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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A fond farewell

I am not a "shoe-girl." I could careless about most shoes as long as they are comfortable and allow me to walk from A to B, I'm pretty happy. But there are exceptions to every rule and for me that exception is my Chuck Taylors. Since middle school I have had six pairs, four of the traditional hi-top black with white toes, one low-top blue with white toes and my "work Chucks" which are black with black toes.

With the arrival of my new "non-work" Chucks, my last pair has departed. I received those shoes as a gift from Nathan when we had been dating for a year...it was a fantastic present.

I have had them ever since. In five years we have really gotten to know each other, they have molded to my feet, become dirty and riddled with holes where the rubber and canvas meet. More pairs of shoelaces have passed through those sixteen silver eyelets than I can remember.

I have had them longer than any other pair of Chucks I've ever owned. I will miss them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas

I hope everyone enjoyed a Merry Christmas. Ours was lovely, despite the weather and my new schedule. Because I'm new at work and my trainer has Mondays and Tuesdays off, I had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It is traditional in my family to spend Christmas Eve with my dad's family in Pecatonica, where he grew up. After I got off work Christmas Eve, the weather was already turning nasty and I did not feel like making the drive all the way to Pec, so Nathan and I opened our presents to each other (I got a puzzle and a T-shirt with a great British TV reference on it and a food processor). Then we went to Mass at my church in a nearby town, then we went to Nathan's church service.

After that we went to his mom and dad's house to spend time with them and his sister and her husband.

After work on Christmas Day, I stopped at home and we rounded up the presents and then set off through the softly falling snow for my mom and dad's where we had a lovely meal and opened presents.

After that, we packed up and headed back to Nathan's mom and dad's where we opened presents with them. Through all these gift opening, we received many lovely presents, including Nathan's new computer monitor and my new pair of non-work Chucks, which I love.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas Must Really Love Me

To celebrate his feast day, he brought me this, which I have been wanting for a little while now:

It's a puzzle and after some initial frustration, it came together quite well. I love it! St. Nicholas brought Nathan a Christmas ornament of a French horn, and we both got candy as well. Happy St. Nicholas Day, everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A wrap

I've noticed, the last couple years the increasing lack of Christmas wrapping paper with religious themes. When I was growing up, we had rolls of beautiful paper decorated with angels and wisemen. My favorite was the burgundy roll with yellow angels. I loved it so much I wanted to save a scrap of it when we ran out.

But these days Santas, snowmen, penguins, and even Disney characters fill the brightly colored rolls of paper in cardboard bins in the stores. I love this paper, too and some of it is absolutely adorable, but I miss the prettier for religious papers.

I mentioned this to my mom this year and when we were at their house doing laundry a few days ago, she handed me large thick roll of paper featuring wisemen and Nativity scenes. I couldn't believe it. I had looked and looked to no avail this year. I asked her where it came from, but she wouldn't tell me.

I'm just happy to have it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oddly Nostalgic

Nathan and I had a little vacation this past weekend. Friday night we drove four hours north to visit my middle sister Anne, where she is going to graduate school at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.

Here's the thing about this: Anne has been at Winona State for six years now, four as an undergrad and two as a grad student. For three of those years, she was joined by Elizabeth, who transferred to Winona during her sophomore year of undergrad.

Now, Elizabeth is in Alton and this May, Anne will graduate with her master's in teaching English as a foreign language and it will be "Farewell, Winona" for the whole family. As we spent time there this weekend, I started to feel sad and nostalgic about the place. Granted, I have been there maybe three times in the six years the girls have been there. But I've always liked it, as a place. When we went there when Anne was trying to decide where she wanted to go in 2004, I noticed how pleasant and "small-towney" it felt.

The university is not huge and the town surrounding it spreads out for quite a ways and still feels like a friendly area.

And it is replete with interesting places: the Winona Sandwich Company has the best bread this side of Jimmy John's. Last weekend I went with Anne to the co-op she goes to to get oats and other things for her made-from-scratch pumpkin pies. I had never been in a co-op--it was a nice store. The town sits on the Mississippi River and is bordered on one side by a long range of bluffs, which provide ample hiking. But it also has all the things a college town needs, including a Wal-Mart, Target and many restaurants.

I may not have been there quite often enough, considering it's where my sisters were spending their time. But when Anne moves on to the next phase in her life, I think I'll miss Winona a only a little less than she will

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Assessment

Over the last few months, I have discovered that, contrary to popular opinion, rehabbing an old, beaten up house is neither easy nor fun.

I'm not going to deny I felt a great sense of accomplishment after I painted the sun room and I was also pretty happy with the results of the living room.

Then we did the front door together and it looks great, and I'm happy with that. But this month, I have dedicated to repainting Nathan's office. However, before I started painting, I had to scrape the ceiling, which was flaking quite a bit. I thought it was going to be like scraping the living room ceiling, which involved scraping a little and then sanding and painting over to make it look right. But the office ceiling hasn't stopped peeling as I've scraped, so the decision has been made that I need to scrape the ENTIRE ceiling.

Now, to be fair, this is not a large room...thank God. But working on it is just me with a little scraper so the progress I make is relatively limited. I'm not sure I'll actually get around to painting this month.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Accomplishment

I'll not say a lot about this, because it's a Christmas present. But the person it's for doesn't read the blog, so I feel relatively safe posting a picture and bragging a bit.

I saw the pattern for this in a magazine at my old job and fell in love with the idea of it. I knew exactly who would like it and was thinking about making it when my sister-in-law Janelle gave me some beautiful yarn for Christmas last year and I decided it would work perfectly in the blanket.

Essentially, it is four scarves each of different colors and patterns sewn together to make a blanket. I learned quite a bit for this project. I learned how to basket weave, how to cable knit and how to make fringe and tassels. I hate tassels, by the way. I just finished it today and am quite proud of it. I can't wait for Christmas, now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's so Pretty!

In the midst of Nathan spending his weekends working at a local apple orchard, me working on the books and looking for a job and substitute teaching, we continue fixing up the house room by room and piece by piece.

This month, I'm going to repaint Nathan's office (which is dark blue and doesn't go with the rest of the house), but the true excitement of the early month comes from our work on the front door.

When we moved in, it looked like this:

After quite a bit of scraping and using liquid scraper and sanding and making this past weekend a marathon of scraping, sanding and painting, the front door looks like this:

We still need to do a few touch-ups, but it is a huge improvement. The house has a very "cottagey" feel and I wanted a bright bold color for the front door. Pam and Craig picked this out and I think it's perfect.

Found on the Side of the Road

I had an interview at for a full-time position at Northern yesterday and while I was at home getting ready for it, I noticed Nathan left his wallet at home, something he's never done before.

The lady I interviewed with told me I should arrive an hour early because parking is hard to find, or I could just park in the Newman Center's parking lot. With my interview at 1, I left here at 11:45 and drove to DeKalb. As I was headed down Route 38 by the university, I looked to the side as I approached the McDonald's and there was Nathan standing on the sidewalk. I slowed down and motioned him into a nearby parking lot and rolled down the window.

"I forgot my lunch," he said, sticking his head in the car.
"You forgot your wallet!" I countered. He hadn't realized it. He made a terrified face and patted his butt, looking for the missing wallet.
"Did you bring it with you?"
"No, how did I know I was going to see you? Get in, I'll buy you lunch."

We went to McDonald's and he ate while I thought about my interview. Then he went with me to find the building and somewhere to park. We did end up parking at the Newman Center and while we were standing in the building's hallway, waiting for noon Mass to finish so we could pay someone for parking, Nathan lint rolled my jacket.

I'm sure he's glad I found him there, so he could eat. But I'm glad I found him because it took us a little while to find the building where my interview was and he kept calm and helped me stay calm.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

We hope you all had a fun and happy Halloween. We were excited all season, hoping to have trick-or-treaters for the first time since we got married, since we are living in the house now. We were not disappointed, we have had several groups of children and a few teenagers stop by for candy. I stock piled chocolate and fruit candy and yesterday Pam gave me a whole bag of individually bagged SweetTarts that the library is trying to get rid of.

We carved pumpkins at my parents' house a few nights ago. I picked out Nathan's design of the Headless Horseman and he picked out the Raven with witch silhouette that I carved. I think Nathan's looks much better.
He even carved the little face on the pumpkin the Headless Horseman is about to throw...it's so cool.
I didn't realize until I was finished carving it what was so weird about the witch part. The witche's hat is not pointed like we're used it, it's flat...like a fedora.

We even took our traditional "cat hat" picture. This year I asked Nathan to hold the cats so they would sit still for the picture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nevermore

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but ravens (or crows) are HUGE this year as far as Halloween decorations go. I do not remember a year in which I have seen black birds line store shelves as "seasonal decorations" quite like this year. When I first saw them I thought it was interesting, but could not for the life of me figure out why, suddenly, ravens were "it."

Then, one day as I talked to Pam, a thought struck me and I went to Wikipedia, keeper of all knowledge, to find out. Wikipedia confirmed my theory, 200 years ago this past January, Edgar Allan Poe was born. I take a pretty gloomy view of how aware the average American is of national history (or any history).

And I have to say, a big round of applause to the American marketing industry. I was flabbergasted that someone in corporate America thought "Hey, a great American writer would be 200 years old this year, let's make the icon of his most famous poem a Halloween decoration."

After that I was determined I had to have one and my wish came true. Thanks, Mom!

I may not be a huge fan of American literature in general, but I do love Poe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I think there's a kitchen in there!

Since April, Nathan and I have been operating with 1/2 to 3/4 of a kitchen. When we moved in, you may remember, we had neither oven nor stove and were living out of the microwave, crockpot, and griddle. Then, a friend of Nathan's gave us his old stove/oven, of which only the stove really worked.

I was happy, I could boil water...you have no idea what it was like not being able to boil water. And the oven worked once in a while, so we were pretty happy.

The kitchen is set up so the place where the refrigerator would stand is overhung by regular-size cabinets, so we need a refrigerator that is roughly my height or a little shorter. These are a bit hard to come by, so our refrigerator was a full-size model which was in the house Nathan grew up in. At our house, it sat in the breeze way which connected our kitchen and garage. So if we needed anything out of the fridge we had to leave the kitchen and try to keep the cats in, which was sometimes a bit of a challenge.

A few months ago, Nathan's sister and brother-in-law let us know about a smaller fridge and a stove/oven just became available. We brought the appliances to the house where they sat in the garage for a few months until we had a free weekend. I am happy to report that the fridge fits under the cabinets (just barely). I celebrated this by covering it in magnets. And I attempted to make tuna casserole today and the oven...WORKS!!!

So happy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

HHHEEEAAATTT!!!

We are no longer living in an icebox. Our furnace was officially turned on at about 5:35 p.m. today! I was out this evening and when I got back, the living room was warm...the living room hasn't been warm in so long it took me a little while to realize what was different.

I have to say, I'm loving it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Years Ago

Three years ago right now...3:17 p.m., my brand new husband and I were being chauffeured by my good friends to our wedding reception.

It has been a wonderful three years with lots of new experiences and lessons. I love you, Nathan!

This picture is from our honeymoon in Ireland.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Richard Sharpe and me...and Nathan

The rarity of this makes it worth a blog post.

Nathan and I have actually found a movie...or in this case series of movies...that we both enjoy. Bernard Cornwell has a book series about a British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars named Richard Sharpe. I love these books. I love the character and the setting and everything.

Several years ago, the BBC began making the books into a movie series. I ordered one from the library and loved it. Nathan wandered through the room a couple times while I was watching it and also took a shine to it.

It took me a while to realize they did not make the movies in the same order as the books and the movies have so little to do with the books that I don't feel bad watching movies before I get to that particular book in the series.

These days I'll order one and it will come in and we usually watch it within a day and the next day Nathan asks me to order the next one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Life in an Ice Box

Nathan tried to turn our heat on last week. Nothing happened. I don't know quite how things got confused, but there is an east and west of our street and we live on east. The gas company seems to think we live on west. Nathan had to fax them a copy of our lease, a copy of his driver's license and a few other things to try and prove to them we do in fact live where we say we do.

It was fine not to have heat least week. It wasn't that cold. I put flannel sheets on the bed and we just dealt, mostly. It made the cats a little more cuddly, trying to absorb our heat. It's not so fine this week. While I was gone this weekend, Nathan, who probably should have gone to spend the weekend with his mom and dad, just borrowed some of their space heaters and set them up in the bedroom. Now, we have enough heat in our room, but the rest of the house is at the very least, chilly.

This is fine during the day, since I spend most of my time at my desk in the bedroom anyway, but it's doing nothing for the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen or the pile of bills on the desk in Nathan's office.

We were told it would be anywhere from five to ten days before we had heat.

Haunted Alton Tour Kicks Haunted Macomb Tour's Butt

I love ghost stories..love them. I love the atmosphere in which they are usually told, I love the tense tingly feeling I get and the way the hairs on my neck stand up. I'm not sure whether or not I believe in ghosts, but I do know that I want to believe in them. When Nathan and I moved into the house we live in, I was fairly certain it was going to be haunted and I'm still not entirely convinced it isn't.

The unfortunate part of all this is that even though I love ghost stories, they do horrible things to my dreams. As a child one evening I watched a series of shows called Castle Ghosts of England...Ireland...Scotland. I was enthralled, I was excited, I was terrified. I went to bed that night and had the absolute worst nightmares of my life. I kid you not, I woke up crying at least twice. It was awful. I stayed away from ghost stories after that for the most part until college.

My freshman year, several girls on my floor and I saw an ad for Haunted Macomb Tours and decided that this was the perfect activity for a cold October night. In all honesty, I don't remember much of this tour. I don't remember all the places we went or the stories they told. I just know I didn't spend much of it being frightened. It was a fun way to spend an evening with friends, but that was about it.

Elizabeth's roommate was gone this past weekend and she called me a few weeks ago asking if she got tickets for the Haunted Alton Tour if I would go spend the weekend with her. If you haven't picked up on it recently from all the posts about it: I love Alton. It's a river town with a ridiculously fascinating history and my trips down there are a blast. On top of getting to see Elizabeth, I also get to hang out in Alton. I'm setting my second work of fiction there and whenever I find myself there, I do some research and learn interesting things.

Alton is also supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in the country. And given its history: 9 underground railroad stops, a Confederate Civil War prison, the death of Elijah Lovejoy, and many other incredible happenings, I wouldn't doubt it. Elizabeth is a skeptic and was really doing this for the stories (which were great) and because she knew I would like it.

We started the evening in front of a building which had at times been a private home and a hospital and now serves as apartments. The remarkable thing was that in the basement there was a "tunnel" which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was freezing cold that night so we were wearing sweaters and jackets and Elizabeth had the foresight to buy mittens, which I loved. Her coat had two zippered pockets in which she put her phone and wallet and kept them zipped up. We went down to the tunnel and came back out and Elizabeth said to me very quietly "My pocket is unzipped." It was the pocket with her wallet and that was the side I stood on. As her fiance pointed out over the phone, she probably just got it caught and it pulled open. I don't care, I thought it was awesome.

This was taken in the tunnel. It was dark, that's why the top of her head is missing.

We roamed all over Alton that night listening to stories, in one case which could easily induce the nightmares I was so sure I was going to have. We ended in a church in Alton which is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the town. Those of us on the tour were instructed to sit in the pews and then the leader asked for two volunteers and I, of course, jumped up. Elizabeth was less excited, but came along like the good sister she is. We went into a big socializing room behind the sanctuary and the guide told us the reason he needed us there was because that room was usually particularly active and he needed us to vouch for him and so he could vouch for us when we said things were moved or different.

We took note of furniture placements and then he took us down a little hallway and stopped the doors and asked us to take note of which ones were open or closed. One was the door to the nursery, which was locked and the inside of the room was dark (there was a little window in the door.) We went back and sat in the sanctuary and he did his talk about the church history and why it was haunted and then everyone moved to the back room to look around. He asked Elizabeth and I to look around the room and go down the hallway to check things. As we were moving towards the hall way we passed through a spot which was noticeably colder than the rest of the room. I looked at Elizabeth and said "Cold" and she said "Yeah, I felt it too."

So we moved down the hallway and the first door I went to was the nusery door, which was locked when we were there with the guide. As I started to turn the handle it turned completely and the door opened. I turned to Elizabeth with eyes which, I'm sure were the size of dinner plates and she nodded and made note of the fingerprints on the window. Just then, the women's bathroom door opened and an older lady came out. I could tell Elizabeth was about to give her what for. "Are you with this tour group?" Elizabeth asked, a definite edge in her voice. "Yes," the lady responded. "Well then you need to be in that other room listening to him talk and you just scared the hell out of me." I tried not to laugh and we returned to the socializing room where Elizabeth told our guide what happened with the nursery door. "Really?" he responded. "That's never happened before. If anything happens with that door, it's usually just rattling."

We were both quite frightened at this point and Elizabeth bowed out of going into the basement. I wanted to see it, so I went. The guide gave his talk and then said, "If you want to see a floating skull I can show you one. There was a girl who took a picture and sent it to us saying she saw a skull on the wall. I said I'd try to see if I could recreate it and I did. It happens, that stone over there looks like a skull if the flash hits it right." I took a picture of it and looked at my camera. Unintentionally, I said "Oh, holy crap!" really loudly. The guide was right next to me and asked me if I captured the skull. "No, but the stone next to it looks like a face." Seriously, it looks like Abraham Lincoln. I was weirded out. The guide says "Oh, right, I forgot to say that."

Then Elizabeth and I departed, as that was the last stop of the night. As we were leaving, she told me one of the chairs in the socializing room did seem to move while she was there. She said in the beginning they were in a straight line, but when she looked back later, one was moved up a bit. She asked people there if they had sat in them and everyone said they hadn't.

She called her fiance, Eric, King of the Skeptics. She said to him, "I know most of this can probably be explained away, but there is a church in Alton that is seriously haunted." I thought that was pretty cool. And he did try to explain most of it, she said the only thing he couldn't explain was the door.

I know most of this probably seems silly to most people, but please don't deflate my enthusiasm. I love things like this, they make me happy....and terrified.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"At Your Age, You Always Know What's Usual..."

I recieved a phone call very early this morning, it was the school district I grew up in, asking me to come substitute fourth grade at in my old school. Happily, I got dressed and went in to school and got ready for the day.

I learned something about fourth graders today. They are very big into routine. I spent my entire day learning about what the class "usually does" or what the teacher "normally" lets them do. It started off with me passing their morning exercises back through the rows and one boy muttering, "This isn't how we usually do this."

I ignored it and went on with the day. I was then informed that the teacher usually lets them read in a special area at the back of the room when they are done working, which I didn't allow because I wanted things as controlled as possible. She usually reads to them right after lunch, which I didn't know so I went right into the spelling test and read to them after science.

Normally the social studies class gets to play games after they are done with their work, which I let them do at first, but then they became raucous and had to go back to their desks. Their teacher knows when to get them ready for bathroom breaks and who is supposed to pass out what at the end of the day so it does not become a free-for-all like my day did.

All in all, it was a fairly "unusual" day, for me and them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hecate's Holiday


Yesterday, because I couldn't wait any longer, I decorated for the upcoming Hecate's Day. Yes, our cat has a holiday dedicated entirely to her. Or at least, that's what you'd think if you saw how we got ready for it in this house. In reality most people call it Halloween and so did we before we got Hecate.

Last year for Christmas, I received an abundance of decorations which either are black cats, or have black cats on them.

This is our Halloween candy bucket for any trick-or-treaters who might come. I hope we get some this year, we never had any in Tinley Park.


I'm thankful this season only lasts a month, otherwise our cat might develop a God Complex.


You may remember this decoration from a post last year, it was gift from Elizabeth. This year, I think Hecate might be bigger than it.


Last Halloween, my mother-in-law bought me this decoration and then realize she liked it so much she went back and bought one for herself, too.

I hope everyone enjoys decorating and getting ready for Halloween in your own way. I just feel bad Hyperion doesn't have a holiday of his own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Changing

Every six or seven months, when I look in the mirror, I dislike what I see. My hair, you see has gotten really long again. This would be fine if I had pretty or interesting hair, but I don't. I have boring hair. It is medium brown, fine and straight, there is a slight wave and if I'm not careful I get hilariously awful colics. But other than that it is uninteresting. It hangs there and then when it gets too long, it becomes even frizzier than usual and is hard to make look nice when I need to.

So, every six or seven months, I decide it's time to do something new. Lately this is precipitated by hearing that my friend Jules is getting her hair cut. I don't know why, but she tells me she is and then I think "that sounds like a good idea." (Sorry, Jules, Nathan will probably be mad at you for this.)

I reached this critical stage last Friday and, after spending the day substitute teaching English, I drove to the Hair Cuttery in DeKalb. Going to the salon always comes with a slight feeling of mischievousness since Nathan hates even talking about it.

When I left the Hair Cuttery that day, I had shoulder-length hair with a few cute layers and I was happy. I much prefer my hair at this length it looks healthier and it's easier to do things with and, truth be told, I just don't like having really long hair.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Much love and support to Bonnie and Travis. I love you both and your beautiful family, and can't wait to see you in October!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who Knew?

Actual conversation at the vet's with Hyperion this morning:

Vet Tech crouches down and unlocks cat carrier, looks at Hyperion and says "Come on kitty," then looks at me.
VT: Is he deaf?
ME (taken aback): No, he's not deaf...he responds to...loud noises.
VT: Oh, because most white cats are deaf.
ME: Really?
VT: Yep, white dogs too. But Hyperion has yellow eyes instead of the blue, that might have something to do with it.

This next part doesn't have anything to do with the post title, I just thought it was funny.

VT then lifted Hyperion to take him to the scale. VT: Oh, my gosh. He must have some Maine Coon in him.

Maine Coon cats can get to be 35 lbs. And Hyperion's much-postulated weight actually is: 18.9 lbs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mrs. Rice

On October 21, Nathan and I will be married three years. Despite that, I am rarely, if ever called Mrs. Rice. My father did it once as a joke shortly after my wedding when we went to my grandma's. He walked in the house before me and said loudly, "I have brought Mrs. Rice." My good friend Bonnie got married shortly after me and there were a few phone calls in which we referred to each other as "Mrs. Rice" and "Mrs. Engstrom."

After that it didn't really happen until this year. I was speaking on Facebook with my friend Pippa, whom I haven't really had any contact with in a few years. She commented that she was not seeing anyone and followed it with "Not like you, Mrs. Rice." Which made me giggle.

In spite of my affinity for my maiden name, I do like being called "Mrs. Rice." So today, I got my fill of it for now. I substitute taught for a fourth grade class at Waterman Elementary for half the day. Conveniently, I live a block from the school. So I spent the morning hearing "Um, Mrs. Rice..." It was kind of nice.

I hadn't realized though, how much babysitting even fourth grade takes. I always thought that by that age they are out of it a little bit. Oh well, it was still fun.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hemmed in

I'm not afraid of mice or rats or snakes or any animal of reasonable enough size to inspire fear. Instead, my biggest problem is spiders. I'm not really afraid of them, per se, I just don't like them at all...even a little bit.

This wasn't so much a problem when we were living in Tinley Park, I think our apartment has been inhabited since it was built and the spider count was relatively low. This is not the case in the house we live in now. It sat empty for close to a year after the previous tenants moved out. In that time, many spiders seemed to have decided that the ceiling corners of nearly every room were the best places to build webs. I can't even tell you how many I've killed painting just the sun room and living room. But, I started to feel like I was winning the battle against them until...I went into the garage today and saw these two...
I knew the first one was there, its web is absolutely massive and hangs above the outer part of our garage. The second is new to me and has made its web over a window in the other garage door. There was a third that was actually in the house for a brief period of time while I was washing the walls in the foyer before painting the living room. It went outside and Nathan wouldn't chase it for me. Because here's the kicker...Nathan absolutely refuses to kill them.

He says as long as they're outside and they're not doing me any harm. He dosen't seem to understand that they are in my space and, being spiders in my space, that means they must die. I can't kill them because I'm not sure I'm big enough to take them, so for now I think they're safe. But if they come inside, they will be penned in and executed when Nathan gets home. I take no prisoners in the Arachnid War.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

News

First of all, a very enthusiastic congratulations to my very good friends Bonnie and Travis on the birth of their son Bennet Mark on the fourth...I can't wait to meet the little guy in October.

Bonnie, I took a suggestion of yours from a while ago the other day and watched the movie "Heartlands." I thought the movie was okay, to me it wasn't really memorable for anything but the music. I LOVED the music. I can't get enough of listening to Kate Rusby these days. Her thick Yorkshire accent reminds me of my friend Pippa, who was one of the girls I lived with in England. It feels like I'm sitting back in flat 18.

I'm starting to discover myself as a cook, which means I'm starting to cook more complicated things. My basic method is to find out what kind of meat we have in the freezer and throw it into a frying pan with whatever else we have on hand and some herbs. Today I made Cheerio chicken, which meant I peeled the skin off some chicken thighs and cut the meat off the bones and tossed it into the frying pan with some olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and crushed Cheerios which had been mixed with poultry seasonings, garlic salt, fresh rosemary and oregano. It was much better than I was expecting. Tomorrow I'm trying salsa pork, which will be baked rather than fried, so we'll see how that goes. I rarely ever use recipes...I'm not sure yet whether or not this is a hindrance.

On Wednesday I had my very first substitute teaching gig, for high school art at my old high school. Ironically enough, the class is taught by my best friend from high school's mom. It was only a half day and the students were all right, but the fact that it was high school had me totally terrified of them before I went in. Next Wednesday...fourth grade.

Nathan has just about finished stripping the paint off our front door. I will be so excited when he's done with that. We've picked out a really pretty deep green color for the door and it will look lovely.

I've saved the biggest news for last. I'm an auntie! My wonderful and lovely sister-in-law Janelle (whom I hope will not mind me posting this on the blog) is going to have a baby in February. I am so excited and so happy for her and her husband.

2 down...6 to go...


For the last week, I've been devoting just about all my free time to repainting my living room. Before I got to it, the ceiling was peeling, the walls were a dirty blue-green, with patches peeling and cracked buckled plaster.

I rather loved the color and wanted to keep it the same, but I couldn't get more than a quarter size chip from the walls and when I took it to get a sample made, the color was so light that the sample they gave me was white.

So, I matched it as best I could with a color sample from Menards, but it turned out to be bluer than I wanted. The old color was much greener. Oh well, it still looks nice and clean. I finished today and moved all the furniture back in. The plaster is still buckled next to the fireplace, but at least it looks neater and I still have to take a bottle of paint remover to several places around the room. We took the curtains down and they need to go back up, but I've actually hung things on the walls finally, and it looks so much better.

The living room proved much more difficult than the sun room because it is so much bigger and there is more intricate wood work to get around, and I also had to do the little foyer. Also I did almost all the work myself and when I was taking the tape down from the ceiling it peeled off from underneath and in some spots took the wall paint down with it. But...it's done.

Just imagine how nice it will look once we actually get the floor redone and regrout the tiles around the fireplace...

So that makes the sun room and living room done; the office, both bedrooms, both bathrooms, and kitchen left to do...oh, and the stairwell, hallways and breezeway. Up next: the office.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Under the knife

We really hoped we wouldn't have to do it to him...

We got Hecate's claws out when she was six months old, because she used them on us....mostly me. But Hyperion has never clawed us and we thought we could just let him keep them. It's true, it makes his fights with Hecate a little one-sided, what with his being twice her size as well. But after what Hecate went through, and what we went through because of her, we thought it would be better if Hyperion could just keep his claws.

Then, he started using them on the furniture. He very nearly ruined one arm of the couch I bought for the sun room. We've given up on the couch in the living room, and he claws the wooden furniture as well, making troughs and puncture marks. Now, it's worth more to us to have the claws out, than to let him continue to ruin things. So, next Thursday, he's going to the vet and having his front claws taken off. Poor little guy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New project

Earlier this month I got the okay to start working on the living room. It's turning out to be almost a bigger chore than the sun room. This past week I washed the walls and ceiling and scraped the flaking paint off a few spots on the walls and ceiling. I taped and moved most of the furniture out and covered the rest of it up and then spackled the few holes that were left. Hopefully, tomorrow, I'm going to get to start painting the ceiling.

I'm hoping we can keep the room the same color, but it's a very strange light blue-green color that, when I took a chip of it to get matched, the paint sample they gave me was white. I may just have to match it as closely as I can. Hopefully I'll be done with the room by the end of the week. I'm really looking forward to having two rooms done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh, happy day!

Today, September 1, is my favorite non-holiday day of the year, and yes, I consider my birthday a holiday. This is the day I allow myself to decorate for fall, my favorite season. I love everything about fall decorations: the non-jack-o'lantern pumpkins, the deep bright colors, the leaves, the Indian corn. It all makes me want to take a hayride, wear every sweater I own at once, and watch Charlie Brown.

This was the first fall decoration I received, as a wedding present from Pam's boss. It used to hang on our front door in Tinley Park. It is simple and lovely, I love it.


The leaf rope was draped from the head table at our wedding and the green ribbon in it was the same kind we used on pew bows. I love the pumpkins on the mantle, too, Pam gave us the one on the left for our first anniversary, Mom got me the one in the middle for Christmas, and I bought the one on the end.

I absolutely love these blocks. I saw them while shopping with my mom before Christmas last year and they ended up under her Christmas tree with my name on them.

Ever the fan of fairy tales, this is my pumpkin coach. The ribbon I tried to weave ribbon through it and make it look nice, but I'm not good at things like that, and I just think it looks sloppy. I bought loose fake leaves and sprinkled them over the book case and the sofa table in the previous picture, and put some in the pumpkin coach.

So, even though officially, the autumnal equinox is still weeks away, I will take this opportunity to wish you a happy fall, my favorite season.

P.S.: to someone who loves the season less, decorating the living room may have seemed silly since I have to take it all down tomorrow. Because...I'm going to start working on the living room tomorrow!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mow 'em Down

Ever since Nathan and I moved into the house we live in, which has a lovely side yard with nice sheltered areas and a huge second lot to the west, Nathan has been convinced that I need to learn to mow the lawn.

I have avoided mowing, shoveling, raking and nearly any yard work my entire life. Mostly because I'm not supposed to be outside working or doing anything too strenuous when the weather is eather too hot or too cold. But Nathan seems to think that learning to mow the lawn will add dramatically to my self-worth, respectability as a human being, and value as a spouse. He didn't say that last part, I'm just expostulating.

I have tried several times, once with the push mower which meant I made it down and back one row in the side yard and said "There's no way I'm doing this." Then, Nathan went to his father's and borrowed a riding mower, but I made it clear I was not interested. But, Nathan is persistent. This weekend he borrowed my father-in-law's other riding mower and all but pushed me into the seat. So, I mowed some of the back yard and most of the side lot, all the while Nathan walked along side or behind the mower and would occasionally stop me with pointers.

Since we live in a small town, when we went to church on Sunday, one of the other members of the congregation stopped us (I don't know who it was, we were at Nathan's church), commented that he saw me learning to how to mow the lawn, and that he liked Nathan's teaching methods. Hmmm....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

House of Sickness

I began last week, waking up on Sunday with a scratchy throat. By the time I went to bed Monday, I had a cold, a migraine, and stomach pains. I spent Tuesday on the couch and spent the rest of the week working on rewrites of my book rather than looking for a job. At about 2:30 a.m. Friday...technically Saturday morning, Nathan and I had to go to the ER because I had a really bad UTI.

We came home, slept, Nathan went to a football game and I went to Mom and Dad's for the night. When I called Nathan this morning, he was coughing horribly. It seems he caught my cold. I'm still not feeling great, so we're having a very, very low-key weekend.

Hopefully we'll be better by the end of the week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Liberated Bookworm

I am what could be called a bookworm. I read...a lot. Towards the middle of last month, I began reading Sarum, by Edward Rutherfurd. It uses a group of fictional families to chronicle the history of England, especially the south western city of Salisbury. For anyone who enjoys English history, it is a great book. It is also 1033 pages long. I've been impressed by the speed of my progress through it, and should finish hopefully this weekend.

While I have been enjoying the story and characters thoroughly, I have also, during this month been collecting other books and compiling a list of books to read when I finish, but none of the ones I have seems right. When I finish something of the magitude of Sarum, I always feel an incredible sense of liberty.

I can read anything I want and it doesn't have to be 1000 pages long. But, every time I try to think of what to read next, I feel unsatisfied. Right now the list of possibilities includes: The Man from St. Petersburg; All Things Bright and Beautiful; Last of the Mohicans; American Lion; To Kill a Mockingbird and The Thorn Birds.

Does anybody have any suggestions?

Monday, August 17, 2009

When a day trip goes awry

This week, Northern Illinois University resumes its normal schedule, before this week it had been operating on its summer course, which means Nathan had Fridays off. This past Wednesday we decided since this was his last long weekend, we should do something fun. I have been wanting to see the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum for a few years, so on Friday, we drove to Springfield.



We had a very nice time, we saw everything in the museum and then we walked around Springfield, we saw both the old and new capitol buildings, saw the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office, walked through the neighborhood of the Lincoln house and even listened to a musical group called the Lincoln Troubadours who sing period music in the neighborhood.

The day didn't really start to get away from us until I remembered that Springfield is only about an hour and a half north of Alton, where my sister Elizabeth recently began dental school. I called my mom and she assured me Elizabeth would love visitors because her roommate is gone for the weekend and won't be back until Tuesday. So, we pressed on to Alton.


When we got there, we went to dinner and then rented a movie. The next day, Elizabeth made breakfast and then Nathan fixed a few things around the house she needed help with. Then we went out to show Nathan around Alton. We went to see the Lovejoy Monument. (Elijah Lovejoy is a personal hero of mine.) The monument itself stands in Alton Cemetery and we found Lovejoy's actual grave, which was interesting.

This is probably my favorite picture I have ever taken.

Then Nathan got in touch with his friend Nic, who lives in St. Louis and he invited us down for dinner. Elizabeth needed to study, so Nathan and I climbed back into the car and continued our trip down to St. Louis. We met up with Nic at his work and then went out for dinner and a drink. After wards, we piled back into the car and drove straight home from St. Louis.

All this driving was made even more exciting by the fact that our GPS doesn't work properly, so we had to turn it on, copy down directions and then turn it off again so it could hold a charge.

So our day trip turned into a two-day extravaganza of friends, family and history. It was a pretty good trip. Many thanks to Pam and Craig for getting Nic's phone number to us and looking in on the cats.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oh, small towns

I've read recently my sister's and a friend's accounts of living in a small town, silly little things that happen and make the place kind of seem more like an extended family. Well, I recently had my own experience that I would like to add to this collection.

My mom and I were out walking to the library the other day when a neighbor lady called from her screened-in porch, "Kathy!" That's my mom. "I was up at the library the other day, but couldn't remember the name of the book you told me to read. And now that you just use your cell phones I couldn't look you up to call you."

"It was Garden Spells," my mom replied.

"That's right," said the neighbor lady.

"We're on our way up to the library right now, I'll check it out for you."

"Oh, you don't have to do that."

"No, it wouldn't be any trouble."

"How nice, thank you."

We got to the library and Mom picked up the book and told the librarian who it was for and she checked it out on the neighbor lady's card. Then we walked home and Mom stopped along the way to give it to her.

And this, my friends, is what living in a small town is like.

The Belle Departs

Look past the whole me-losing-my-job thing and this summer has actually not been bad. It's been nice to be near family and I even took a little vacation.

But I think probably the best part about the summer is that Elizabeth was home for the first time since she started college. She visited often and we played board games, I went over to my parents' house and she helped me make a cornflake pig face for my family's annual "Rib Fest."

But now she's gone. On Saturday, Mom, Dad, Elizabeth and her boyfriend Eric packed up a budget rental truck and drove down to Alton, where she will be spending the next four years learning the art of dentistry.

And I have to say, I'm sad. Nathan will miss having a gin and tonics buddy for evenings, the kitties will miss Elizabeth coming to visit and bringing them toys. She gave them foam rubber golf balls that Hecate just goes nuts over.

But I think I'll just miss my sister. It was nice to have her so close by all summer. But she's been preparing herself for dental school since she was like 10, so I'm sure she'll do great.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Falling-Apart-Panda

That's what my sister Elizabeth called me today. And apart from the "panda" which I don't really understand, she's quite right.

Yesterday, I went for a physical so I could substitute teach and they talked me into having the new tetnus injection, which has a progestin booster, because apparently progestin is fatal to children. So, my left arm is largely useless for anything other than typing and knitting. And my toe still hurts any time I move or adjust it. It feels like any motion I make elicits an "ow."

I hope this doesn't last long. I feel old.

I'm trying not to get too excited, but...

I HAVE A JOB INTERVIEW!!!!

I think I failed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's new...

...practically nothing, which is why I haven't updated the blog in so long.

I still haven't found a job yet, but I'm about to widen my search to encompass the Eastern Seaboard, since there seem to be many more reporting jobs out that way.

I recently took a skills test for positions at Northern Illinois University and didn't do nearly as well as I was hoping, but I have another test soon and will probably end up retaking the first one in a few weeks.

I received a rejection e-mail from an agent who was looking at my book and said she had been intrigued so far. I guess it turns out, not so much.

Saturday I went to a really fun birthday party, which consisted of sitting around at Barnes and Noble, flipping through magazines, eating and chatting with friends. It was great. When I got home, I broke my toe.

But I've also learned how to cable knit, and I'm making my way through the entire John Wayne film collection at a fairly good clip these days, which is probably a bad sign.

I have a doctor's appointment to get a physical so I can substitute teach tomorrow, so hopefully that goes well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lessons

I learned a lot this past week. As Alicia and I traveled through the museums and around the monuments of our nation's capital I learned about the men and women who have worked to make this country what it is. As we strolled through the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods in Maryland's capital, I learned I could live very happily there.

I learned Richmond has got to be one of the worst cities to try to drive in. I also learned how to drive from Northern Virginia to Philadelphia with a minimum of nervous breakdowns along the way and that I am glad I don't drive a Prius.

However, I think my biggest lessons were about someone I already thought I knew well.

When we were growing up, my brother and I went through a period of strife, which I'm sure is common to all siblings who are just over 18 months apart. For a while our daily communications consisted of shouting angrily or not speaking at all. The problem is, this stage of life lasted for quite a while and then we both moved away and didn't really communicate at all. I didn't really notice when we came out the other side of this stage and could stand to be in the same room as each other and even went to events together.

The problem always was that we were teenagers at the same time and while I was stubborn and mean, Nate was slightly arrogant and cocky, like most teenage boys. Well, I grew up and I gave myself credit for it. While I can still be stubborn on a regular basis. I like to give myself credit for no longer being mean for the sake of being mean.

I didn't give Nate the same credit. I didn't notice when he stopped being arrogant and cocky. But this past week, as I spent time with his wife in their house and listened to her talk about his friends and their friends and their life in Virginia, I often found myself thinking "Who is this person she's talking about? I hardly even know him anymore."

But the fact is, looking back on it, everything she's said and everything I've noticed is true. He said without hesitation that I could take his car, his Prius from their house to Philly and back. I used his phone while I was there, fairly secure in the knowledge that he would have been okay with it. I remember when the papal election was over in 2005, I was in Macomb at college, and Nate was in Pennsylvania at graduate school and we watched the announcement together instant messaging. We were both mesmerized.

I find the older I get, the more similar to him I become and I'm okay with that. I just feel like I have a lot more to learn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Platypus

How many people have ever seen a platypus? At the zoo, in the wild, whatever. We went to the Museum of Natural History when I was out visiting my sister-in-law this past week and the museum has an exhibit of stuffed animals. I realized, as I crouched down to look into the little window behind which they had a stuffed platypus, that I had never seen one before.

This is truly God's strangest creature. But really, how often do we think about it? We don't see it in the wild, so it doesn't really enter into our consciousness. I don't think I've ever even seen one in the zoo.

I think I was more excited about the platypus than almost anything else I saw.

New Experiences


This past week has been filled with new experiences. On Friday July 3, I left Midway Airport bound for Dulles in Washington DC. I was to stay with my sister-in-law in Virginia until the 9th, then drive my brother's car to Philadelphia to be in a wedding for a good friend on the 10th, then drive back to Virginia after the wedding and fly out the next day.

The newness began almost immediately. My flight from Midway had a layover of about 3 hours in Atlanta. It is the first time I've ever had a layover on a flight and the first time I'd ever been to that airport. Leaving from Atlanta, I sat on the plane next to a very nice woman and we chatted the entire way to DC.

I have never been to our nation's capital, I have never been out to the east coast, so this was going to be interesting. On the Monday after I arrived, Alicia and I went to Arlington National Cemetery and Washington and saw the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.

Tuesday we went to Annapolis, Maryland, where Nate and Alicia used to live. I fell completely in love with Annapolis. Right on the Chesapeake Bay with fresh seafood, historic colonial neighborhoods, and a great downtown area. It was amazing. I could easily...easily live there.

On Wednesday we traveled to Richmond, which is about an hour and 30 minutes south of Nate and Alicia's place. We saw the Confederate White House, the Museum of the Confederacy, and the Richmond Raceway. (Alicia likes Nascar).

Allie's wedding was great and the parts of Philadelphia that I saw between rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid breakfast, and the wedding were nice.

I had a great time hanging out with Alicia and traveling around.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Transformation

This whole house is in pretty rough shape. The last tenants didn't take good care of it at all and then it sat empty for a little while after they were evicted.

The worst room is what Nathan calls the music room, because when the two ladies who initially owned the house lived here, they kept a baby grand piano in it. I call it the sun room because we do not own a piano and even if we did my music skills are such that I would hardly know what to do with it.It's kind of hard to see the purple splotches on the wall. I think they were paint balls and Nathan thinks they were some form of grape juice projectile. Anyway, we decided to start painting...and for obvious reasons, we started in this room. It took two coats of primer and several coats of "stain killer" to eradicate these stupid little spots.

I think it turned out rather well. We also didn't have enough furniture for this room, so two weekends ago, Pam and my sister-in-law Janelle, and her husband, and I all went garage saling. I bought a new couch, two chairs, and a coffee table, and a bunch of other little things, all without breaking $100. Yay garage sales!

That isn't to say the room was ready right away. Our living room looked like a gypsy bazaar for about a week.

But, finally, using my wonderful garage sale finds (cat with glowing eyes not included) and some things I acquired from my grandmother's house, we got the room decorated and functional. I just have a few things to hang up. I think it already looks pretty good.

I was, of course, the first person to use it.Special thanks to Pam and Craig for letting us paint. Also, big thanks to Mom, Dad, and Anne for helping!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never trust your cat...

...they'll look at you with those big yellow-green eyes of theirs and sit next to you on the couch and you think everything is okay. Yeah, you were mad this morning, but everything is fine this afternoon, as you give them a piece of bread and they recuperate in their favorite hiding spot.

And then...BAM! You leave for an hour or two to see some family and you come home and the cat's in the garage. And before you realize it's your cat, they've run off into the bushes. And of course, it's a black cat, and it's now 9 p.m., so you have to run to your in-laws to borrow their super-bright flashlights.

Yeah, Hecate got out again today...tonight, to be more exact. My uncle was visiting my mom and dad, so I ran over there to say hi and when I got back, I almost ran her over in the garage without realizing it. Then when I saw her, I thought, no, that can't be her...we've done this already today. And then I went inside and she was nowhere to be found.

Nathan and I looked around and found her hiding in the hostas around the back of the house after about an hour. She is such a troublemaker.

We also found out how she was actually getting out. A couple of days ago it was really stuffy in the office, so we opened a window and thought the screen looked okay. Not so much. It flaps badly enough that she was able to slip through it. You can bet we're never opening that window again.

Grrr...

The Adventures of Half-Cat and Fat-Cat


Hyperion had a bad weekend, see two blog posts ago. But that was nothing...nothing...compared to what Hecate put me through this morning.

I woke up and made breakfast, toast, and didn't see her anywhere. (Side note: she lost her collar in the house somewhere last week and we still haven't been able to find it.) This is strange because she usually follows me everywhere, and loves bread, so toast is enough to make her come running.

I came back upstairs to check the news and the blogs I read and get ready to start applying for jobs for the day and still didn't see her. I started to get concerned, so I went and looked under the new couch, where she likes to hide and she wasn't there. I checked all the other rooms and could not find her, so I started to panic.

For those of you who don't know, Hecate has a habit of turning up in very strange places when I don't know where she is, like inside my in-laws' couch or behind a wall. But this time she didn't seem to be anywhere. Finally I went to the side door and looked out and there she was, sitting on the stoop outside...OUTSIDE...meowing. I hadn't closed the inside door, so I was standing in our breeze way with Hecate outside and Hyperion right next to me. I was terrified to open the door because Hyperion would try to slip out.

I put him back inside and opened the door, to call to Hecate and she ran from me into the bushes and I couldn't see her. I ran back into the house and called Nathan at work, who asked if I wanted him to come home. I assured him I didn't, (he came anyway) and called my dad, who said to put some food out and call him back later if I still hadn't found her. My mom was at work and my in-laws weren't home, though I left them a rather panicked message.

So it was left to me to run around the house and put little dishes of cat food at all the doors and sit on the front stoop and cry (this was partially a lure, usually when I cry Hecate comes to console me.) But this time she didn't. I circled the house calling for her. I checked the food dishes repeatedly and didn't see her. Finally, I stood on the stoop in front of the house and looked into the bushes. There, I could barely see her back as she lay in the bushes. I ran around behind them and she walked to the front, so I ran to the front and grabbed her by the neck and pulled her out.

I was so happy, but Hyperion was sitting at the door when I wanted to put Hecate inside, so I couldn't just open it. And I waited too long...she jumped out of my arms and back into the front bushes again. About five minutes later, Pam showed up and I accidentally chased Hecate out of the bushes around the side of the house. Nathan came home about two seconds later and the search continued. Eventually we found her laying close to the foundation at the side of the house. She let Nathan pick her up and we got her safely inside.

Nathan didn't remember seeing her this morning, either, so the closest we can figure is that he went out for a cigarette last night and she followed him out. But it was dark and she is dark and now soundless without her collar, so he didn't realize it. So she was outside all night last night.

All the doors and windows are now closed, but if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check and make sure she's still under the couch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In a funk

This makes no sense to me. Yes, a life was lost and that is a tragic thing. However, ever since Thursday when I learned of Michael Jackson's passing, I have been depressed.

I never took much notice of his music and I only took an interest in the man when I had an assignment to do internet research about his 2005 child molestation charge and developed an unwavering opinion that he had done nothing wrong and was being preyed upon.

I don't understand why I've reacted this way, but I pray for the eternal rest of his soul.

Also, I think I'm depressed because I haven't found a job yet.

Poor 'Peyrion

Nathan and I are very fond of our cat, Hyperion. However, owning him has taught us one thing about ourselves. He is the very last long-haired cat we will own. First there was that whole business with his being constipated...now this.

To be fair, this is mostly our fault. We were not very diligent about brushing him. Before too long, his coat began developing thick un-brushable matts in different places. There was a particularly thick one on his back. His back fur started to get dirty and a dingy grey color. We decided it was time to do something about it. Nathan's first three day weekend (which he gets in the summer at work) we spent shaving Hyperion.

I kid you not.

Nathan wanted to do his whole body, except his head and puffs on his paws and tail, go for a "lion" look. However, once we got the matts taken care of, we decided we had tortured him enough and just evened up his back. It's a little hard to see in this picture, but from where his back foot is folded up on his body, on back is shaved. He has little pink patches showing through.

We think, though that this might actually help keep him cooler during the humid summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I have been emotionally abused by a children's movie

Disclaimer: if you haven't seen "Up!" there is a little bit reavealed here, not enough to ruin the movie, though.

Two years ago this month, Nathan and I went to see my cardiologist and we asked him if I was healthy enough to have children. The whole way there I was afraid he was going to say no, and he did. It was an incredibly devastating event which took me a year to recover from. We talked about adopting and decided that we wanted to be parents more than we wanted to have our own kids. I made it my Lenten resolution last year to work my mind around to adoption and it worked. I prayed hard about it and suddenly one day, I was making plans about where in our little apartment we would put a crib and everything was fine.

That is not to say I don't still think about having our own children, especially when the adoption process seems too daunting. And I definitely still have difficulty with some things, pregnant women usually bother me, but I make an effort for some. (Love you, Bonnie!)

But we have been getting in touch with adoption agencies and even though things look a little bleak right now with me not working and our finances not being in the best shape, we are still hoping to be able to start the process at some time soon.

My sister Anne is home this weekend and Nathan thought on her last night we could all go to a movie, so we all went to see Up! Pixar's new flick. It is an incredibly cute film with a lot of nuances that are hilarious. On the way there, we were talking about how movies these days tend to coddle children into thinking that nothing bad will happen and provide some kind of Utopian view of society. Up! is not this kind of movie. There are very few things which actually go right in the movie.

There is one scene in which the main characters, a young married couple are preparing a nursery and in the next scene, they are in a doctor's office and the woman is sitting in a chair crying. And after two years, something snapped. I jumped up and fled the theater in tears.

I thought I was okay, I thought I had moved on. I was wrong. I am very excited about the idea of adopting. I'm excited about bringing our baby home and being parents, but I think something inside me will always experience a tiny little sense of loss. I'm afraid if anyone finds out about that they will think it makes me unready to adopt. But I am, I am very ready and very happy. I just pray that our baby has eyes like Nathan's.

I need to go watch The Duke shoot someone


Throughout my life, I have discovered a series of ways to relieve stress. From playing pool to kicking a soccer ball against my parents' garage. But it's only been in the last few years that I have come across one of my favorite stress relievers.

I was really little when my Papa (my mom's dad) first had us watch McLintock and True Grit. It wasn't long before I developed a deep and abiding love of both these movies. And for a long time, that was it. Three and a half years ago, however, Nathan and I were planning our wedding and one evening after a long stressful day, we found ourselves at Dollar Video in DeKalb. Typically, when we rent movies, we get two, one for each of us. Nathan had picked his movie and asked me what I wanted and I said "Really, I just want to watch John Wayne shoot someone." After that, I discovered that this actually was an incredible stress reliever and that I love just about every movie he ever made.

I mean think about it, in most of his movies he's strong and handsome and wins in the end. I find that kind of assurance very appealing when I'm stressed out. You already know what's going to happen, the fun part is finding out how. Since then, I have seen many more John Wayne movies than I would have otherwise I think. But for right now, I've gone back to an old favorite, I borrowed True Grit from the library. I had forgotten whole segments of it. Sorry, Papa.

By the way, because I discovered this facet of my personality while I was planning my wedding, it also led to one of the best bridal shower invitations I have ever seen, created by my good friend Bonnie. It started with the word "Wanted" and ended with "Hope you can make it, Pilgrim." And included a picture of The Duke firing a gun. It was fantastic.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jobless...

I have been applying for jobs almost daily for almost a month now and I've learned a few things:

  • I can only do it hard-core for so many days in a row before it starts to become soul-crushing.
  • Conversely, any day I haven't applied for a job, regardless of what else I've done that day, I feel like I've wasted.
  • I HATE writing cover letters (Nathan warned me about this)
  • What I really want to do if I can't get back to a newspaper, is freelance and substitute teach, which sounds kind of lazy, but I think freelancing could be very challenging
  • I'm not really worried about not having a job for my own sake, but we were hoping to be able to start the adoption process this year.
  • I miss working for the newspaper...a lot.
Nathan keeps trying to assure me that I'll get a job, but I have a hard time being optimistic. I've tried offering it up and forgetting about it, but it's been a month and no phone calls. It gets harder.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Netflicks War

For the last year or so now, I have been trying to convince Nathan to let us have Netflicks. Almost everyone we know has it, and they love it. I love movies and could watch tons of them if I had access to something like Netflicks.

But Nathan is a librarian's son and his answer to this was always "Go to the library, we can get movies there for free." While this is true, and I love libraries, my movie tastes tend to blend the old and new in a way most libraries have difficulty accommodating. Then I realized the library is hooked into a giant system in which I can order movies from other libraries and keep them for a week, since that is the way the Waterman library handles movie check-outs.

I went on their web site to test my new found theory. The system passed the Margaret test. I found a movie I had been wanting to see forever but had only been able to find audio recordings of. I don't think even Netflicks had it.

So the library has become my very own Netflicks...for free! I've already placed a few holds on things. I'm so excited. Sorry, Pam.

The downside to this system is that libraries have due dates...but that seems like small potatoes now.

How does our garden grow?

I have never been much of a gardener. I never had a garden before, I never really did any weeding, except as a punishment I think, once or twice. So when we moved in here and the gardens were in such horrible shape...still are...I was a little intimidated. It turns out I actually don't really mind weeding and we planted some vegetables as well. It actually looks kind of nice.

These peonies have been here since before we moved in and they just bloomed this past week. I think they're quite pretty, even if I don't enjoy how peonies smell.
This is our vegetable garden, which my dad actually planted because I had no idea what I was doing. The plants were a birthday gift from my sister-in-law Janelle. We have four tomato plants, two cucumbers and two squash. And the really weedy leafy thing to the left is a patch of rhubarb that was there when we moved in.


My parents separated their hostas and donated the separations to us. We planted them under a big tree in our side yard, which is having a bit of a problem with ground cover. As you can see, we attempted to sod and it didn't take very well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kitty Sign Language


We've had a cat now for almost two years, and I've learned a few things about them, or at least about Hecate and Hyperion.

When Hecate needs to use the litter box, she needs it NOW and if it is unavailable, or below her standards, she will use whatever box is at hand. Fortunately, she does give us a few signals first. Usually a fairly reticent animal, she will become vocal and clingy, wandering around my feet and whining. Then she climbs into whatever box is nearby. She did that the other day when the litter box's cleanliness was not up to her standards. I noticed her start to squat and jumped up to clean the litter box. Cats always seem to get what they want.

Every day, when I sit down at my computer to start looking through the job listings, almost without fail, Hyperion will decide that is the very second he needs attention. He'll come sit by my chair and whine, and for such a big cat, he has a very small high pitched whine. Then he'll wander closer to the chair and try to rub his cheek on my foot or hand, or whatever is closest.

Ever since we moved, and are now at ground-level, instead of the second floor, Hyperion's main activity seems to be looking out the window. And opening the blinds, as in making them lay flat so you can see out, is not enough for him. He'll pull a few slats down with his paw and stick his head through them so he can see better. I call him "nosy neighbor kitty." I haven't been able to get a picture of him doing it yet, but it is vaguely hilarious.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's a tooth...well, I tried...

My mom is a great cook, don't ever let her tell you otherwise. Between tuna casserole, green pizza crusts on St. Patrick's Day, and that one time we ever ate meat loaf, I did not have a culinarily deprived childhood.

However...since I met Nathan, I have learned the value of festive and decorative foods. My mother-in-law, Pam, is the queen of making the right food for the right occasion, even if it is just switching jello colors to match the season.

The first Christmas Nathan and I dated, I learned about cornflake wreaths. My life has never been the same.

It's not a complicated recipe at all...but I think it might be family secret. Suffice it to say it involves a lot of cornflakes, a lot of marshmallows and food coloring...but not too much.

The second year Nathan and I were dating I made a cornflake wreath for my family. They all became believers, too, especially Elizabeth.

It is only this year that I am beginning to understand and explore the vast world of cornflake art beyond the Christmas wreath. This year I experienced the cornflake Valentine heart, the cornflake shamrock, and the cornflake "50" in honor of my mother's fiftieth birthday. (I was advised by my father-in-law, Craig, however, that it included bran flakes because, in his words, "she's fifty now, after all." Really it was just because they didn't have enough corn flakes.

Almost universally, these confections are tinged with green food coloring, the only exception I've ever seen is the Valentine heart and that was consumed before I got too close a look at it.

Well, Elizabeth has been having a lousy week, and seeing as it's only Tuesday, I thought I needed to do something to cheer her up. So, I obtained the requisite cornflakes, marshmallows, and food coloring. In honor of her first semester of dental school, which will be starting this August, I attempted to create a blue cornflake tooth. Blue because I thought red would look bloody, green would look gangrenous, and yellow doesn't really show up.

I think it turned out much more like an "M" than a tooth, but Elizabeth says she saw the tooth, and I guess that's all that matters. It's kind of hard to see in this picture...sorry.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bittersweet

Last Friday, the day before my 25th birthday, I lost my job. It was the first time that has ever happened to me and at first, quite rightly, I believe, I panicked. Nathan's job doesn't make nearly enough for us to live on and I know how hard job hunting can be, I've already done it twice since we've been married.

However, upon reflection, I actually feel okay. The work I was doing, public relations, wasn't my favorite. It came with a nice paycheck, and it wasn't bad work, it just didn't inspire me. The more I thought about what happened, the more I saw an opportunity. This could be my chance to return to my first love, print journalism.

That being said, the newspaper industry in this country is in terrible shape, and I think I will have a hard time trying to find a job in it near home. But I try to stay hopeful and in the meantime I do housework and apply for other things. I'm even going to turn in an application in July to be a substitute teacher.

But, I pushed and persuaded and goaded and I finally coerced permission from Nathan to do something I've been wanting to do forever. He said I could start applying for jobs on a small island off the west coast of Europe. It seems like too much to hope for that someone will want me over there and then Nathan will say we can go...but I hope nonetheless.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

25

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. I am spending it with Nathan and most of my family and my good friend Jules. My dad made pizza, and his pizza is my favorite food.

Here is a list of 25 things you may not know about me:

1. I am afraid of any bug with more than two eyes.
2. I hold onto three impossible dreams from my childhood: to climb Mount Everest, to live a summer in the Antarctic, and to compete in the Iditarod.
3. I aspire to be more like my sister-in-law, Janelle.
4. Every day, I think about the three months I lived in England, and if Nathan agreed to go, I would move back in a second.
5. I have one weird superstitious quirk, when I write, I get freaked out if I have to use anything other than a blue ballpoint Papermate pen.
6. I think my sister's name: Anne Cecilia, is the most beautiful.
7. The thought of putting in my contacts is enough to make me not want to get out of bed.
8. I hated my wedding dress.
9. I consider Anne and Elizabeth my best friends. (Nathan has moved above best friend status.)
10. I still hate taking my medicine every morning.
11. I'm extremely susceptible to nightmares.
12. When Nathan is gone overnight, I have to sleep with the closet light on.
13. I can recognize qualities I admire in people I don't.
14. Books are my favorite presents.
15. Giving up my maiden name is one of the hardest things I've ever done. If I weren't too afraid of needles, I'd get it tattooed on my hip.
16. I will do almost any chore before washing dishes.
17. I realize he was not the best actor, but I love every movie John Wayne ever made. They help me relax when I'm stressed.
18. I love getting to see my brother Nate and sister-in-law Alicia.
19. My friend Bonnie is one of my favorite people to have a conversation with.
20. Any day I don't write, I feel I've wasted.
21. My favorite thing about my life is my big family.
22. Nathan and I have favorite cats: mine is Hecate, his is Hyperion.
23. I actually do miss Macomb.
24. The only state I have ever lived in is Illinois.
25. I am lucky enough to have parents and in-laws I love.