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Archive for the ‘CKP’ Category

Happy Birthday Briscoe-dog!

This is a couple of days late, but since Briscoe doesn’t have a cell phone* or know how to use the internet**, I’m hoping she doesn’t notice.  Also, this can be a throw back Thursday, or Briscoe’s Greatest Hits.

HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY TO THE FLUFFIEST, HAPPIEST, GREATEST, MOST BIG-HEADED DOG IN THE WORLD!  Thanks for being my best friend and favorite creature.

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*She doesn’t have a cell phone because she is broke because she doesn’t have a job.

**She doesn’t know how to use the internet because she doesn’t have thumbs and she sucks at typing.

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I wrote a lot of this post in August, but then I got nitpicky and didn’t publish it.  I’ve kept the date I originally wrote it to keep the blog in sequential order, but it wasn’t finally published until January 9, 2015. 

(Napa Valley generally, assume St. Helena specifically unless otherwise noted)

My dear friend Philippa invited myself and two other great friends, Carla and Valerie, to accompany her home to St. Helena California for a long weekend this summer. Philippa had a wedding, and this was going to be one of numerous trips home in 2014, and she thought it could be fun to combine the wedding weekend with a girl’s trip to the wine country.

Truthfully, my responsible self felt that I had already exhausted my reasonable allotment of vacation time and money for 2014. However, my justification self remembered that several plans had been cancelled in 2013 due to ankle problems, and that I had sworn that I would do all the fun things in 2014, after five months being in a boot in 2013. Additionally, as a life rule, such exceptional invitations should always be accepted with glee.

California is a spot I have been meaning to visit for most of my life. To date, I have had a dearth of travel experiences west of Utah. I went to Hawaii in college, but I’m not sure that really counts. Somehow I always get caught in the mountains of Colorado.

We flew out of Charleston early Thursday morning, August 8th. Everyone else arrived at SFO around noon PST. I got stuck in the Dulles airport with mechanical issues, arriving in SFO around 8 pm PST, and ubered to the restaurant on Yountville, just when everyone else was finishing dinner. It was a wonderful weekend full of friends, wine, laughter, and sunshine. Without further ado –

Things I learned in Napa

1. Everyone who lives in St. Helena is involved in wine making. Small vintners, medium vintners, real estate agents, grape growers, landowners, wine sellers – the list of participants is vast.

2. Everyone involved in winemaking has a strong science and agricultural background. They have undergraduate degrees in biology for UC-fill in the blank, with a masters in Agra-genetic engineering from UC-pick a different one. It’s amazing, and impressive, and makes for excellent wine fueled Agra-science lessons about fault lines and soil density, runoff, and the importance of sunlight differentiation depending on the slope. I FEEL smarter. I LOVE agra-business.

3. I actually made up the degree of Agra-genetic engineering, but I did learn that grapes come in different hybrids, many of which were brought over from France, with cool names like Dijon 809. That’s not a mustard folks! It’s a grape! (actually, I think Dijon is a region of France, but Dijon 809 is a grape)  I had no idea. Previously, the entirety of my grape knowledge consisted of the fact that white wine could be made with red grape, sans skin.

4. People in Napa have strong ties to the wine regions of France. There are a lot of French people who moved to Napa to work in the wine industry, and all the Napa people have spent time in the French wine areas.

5. Everyone who has a dog and works at a vineyard brings their dog to work with them. There were dogs everywhere. It was awesome. Briscoe sniffed everything in my bag when I returned home with great disdain.

6. It is possible to cook quinoa in a manner that is both delicious and satisfying. I thought this to be a lie, perpetuated by veggie loving communists, and I only ate the quinoa because it seemed to be the culturally expected thing to do in California, expecting to take a few polite bites and move on, but I ended up having seconds. I need to get that recipe and figure out this magical trick.

7. When wine is aging in barrels, a noticeable amount evaporates, so the barrels have to topped off occasionally. The evaporated portion is called the “angel’s share”.

8. The state of California does not allow shark tagging because there are a bunch of activists who are against this project.  This is sad, because Mary Lee, Katharine, and Ocearch have taught me a lot about sharks.

9. The Napa Valley Vintner’s association is something like the tourist bureau and better business bureau all wrapped up in a beautiful barn like office made of reclaimed timber. Bernadette would be proud. Part of being a member of NVV involves donating a barrel to one of the annual auctions, Auction Napa Valley and Premier Napa Valley. A barrel is 25 cases of wine, or 300 bottles. The proceeds from Auction Napa Valley provide funding for healthcare and education for the entire region, especially for migrant workers and their families.  I think this is totally amazing.

10.  In Napa, you need a different set of clothing depending on whether you are standing in the sun or in the shade.  (From the brief time I spent in San Francisco, you need a coat all the time, especially in the summer.)

11. Wine out of the barrel is delicious, as are grapes off the vine.  I expected grapes off the vine to be bitter, but I found them to be extremely pleasant.

12.  I am too old to do backhand springs, even on a trampoline.  I should never do another backhand spring, ever again, under any circumstances, regardless of how springy the ground beneath me happens to be.

13.  According to Pavi’s daughters, Eliana and Alessia, my southern accent is significantly more pronounced in the morning, when I have just woken up.  I can only assume this is because I have yet to hear myself in comparison to the other people around me, and I am not yet awake enough to possess the mental capacity to enunciate properly.  I thought this was an interesting observation.  I’m aware I modify my speech when I am in places where I can hear myself, I guess I just never thought about at what part of the day I made the modification.

14.  If you are out to dinner with a person you do not know very well, and everyone has been drinking wine for the greater part of the day, and the person you do not know asks you a question about an important decision they are about to make, or not make, you should not give emphatic advice on the subject.  Regardless of how convicted you are on there being no question as to the proper choice, just stop talking.  STOP. TALKING.

15.  Chickens can easily mistake a wine glass for a food container.  Freshly gathered eggs do not require refrigeration, but that does not mean you should take the eggs out to dinner with you.  Eggs make poor dinner companions.

16.  Any time after 10 pm is late in Napa.  The days are too glorious to not get up early.

17.   I’m determined to work harvest next year.

 

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Adventures in Car Buying

I returned home from a summer study abroad in Rome, Italy, to discover my father had sold my first car in my absence. The year was 2000, and I was 19 years old. The car in question was named “Lucky”, and it was a silver 1989 mercedes station wagon, with blue interior, and hundreds of thousands of miles. It was also affectionately referred to as the “grocery getter” and the “shaggin’ wagon” and it had lived a rough life.  The previous year, I was without a car for more than two months because the air conditioner exploded and somehow damaged the engine. Did you know this was possible?  I did not.  The poor thing was on it’s last leg, but it was my first car, and I loved it, and my dad sold it back to his friend that we bought it from, because as much as I loved that car, the previous owner loved it more, and I needed something more reliable. A new car sounded like fun, and I did a lot of research about what sort of car I wanted, and I talked to my dad about the different options available. This was the year 2000, the stock market was booming, my brother had a full football scholarship, and I had a few pretty great academic scholarships that paid my full tuition and a large chunk of my room and board, and we both lived in Athens, one of the cheapest places in America. My dad wrote me a cashiers check for what still seems like a ton of money, and he told me to go buy a car.   At first, this seemed reasonable, and I was pleased by this empowering moment of trust and responsibility. Although my dad refused to go car shopping with me, my mom was allowed to go.  Kate and I quickly decided that buying a car was not actually that much fun.  Then I found a car that I was madly in love with, that was the same amount as the hot little cashiers check burning a hole in my pocket.  I was suddenly having a lot more fun.  Then they told me that I had to pay for the license and registration fee, I think it was something like $200.  This seemed like a pittance compared to the cashier’s check, and I should add that at the age of 19 I had yet to learn the value of a dollar. I called my dad from the dealership, and told him that I had found a car, but that I needed $200 for the license and registration.  He laughed at me, and told me that I did not have $200, that all I had was the amount of the cashiers check.  My mom already had her checkbook out, and it was like my dad could hear this through the phone, and after a pause he added, tell your mom she doesn’t have $200 either.  This made me very unhappy, and I’m sure I started whining, because it seemed so stupid to not get this car that I’d already fallen madly in love with because of a measly $200. And from the other end of the phone, my dad said, “Listen, you have a check in hand for the amount of money they want for that car, and if they aren’t willing to cover the license and registration fee, then they must not be very interested in selling the car.  Tell them that you don’t have $200 dollars, that the check is all the money you have, and walk out of the door. There are other cars in the world.” Horrified, I hung up the phone, and looked the sales person in the eye, and I told her that I, sadly, did not have $200 to cover the license and registration, and that I was sorry I couldn’t buy the car.  I know that none of you will be shocked to learn that the dealership did not allow me and my cashiers check to leave that day, and that the dealership covered the $200 license and registration.  I learned a valuable lesson about buying cars, and negotiating, and about my general ability deficit for both. I drove away from the dealership in that car, and I loved that car.  I loved that car for more than ten years, for the entire decade of my 20s.  The silver bullet and I had some good times together, we got arrested together, we took trips to DC, Alabama, Tennesssee, Florida, Kentucky, all through both Carolinas and all over Georgia, and drove out to Colorado and spent a glorious summer driving through the mountains.  The silver bullet died during my first year in Charleston, a year riff with the financial strain of owning a house in one city but living in another, an appendectomy, a new job, and a new life.  I was not in the best of places when I was forced to buy a new car – financially, mentally, socially – and I did not employ any of the lessons I learned in my previous buying experience.  At the very least, I knew that I wasn’t in the best position to negotiate, and I signed a three year lease on a Rav4 that at the bare minimum I could afford to pay.  I feel confident I overpaid thousands of dollars in that lease, and I regret not having the energy to stand up for myself in the car buying process.  The Rav4 and I had bad timing.  I was clearly not over the emotional attachment of my previous car relationship, and I resented the Rav4 as a necessary evil, and an inadequate replacement. The past three years have gone by shockingly quickly, and all areas of my life are now on much more stable ground.  Armed with my newly recovered confidence and drastically improved credit score, I was damned and determined to fully participate in the car buying experience and not let anyone push me around. I park on the street, and I work from home three days a week, and my office is less than fifteen minutes from my house.  I do not spend a ton of time in my car, and I do not park it in a particularly “secure” location, like say, a garage.  Or a driveway.  I planned on taking my time with this whole car buying thing, and I went to lots of different dealerships, and I test drove lots of different cars. I called my bank and had them pre-approve me for a car loan, to get an idea of what sort of interest rate I could get.  I finally found a car I really liked, that was within the price range of what I felt I should spend given the above mentioned factors, taking into consideration the other ways I might rather spend my money.  It was a 2012 Honda CR-V, with 23k miles, and lots of fun stuff that I really didn’t even know were options on cars.  And I liked the sales person, she was nice, seemed sincere, did not waste my time, and gave me a clear cut picture of the bottom line. Because I promised myself that I would not over react, but instead take my time and investigate all of my options, I left that Honda dealership (Hendrick), and I drove to the other Honda dealership (Stokes).  It seemed like the thing to do, me being such a savvy shopper and everything.  Things did not go so well at the second dealership. I walked in, I told them how much I wanted to spend on a car, I told them three things I needed the car to have, and what sort of credit score I thought I could obtain.  A sales girl who was trying very hard but who clearly had ZERO authority or knowledge showed me about twenty different cars, none of which had a price on the sticker, and she was able to tell me the price of maybe two out the twenty. She told me she used to sell cosmetics, but that she recently started selling cars.  I was not shocked by this statement. She easily wasted an hour of my time walking around the lot looking for something she rarely found. Then we went inside, and I sat at a desk for a good 45 minutes while she tried to get the prices on the cars, during which time she asked me who else would be helping me buy the car.  Seeing as how I was there alone, and had made no mention of anyone else helping me buy the car, and since I had discussed what I anticipated spending, etc, it is not clear to me why she assumed someone else would be helping me buy the car, but it definitely threw me off.  Later I found it to be insulting.  I’m a grown ass adult, I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m also an attorney for you take me seriously.  I may have left out the part about being attorney at all the dealerships, because it really shouldn’t matter, I should be taken seriously anyway. Then, a man came in with three pieces of paper, listing the prices for three different cars.  One car was $4k more than how much I said I wanted to spend, one was $5k more, and the third was $7K more.   I looked at the man, and I told him that all three of the cars were outside of my price range, and I repeated to him my price range, and my car criteria. He then said he would be right back, and disappeared.  Fifteen minutes later, another man returned, with the same three print outs.  He told me that these were the cars that were available, and that if I was worried about the price, that I should get a 72 month loan, because that way I could actually get what I wanted. I wanted to tell him that even though my finance education is limited, that a 72 month loan on a depreciating asset didn’t sound like a deal to me. Or that if I was going to buy a car at that price, it wouldn’t be a Honda CR-V (apologies to all the CR-Vs out there, you really are a lovely little car).  Instead, I told him that what I actually wanted was a car at my stated price, and not one that cost $7k more. I told him of the car from the other dealership, the year, model, mileage, price. He disappeared. The first man returned ten minutes after that, with a print out from the internet of the cars matching my description in the local area, and explained to me that there was no way that the other dealership could have given me such a price, and that the car I was describing did not exist.  I told him I was not going to argue with him about what happened to me earlier that day. I repeated my car buying criteria, calmly and firmly, and I asked him if he had a car like that to sell me.  He said, no, and then launched into another pitch about the three cars on the print outs.  I cut him off, and I said, Okay.  And I think he thought I meant, okay, I would buy one of his stupid cars, because his face lit up momentarily, while I was taking a deep breath to keep my head from exploding.  After head exploding preventative deep breath, I said, “I’m sorry you do not have a car available that meets my criteria, I appreciate your time.”  I shook his hand, and the hand of the clueless sales woman, and I left.    Furious. I honestly was not aware that I could be insulted so many different ways in such a short period of time.  I’m willing to admit I may have a bit of a chip on my shoulder due to the fact that I feel like I was taken advantage of on the Rav4, but really, I think what upset me the most is that a lot of these tactics would have worked on me, in a different setting, at a different time, and I found this rather frightening. I felt targeted, that if I hadn’t been a youngish woman, I would have been treated very differently.  I felt like I had just been on the worst date of my life, or like I just got out of the worst interview of my life (both of which were harrowing experiences). I ended up going back to other Honda dealership, and getting that car.  I even negotiated them into paying for the closing costs, which felt like a huge win, and like a sign that I’d picked the right car, the right dealership.  Now if I can only get the stupid Toyota dealership to call me back and tell what the F I’m suppose to do with this RAV4 I don’t need anymore.  I feel like I’m sending the Rav back into foster care.  It really wasn’t a bad car, but our relationship was doomed from the start.  I have high hopes for my new car relationship, I think we are going to be happy together for the foreseeable future.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently.  Partially because I’ve been reading Lilibet’s book, and partially because I’ve been reading a lot of everything recently.  I know I’ve said it before, but I love to read, and I like to write.  I got the new Kindle recently, just the regular paperwhite, without the 3G.  This replaced the nook I have had forever.  My nook was the most basic and original nook, and we had a good run.  She still turns on, but the battery dies randomly, and when it dies, it reverts back to the factory settings and demands to have a software update before it will do anything useful like download a book, which is frankly unacceptable.   I obtained my first ipad, ever, this past Christmas, and I did a lot of reading on the ipad, however, the ipad is absolutely not summertime activity friendly, plus, reading on lit screens at night is suppose to cause insomnia.

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This is where I was going to sit and eat my lunch.

I have been on an intense reading kick*, and I’ve been checking books out from the library on my kindle.  Checking library books out on my kindle makes me happier than I can adequately express.  The tricky part though, is that you have to wait in line for certain books, and then you only have 14 days to read them before you have to give them back.  This is excellent justification for why I might have to stay home and finish a book instead of going out and interacting with real people.  Anne Helen Peterson (who I have a serious crush on) has an excellent article on the subject of obsessive reading.  It never occurs to me to stay home and write, and it is much more difficult for me to get lost in writing than in reading.  

My desire to write has more to do with this deep seated belief that we all need a creative outlet, a strange fear of being exclusively a consumer, and because it feels like something that I should be doing. My fear of being a consumer is not rational and does not apply to any other area of my life.  If it did, I would be compelled to be a member of the church choir and have a vegetable garden and take an art class and cook a lot more than I do.  It’s not like I’ve never done these things, I have, and I enjoyed them.

I am not under any delusions that I will ever write a novel or that my writing is adding significantly to the world. My love of reading is deeply ingrained, it is my primary mental escape, and I sincerely appreciate writers.  I guess it is similar to the intense desire of a foodie to learn how to cook, or the little kid that is obsessed with the Braves who goes out for little league, or the kid obsessed with whatever broadway musical is currently cool trying out for the school play.

I also think of it as an exercise in self reflection, and that the exercise in and of itself improves me as a person.  Sort of like jogging, or yoga, or any athletic endeavor makes your body feel stronger and better, writing improves my mentality.  My real job is almost exclusively writing, but it’s a different sort of writing.  It’s easy to blame my lack of writing to the fact that I write all day at work, but work doesn’t prevent me from writing insanely long emails on a daily basis and texting and gchatting for hours at a time, so this is pretty flimsy excuse.

I recently obtained a childhood psychological evaluation of 11 year old Charlsie.  I can not tell you how entertaining it is to read psych evaluations of your childhood self.  The test results document that at some point in my education I mastered the ability to read, while failing to learn how to write, and that by the fifth grade, I was reading at a 12th grade level, and I was writing at a 2nd grade level. Apparently this is a significant discrepancy in ability.   I was noted to have something called a “performance deficit” as opposed to a learning disability, attributable to my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that inhibited my ability to attend to details and to organize my thoughts for effective transfer to paper.  

From what I can tell, this means I couldn’t write worth a damn.  It’s almost hilarious that I now essentially write papers for a living. Eventually, I learned how to write (I think). I passed two bar exams, and they let me graduate from law school, so that’s encouraging. I remember fifth grade being a particularly difficult grade, but I remember most grades being difficult until I got to high school.  

Sometimes I wonder how difficult my life would be if I was unable to use a computer and I was dependent on my handwriting for written communication.  I see a good bit of childhood disability applications, and I read a lot of school records and psych evaluations and achievement testing results.  I think people get confused about how difficult it is to learn how to read and write, and don’t appreciate that everyone learns differently and at a different pace. Most of us learned how to read and write at an age where it felt effortless, and we can’t remember the actual struggle required to master the skills. (I’m not going to talk about math, because, ugh, let’s just not talk about it.  Unless you want to talk about Geometry, which I loved, because it involved words.)

It’s like driving a car, or riding a bike.  I recently brought my bike back to Charleston from Augusta, where my bike had been living.  I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time, and I’m deathly afraid of getting hit by a car.  But, growing up, I rode my bike everywhere for years, and I felt great satisfaction in my ability to navigate intersections and balance and take on curbs and gnarly sidewalks, and it did not frighten me.  I stopped riding my bike when I learned how to drive.  Learning how to drive was a skill I put off as long as possible.  I made excuses for why I didn’t want to drive, I was scared of my mom’s car, I was tired, I would start driving tomorrow. But the truth was driving scared the everliving daylights out of me, and I didn’t want to learn how to drive.  I wanted to be the DJ in the front seat. I remember having a particularly hard time with right turns, which is real stupid.  I thought left turns were easier.  I also had a complete inability to back out of a driveway.  

I’m still not clear how I passed my driver’s test, but I did, and then I had a pretty terrific wreck six months later involving, of course, a right turn.  Now, I consider myself an excellent driver, I haven’t had a significant wreck since that ill fated right turn in the spring of 1997, and I’m having to re-teach myself my biking skills and re-gain that confidence. Learning how to read, write, ride a bike, and drive a car tend to be pretty mandatory life skills.  But if they weren’t mandatory, I might have turned out to be an excellent reader who couldn’t write and had to walk everywhere.  I wonder what other skills I might possess if they were mandatory.

*My recent literary consumption includes: The Abominable, The Secret History, Into Thin Air (I’ve been super obsessed with Everest as of late), The Bone Season, Play Dead, Box Girl, The Handmaid’s Tale, We Were Liars, Me Before You, and I just started The Vacationers.  I tried to read The 5th Wave, but I found it too depressing.  I think I may be over dystopia for the foreseeable future.

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Heady Jasmine Days

The confederate jasmine are blooming, and the heat has finally arrived. Before it gets hot, the flowers give off a happy aroma that wafts on the breeze, but once it gets hot, the fragrance becomes overpowering. It’s a beautiful flower, and the smell is generally enjoyable, but too much of a good thing can be noxious. There are definitely streets I don’t want to jog down when the jasmine is in full effect. It’s one of the only flowers that I can think of where the fragrance seems to literally take up space, and rounding a corner with a particularly robust patch of jasmine can make you feel like you ran into a brick wall.

I love my neighborhood, there is always something random happening. Last week, a woman was walking down the street yelling about how we were all eternally damned and would be punished and how everything would burn. I was getting out of my car when she walked by, and she stopped her prophetic rant to calmly tell me that my car lights were still on. I told her that they would cut off, but that I appreciated it. She said no problem, and then launched right back into her rant.

A couple days after that, I saw a guy riding his skateboard down the street with a little fluffy dog on a leash trailing beside him. Ten minutes later, he rode back by, still on the skateboard, carrying the fluffiness in his arms.

There is a giant German shepherd that lives next door, who we will call Harry. Harry acts like he is going to eat me and Briscoe alive every time we walk past his gate. One morning recently, Harry gave us the usual aggressive greeting through the fence as we walked by. I live on one corner of an extraordinary long block, and when we were almost at the other corner, I turned to see Harry barreling down the sidewalk towards us. I had about five seconds for my life to flash before my eyes, and I called Harry by his name and told him to stop. Harry skidded to a stop, and then trotted into the street, with no regard to the cars. I tied Briscoe to a fence and chased Harry into another yard, finally catching him and dragging him by his collar back to his house. The gate at his house was totally intact, and I have no idea how that damned dog got out, but he was definitely looking for us. Good to know he is all bark.

Briscoe got her hair did on Monday. I should have gotten her cut last week, I hate for her to be so hot. She looked so fuzzy Monday morning, like a little bear, and when I picked her up she looked like a lamb.

I have a follow up ankle appointment tomorrow. It’s been six months since my surgery, and I’m curious to see how my range of motion compared to what it was before, and to find out if the current state of my ankle is normal. I’m definitely able to do a lot of stuff that a year ago I was afraid I would never do again. Like I ran 2.5 miles yesterday with no real problems.

But when I ran last Tuesday, my foot felt heavy, almost like my shin and ankle muscles had forgotten how to work, and it was generally bizarre feeling and not comfortable. But I still ran 2.25 miles, and it didn’t hurt later. And a two hour tennis match hurts, and makes me nervous that I am being reckless. I’m hoping this is all part of the process and that every month it will get stronger, but I’m looking forward to some professional clarification on the subject.

Have I ever told y’all how much I dislike cleaning my house? I don’t mind laundry, but most all other housework is tough for me. Part of it is that I have an incredibly difficult time staying on task, and another part is that I get fixated and will spend three hours cleaning one room of my house. I have friends staying at my apartment for a bachelorette this weekend, and I needed to do a ton of housework last night. I was totally dreaded it.

I have had housekeepers, but I’ve struggled finding one I liked. The last one showed up at my house for her appointment scheduled a week in advance, only to refuse to clean my house because I couldn’t give her a residential parking pass and she refused to park in the lot a block away, or move her car after an hour (anyone can park on my street for an hour). And I was going to pay her what felt like a huge wad of money to me. I have had friends offer to clean my house, but it feels weird to pay a friend to clean your house. My apartment is not that big, I’m a fully functional adult (most days), I can clean my own house.

Yesterday, I steeled my nerve, put on a spotify viral playlist, and cracked a beer. (I feel like beer is necessary for housework, especially after a day of real work). Betwixt the music on this playlist was a Jim gaffigan skit, and I realized I should be listening to comedy. So for the next four hours (cause I can’t stop once I start), I cleaned my house while drinking beer and listening to Louis CK and Aziz Ansari. I recommend this cleaning approach to all the sad housecleaners in the world, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

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I swear, I have the very best of intentions when it comes to blogging, but the worst follow through.  The truth is, 2014 has turned out to be a bit of a whirlwind, and it’s difficulty for me to believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t blogged since January. February was a big month. The old Blog had it’s tenth birthday in February, and I didn’t even mention it!  So, Happy Belated Birthday Blog, I’m sorry we don’t spend enough time together, you deserve better!

Back to February. February 2014 ended up being unbelievable, and I want to preface this by saying that it is an inaccurate representation of my real life.  I spent most of 2013 halfway crippled, and I vowed that as soon as I was able to do fun things again I would take advantage of any and all opportunities, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, YOLO.  Thanks to some amazing friends, I had some awesome opportunities, and I feel extremely lucky.

First this happened – (THANKS LIBBY AND CBS!)

Super SecurityImage

Super Awkward

Super Halftime with Bruno

 

The football didn’t end up being all that exciting, but I got to hear Queen Latifah sing America The Beautiful with a children’s choir, and I got to wear a ski cap that had lights on it that was part of the half time light show.  I freaking love light shows.  And fireworks.  And Bruno Mars.  It was a really great day, the Broncos notwithstanding.  We had to go through airport style security that was pretty intense, but it’s nice to feel safe.

The second spectacular occurrence in February 2014 was that I went skiing in Austria with a group of 15 great friends. I mean, the ALPS! Who knew?  The mountains were breathtakingly impressive, the snow was exceptional, the company was first rate.  I will admit that the combination of jet lag, altitude, and apre’ ski was aggressive, and not for the faint of heart, but it was all worth it.

Good Morning Zurich! ImageImage

 

ImagePowder Day!

 

Austria was an epic experience.  We spent three days in Solden, which is a giant ski resort comprised of three mountains connected with extensive gondolas.  One day we skied in Ishgl, where we had the pleasure of skiing from Austria and into Switzerland for lunch.  We spent a day in St. Anton, where the snow was less impressive than Solden or Ishgl, but the apre ski was amazing.  We stayed in this great solid house with a big basement that had a pool table, ping pong, and foosball.  When we weren’t skiing, we cooked a lot of food, drank beer, ordered pizza, and laughed.

 

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Leon

In case you did not know, I love weather.  All weather.  My mom loves weather.  I have special weather buddies (GARY!)  My brother’s friends in high school called our mom Accu-Kate and Kate Cantore because she always wanted to tell us about the weather and talk about what might happen.  I love tracking hurricanes.  I had a ten page, hand written note from a cousin in Charleston detailing the events of hurricane Huge that I read over and over again.  I remember exactly where I was during hurricane Katrina (on my bedroom floor in Athens watching the weather channel and talking to my mom on the phone, obviously).  To this day, my parents will get in the car and drive around specifically to look at trees felled by a storm.  Twister and The Perfect Storm are excellent movies.  I count the flooding in Charleston as one of my hobbies.  Twitter is shockingly entertaining when it comes to inclement weather.  Don’t you just love the word inclement?  It gives me happy shivers.  

I have no less than six weather apps on my phone, at least if you count my tide app, which I do, and you don’t count Twitter, which i could.  My NOAA Hi-Def Doppler app is my favorite, but when it comes to free apps, Intellicast and TWC are my favorite.  I could get lost on the NOAA website for hours.  

Y’all, I am absolutely giddy about the weather right now.  This is the best weather week ever.  I’m on tour with Jim Cantore (side note – I’m going to the super bowl!).  It is DUMPING snow in the ATL, and Jim Cantore is reporting live from the Cistern.  Jim says we are going to have 2-3 inches!  I will die.  Seriously die.  Last night when twitter told me that Jim Cantore was headed to Charleston, I was frightened, since Jim generally heralds the angel of natural disaster destruction, but now I’m optimistically delusional that we might get a fun winter storm instead of a scary ice storm.  

It’s hard to imagine what this town is going to be like when it actually starts storming here.  The power lines in my neighborhood are threaded through and basically wrapped around branches.  I live on a peninsula, with three grocery stores.  We are at a dead end.  I heard the Harris Teeter manager tell someone yesterday that he was planning on spending the night at a hotel downtown.  

ANNNNDDDD it’s starting to rain! I just made Briscoe go out real fast.  I think it’s raining.  Sleeting?  Whatever it is, it’s coming down.  

Man.  I did a ton of laundry, and I’ve got everything charged.  I made soup last night. I bought a couple bags of ice on Chuck’s advice.  Lots of beer and wine.  I think I’m going to take a shower, since my hot water heater is electric.  Jim said it’s freezing rain at the airport.  It’s coming for us!  I really want one of those laser thermometers, for future gift ideas.  Yippee!  Stay safe and warm my friends!  

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These Twenty Dash years are speeding along rapidly, although I have to admit that I was happy to see 2013 exit the stage.  My ankle surgery in October and the government shutdown were rather disruptive forces, and then in mid November I developed what was inconclusively walking pneumonia or a vicious viral infection.  Either way, by the Friday after Thanksgiving I was in the bed.  Two and a half weeks of antibiotics, a steroid pack, and five sick days later, and it was almost Christmas.  Seriously, I didn’t drink alcohol or coffee for almost three weeks, in December, to give y’all an idea of how ill I truly was. Obviously, ankle surgery and a terrible hacking cold with a racking cough that last a month is not the worst thing that could happen, but it did make me appreciate all the things I take for granted.  Like walking, and breathing.  It made me a little more compassionate towards the subjective complaints of the claimants.  Additionally, in the instance of my ankle and my respiratory difficulties, I was required to see more than one doctor and be my own health advocate to fight for additional treatment options and testing.  Not because my doctors aren’t competent, but because many of them are overworked and jaded and under appreciated, and lacked the time or effort to waste on an otherwise seemingly healthy young person with no real health risk factors.    I’m not going to get into all the nuances involved in health care, suffice it to say, being sick or injured sucks, and if you don’t like the answers you are receiving, keep asking your questions, find additional opinions.

When I woke up from being sick and realized that it was almost Christmas, I had to play catch up on the festivities.  My friends and I threw an oyster roast/skeet shoot, which we’ve decided will be known as the First Annual Christmas Clays.

Here are my friends shooting skeet.

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They were some of the best oysters I’ve ever had the pleasure of destroying.

We had a blue grass band, oysters, skeet, venison chili,ham, Frog Island Punch, koozies, and a lot of fun with all of the frogs.  The party was held at my friend Zan’s family’s property, and Zan and his father are sculptors, and the property is littered with artwork.

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Shannon and me playing in the froggy scrap yard.

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Me and my favorite frog.

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This is Jack, and Briscoe was a really great sport.

Christmas brought the arrival of a new family member at my parents house –

Christmas Day with besties from home.

Christmas Day with besties from home.

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Polar Bear Plunge with some of the greatest friends ever!

Christmas was great, and I got to see a lot of old friends.  New Year’s Eve was Alicia and Bryan’s beautiful wedding.  And New Year’s Day, we all jumped in the ocean to celebrate 2014, and then we ate hoppin’ johns and collards, with mac and cheese, and the best wings in america, washed down with a game changer at Home Team.

Overall, the last two weeks of December more than made up for feeling like I was on restriction from the beginning of October until the middle of December.  And 2013 will always be the year that I really found a home in Charleston, with amazing friendships, a job I love, and an unrivaled picturesque natural setting.

As a side note, I do have to admit that I’m currently freezing to death at my house, whilst wearing an obscene amount of clothing and my uggs, wrapped in a blanket, with my arm warmers.  My power still works, but my house was not designed for the cold, and it’s all my little heater can do to keep up.  This is the coldest weather I’ve experienced since I moved to Charleston in Fall 2010.  The upside is that it’s suppose to be in the 70s this weekend. I’ve started running again, and yesterday I ran two miles, which is the furthest I’ve run since I stopped running in December 2012.  I’m looking forward to my first yoga class since September tonight, and can’t wait to be in the suffocating heat, after this freezing day.

Speaking of freezing, this weather has brought to my attention that I only have the bare minimum of cold weather gear.  I’m going skiing in February, and I think I need some new gear.  You know, like gloves with fingers.  None of my gloves have fingers.  Suggestions?

You kids try to stay warm out there, and if winter ever gets to be too much, come on down to Charleston some weekend, the cold weather never lasts for more than a couple of days.  I promise to take you to Home Team and to an oyster roast.  My new year’s resolutions are obviously to blog more, and to get back into fighting shape.  I’m going to get back on the mat, back on the tennis court, and take some things out on the pavement.

Cheers to 2014 being the best year yet!  Happy New Year!

The Big Bridge

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Thankful

This week had it out for me. Briscoe felt the need to chew up and swallow most of an old wine cork, I got a giant nail in my back tire on Friday and didn’t realize it until I hopped in my car Monday morning (one of the perks of downtown living is car-free weekends), and I’ve had a horrific cold.

The beautiful thing about problems is that they help you appreciate the good stuff. Just in the last week, I’ve enjoyed local oysters with old and new friends in the beautiful city that has turned out to be a real home. Saturday, Jeff, Drew, Suzy, and I enjoyed a long lazy day of wandering around downtown, and we only broke two champagne glasses. We met up with Cara and Ashley later in the night, and shared with them the ridiculous thoughts we had developed over the course of the day, and I am thankful for their tolerance.

When I discovered my flat tire, sweet Denise came and got me and took me to work and picked me back up on a moment’s notice. After work, Paul was my tire changing hero. I was starving by that point, not having a car necessitated foraging lunch around the office and vending machines. Just when I was about to go pick something up, Caleb called, he was in town for a deposition that had just finished, and treated me to favorite place, The Macintosh. When I got home and realized Briscoe’s poor dietary choices, I texted Suzy, my bestiest vet buddy, who assured me that the fluffy dog should be fine.

By the end of the day, I felt extremely blessed with the best friends ever. Caleb asked me at one point if I ever felt lonely in Charleston. And I realized that lonely is one thing I never feel, and to ever end up alone I have to turn my phone off and lock my door. Which is exactly the way I like it.

This thanksgiving I am especially thankful for my parent’s good health. Everyday you are not at the hospital with a loved one is a day to be thankful. I’m thankful for my big headed dog, for all the happiness she brings into this world. I am thankful for my brother and sister in law, and all my friends near and far. And I am thankful for the copious amounts of food I am about to consume. Love y’all, I hope you day is full of turkey and pecan pie and good wine and roaring fires with the people you love, football, naps, old movies, old dogs, and the beautiful November late afternoon light. Oh, and ‘Merica, obviously.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Capital Collection

I see this as one of the greatest marketing fails in recent memory.

 

It makes me think that the people at Cover Girl don’t novels, because if they did, at least one of them might have read the Hunger Games novels.  It is hard to believe that if anyone at Cover Girl had read the books, that they would be glamorizing the Capital.  As a single example, most of the country is starving, and the people in the Capital are attending parties where they eat until they are stuffed, and then they drink something that makes them throw up so they can keep eating the rest of the night.  Um, not to mention that the best thing that happens in the Capital all year is the televised competition where children from the districts fight to the death while they all cheer from the comfort of their well fed homes.

Seriously Cover Girl.  Fail.

I’m all for sparkling makeup and metallic nail polish, and this could have all been avoided if it was simply called the Catching Fire Collection.  Also the “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” tag line is inappropriate at end of the commercials, cause, well, there is nothing easy and breezy about the Hunger Games (I think Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful).  Someone in the Cover Girl Marketing department should be fired.

 

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