Our twin couple

The W-Os

Gems, these two!

So delighted to host Rose and Kemp again in Charlottesville, this time in our new, damp farmhouse/shack.

Everyone draped over furniture

We were all kind of falling apart on Saturday, but after we had draped ourselves over various items of furniture, we were still able to walk to the farmers’ market, speed-pick Fuji apples at Carter Mountain Orchard, and go out to dinner at The Local with new/old friends Zella and Keith.

Just that one there

A seductive harvest

Successful harvest

We so loved having them. Our devastation at their departure was assuaged by the fact that we get to see them again this weekend for Kelsey and Alex’s WEDDING! Score!

The best reason for writing novels

Click for source.

“I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word. The last time it happened to me, I uncorked a good Sancerre I’d been keeping and drank it standing up with the bottle in my hand, and then I lay down in my backyard on the paving stones and stayed there a long time, crying. It was sunny, late autumn, and there were apples everywhere, overripe and stinky.”

— Zadie Smith, from her essay collection Changing My Mind

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Things I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • One’s heightened powers of observation of the natural and social worlds, which come when you know that you might have to write something and then share it with someone.
  • Relearning Japanese and how it is killing my brain. I feel only slightly justified to learn that the Foreign Service Institute ranked Japanese as the hardest language for an English-speaker to learn. Should that make me feel proud, or super-super depressed? I’m really leaning toward the latter.
  • Getting a (canine) sibling for Pyrrha. But only kind of thinking about this, because two dogs is a lot of dogs. And I think Pyrrha is pretty perfect, and what if we ended up with a four-legged terror?
  • Fall! Beautiful, glorious fall!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday Snax


View from the cider press at "Montana," the Hill's cabin in Waynesboro.


Mike, Windy, and Granddad were unable to make it this weekend, unfortunately, but we are hoping that we get to see all of them very soon. In lieu of their visit, we spent our weekend making apple cider in Waynesboro (photos on Flickr) and watching a shamefully large number of episodes from Friday Night Lights, season four. That show needs to stop making me cry. It’s getting old, producers! It’s getting old.

Here are your Snax and a side of hot cocoa with durable marshmallows that don’t melt away instantly:

The New Studio (Interior). As many of you know, I wrote my thesis on Virginia Woolf’s emphasis on the importance of private space for women artists. This is our wedding photographer’s studio and it’s absolutely beautiful. I have to say I’m quite jealous. Meredith, Woolf would have been proud: you have a gorgeous room of your own! (And Unlimited)

Karl Erik Brondbo. GASP. Where is this Scandinavian paradise?? I must go to there. (Miss Moss)

In Paris, a Threadbare Home From the 1800s. So interesting and romantic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a home decorated and designed quite like it. (New York Times)

In the Event of Moon Disaster. This is an amazing find: The transcript of the report that President Nixon would have read if Apollo 11 had failed. (Letters of Note)

The Kindle Swindle. A respected and literary lady blogger expresses her opinion on why Kindles just aren’t that great. Huzzah! (Fussy)

A History of Fist-Fueled Author Feuds. Who knew that authors were such a belligerent type? I guess they are. Flavorwire collects a history of fist fights between favorite authors and then decides who won the spat. Women authors are missing from this historical round up, but I guess they fought in other ways… (Flavorwire)

One & The Same. If I was independently wealthy, I think I’d spend a ridiculous amount of money on stationery–particularly cute cards like these. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

Circumstances Under Which I Would Enjoy Whale Watching. Where do they find these people? This is hilarious. I can’t decide which one is my favorite: Scenario one or four. (McSweeney’s)

Taken for Granite. The sad thing is that people will really buy this stuff, too… (Regretsy)

Monday Snax

A Braeburn, or a Winesap, perhaps?

Yesterday afternoon, we went on an adventure with Sam to Carter Mountain Orchard. I think the entire town of Charlottesville was there, but it was lots of fun; we picked nearly 9 pounds of apples, including some varieties I have never heard of/tried before (Winesap, York, Stayman). I am looking forward to making an apple pie tonight. I will post pictures of our adventure shortly, possibly later tonight. So much to do, though! Three big books to read and finish by the end of the month, a large calligraphy job for my dear Katherine’s wedding, and many letters to write!

Snax, with just a hint of autumn weather:

Nettles at The Garage, October 23: Guion is playing a concert at The Garage in Charlottesville, and it’s FREE! So you should totally come. I’m so pumped! (Nettles)

Why Do Japanese People Live So Long? This is great. I got to witness a lot of these things while living in Tokyo for a summer, and have tried to adopt some of them to my life. I was particularly convicted by the point this article made about rejecting dairy. Japanese people believe that adults shouldn’t drink milk. They’re catching onto something, because they have the longest lifespans in the world. (Tofugu)

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery. Not just “a” bee mystery, THE bee mystery! At long last, we have discovered the cause of the vanishing honeybee hives across America. This is interesting stuff. Now we just need to find a cure. Keep fighting for the bees! (New York Times)

Indian bicycle, by Grace. A recent painting Grace finished; based on a photograph of a bicycle she took in Hyderabad. I’m so impressed by my siblings! They exceed me. (Como Say What?)

Cliff Asness, Superhero. I exchange e-mails with this guy at work. Craaazy. (Daily Intel)

Most Unnecessarily Dramatic Quote in New York Times History. It’s true. This is so hilarious. I hope this woman can laugh at herself, but I’m doubting it. (Best Week Ever)

Disgraced Hedge-Fund Manager Forced to Sell Teddy Bear Collection. I’m SO happy they made the Victor Nightingale reference. Anyone else get it? (Daily Intel)

Troy, the Great Pyrenees. I HAVE to get one of these one day. HAVE to. (Daily Puppy)

Could You Zoom Out, Please. OK, just one more puppy link. Must. Snuggle. (Cute Overload)

The World’s Most Honest Journalism Job Ad. Sad, but true. Also hilarious. The Illinois Valley News is looking for a reporter, and they aren’t sugar-coating the position. (Gawker)

5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses. Good tips. Thankfully, we have inherited some of these from Granddad Tillman after we inherited the Jeep. We are doing the best we can to keep it in top shape! Aside from the battery mishap, it’s been solid. (Wise Bread)

42 Things You Didn’t Know about Thom Yorke. I’ve been in a real Radiohead mood lately, so this was fun to read. (Flavorwire)

Closet Visit: Bo Carney. Blogger Jeana Sohn raids trendy women’s closets; this is one of my favorites. Bo Carney owns a vintage store in Los Angeles and I really want to hang out with her and be her BFF. (Jeana Sohn)


How I found myself speaking Japanese at a table in Qdoba:

Two weekends ago, we took Caleb to the farmers’ market. I quickly noticed a man and a woman, dressed in yukata (Japanese cotton robes, worn in the summer) and selling Japanese bread (“pan”). Of course we tried some, and of course it was delicious, and of course I had to say so in Japanese. They were excited, and John, the man, handed me a flyer for a Japanese language table that met every Monday night at Qdoba.

Initially, I was very excited. I had been praying for some kind of opportunity to continue my study of Japanese, which had severely lapsed since I stopped taking classes at the end of my junior year. But as the days drew closer to Monday, my stomach started to fall. I knew my ability to speak had declined dramatically. I was embarrassed. I told Guion that I didn’t want to go anymore, but being the good husband that he is, he told me, “You are not allowed to back out just because you’re scared. If that’s the only reason you don’t want to go, then too bad.”

So we went. I was terrified. Even after we walked in, I wanted to step right back out and go home. But we sat down with Chase and the other guy (whose name I forget) and I started fumbling out what little Japanese I could remember. Then John, his wife, Kumiko (from the farmers’ market), and Suzuko (a professor of African American studies at Chicago State University) showed up. They were all pros, and I did look like a stupid child, but I can’t tell you how my heart jumped to hear Japanese spoken again. It was like learning how to swim all over again. I started to remember certain forms. Even though my tongue felt like it was made of brick, I was so happy. I am planning on going back next week. I hope that if I stick with it, I may even be able to obtain the level I had reached in Tokyo two years ago. Maybe. Thanks for making me go, Guion. 心の底から感謝します。(I thank you from the bottom of my heart.)

Also, coworkers: I am really sorry for eating those lovely little Fuji apples every day. I know I sound like a beaver during lunch hour. But I can’t help myself. They are just that GOOD.

(Title translation: Learn humility.)