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.