Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1/2 a post

So clearly I can't seem to blog anymore. I can't even manage to read blogs anymore. And it's not for lack of time, trust me. This semester I'm only teaching World Lit, and I just finished watching the whole first season of Once Upon a Time. In four days.

Anyway, internet world also seems to be against me. You see, for the last few months I had been working on some blog ideas in my head: I have some pictures of Karyn Guido's new baby I was going to share, I had a story about a lost time capsule, and I had a few recipes I was going to pass on. But for some reason, the first thing I wanted to post on related to the R-Patz / K-Stew debacle. Remember how Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart broke up after her affair? And now they might be getting back together? Oh, what, you don't care about Rob and Kristen? You're judging me? US Magazine isn't a bookmark on your browser? Well let's just say you won't be judging me in 10 years when the pop culture category comes up in Trivial Pursuit and I'm your opponent.

My point is, something that Mr. Pattinson said in an interview during the whole ordeal stuck with me. He said that "America really wants to have a Royal Family." And since we don't, we obsess abnormally over celebrities to fill our Will and Kate-less hearts.

So this got me thinking that we really should have some type of American royalty. Unfortunately, the last American to compare themselves to the Royal Family was Kim Kardashian when she married Kris Humphries. Score one for the great United States! Anyway, I was working on this blog post where I would make a case for who I would most like to see as the face of American Royalty. Here is who I came up with:

Will Arnett and Amy Poehler. They're funny. Smart. Creative. Have two kids. Make guest appearances on each other's shows. They make GAP ads together. And Parks and Rec is like my favorite show ever.

Then they broke up.

And now I'm out of blog ideas.

The end.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gardening in Georgia: Round Two

We all want one thing: a good singing voice to be able to garden without larvae boring into the vines of our plants and making babies in the stems.

Last year, this was not the case for me. In fact, my first real go-around at gardening in the South led to several nervous breakdowns. And I do mean breakdowns -- crying, irrational vows ("I will never go outside again"), difficulty breathing. My garden was taken over by a number of southern demons, and I eventually dreaded that fifteen-second walk to the corner of the yard, for fear I would discover a new evil lurking among my plants. One event, in particular, cemented my plan to never garden again.

Towards the last bit of summer, when my tomatoes finally started showing up, I noticed a spider web building in the corner of the bed. This didn't really bother me, since I see a million spiders around my garden all the time, and people are always saying things about how spiders are good natural predators and a vital part of "nature," and nonsense like that. So, for several weeks, I just ignored the growing web and simply reached around it each time I needed to procure some growing tomatoes near the corner of the bed.

One day, I came out to the garden to discover the familiar spider web swarming with hundreds of little reddish-brown specks. Baby spiders! It was reminiscent of Charlotte's Web or something from a nature show. So, more than anything, I found the small spiders intriguing and watched for awhile as they scurried all over their web and each other. I knew I was going to kill the spiders, but I thought Andrew might be interested in this miracle of life, so I ran inside to get him and some spider spray. Then we both headed out to the garden, barefoot, to say goodbye to the new spider family. As Andrew sprayed a misty cloud of spider killer over the colony, I craned my neck down near the action, and watched the brown bodies scatter under their impending death.

And then, out from the belly of Sheol emerged the mother. And then I started not breathing well.

What emerged was a very large, very angry, very glossy black spider, complete with a red hourglass on her belly. And it hit me. For the past few weeks, I had been reaching my hand around a black widow spider -- a black widow spider I had inadvertently let give birth in my garden. And not to one baby, but to a gazillion babies. (Curse you, Wilbur!) My garden was not a fairy haven of flower blossoms and hearty vegetables. It was a breeding ground for the devil.  And at that moment, I made a decision that I would have no part in this abominable affair.

So I decided I would never garden in Georgia again.

So imagine my surprise and frustration a few months ago when I came outside and discovered this:

big garden

Ok, so not really this exactly, since I took this picture a few weeks ago, but I discovered a smaller, tamer version of this. The recent growth was confusing to me, because in January, I had pulled out all the plants from my garden, weeded, and tilled the soil. And I hadn't planted anything new. What I discovered, however, around March, was that the plants had planted themselves. Basically, no one cared about what I wanted, and essentially I had basil and tomatoes and parsley growing everywhere.

So I was faced with a dilemma: embrace the plants that nature had grown, or tear them out to ensure minimal bug drama this spring. Obviously, I went with the whole "welcome back, plants" approach, but with a strong sense of caution. I bought my tomatoes some of those wire things that help them grow straight, and I agreed to water the plants and enjoy their fruits, but I told them I would not be responsible for any worms, spiders, or other crawling creatures from the shadows that might seek to live in the garden or destroy it. And I think we have an understanding. So, in the meantime, I'm reaping the work I didn't really do.

The cherry tomatoes are everywhere:

green tomatoes

baby tomatoes

And I even have ripe tomatoes. In June. It's nuts.

And there are about 10 basil plants just doing their thing:

more basil


A parsley fountain:


And I even have Roma tomatoes, which, notably, all died last year when I tried to grow them:

roma tomatoes

I did make one impulse decision to plant jalapeños, because if I have tomatoes, I want to make salsa. Plus they are really cute:


And I had some sage in an indoor pot that I transplanted outside (more basil is already growing next to it):


But now, just a few weeks from the time I took these pictures, it's already madness out there. Stinging things are always flying around. Buzzing things are dive bombing my face. Hostile bugs are biting me. Some other creature that bores into things is trying to incubate in the tomatoes. The parsley has died in the recent oven heat. And the only way I can find the strength to make the arduous and dreaded trek out to the garden each day is to recall this scene from The Lord of the Rings and shout phrases like, "Go back to the shadow!" And stand with the garden hose nozzle set to "JET."

But let's not forget how that scene ends.

I knew this wasn't a good idea.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sometimes We Make Things

Perhaps I should start by stating I am alive and still in Georgia. I sort of fell off the face of blog world for awhile. Between my last semester of grad school and writing my thesis (no matter what, that always sounds pretentious) and my own teaching load, it didn't seem ethical to spend time blogging. My strong sense of integrity, of course, did not keep my from watching The Bachelor, but it did cause me to develop a real aversion to any reading or writing outside of school.

But now, I'm done with school. The end. Finished. Finito. And I'm basking in my last few weeks off before I have to start teaching again. About a year ago, I started keeping a list of all the projects I wanted to get done once school was over. This list included strange things, like "can green beans," and "convince Andrew to let me get a Vitamix." But some of the main and more important projects involved completing at least one of the three unfinished rooms in our home. And, so, lately, I've been working on our office. It's one of the rooms we spend the most time in, and it is the first room people see when they enter our home. So I probably should have given it more attention from the beginning.

About six months ago, I fell in love with this bookcase from World Market:

Campaign Bookshelf

Our office desks are from World Market and a similar style, and I thought two of these cases would fit well in our workspace. Andrew took one look at the expensive, unfinished wood and concluded it would be easier and cheaper to build a similar bookcase on our own. While neither of those things proved to be true, we decided to make our own bookcase as a sort of bonding, just-like-J.C. activity. So we got some wood and Andrew built the frame.



Also, everyone's garage looks like this, right? No room for cars. Just tires.

side pieces

Then I had the really important job of "distressing" the wood, which required me to nail holes in the wood, or bang it with a hammer, or drag a screw driver over Andrew's meticulous framework. I am gifted in forms of destruction.

nail holes


While it doesn't look that great on the unfinished wood, the scratches and grooves allow the stain to sink in and highlight texture and vary the coloring of the stain. So stain it we did.


And suddenly, the damage looked rather trendy.

nail holes stain

scratches stain

Ok, so that one sort of looks more like claw marks, but for the most part, it really did look authentic.

Then we coated the stain in polyurethane.


Supported it with some steel beams, and Voila! A bookcase, complete with moveable shelves.

finished 2

Now the books have a place to live, instead of being stacked around the office floor in dangerous heaps.

children's books

more poetry

The unfortunate part about this story is that I am now caught up in real time. Meaning, while it is true that Andrew and I had this discussion about building a bookcase six months ago, it is also true that we just moved the bookcase inside yesterday. In other words, it took us six months to finish the project.  And the more unfortunate part is that we are supposed to have two bookcases. So according to our most recent timetable building experience, it might be wise to give up on finishing the office anytime soon and move on to other items on the list.

So here's hoping green beans are in season.