Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Upon reflection

I wanted to write earlier with fluid words and glowing appreciation about our caroling venture, but it just wasn't in me yet. Perhaps it still isn't, but earlier it was definitely too soon, and I hadn't had the time whilst caroling to begin composing the descriptive pictures in my head. So I know I have already posted twice (three times?) today, but this is my space, and I am writing again.

When we caroled, it was fairly chilly. When I left my second tutoring job, it was (or felt) colder still. Just now when I walked Miley, the air was a balmy 36 degrees. It was cool enough to mist my breath, but warm enough that wearing my jacket and scarf felt almost silly. We walked down past our neighborhood creek, as we usually do in the evenings, and the days-old snow lay dingy under the full moon, trodden down by dozens of feet and hundreds of footprints. Back on the road past the creek woods, I walked on the ground as much as possible, avoiding the slick ice and hard tarmac. In many places the newly bare, newly thawed earth was so soft that I felt I was walking on quilts.


My family and friends began caroling without me, as I was a little late leaving tutoring and stopped at the library to stock up on audio books. After I ate I stepped out the front door, walked to the corner, and followed the sound of their voices until I found them. We sang two songs for each house: first, a song we chose anew each time, and usually only the first verse, and second, the first verse of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Exceptions to the one-verse-only rule were made so that Chloe and I could sing the descant for "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," which just isn't as magical if sung on the first verse.

We sang for Chloe's old choir buddies. We sang for Lynn-Ellen's sister, who offered us cookies and invited us in for hot spiced wine. We sang for a handful of strangers, and for Celeste's piano teacher. One woman had heard us singing down the street, and then surprised us at the door. Her husband came out after we started singing, then ran back in at the end and returned with a handful of M&Ms bags and a cry of "Thank God for leftover Halloween candy!" We sang for Bill and Lynn-Ellen's children and their visiting friends, most of whom refused to come to the door--probably out of embarrassment. We solved this problem by invading their dining room and singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," with special emphasis on "he knows when you've been bad or good" and "so be good for goodness sake." This performance was followed by a walk-home conversation about the joys of embarrassing one's children.


Tonight, as I neared home and the end of my walk with Miley, our resident hoot owl began to call. It is such a homey, comforting sound.

On giving intelligently.

I stumbled across this while looking for a way to act like I'm at least trying to tithe (I always forget, and I don't keep good track of my earnings/expenses--not great), and I am quite impressed and glad to have found it. Friends, allow me to introduce the Charity Navigator.

Relatedly, and especially useful if you're into gift cards, here is the Network for Good.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas excellence.

Tonight I came home from tutoring, ate some baked mac-and-cheese with my dad, and went Christmas caroling with Mom, Chloe, Hartley, Lael, Celeste (H&L's daughter), and Bill and Lynn-Ellen, who are the pastor and pastor's wife, respectively, of the church in which I grew up. We all live within a couple of blocks of one another, and when Mom and Chloe and I caroled with Hartley and Lael (and possibly Celeste?) last year, Bill and Lynn-Ellen opened their door and asked why we hadn't asked them. We love them, so they came with us this time. It was fun, and it's nice that people in real life tend to be more excited about carolers than people in movies. After about two blocks (and we were only really hitting one side of the street) everyone went home, and Chloe and I went tot Hartley and Lael's house to hang out and have hot chocolate. I ended up sitting in front of these:

which Hartley has made as Christmas presents for various family and friends. They are (with the exception of the hook, upper right) steel oyster knives. (He's a freelance carpenter and blacksmith.) You can't tell very well on the cell phone picture, but the tempering colors on the blades are beautiful. I think I'd like to commission a cutlery set someday. Hartley said, "that would be fun."


Lastly, this.

I am exhausted,

but I am waiting up for the eclipse to hit its stride. It's looking like a crescent moon at the moment. This is one of those things that I always feel like I should get really excited for, but don't actually get all that excited for. I mean, I'd kind of like to see it, but the super slow motion and the dull red light generally end up feeling pretty anticlimactic to me. That, and the fact that I still don't have a camera that can get decent shots of it. One of these days I'm going to have to give in and get a DSR.


I have really been doing a lot of snow boot shopping lately, and I am really getting sick of it. The Sorel Tivoli boots came in the mail today, and they are narrow. And I have wide feet. The situation has been improved by the wearing of stockings and the replacement of the (quite thick) Sorel inserts with thinner ones, but I'm still not 100% decided about keeping them. So I've been looking for emergency backups. Here's a possibility, though I'm not sure about wedge heels in snow boots, or in general. Who the crap makes snow boots with heels?



I spent some time this morning/afternoon working with one of my aunts. She shared with me two excerpts from books that she has read. The first is by Melody Beattie, and I didn't catch the originator of the second, though it is often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela. Bold font obviously mine.

"Say thank you until you mean it.
Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Gratitude makes things right.
Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude's power. We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.
Say thank you until you mean it. If you say it long enough, you will believe it."

(Disclaimer: I can't say that I completely agree that one should be thankful for everything, but I do think that in every situation, there is something to be thankful for. And while I don't necessarily think that gratitude will instantly fix every problem, I do believe that it saved my life.)

[Going to check on the eclipse*.]

[It now looks like a very fuzzy crescent with a very faint, greyish-red tinge. This might be due to some thin clouds in the way, but it's hard to tell for sure. It isn't a very clear night out here though.]

Second, not-Nelson-Mandela quote:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us--it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."



Another note: Chloe parked the car in a somewhat unwise spot this evening, and got sideswiped. The car? My car. This is the second time in just over a week that someone has hit my car while it wasn't moving. PSA, everybody: don't buy a gd navy blue car. Surprisingly enough, it tends to blend in with the navy blue nighttime. Crazy, right?


Lastly, I really want these boots. I want them so bad. They come in navy blue! How often does that happen? I think possibly I should be banned from looking up boots online for a while.






















*I am ashamed and a little bit horrified to admit that when I say the word "eclipse**," I think of the Twilight series.

**Oh God, I capitalized it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Notes from the last two days.

There is nothing like the blue stillness of moonlight falling on snow. And the treeshadows are never softer than tonight, in the blue still small hours of the morning.

I am so tired. I need to read Chloe's paper.

Do you remember this? Though my picture wasn't exactly the same, I do. Oh, I do.


My day Wednesday was supposed to go like this: wake up, drive to Northside, meet uncle to figure out car issues, go prime and paint all day, make a bunch of money.

My day Wednesday actually went like this: wake up to a surprise phone call from an aunt: "can you help me pick up and install insulation?"; say "I guess"; call uncle to adjust plans; drive toward aunt's house; redirect to Lowe's; wait 1hr in parking lot; shop for renovation supplies; transport insulation to aunt's house; realize that these clothes, while perfect for priming and painting, are not perfect for insulation installment; argue, get stressed out, measure/cut/install a bunch of unfaced insulation; get fiberglass in eyes despite work goggles; stack firewood; meet with uncle for 10 min and establish that the car won't disintegrate on the highway; arrive home to find dinner guests sitting down to eat; shower; eat and socialize; meet Kelly and Jr and Maggie at a Mexican place to talk and laugh for ages while they have dinner; come home.

All in all, not so bad. Today I had really hoped would be a make-up day for all the work I failed to do yesterday, but then it snowed. I don't like driving in the snow, and I don't like driving in the Fan, so I decided not to try the two together. (Also, my car's front left shocks have been acting insane when they're cold and bouncing me around like mad, which doesn't sound like a great idea in the snow.) It doesn't look good for this project getting done before the tenant returns on Sunday, a probability which I find a little frustrating and a little shaming, though I'm not sure there's a lot I could have done differently.  Today I wrapped presents though, and  made French bread all by myself (unless you count motherly advice), and it turned out very well. I also had the extreme pleasure of consuming for breakfast a fried egg and grits doused in the juice left over from last night's duck. We've never had duck at home. It was fabulous. This was better.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Parallelism

Lately I have been noticing parallel structures in the seasons the way I notice it in sentences and paragraphs. The way the wind puffs its cheeks and blows the wintry snow from the trees is the same as the way it blows the autumn leaves, letting them fall in a dancing, glorious rain across the street. The way the snowflakes swirl in the wake of the cars is the same as the way flower petals swirl across the road in a colorful, joyful carpet of spring. And our little creek runs through it all, cold through the snow, carrying petals in the spring and water skaters in the summer and then leaves in the fall. The swim hole fills with leaves in the fall that must be dug out in the spring to make room for more fish and for all our warm bodies in the summer.

Two more things:

First, Emma has written a beautiful, haunting post about a fire in her apartment building. I can't put my finger on what gets me about it, but there's definitely something.

Secondly, an acquaintance of mine posted this horrible thing on his facebook. If you have any attachment to Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, then prepare to be offended.

Notes

I went to a beautiful international lessons and carols concert tonight with Anna, and... well, as I said, it was beautiful. The chorus was amazing. I liked almost all of the arrangements, and most of the carols were new to me. The orchestra was excellent. Each reading was in a different language, with the English translation projected on the wall. During each song, works of art related to the nativity (and often to the culture of the song and/or previous reading) were projected on the wall. I teared up a few times.

(Faith, our cat, is sleeping curled up on top of a sheet-covered milk crate. Her head just tipped off the edge and woke her up. Adorable.)

As we were leaving the concert, I was giving Anna a ride to her car, and someone backed straight into me. I have the worst reactions in these sorts of situations. I just sort of watch, dumbfounded, and maybe say something like "stop!" Eventually Anna said "your horn! Honk!" And then I had to find my horn, which broke a while back and has been relocated. Anyway, there's a small dent in my door, and I have the woman's name/number/insurance information. I haven't told my parents yet--I forgot at first.

I remembered when Anna called me around 10:30 to tell me that as she was leaving the birthday party she attended after the concert,

wait for it,

someone backed straight into her car, and hit her in the exact same spot as the woman at the show hit me.

What are the odds?



Speaking of odds, I spent the bulk of my evening after I came home shopping for snow boots. Originally I was shopping for thin wool socks for Scotland, and I was looking on planetshoes.com because they'd sent me a coupon. I searched "wool" on their site, and ran straight into these:





I want them. I want them so bad. But I have been able to semi-successfully convince myself that they wouldn't look good with jeans. Do not dissuade me. I can't even afford them at all. The best price I found was $122, and that took a lot of doing, and was a temporary sale. No one else had them on sale (reg price $160); hardly anyone had them in my size. It was slightly hellish.

I ended up with these, from footwise.com, with which I am pretty well pleased:

As a ridiculously fabulous added bonus, they were on sale because footwise only had them left in one size--my size. NO ONE else had these in my size except maybe Nordstrom's. Nordstrom's was charging $100. The footwise sale was $49. God loves me, I think. Now let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope they fit and all that.











On an unrelated note, I walked Miley tonight. She insists upon strangling herself. I constantly find myself thinking, "Buy a semi-choke collar! Strangulation theoretically optional."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Observations on a Sunday

Today, this morning at church, was one of those days when I realize how truly closed off I am. When I get a bit of a backed-up view of myself. I am imperfect. I am solitary and self-centered. I feel like I want to reach out and be a part of a community, but when it comes down to it, I start to dislike anyone that I suddenly feel obligated to talk to. I am a lot of contradictory things. But it's alright. I mean, it isn't alright forever. It isn't something about which I should be complacent. But I am not beyond repair. Not beyond love.



Last night around 11, my mother put a pan of the sweet rolls into the oven to see how they would turn out. Answer: heavenly. We think that this was due in part to the fact that they had been rising for an extremely long time. All day yesterday, and for quite a while the day they were made. (In between they had been in the refrigerator downstairs.) I ate too many, mainly because it seemed like a sin to let so many of them sit and get cold and be eaten later in such a decidedly inferior state. They are small, but still, we each had at least two.


Written last night, after the sweet rolls and before bed:
Hartley gave me a ride home from babysitting tonight, due to the light, cool rain, and I am sorry that I accepted it. People think me eccentric when I do things like refusing rainy rides home [and I suppose they have a right], but that's okay. I was thinking at the time that I'd have to (get to?) walk Miley anyway, and that I didn't have a hat, and I was giving in to the soft peer pressure of friends who couldn't imagine my wanting to walk home.
I got here, and Jack ribbed me a little about it--"She specifically asked for you by name"--but it soon came out that he had just taken her.
I complain often about having to walk Miley every night before bed, rain or shine, in sickness or in health...but tonight I am forced to admit that I feel lost without my usual dose of cool midnight air, wet or not. I went and stood under the sky for a few minutes in my nightshirt and sweats and decidedly not-waterproof slippers, but it wasn't quite the same.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More on love.

I did mention, didn't I, that I love Neil Gaiman? (Neverwhere was fabulous, by the way. Thanks for asking. My father has now stolen it and will return it before the library due date if he knows what's good for him.)

He was on NPR and I missed it. I didn't even know. What kind of a fan am I? (Obvious and unabashed answer: a bad one.) Luckily for me, my splash of mercy came from, as the LotR screenplay writer might have said, "the most unlikely person imaginable." It came, shockingly, from the administrator of one of those momming facebook groups that I follow. She cared because her friend who does something to do with children got to talk to N.G. about babies or something on the show*. I care because, duh, he is fantastic. Here's the interview.

Golden sentence from said interview, demonstrating a lovely illustration of the difference between "its" and "it's":
"It's its own glorious medium."

Golden quotation from the interview: "comics are a wonderful gateway drug to reading."

<3.


Relatedly, I have decided that I want another of the BAm series 2010 this Christmas: BAm Comics**.




On another note, as I drove back from painting early this afternoon, the sky was gorgeous. (Odd that I noticed, I know.) High above, distinct rays of winter sunlight fanned through the soft cloud cover overhead. Halfway between the treetops and the upper range of my sight, the clouds coalesced into separate, soft shapes--that mini cumulus thing that they do sometimes--and crowded edge to edge across the entire sky, with the sun trickling through them and the whitish blue sky peeking out from behind.  The loveliest moment of it was when I drove toward a power pole, and a handful of birds sat scattered across the lines, silhouetted against the winter sky.  


And now, please excuse me. I am off to make sweet rolls. Or to try, at least. I haven't done this by myself before. Actually, in the past I've mostly sprinkled flour and stood alongside while my mother makes sweet rolls. So this should be interesting.





















*Clearly I stopped paying attention as soon as I saw the important part of the status update.

**I am slightly ashamed of this, because I don't even like comics.

Why I love my nose; why I love the world.

Something in the air outside smells like Turkey in 2008. Maybe, to be a little more specific, it smells like Adana. I can't really be sure of that, though. My nose just grabs it, and rejoices, and cries "Turkey!" to the heavens. It smells like Mary Helen's apartment, where I stayed for my first week there, or maybe like a late-morning walk up to Kadifekale in Izmir, to wander the ruined walls and watch all the city but the birds and the wind become still at the afternoon call to prayer. It could be the biting night wind on the way to the covered market in Istanbul. I don't know. But it's Turkey.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I don't get it.

I have been having mad chocolate cravings for weeks. What's up with that? Weeks! This is not cool.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I just have not even remotely felt like posting lately.

But on Monday David and I went to the pageant, and it was okay. That is, he said the pageant was awesome, and he didn't stay for dinner. I thought the pageant was not-that-awesome, but ok. I get self-conscious when I take people to things that I have seen before; also it was strange for me to watch the thing without knowing any of the students who were in it.

Buying a gilt-framed mirror off craigslist tomorrow for $10. I know I need to stop buying myself things, but it's $10! And I have a thing about pretty mirrors. It's an issue.

I have an interview for an $11/hr swim teaching job tomorrow, either for adults or for kids--not sure which they'll want me to do if I'm hired. I'd have to work through at least part of the summer, but I feel like I can live with that. Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

I am reading Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Have I ever mentioned that he is a genius amazing writer? Because he is. I love him. Pity he's too old for me.

Tonight Kelly and Maggie and Junior are coming over to make chocolate things. Truffles, thin mints maybe, perhaps some chocolate-dipped citrus peels. Who knows. Should be a good time, especially if we get anything done.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I need to stop buying myself stuff. REALLY. (Help.)

I have a sexy new candy-cane-stripe dress. (And by new, I mean vintage.) I'm definitely not a habitual vintage shopper, but a friend of ours was having a party/open house for her eyeglass shop in the space she's currently sharing with a woman who owns a coffee and tea shop, and we were there, and there were vintage clothes there as well. And jewelry. And chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Possibly that didn't make sense. These people that live behind us? River (daughter, Chloe's age), her brothers, Cynthia (mom) and Bruce (dad)? They are our friends. Cynthia owns an eyeglass store. It caught on fire. The coffee/tea shop next to hers also caught fire. Now they are sharing space a few doors down. They had a party. It was pretty great, because now I have a new dress. I'm having a little trouble figuring out what to wear with it though, as winter tends to be a little chilly for mid-thigh-length sleeveless dresses, and I don't know how to match things.



Christmas list update: I really want buckyballs (from thinkgeek.com). I also really want grey tights, white tights, and jeggings (don't judge me). I also REALLY want Spill & Spell (they still sell it! At Barnes and Noble!) and Set (also sold at B&N!). Really though I mostly only want Set because the last and only time I played it, I got beat repeatedly by a six year old, and that isn't really okay with me. I need to practice. To be fair, she beat everyone else too, and every single time (except her older sister--this is a genius family), and she'd start picking up sets before all the cards were even down, but still. She was SIX.

Also, the BAm Nonrequired Reading this year (2010, in case that was unclear: Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010) is edited by Dave Eggers. Want. Also wouldn't mind having the BAm short stories, essays, science writing. Or Bill Bryson's new book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, because I love him. A lot. Or pretty much any Oliver Sacks book other than The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, as I believe I've mentioned before.

OR THE NEW WHEEL OF TIME BOOK. Please forgive me for yelling. It's difficult to contain myself. I mean, I know I should wait for the paperback, I know I don't want to own the hardback, but I want to read it NOW. It's called Towers of Midnight, if anyone was wondering. It's written by Brandon (?) (I always get his first name wrong) Sanderson.

Also: Anything by Neil Gaiman that isn't Coraline. Also, 1,000 Things To See Before You Die.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's my blog, and I'll be cheesy if I want to.

Usually after a walk with Miley, if I write, I come home and gush about the magic or brightness of the moon and stars; the way they shone down and dazzled me. Tonight, though, it was my heart that shone. I was just walking along and suddenly, as I turned a corner, I was floating. I have been debating whether to write about it. I was thinking about what I said about David earlier... I'm already losing it. The train of thought that lead me there.

Ah! Tonight I was wearing scarves on my head (as head scarves) because I couldn't find my hat, and I was thinking how funny it was that when I was in Turkey, when I was supposed to have a head scarf, I never did. Every single day I left it in the house or my hotel room, and thus always had to borrow the head scarves from any mosque we visited. And I thought of how wonderful Turkey* was, and how happy I was there, and how it's one of my most treasured memories. And then I was imagining a conversation between us:

Of course I love you.

But the wonderful thing is that I can just say that, mean it, and move on. Not say it and expect to get back together. Not say it and be sad that we aren't together. Say it with no strings, with no fear. Speak love with love.


Then I just floated for a few minutes, grinning at Miley and loving the cold night air, humming to myself and smiling up at Orion, my favorite constellation, whom I almost think of as a friend.

No strings; just love.

And that's all for tonight.






















*Every single time I type "Turkey," I want to type it the Turkish way: Turkiye. But then I feel like I'm acting all elitist or something. That's not the word I'm looking for, but I'm not sure the word I'm looking for actually exists. But do you know what I mean. It's the same on the rare occasions that I discuss in print the Aya Sophya/Sophia. In America, it's usually referred to as the "Hagia Sophia"--but that's so ugly in comparison.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Small surprises.

I've been noticing over the last few days that David's name is like honey. I'm not sure I particularly like to say it, but sometimes I just hold it in my mouth and taste it. I'm not pining, I'm not upset. I'm not planning on doing anything. I'm just thinking.



I stopped by to drop off my hours sheet and some keys I no longer need with some family friends, and found out that one has breast cancer. I am stunned. She wants me to tell my parents for her. Is there anyone in the world who is worse at delivering bad news than I am? I hope she will be ok. I want her to be ok. She has surgery just after Christmas.



My father has a cold. He sounded so weak and tired over the phone. He has been sick so much this semester. I want him to be well. Of course, that's pretty much always my wish for him.



It's snowing! Barely, and it's too warm for snow, but still. Snow!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On being ill*.

My health seems significantly improved today, but I still don't get to go tutor Layla. I am pretty upset about this. Her mom is probably right, though, in wanting to play it safe--especially because "significantly improved" in this case means that I have a lot less of a head cold and somewhat more of a chest cold than I did yesterday. You know, a coughing-up-nasty-crap chest cold. Awesome.

This is always the way with me, though. Working with kids, I mean--not with colds. While I'm working with them I am often not that big of a fan (this was particularly the case with SwimKids and R-MA), but after I leave, or when I take a break for a while, I miss them like crazy. (Again, particularly the case with SwimKids and R-MA.)

Also I'm a little tired of sitting in the house. Also: feeling like a pariah.


















*Really, to me, the term "ill" implies digestive issues. A cold, in my mind, more accurately deserves the term "sick." Unfortunately, I don't like the word "sick" nearly as much as "ill."

Is that weird?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Colds and the holiday season

It occurred to me today that Michael's diary* is like the universe in a way--black, cold, bleak, and dark; sparingly scattered with brilliant, burning points of light; utterly fascinating; utterly heartbreaking. The story of his life almost reminds me of a modern Jude The Obscure. Obviously the plot isn't the same, but the feeling (or the feeling that I remember from my quick reading of the book four or so years ago) is the same. I fervently hope that this ending will be wholly different, and further off.


Today is a day that can only be described as "blustery." It's beautiful, and not only because it reminds me of Pooh. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the air is damp and, considering the season, relatively warm. I have the front door standing open and the radio playing it's PRI selection of classical music as I drink tea, eat crystallized ginger and garlic bread**, and slowly ready the house for Christmas as I attempt to get well.

[All of the above written in the early afternoon and then abandoned until I felt like finishing around 10:30 or so.]


I have been sniffling and sneezing, rubbing my nose and coughing my way through the day, and my mother is displeased with me for still being sick. She and I went to Big Lots on a quest to purchase our first ever artificial Christmas tree, and we picked one up (4 ft, pre lit) for $20. We also got some plain old white twinkle lights, and a pretend evergreen garland (the real ones are so not worth the trouble and mess), and a strand of poinsettia lights. I have been decorating this evening, and we wrapped a few presents.













This is our first attempt to do anything other than hanging a wreath on the door and stapling up icicle lights, so bear with us. (Obviously we usually have a tree, but that hasn't been cut yet. Hold your horses.)

While I'm uploading stuff, here are our Thanksgiving songs:




video

Sorry for the mixed formats. Blogger refused to work with me at first.


And here is my newest cousin, Fielding:






And my about-to-be-newest cousin, Sprout, along with his/her parents, Josh and Neville:





And lastly, here is Miley giving her best effort. 110%. (Sometimes, love just isn't enough.)




























*Linked here, if you're interested.

**And when I say "garlic bread," I mean toast with olive oil and raw chopped garlic. It's enough to burn your mouth, especially with the ginger thrown into the mix. There's more than one reason to stay away from me at the moment.

My mother is a genius.

I have had a cold, and she has been in New York City. When she came back I asked whether she knew of any way to temporarily remove the left side of my head (earlier I had been thinking front left quadrant, but I realized that that was too conservative an estimate), just until the swelling went down in my sinus cavities. She said no, but she asked what I had been eating and informed me that all of my responses were mucus-producing and/or acidic, and when we got home she brought me a little peppermint oil on a tissue and told me to breathe it in and spread a little under my nose. She explained that peppermint is anti-inflammatory. I know this of course, but my brain doesn't connect the "I have a cold" > "my sinus cavities are inflamed" > "I need an anti-inflammatory" > "peppermint is an anti-inflammatory" dots. So anyway, now I feel a little like someone is holding a chunk of dry ice under my nose, but the stabbing sensation inside my sinuses has subsided, so that's nice. On the plus side, I can now move air through the left side of my head. On the downside, it is becoming increasingly difficult to move air through the right side of my head.


On another unrelated note, I bought a new camera for Scotland*. My old one is still functioning, but seems to be on its last legs--and if it died during or just before the Scotland trip, I think I might kill someone. So really this is all** in the interest of homicide prevention.


With my mother in NYC, I had to get up earlyish this morning to help my dad get ready for work. This worked out well, as I began waking up as a side effect of the cold around 7:30. My point though is that I tend to forget how much I love mornings. How gorgeous they are. How delicious they smell, even through my current haze. It was lovely. I also always, always utterly forget how amazing the morning light looks in the fall, when the sun shines in through the trees and fills my bedroom with a deep red light. That was closer to six, when I wasn't quite as conscious as I now wish I had been. It was really beautiful.






















*For my trip to Scotland, I mean. Not "for Scotland," exactly.

**I put hours of research into this decision. Do you see what a good civil servant I am? Completely selfless, even if I do say so myself.