, well, all of the work.

Here's Brad preparing Jack's hat.


Of course we named him (and of course we named him Jack). We name everything. Our wood splitter is named, "Woody." Brad's desert motorcycle (a Yamaha) is named, "The YamaDawg." My closet is called, "The Sauna," but that's not so much a name as it is a reminder of Brad's original intention for the tiny room--until I moved in and claimed it for my collection of jeans and shoes.

Arnie and Red, suspecting Jack to be food, joined us for the family fun.


Spooky.

10.01.2009

Voila*

A few finished blocks.




Lovely English florals and pretty polka dots.




Loud Art Gallery florals and Riley stripes.




Wandering ducks (wearing bonnets, of course) paired with oxford cloth.




And Arnie, who is bored with quilting, but not opposed to snoozing on patchwork.




* I took these pictures with my phone; please pardon their quality...

9.30.2009

iQuilt

I’ve spent my whole life sneaking into fabric shops. Normally the type of person who makes her presence known, I tiptoed through the entrances, wanting to stay under the radar of the well-meaning shop ladies. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to them (in my experience, they’re almost all tooth-achingly sweet), it’s just that I didn’t know how to answer their questions, what to say when they asked what I was making…because until very recently, I wasn’t making a damn thing.

For many years, it was enough just to look at the fabric, to buy a little bit if it really spoke to me, and to stack it neatly on the bookcase in my studio (ahem, guest room). I love fabric. Love. The colors, the textures, the tiny repeated elements, the striking large-scale designs….love.

A week ago, though, I took my first quilting class, and suddenly (imagine one of those technicolor-cinematic-sunray-angel-singing moments here), I wanted—and knew how to—make stuff.

My newly acquired skills have done nothing to diminish my indecent fabric-store-lurking, but they have ensured the future integrity of my bookcase, now groaning under the weight of the fat quarters and the “two, no, make that three yards” of randomly selected textiles.

Ok…I should back up. “Skills” might be too strong a word for learning to learning to place one strip of fabric near another to create a visually pleasing display. It’s simple stuff I’m doing. Basic. Beginner. Nothing wild and crazy and Amish or anything like that.


But despite, or maybe because of, the tactile simplicity of my new hobby, I adore it. I chose a basic 16-patch quilt to start with (they’re similar to—just a little bigger than—the blocks shown here), and have made eight blocks so far. Each is different and each is so inordinately pleasing to me that I can’t believe I done it sooner.

I promise I’ll take snaps tonight, at quilting class #2. I'm so excited I've been watching the clock all day, not getting a damn thing done at work, just looking at quilting sites online. What is it with these sites, anyway? Why do so many of them look like they were designed on Commodore 64s?

9.17.2009

West by Northeast

When you fly out of the Pittsburgh International Airport, the plane sweeps over the surrounding countryside, offering postcard-worthy views of the rolling hills and farms—all idyllic green pastures and fallow fields.

Leaving it seems wrong.

When I graduated from college, I only had eyes for Colorado. With no plan beyond working at a climbing shop and being part of the community that so appealed to me, I made idle promises to my parents that after my "gap year,” I'd go to grad school.

That never happened. I fell into event planning and then into PR. A couple stints of copywriting for ad agencies bring us to the present, where I successfully play the role of the disoriented thirty-something.

I've made escapism a lifelong habit. I’ve always sidestepped confrontation, opting for my imagination over anything potentially hurtful. I think it’s because of this that now, five years after moving to Utah, 10 years after moving out West, I’m looking around and asking, “What the hell am I doing?”

It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s just that I feel like here just happened and suddenly I’m looking around and wondering how. I’d say I’ve fallen off course, but I’m beginning to realize that until now, I’ve never really had much interest in a course.

Of course, that twirling mindset has allowed me to do some amazing things, and for a long time, my faith in the universe ensured that things would just work out—and they did.

Now, though—possibly because I was just home in Pennsylvania for a week—I’m looking around and realizing that most of the people I know seem to have identified and stuck to their plans. My best friend from childhood—a sweet and kind woman I just adore—married the fellow who took her to the 9th grade Christmas dance. They dated throughout high school and college; he proposed on the day they graduated from Penn State. Married with two adorable little girls, they live in the town where we grew up, just a couple miles from their childhood homes. It’s what they always wanted, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

I just don’t understand them. Or maybe I envy them. I imagine their lives as idyllic and peaceful as those picture-perfect farms outside the plane window. I tell myself that they aren’t tormented by the sense of not being enough, doing enough, seeing enough. They don’t wonder what else is out there, because everything they need is right there.

I know I’m romanticizing, but that’s what I do. Especially this time of year, when a dash of cinnamon in a cup of milky tea is enough make me imagine an entire life for myself in, say, Keene Valley or Burlington. Wool sweaters, wellies, wood floors, old stone houses.

In the fall, I gravitate toward the known and the comfortable, just as in the spring I want open oceans and new territory. Maybe that’s why I migrated West after my June graduation from college, and why it feels wrong to leave Pennsylvania in the fall…maybe I do have a course, albeit a subtle one, and I’m just not paying enough attention to it.

9.16.2009

Let's Laugh at Others Now

Possibly because I'm from Pennsylvania, I love to hear about Amish people. I remember driving past buggies on narrow farm roads, turning to see whether the man with the reins was bearded (married) or bare-faced (swinging bachelor) and always receiving a pleasant wave and kind smile in return for my curious ogling.

They're nice people, which is why this is so funny to me (from the Onion):

Amish Woman Knew She Had Quilt Sale The Moment She Laid Eyes On Chicago Couple

LANCASTER, PA—Repeatedly referring to them as "easy money," Amish quilt shop proprietor Mary Stolzfus, 43, said Monday that as soon as she noticed Tom and Helen Foreman's matching Chicago Cubs baseball hats, she knew she'd be able to move three, possibly four quilts. "One look and it was 'Choo choo! Here comes the money train, right on schedule,'" said Stolzfus, adding that she ordered her daughters to "put on a little dog and pony show" for the easy marks by having them sing the traditional Amish song "In Der Stillen Einsamkeit." "These rubes are all the same: give 'em a little 'no electricity' this, and some 'butter churn' that, and cha-ching, you've got enough barn-raising money to last you a month."

9.08.2009

A Bit of Everything

Oh, it was a fun weekend.

First, we journeyed with a troupe of friends and dogs to Indian Creek, a climbing area outside Canyonlands National Park.



Like a couple of teenagers, when Arnie and Cortez are ready to sleep, nothing can stop them. What you don’t see in this picture is the flurry of activity—two climbers, two belayers, some hooting and hollering, a stick-gnawing Red Dog, a roast beef sandwich—that is a day at the crag. None of that matters to these sleepy canines; after a morning of their two favorite games (“Chase me!” and “Now I’ll chase you!”), these two sacked out so hard we had to keep eying their ribs for movement.



Arnie was temporarily rousted by the emergence of goat cheese from a pack, but even that wasn’t enough to make him open his eyes.

We don’t have any weekend photos of Red, because he takes his role as head of security very seriously, and spent most of his time perched on a rock, checking the perimeter for interlopers. Poor guy; he definitely gets less attention than Arnie these days, mostly because Arnie situates himself on my person as often as possible.

(Red, I owe you a post soon.)

So that was the first part of the long weekend. After a couple days of climbing, we drove home and spent a wonderful day puttering around the house. We worked in the yard, washed mountains of laundry, cleaned around the dogs (they were too tired to move, even for the vacuum). Brad, who has become our home’s official Breadster, made the perfect loaf of bread, which took less than 12 hours to eat, and I hovered over the bread machine shouting, “only 54 minutes left!” and “get the butter out, there are only 9 minutes left!”



I’m almost done with my Subversive Cross Stitch pattern (I’ll take a snap of the finished product), and started a sewing project from Heather Ross’s delightful Weekend Sewing book.

I decided to make the Yard Sale Skirt (pictured on the cover), which will take me a bit longer than a weekend to finish, but regardless, it’ll be adorable in all its swingy, hippy glory.

I used a lightweight, flower-printed corduroy fabric, because I like how the weight of it swings the skirt around. Also, we have lots of days that are sort of in between summer and fall, in between winter and spring. They’re cool days with bright sun, the kind that beg for cozy-but-not-too-cozy clothing. I anticipate wearing it with wool tights and birks, or no tights and clogs. And, of course, some sort of top, too.

I love Weekend Sewing. It’s a thoroughly delightful book, complete with little recipes and inspiring photos and suggested playlists. It offers very helpful diagrams and clear directions, and a range of projects so that even a total sewing neophyte like me can leap right in and start making things. That said, there are a couple errors in the book (no big deal, because Heather has an on-line errata linked to her website), one of which occurs in the directions for the Yard Sale Skirt. Rather than six panels, it requires the joining of 8 or more (depending on size), so I found myself short on fabric and forced to improvise with a matching broadcloth for the inside panels.

I’ll post photos as the thing starts to take shape. In the meantime, though, I’m leaving on a jet plane in a few short hours, and have yet to meet the daily quote of Arnie and Red cuddles. Better hop to it.

One more, though:

9.03.2009

Tastes Like Home

I just bit into the first Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey granola bar I’ve eaten in years, and was at once at home in Pennsylvania, in Shingletown Gap, at the cabin maintained by Penn State’s Outing Club, on a rainy Saturday, surrounded by a dozen friends.

As an instructor for the Outing Club, I went to the cabin often—to run groups through the ropes course, facilitate teambuilding activities, or just sleep on the porch in my sleeping bag. With only a primitive kitchen, a great room, and a sleeping loft, the place was neither luxurious nor, well, comfortable, but I loved it. It removed me from my thesis and deadlines and the stress of the deciding what to do after college, and planted me in the middle of impromptu music sessions, spaghetti dinners for 60, and hours-long conversations about someday plans. It was a place to feel ok about dreaming big, unconventional dreams, like moving out west and climbing all the time.

Funny how things work out.

Today, though, following my nostalgic granola bar moment, one day stood out in my mind.

It was just before Thanksgiving, cold and drizzly. Ben, Bethany and I drove to the cabin and left Ben’s old Cavalier in the driveway. After stashing his key under the rock on the porch, we started jogging up the road toward the trail. For almost three hours we ran the ridges and valleys around State College, our four-year home. The only time we knew exactly where we were was at the trailhead. The rest of the time, we just explored. We chose our direction by feel, content to observe and wander. We were in tune and unafraid, despite carrying no food, no water, and being (at times) completely lost.

We stumbled soaked and exhausted into India Pavilion right before it closed. The proprietors, who had come to know us after years of weekly feasts, fed us anyway, refilling our tall glasses of chai and knowing, without asking, how spicy each of us liked our daal.

A week from now I’ll be back there, enjoying the rolling hills, the long early-evening light, the sweetgrass and wild onion on the air.

This morning, as Brad and I walked the dogs, I exclaimed, “I’m so excited to go home!”

“Well good,” he responded, nodding in the direction of our house. “You’ll be there in five minutes.”

“Yes,” I missed his meaning, “It feels really soon. I have a lot to do before….oh. Right. THIS is my home. I get it.”

And I do get it. I know that the house I share with Brad, in Utah, is my home. He and the boys make me feel safe and happy. Content. Comfortable. And that, more than anything else, is home.

Still, though, there’s nothing like State College in autumn (except, of course, State College in spring and summer), and I cannot wait to see it, to breathe it in, to smell that homey scent of foliage and woodsmoke and grass and leaves, and to stand in Shingletown Gap and remember eating granola bars and running like a maniac and dreaming without fear.

9.02.2009

Hey, Look Over There!

I'll have a longer post for you tomorrow, but for now, check out all the blogs over there! Some are new additions, some have been there for years. All are delightful.

8.31.2009

Tis the Season

Friday night, Brad and I wheeled our low-tech, rusty mountain bikes to the head of the Wasatch Crest Trail (a classic) and pedaled and twisted and turned from the high point of Guardsman's Pass down into Big Cottonwood Canyon. It's an easy ride with one short climb and few technical sections, so it's perfect for us--anymore, we mountain bike about once a year, though we both used to be bikers, so getting out and pedaling reminds us (well, at least, me) of being young and fit and unstoppable.

The best part of the ride was the summer’s-end temperature--it was almost COLD; it was dreamy. When we finished, I immediately pulled on a long-sleeved woolie, which made me smile so big my face hurt by the time I went to bed.

Fall and spring jockey for position as my favorite season; both seem like the best thing ever when, after the longest winter/summer in history, they finally arrive. And just as spring heralds sundresses and shell jewelry and flip-flops and beachy dreams, fall, too, has a wardrobe, made up of wool and felt and corduroy and aubergine and saffron.

I’m grateful that it’s time to bid summer adieu—it seems like it’s just getting harder and harder for me, each year feeling hotter and more stifling than the last. I’m quick to blame depression, medicine, work, body image…a thousand things that may or may not relate. More than anything, though, it’s probably just the weather.

So, with the promise of fall in the air, I’m shifting my focus from the exhaustion of summer to the excitement of fall. My blogger friends and favorite websites are on board, too, showcasing autumnal wares and creative ideas.

Some of the highlights?

These lovely embroidered pillows a la Apartment Therapy.



These websites:
Film in the Fridge
Indie Fixx
Do You Mind if I Knit?
Attic 24


Have you detected the theme of the season?

Yes. Textiles.

I just added a crochet class to the three sewing classes already on the docket. To remain logical about these hobbies, though, I’ve put a moratorium on buying any new supplies or fabrics until I actually make something from the myriad choices already crowding my craft room (that’s right, I’ve appropriated the guest bedroom. If you were thinking of coming for a visit, you might want to think again). Last night, as I sifted through piles of embroidery floss looking for branch-brown, I realized that I need some storage in that room, or it’s going to implode on me.

Because I’m cheap and loathe mass-produced baskets, I asked my friend the Internet if it had any ideas for creative, repurposed storage.

You’re welcome:
Fabric scrap baskets from the Sometimes Crafter.



Recycled magazine baskets from How About Orange.

8.25.2009

After years of searching

I've finally identified what I should be doing with my life, and it's this:




Yes. Working on the set of the "Air Bud" Movie franchise, which includes Space Buddies and Air Buddies.

And readers? I'm only a little bit kidding right now.

When renting a movie, Brad and I always point to whatever "Bud" movie is in the RedBox, and joke that it's the only movie I'd actually be able to watch, so sensitive am I to scenes of violence, death, fighting, sadness.

So tonight, my very sweet husband brought Space Buddies home in an effort to make me smile.

Of course it's completely ridiculous, but it does make me happy. My favorite part is imagining what the off-screen people are doing to affect the puppies' on-screen faces and reactions. If it were Arnie in the movie, for example, all we'd have to do is say, "Hel-lo! Hellooo! HelLO! Hello!" and Arnie would smile and wag his tail and raise his paws.

Yep, Space Buddies. I can't help it--it makes me smile. And this is probably the only post I'll ever write about that.

8.23.2009

A Menagerie

It felt almost felt like fall today, blustery with golden light--a lovely day. I did some embroidery, went for a run, had brunch and saw Julie and Julia with my friend, Amber (Hi Ber!), then made an awesome dinner of sausage and peppers and bread, but rather than serving it as the traditional Italian meal, we mixed it up with roasted hatch chiles and sundried tomatoes. Awesome.

Back to Julie and Julia. As a blogger, I feel obligated to report on it somehow, as blogging was such a theme--even in Julia's correspondence with Avis, which I thought was very sweet. I loved so many elements of the movie, Meryl Streep was deLIGHTful, Stanley Tucci a total charmer--I adored him. And as for Amy Adams? She was imminently relatable, which was, I suppose, why I loved elements of the movie, but not the whole thing: She was too relatable.

I understood all too well writing but not completing a novel, seldom finishing what one starts, feeling like one is married to too good a person. It's no secret that I've long felt like I'm spinning my wheels--taking life as it comes instead of making my dreams come true--so Julie's strife hit a little too close to home.

It was a very cute movie, though--it's so nice to be entertained by huge images of antique-strewn apartments and Parisian food markets. There's something so calming about a pleasing aesthetic. I can look for hours at sites like Design Sponge and , Apartment Therapy. Bolts of fabrics and spools of ribbon make me happy. Ironic cross stitch samplers? Please--they're my happy place.

Oh, I've learned to cross stitch since last we've spoken. I'm tangled in floss and there are dull needle pokes in each of my fingers from my efforts, but I love it. I fall asleep at night to dreams of Hungarian flower borders and embroidered textiles.

So anyway, my apologies for this slapdash, haphazard post; I'm distracted by the motocross video (not my own) filling my ears and distracting my voice (if I through a "rad!" or a "sick!" into this post, I trust you'll forgive).

Oh, and my style file? It's just that: a folder on my computer with images that move me somehow--pictures that make me think beyond the now to a place in the future, to a place as calm and colorful and cheerful as the images...

See, I like to know what’s coming. Sometimes, just to be sure a book has a happy ending, I read the last couple pages first. That way, I can either relax and enjoy the lovely story or return the bloody thing to the library before it makes me sad.

In the same way, I collect pictures of design elements I love, as much for inspiration as to comfort myself with scenes from my future--even though it's not so much the future as the idea of change that tends to make me happy....

I’ve seen lots of such images lately, and, because I know I owe you more than the frenetic contents of my distracted mind, I'll leave you with some eye-candy.

I love the "Lovely" pillow, and plan to make similar cushions for my bed. See? All my cross stitch work won't have the f-word in it.



Oh, there's that coveted card catalog cabinet again. I'll find one someday...


These next two photos feature word art, which I love. I'm always collecting favorite poems and quotes to emblazon on my walls. "For, Like, Ever," while ubiquitous, is endearing. And the words on the painting at the top of the stairs in the second photo come from Romeo and Juliet...what a sweet idea.




And finally, these pillows. I love the pieced together bolster in the first picture (and I happen to know that the needlepoint loveliness to the left of hails from IKEA), and the Suzani-like square in the second. So sweet. And, I think, easy to recreate...


8.12.2009

Yes, please.




I’ll take a nook like that*, tucked away and tiny, filled with interesting souvenirs and keepsakes.

I’d like to have this spot for writing, thinking, researching ideas, getting inspired.

I’d probably lose the leopard pelt and beehive, but I’d keep all those bookshelves, and oh, definitely those card catalog cabinets (I’ve been prowling eBay and Craig’s List for one of those for months—if you happen to know where I could get my hands on one, please let me know).

I’d need to add a doggie bed under the desk so Arnold and Red could join me in there. I love writing when they’re around, with their deep sighs and their paws scurrying in their dreams.

A Room of One’s Own. Not a new concept of course, but so much has changed since Ms. Virginia Woolf wrote, in 1929, about Shakespeare’s Sister and the opportunities denied her…I wonder if, now, our men don’t need that room more than we do.

It’s not that our house is overly feminine or crammed with pictures of unicorns, but I definitely take elements of the home far more seriously than my husband; I prefer to eat frozen pizza off a plate rather than the cardboard round it came on…see how fancy I am?

And I certainly put my foot down when, before our wedding, Brad said, “We don’t need to register. Look, we have two forks, two spoons, and three knives. Actually, we can get rid of one of these knives….”

So yes, the room of my own is perhaps the entire domicile. But, on second thought, the garage is his domain (there are mice and bats in there. I mean, please.), and he did build the house, so the layout and design are all him. The walls, too, are Brad’s choice—white—despite the cans of Baby Boy Blue and Night Sky and Red Delicious and Canary Song teetering in my closet.

Ah, my closet….

I’ve seen several articles recently about turning a pantry or walk-in closet into a small home office. Granted, these articles were in magazines like “Real Simple” and "Martha Stewart Living,” with instructions as “simple” as "craft your desk from a single Oak tree you felled yourself with a handsaw and the help of a family of woodchucks."

Despite that, though, my closet would be a perfect little writing nook. There’s no natural light, but I prefer the warm glow of lamplight to glare on my computer screen. And it’s always the coolest room in the house, long and narrow, with floor to ceiling shelves on three sides. I could easily turn a shelf along the back wall into a desk. And I bet I could consolidate all my clothes and shoes into one area, and cover it with a pretty curtain.




One of the adorable new Joel Dewberry fabrics above would make a great curtain. This is his Deer Valley collection, which is fitting, because Deer Valley is one of my favorite places in the world. I know it seems shishi and celeb-focused, but I tell you, the skiing is surprisingly steep, and the summer activities (running, mountain biking, lawn concerts) are incredible. Plus, it’s dog friendly…Arnie’s been there many times, and as my home office-mate, I’m sure he’d concur with a curtain made from Dewberry Deer Valley fabric.

Yes, this just might do.

And honestly, after getting some heartbreaking news this morning, news that—had it gone the other way—would have signaled a fantastic change in my lifestyle, I need a project, something to pour my heart into, something pretty and cozy and nurturing and all mine.

So, because I’m trying hard to use my time deliberately, to actively make positive changes in my life rather than just let life happen, I signed up for a sewing class (that way, this curtain will be more than a hank of fabric with frayed edges).

Certainly, this nook wouldn’t be a panacea for my inability to just sit down and write already, it will be something…a step toward the goal.



*I blatantly stole the nook photo from www.ApartmentTherapy.com

8.05.2009

Love is the Answer

Heavy stuff in the news this morning. A gunman in Pittsburgh opened fire on an aerobics class, killing three (and himself) and wounding nine or ten. According to the police, the guy “couldn’t have been stopped” because he had been planning this, because he was so intent. But that’s just it—he’d been planning it. His blog detailed his plan. It even contained entries about failed attempts, about times when he’d taken the loaded guns to the gym but “chickened out.”

Interesting.

I don’t know if his blog was public, but if it was, why did no one catch this? Apparently he had few friends, seldom talked to his neighbors or socialized. Maybe no one knew he was a blogger, but even so, if his writing was in the public domain, why did no google search ever pick it up? No one ever typed, “guns, fitness, Pittsburgh” into a search engine? I know, it seems like a weird combination, but millions of people search the Internet everyday…surely his blog came up on one of those searches, surely someone noticed it, surely someone could have stopped it?

He was the licensed owner of at least one of the two guns he used to fire 50 rounds in an enclosed 20x20 foot space. Let’s imagine for a minute how things might be different this morning if he hadn’t had access to firearms. Yes, he might have stormed into the aerobics studio with a knife, but he couldn’t have caused as much harm with it, and it would likely have been easier to disarm him. He could have blown the place up, but often, when people stock on materials to manufacture explosives, they’re red-flagged and stopped. Sadly, the same is not true when outwardly normal looking white guys try to by guns. Especially in Pennsylvania, where hunting is seen as a right.

I know what my husband would say—that this is exactly why we need well-meaning vigilantes to carry concealed weapons. This is why we need to uphold our second amendment rights. But tell me, who runs on a treadmill or shoots hoops with a piece strapped to his thigh? Who could have been there in time to stop last night’s shooting? The whole ordeal took seconds—a minute at the most. No one would have had time to figure out what was going on, get to his or her weapon (likely in a locker room or, at the closest, in a nearby gym bag), and get to the aerobics room in time to get a clear shot at the shooter. Remember, there were, like, 40 women in that class, most of them running amok, trying to get the hell out of that room.

My husband has numerous friends who earn their livings as soldiers and security consultants. These are the kind of people I feel safe with in Tijauna, in grizzly country, anywhere. Having limited survival skills myself (I come undone when the air conditioner in my car is on the fritz), I can’t deny that I am grateful for their competence when I feel endangered. Still, though, I question whether arming up is the direction we’re supposed to be taking.

I know I sound na├»ve, and my husband’s friends—who know little about me other than that I’m a over-educated suburban liberal—think I oppose violence because I’ve never faced it, because I’ve never done battle, because I don’t know what it’s like on the front lines.

I’m not a soldier—that’s true. But I looked evil in the face and made the conscious decision not to fight, but to reason. And it worked.

What if someone had reasoned with last night’s shooter? They’d have probably been shot, so far gone that man’s sense of right and wrong. But what if he’d never had access to that gun? What if a firearm was never an option for him? How different would his ultimate explosion have been if it didn’t have gunpowder behind it? How much less devastating? How much more stoppable?

8.04.2009

Just this once...

I will break my rule of No Disney Movies Ever.

I will break it for this:



I cannot wait!

7.22.2009

Three Years (and one day) Ago

On the evening of July 22, 2006, Brad and I were married beneath the south face of Mount Superior.

What a blessing, to share this life with a man I love, respect, adore, learn from, teach, laugh with, and lean on.

Our wedding, a gorgeous and generous gift from my parents, was beautiful and casual; friends played banjos and guitars as I walked down the aisle, a local Mexican place catered, we drank margaritas and Two Buck Chuck.

I loved it. As you can see from this photo*, we had fun.


Our boys were in the wedding, too, with varying degrees of psyche.

Arnie couldn't wait to become a family:


Red had his doubts:


Our dear friend Bill is with us in the first photo. We asked him to marry us, and he got ordained through a “church” on the Internet for the occasion. He offered thoughtful words of advice, two of my closest friends read poems, we exchanged the vows we’d written together, and it was done—-a quick ceremony without much fanfare or fancy.

Lots of people say, "I married my best friend." I probably said it, too. From where I sit now, though, I see that what I knew of Brad when I married him was just a fraction of who he is.

I knew he was kind, but I didn't know the extent to which he'd sacrifice for the people he loves. I knew he was driven, but I'd never seen the stoic focus he can muster when he needs it. I knew he loved animals, but I didn't know how much they loved him back, how easily they let him into their worlds.

About a week ago, hiking to a climbing area in Mammoth Lakes, we noticed a disturbance in a shrub.

"It's a chipmunk," I leaned in for a closer look. "And he's caught on something!"

Brad inspected the little guy, who was still flailing desperately.

"He's caught in fishing wire!" He said, acting fast and throwing a sweatshirt over the chipmunk to calm him down (amazingly, it worked; he stopped scurrying). I ran over to some fishermen and asked to borrow their knife. By the time I'd returned, Brad had removed the sweatshirt, and was crouching low next to the chipmunk, who was calm and staring up at us. I handed Brad the knife, and he'd reached down and freed the chipmunk before the poor thing even had time to get scared.

"Problem solved," Brad said, stuffing his sweatshirt back into his pack and handing me the knife.

He's something special. Many times, like when I see the delight in Arnie's face when Brad comes home from work, or when I meet someone who knew Brad as a scrappy twenty-something who led a hard 5.10 on his first day of climbing, I am humbled that he chose me.

Three years (and one day) ago, I never would have imagined that I was marrying a man with the compassion of a Golden Retriever, the drive of a warrior, the loyalty of a Heeler, and peacefulness of a, um....sea otter? Giant tortoise? Manta ray?

Or maybe, in my heart, I did know. Maybe that's why I felt--and continue to feel--so lucky.


*All photos courtesy of our dear friend Kolin.

7.21.2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

One of things I love about poetry is how, on any given day, it can offer something different, something new.

At work today, glancing from my computer screen across my desk to my bulletin board, I caught sight of one of the many poems tacked there, a poem I know by heart.

Yes

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.


William Stafford


I’ve thought about this poem for many years, while running, while climbing, while falling asleep at night, while walking Arnie through the fields across the street from our house. I’ve even written about it here. But until this afternoon, I’d never seen the words “look out” as a warning or threat, I’d never read the phrase “wake and look out” with a sense of urgency or terror, as I did today.

Not that I was especially fearful today, not that this is the right interpretation of the poem…it’s just different, and I find that difference interesting.

The world of poetry, though, doesn't always translate to the real world, or, well, to my real world. I don't see things as objectively; religious differences anger me, bad fashion upsets me, even strange accents make my skin crawl.

I'm far from perfect; we all are.

After thinking about this for a little while, then surfing over to a couple other sites, I saw a reference on LibertyLondonGirl's blog that made everything click into place:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,” said Hamlet, “Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And likewise, mine.

Hmmm...so even as our great bard wrote "common" poetry and plays in the face of great criticism, he taught his critics to be tolerant.

Maybe one day I'll learn to be as tolerant as the British monarchy.

7.10.2009

Ew, Ah...

Things that make me sad:

Airport bars

Women who wear skinny jeans, fake tans and stripper heels well into their 40s. Or ever.

Ed Hardy apparel. I mean, come on people, really? With the graffiti and the bling?

Leaving Arnie and Red Dog for 10 days. Especially Arnie. Red appears to understand what's happening. Knows that my leaving him isn't permanent. Arnie doesn't seem to get it, and I think he thinks I've left him forever. Here's a photo illustrates their differing grasps on what's happening in the world.


Things that give me joy:

Talking to Nicole and Lizzie who are caring for Arnie like he's one of their own.

Spending the 4th with Brad and my brother, who's become a climber!


Being on VACATION for the next 10 days!

Going to Santa Cruz.

Going to the ocean.

Going to the Hulk.

Going to Tuolumne.



I'm so excited.

7.09.2009

All Good Things...

The Buddhists tell us that everything is temporary, and it’s a testament to my perspective that this idea terrified me when I first heard it, but comforts me now.

During my junior year in college, I took a class about the evolution of American Buddhism, and the idea of impermanence came up every Tuesday and Thursday, from 2:15 to 3:45. At the time, I didn’t like it one bit. My life was grand—Spring in college town? Please, how could it not be?—and I hated to think that everything I knew, and loved, would come to an end.

I took comfort in thinking that the Buddhists were probably talking about impermanence on a larger scale. Like, all human life will end someday—the Earth will explode or there’ll be another ice age (not bloody likely in Utah in July)—but my life will have ended long before that, so I didn’t need to worry about breaking up with my boyfriend (a hippie whose handle was Dingo) or not going to that evening’s drum circle.

Now, though, I take comfort in knowing that everything—even experiences exclusive to me—is impermanent. The pain I’m feeling over the loss of a friend? That will pass. Stress at work? That will pass. Passive-aggressive bullshit from people just trying to get under my skin? That will pass.

And the good stuff, too—the high I get after a hard workout, the feeling of wearing a new dress, the joy I feel when I make Brad laugh—will also come to an end. The challenge for me lies in recapturing those feelings. Yes, this particular workout is over, but I’ll have a chance to exercise again tomorrow, so I don’t need to be sad when this high fades.

I read this quote a few weeks ago:

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."*

A month ago, it would have meant nothing to me. But a few weeks ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Brad and I went to our neighborhood pool, and I swam a mile (off the couch), just to see if I could.

It didn’t start out that way, though. It started with a quick 500-meter swim.

“I just swam a 500,” I told Brad, who was reading on a towel in the grass.

“Go swim more,” he replied without looking up.

“But a 500 is pretty far! I haven’t swum for a year!” I wanted props, awed disbelief. I wanted to impress.

“I heard you. Good for you. But you can do more.” He remained unmoved by my athletic prowess.

Instead of getting annoyed, I thought, “I probably can do more. Maybe I should try another 500.”

So I did. And then I swam another, and after a few more laps, I’d swum a mile.

After the first 500, I thought I was finished, but it turns out, I wasn’t even halfway done. And later that night, when the high from the effort faded, I wasn’t sad; I was content and looking forward to the next day.

Maybe the impermanence didn’t scare me that night because I had gone beyond my own expectations. Maybe those self-imposed barriers—often more impenetrable than steel—are as temporary as pain, as grief, as joy, as love.


*Louis L’Amour

6.26.2009

Summer Camp Redux

(Can I really have more to say about Dave Matthews? Yes, yes I can.)

The new Dave Matthews album is amazing and vital and rich and so, so beautiful. I’ve been listening to it non-stop, not ready to settle on a favorite song, still getting to know them all.

One, though, is a frontrunner. "Dive In," with its wandering melody and strong chorus, makes me tap my foot and nod my head in time. It’s about summer, or maybe a new beginning, and it nails the season as aptly as corn-on-the-cob or a sno-cone.

I love summer, even though it turns Utah into an incinerator in a coal factory, only with dirtier air. It’s gross here from, like, mid-July through August. It’s tough on me; I get cranky in the heat. It only lasts about six weeks, though, so I’m trying not to complain.

Summer in the Laurel Mountains (hills, really), where I grew up, is another story. Cool mornings and evenings anchor hot, humid days, and a house-shaking thunderstorm rolls through at least once a week. I love it all. My skin and hair respond beautifully to the humidity, making my lizard skin and light-socket hair a distant, western memory.

This morning, though, walking into my office, I caught the scent of sweetgrass in the air. It was so home, so Pennsylvania, so rural town, so childhood and high school and college. It was every summer I’ve ever experienced, right there in one breath.

My mind hurtled back to the summer camp I attended for many years—a sports-focused but curiously Christian enterprise nestled in the rolling hills of Boswell, Pennsylvania. God-talk aside, it was the greatest place in the whole world according to the 12-17 year-old me.

There was a lake that created a sweatshirt-worthy breeze in the mornings and a refreshing respite from the heat of the afternoon. We swam and kayaked and zip-lined and sailed little sunfishes and water-skied, and it was summer, as it was, as it should be.

We lived in our bathing suits, emerging shivering from the lake onto the sun-warmed dock, making water-angels, our dripping hair forming tiny puddles in the peeling paint, before running up the hill to paint flowerpots or weave friendship bracelets.

That was where I learned to rock climb, learned to kayak, learned to jog and then, eventually run. That was where I fell in love with the woods and the earth, where I decided to be a river guide, then a climber, then a writer.

It was years later—I was probably out of college—before I realized that the camp was less than an hour from my house. Despite traveling to and from Boswell every summer for six years, it was so different, so unique that I just sort of assumed, just expected it to be hours from anything else, certainly hours from home. A few years ago, though, driving through a nearby town with my mom, I saw a sign for Boswell, and commented, “Oh that’s funny, I used to go to camp in a town called Boswell, remember?”

“Yes, sweetie, that’s the same Boswell,” my mom didn’t seem concerned by my geographical shortcomings.

“What? It can’t be! We’re like an hour from home! It took FOREVER to get to camp!”

And it did. I remember hopping up and down in the backseat of the Jeep, bored out of my mind and feeling like we’d been in the car for days. When we (finally) arrived at camp, I rolled down the window and hung out, searching for familiar faces, for signs of new activities (I almost fell out of the car the summer the zip line arrived), for new girls my age.

It’s interesting, the distance I attributed to Boswell, to camp, to my experiences there. So unlike the other 50 weeks of my life, it must have been far, really far away. Like, different planet far.

And that’s it—that’s my love of summer explained. That’s why I need sweetgrass and fireflies and evocative lyrics like Dave’s (“Summer’s here to stay, and those sweet summer girls will dance forever, go down to the shore, kick off your shoes, dive in the empty ocean.”): they’re beautiful, yes, but beyond that, they remind me that right there, just over that hill, there is peace and joy and escape and an other-worldliness that provides perspective.

And there are those things, too—like music, like lakes, like rivers, like grassy fields—that will always remind me who I am, where I came from. Even if where I came from is a lot closer than I thought.

6.22.2009

Damn you, Conrad. DAMN YOU!

I don't know Lauren Conrad, but I do know this: she's got some nerve.

Traipsing around with that long wavy hair plaited into the epitome of boho chic.

Designing (hmmm...that might be too strong a word) her own line of fab maxi dresses.

Starring in a television show wherein she alternates between staring into the middle distance and saying, "like, you know?"

And now a three-book deal. She's gone too far.

Who does she think she is, ticking off all the things on MY to-do list?

Ok, so I don't actually want to star on the Hills or the O.C. or whatever the hell her show is called. I DO want beachy hair and an ocean view and to go shopping all day--it's pretty much the same thing.

(I know my mother and Women's Studies professors are cringing at that last statement, but at least I'm being honest.)

And I suppose if I were to write a book I'd hope the most favorable reviews were more effusive than, "It's not as bad as I expected."

6.19.2009

Golden Retriever Fridays!


I found this photo on the delightful Liberty London Girl's blog. She suggests dogs as an alternative to skinny models in fashion shows. I think it's a fabulous idea--from what I've seen, most dogs are friendlier than models, prefer rawhide to cocaine, and are content with lesser champagnes.