Monday Snax

This past week, we celebrated Win’s birthday a day early, by eating super-spicy Chinese food at Peter Chang’s and by clinking glasses of dark craft beer with friends at The Local. It was a classic Charlottesville birthday.

Then, this weekend, we traveled to Greensboro to see Daniel and Lauren get married! They are so wonderful and we were so happy to be there to celebrate with them. Brief photo recap below:

More photos from recent life on Flickr.

Snax:

Two supporting arguments/news trivia related to my list of stuff that makes me angry: Why I’m Reconsidering My Diet Soda Addiction (GOOD) and The Interns Are Organizing (Daily Intel).

Your Guide to Literary Tumblrs. A very comprehensive list of the best book-related Tumblrs. (The Millions)

Thank you, brothers! Thoughtful responses by Christian men to John Piper’s unbelievable/offensive pronouncement that Christianity is and should be a masculine religion, that the best churches are ones with a “masculine feel.” (Rachel Held Evans)

Black-and-White Photos Get a Taste of Color. Ever wondered what Anne Frank, Mark Twain, or Abraham Lincoln might look like in color/real life? Here’s an idea. (GOOD)

New Work, Black on White. Oh, to be this talented with a flexible nib! (Alissa Mazzenga)

DIY Valentine’s Wreath. Those who know me know that I am really not into cute DIY projects, but this one looks pretty darn adorable–and easy enough for someone like me to attempt. (Mod Cloth blog)

So tempting right now. Oh, nothing. Just an announcement that these two glorious dogs from a local Aussie breeder are having puppies in late March. Committed to rescue, committed to rescue… (Inkwell Aussies)

Long exposure photographs of fireflies. This is so magical! (Fox Is Black)

Tuesday Snax

What's better than an Aussie puppy?
Huck, Jodi and Michael's latest addition. Me? Not jealous at all...

It’s been way too busy around here lately. But I got to meet Huck, the Aussie, on Sunday, and he was a dream. A fuzzy, razor-sharp-toothed dream. (I’d forgotten how much puppies, like babies, want to put everything in their mouths.) He belongs to Jodi and Michael, who brought him home just a week ago. When I stood up to reluctantly leave, he laid down on top of my boots and looked up at me. KILLING ME, PUPPY. KILLING ME. It took all my willpower not to pick him up, stuff him in my purse, and make a run for it.

Belated snax:

Best Photos of the Year 2011. So powerful. Warning: Some are violent/graphic/upsetting. But they’re all incredible. Especially #46! If you don’t see any other photo, at least get to #46. (Reuters)

“Pale Fire,” The Poem: Does It Stand Alone As a Masterpiece? It’s nice to have other people suss out the answers for you. Something I’ve been wondering since I read Pale Fire… (The New Yorker)

Unremembered Celebrity Couples. This is pretty interesting. Who knew that Brad Pitt and Thandie Newton were a thing? Ashton Kutcher and January Jones?? (Retronaut)

Hate Actually. Snarky critic makes some good points about why “Love Actually” isn’t such a great film after all. (The Hairpin)

Printable Holiday Gift Tags: All Free! Get on this. This is what I’ve been using for all of my presents this year. (How About Orange)

Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Greatest Type Designers. In another life, this would have been my vocation. (The Atlantic)

Come Together. All I’m thinking is: Why didn’t we have this brilliant idea for our Christmas card? (Awkward Family Photos)

Weekend ready and dads

I’m taking the train to D.C. this weekend to stay with Angela before she jets off for NYC. I’m oh-so-very excited! The last time I went to D.C., I was a freshman in high school and I had an absolutely miserable time. I have no doubt that this visit will erase any lingering bad memories of the Capitol. I’m going to be with Angela, after all! It will be magical. I may also get to see the long-missed Eric and Cristina, which I am also really looking forward to.

God tempted my willpower this week when I saw that a purebred Australian shepherd had come into the Charlottesville SPCA. And he was a beautiful blue merle, too. However, like most pretty dogs who come into the shelter, he was adopted within a few days. He is probably enjoying a happy life with his new family right now. See how I am trying to console myself…

Happy early Father’s Day to Dad and Mike! You’re great and mean so much to me and to Guion. Thanks for supporting, teasing, and loving us.

Talk to you on Monday.

Birthdays and dogs: Missing Emma

Today, as I turn 23, I am musing on dogs. Of course.

My dog obsession has reached nearly unsustainable levels. Just ask my sweet, patient husband. I talk about dogs all the time. I dream about them. Dogs are the first and last thing on my mind every day. It’s embarrassing and bordering on psychological mania, but I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. (My boss, a fellow dog enthusiast, and I talked about it and mutually agreed that it would be in our company’s best interests if they blocked PetFinder for both of us.) We can’t have dogs in our current apartment and we’ve committed to living here until May 2012. I may not make it that long, but I am going to undergo a Year of Patience and Character-Building while I wait for my own dog.

I think a lot about our childhood dog, Emma. I picked her out of the litter, around my birthday, and I was responsible for choosing the breed (Australian Shepherd). We loved her a lot, but we also didn’t give her everything she needed. I have regrets. I was young and I didn’t give her enough attention. I also underestimated an Aussie’s need to have a job. I was too busy being 15 and worrying about boys and stuff. Her barking and herding were natural expressions of her breed heritage, but we saw these traits as nuisances and weren’t caring enough to give her appropriate channels for her energy. When we moved to our new house, my parents gave her away to family friends who lived on a farm. Emma, however, was allowed run around unchecked and was soon killed by a truck she was chasing. I wish she were still alive so I could re-adopt her now. In many ways, she was an exceptional dog. Her intelligence was remarkable and I still subjectively believe I haven’t seen a more beautiful dog in my life. She deserved better, and today, I just want her back.

So, please excuse me while I mull over my regrets and tear up at the last remaining pictures I have of her. I know. I have a problem. But look at her face! My sweet, crazy birthday dog.

Emma as a puppy.
Kelsey and Emma at our grandparent's house.
Sam and Emma were primarily family rivals for the position of the youngest child.
Dad was responsible for undoing all of the obedience training I had done with her.
She was really terrible about riding in the car. She started drooling and foaming and we had to give her Dramamine.
She was very happy, though.
Pride Week.
She did love family camping trips.
I always felt like she was one step ahead of me.
I named her Emma after the Austen novel. They were both unbelievably pretty and arrogant.
On squirrel patrol. Miss you, Em.

OK. Done with the self-indulgence. But I do miss her often. Anyone have any tips on how to stave off dog mania? I can’t keep living like this. Just ask Guion.

Monday Snax: Holiday Edition

More excessive light display weirdness for you. Happy Christmas and all the rest from the Pratts!

Well, friends. Your last dose of Snax until the New Year! I’m unspeakably excited about going back to North Carolina for the holidays. We leave Wednesday morning for Southern Pines. I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire there and wrestling with Aoive and her complicated psyche. It’s going to be great. Then we’re off to my grandparents’ place for Christmas day, and then back and forth between Davidson, Southern Pines, and Durham for the next few days. Exhausting! (A wedding in the middle of it all doesn’t help the simplicity.) But I’m looking forward to it all the same.

Today’s featured website: The New York Times

OK. So it’s not like I discovered the NYT or anything, but they’ve just had a lot of beautiful, striking content lately. So I’m going to share some of it with you.

Let It Dough! The perfect holiday feature from NYT. Hilarious, brilliant, and oh-so-tasty. Thanks for the link, Granddad! (NYT blog, Abstract City)

Fourteen Actors Acting. “A video gallery of classic screen types.” These black-and-white minute-long pieces feature well-known actors playing intense, briefly realized characters. What makes it so interesting is that the only sound is the orchestra in the background. The inability to understand anything the character says gives considerable license to the imagination. My favorites: Natalie Portman, James Franco, and, of course, SWINTON. (NYT Magazine)

10th Annual Year in Ideas. The ideas are almost as great as the design of this page. Really fun to tool around in. And so much weird stuff to learn! A bra that converts into gas masks? The world could always use more of those. (NYT Magazine)

In Germany, from Derelict to Pristine. The slideshows from “Great Homes and Destinations” are my favorite way to kill time. I could look at these wild houses all day long. This couple lives in a posh, converted water tower. Crazy! (NYT)

Regularly scheduled Snax:

The Angela Simulator. “No need to miss me over the holidays,” Angela’s e-mail read. Because now you can generate any potential conversation with Angela on her website. It’s brilliant. It makes me feel closer to her, so I just sit there clicking on “What else?” for 10 minutes. (WXTCHOU)

Printable Holiday Gift Tags. Still wrapping? Try out these cute and colorful gift tags; they’ll liven up any present. (How About Orange)

What Languages Should Liberal Arts Be About in 2011? This is for Emily. We liked to hate on romance languages a lot, basically because they are so darn easy to learn compared with Japanese and Arabic. In this piece, James McWhorter takes our side, but argues that romance languages are essentially useless to learn in the new decade and beyond. It’s Chinese for everyone, baby. (The New Republic)

Closet Visit: Momo Suzuki. Basically, I just want to BE a Japanese woman. Their sense of style is impeccable: peaceful, simple, elegant. (Jeana Sohn)

William Merritt Chase. A feature on the well-regarded portrait painter. It makes me want to go to an art gallery. (Miss Moss)

Vintage Kardashian Holiday Cards: Old Noses, Awkward Poses. I’m ashamed to say that I enjoyed this a lot. The fact that they once did the white shirts/jeans Christmas combo like the rest of late 90’s America humanizes them to me. (Jezebel)

I Like the New Girl, But She’s a Little Cold. Pretty amazing. Borzoi snow statue! I’ve always wanted one of those great Russian dogs, too. So glamorous. (Cute Overload)

Eli the Australian Shepherd. Love the name, the puppy, the breed. He looks a lot like our Emma when she was a baby. (The Daily Puppy)

Max Fischer’s Extracurricular Pencil Set. Like every good Anderson aficionado, I want it. I also want to watch that film again. (A Cup of Jo)

In the Scheme of Things. This dialogue reminds me of the look my mother shot my father when he was choking on the pit of a plum. After his esophagus had cleared and he was recovering from the trauma, he announced, “Wow, that was like having a baby.” I will always remember the look of pure disgust on her face. (Dooce)

Jon Rafman: Google Street View. Somewhat related to a post from last week, but these images will always fascinate me. How does he find them?? Rafman must spend all day on Google Maps. (Sub-Studio Design Blog)

Putting the “Gold” In Your Golden Years. I know retirement is very far from our young minds, but it really shouldn’t be. This is one of the many things I’ve learned in my short tenure at work. This is a great graphic from the folks at Mint explaining some of the basics of retirement saving. (Mint)

OK! Happy holidays, friends! See you soon!

Love, love, love,

A.

Monday Snax

Winter in the Connor Quad, taken March 2009, during my junior year at UNC-Chapel Hill.

G. and I have both been sick since we got back from Thanksgiving. I think I’m getting over it, but he’s just acquired my slew of symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, aches, general yuckiness). As E. Hylton would say, “I feel like a big gross.”

In brighter news, however, my department at work moved to a new building, which has WINDOWS and I get a bigger desk. It feels like an upgrade on life, since I spend so much of mine there. Yesterday, we also had our first snow. It was just a light dusting, but everyone got pretty jazzed about it. On my way back from the grocery store, I saw a dad and his two sons “sledding” down a big hill in the park off Madison. They were basically just sliding down wet grass. But they were having a great time. Oh, and I have this Mac. I’m still getting used to it–it’s kind of a learning curve after spending most of your adult computing life on a PC–but I think I am going to like it just fine.

Snax to cure your sniffles:

Catalog Living. Courtesy of R. Hylton (via Facebook) and E. Hylton (via handwritten letter). Finally, someone mocking the ridiculous spreads that occur in catalogs. The site follows the imaginary lives of Gary and Elaine, who live in the catalogs you get in the mail. Pottery Barn, you’re probably guilty. This post has to be one of my favorites I’ve seen so far. (Catalog Living)

100 Notable Books of 2010. I get really excited when this list comes out every year. I’m generally not very good at staying updated with good modern literature, and this is always a great place to start. Need to start stuffing my book list. (New York Times)

Chloe the Australian Shepherd. I am going to keep posting pictures of puppies until someone tells me to stop. And even then, I am going to keep doing it. (Daily Puppy)

Side Eye: A Collection. The blog title is oxymoronic: One cannot overload on cute. (Cute Overload)

Hideaki Hamada. This Japanese photographer takes the most beautiful and sweet pictures of his son. Some of my favorites: Windows (the comic/seriousness kills me); New Balance (adorable); Another World (they already have his hair groomed to look like every Tokyo teen boy). (One Year)

Posters Reminding You Not to Forget Your Umbrella. Again, I love Japan. It’s totally true, though: there are little umbrellas everywhere. I think my host family had at least 35 in the foyer. (Tokyo Mango)

Paris in the Summer. My sisters are so beautiful and talented. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. (Como Say What?)

Mega Bookshelf. Um, yes please. (Miss Moss)

Teapots. I’ll say it again: Yes, please. We’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately and it’s really made me want to buy some more teapots. (Miss Moss)

Life on My Street. I think I just have a general crush on Danish women. This post will get you in the wintry mood! (Ida Nielsen)

Living In: Marie Antoinette. Guion had never seen this film, and so we watched it the other night. I fell in love with it all over again. Sofia Coppola, you have my heart. (Design Sponge)

Five alternate lives

I got to talk to Emily for over an hour on Thursday night and it was SO good to catch up with her; I’ve missed her company a lot. She was telling me about this book she’s been working through, The Artist’s Way. It’s a book created to help artists work through blocks.

One of the exercises she described asked you to write down the five alternate lives you would have liked to have lived (e.g., the careers/vocations you might have pursued that deviate from the path you’re on now). I was thinking about it today, and this is the list I came up with:

1. Australian Shepherd breeder

Australian Shepherd puppies

As totally weird as dog lovers can be, I’ve always been one. I got mocked mercilessly in middle school–by my FATHER–because all I wanted for one birthday was a subscription to the magazine Dog Fancy. (He kept referencing the movie “Best in Show” whenever I got the magazine in the mail, which I hadn’t seen at the time. Now I have and I admit, yeah, those people are weird.) But I wouldn’t breed these dogs to show. I’d breed them because I LOVE these dogs and because I’d love to train them in agility competitions. Or even sheep herding ones. I just think they’re the best dogs around, still.

2. Farmer

 

Guion and me in a few years.

Specifically, I’d like to live somewhere either in North Carolina or even around here in the Shenandoah Valley. Prettiest country around. And I would specialize in either berries or horses. Because I love berries and horses.

3. Graphic designer

Letterpress cards from Seesaw.

This is a skill I’d love to have. I’d love to have a business creating beautiful stationery (and then another one to teach all of the Cool Lady Bloggers how to properly spell “stationery”). Branding companies would also be fun. And I’d definitely want to make my own fonts, too. I’ve always loved fonts.

4. English professor

This is actually my thesis advisor. Hi, Dr. Carlston!

I know it’s hard work and you have to labor six to eight years to do it, but I think I’d really love the life of an English professor. To have a job that’s essentially defined by your love of literature? What more could you ask for? (Cooperative students, better pay, and less academic politics maybe…)

5. Editor at a large, successful publishing house

Streep as Miranda Priestly in "The Devil Wears Prada." Yes, I know she's not a book editor. But still. She's badass.

This one is simultaneously the most ridiculous and the most realistic. Ridiculous because who knows if publishing houses will even EXIST in 10 years; realistic because editing is the path I’ve more or less taken so far. I know editors are somewhat glamorized in film and stories and such, but from what little I’ve seen of it in my internships and work, I think it’s a place I’d like to be. Particularly with fiction. Sorry, Financial Analysts Journal, but you don’t pluck my heart strings.

Common theme in my five answers? All things that people don’t have much use for anymore! The world doesn’t really need more Australian Shepherds, as brilliant as they are. Farmers barely make enough money to survive, much less food. People don’t write handwritten notes anymore, so there’s not a huge demand for expensive letterpress cards. There are probably more wannabe English professors than wannabe English students; grad schools are brimming with them. And, as mentioned above, editors will soon have nothing to edit. Thanks, Interwebs.

But. Even with my semi-dashed dreams, now I’m curious. What about you? What five alternate lives might you have chosen for yourself?

Dad and Emma

Dad and Emma, circa 2004

They were so in love. Today, I miss my Daddy and my late puppy, Emma. Our beautiful and neurotic Australian Shepherd. See the following e-mail exchange:

ABBY TO JFARSON:

So, I had this very vivid dream last night that Emma came back to us. We understood, somehow, that we were given a second chance with her, and this time we couldn’t let her die. It was very sweet and sad, particularly when I woke up.

Here’s an idea: Why don’t you get Mom an Aussie puppy for your anniversary!? BEST IDEA EVER! She will love you forever.

We bought a fish and a TV last week. I got my deposit back from McCauley Street, so we used the money to buy an HD flat-screen TV. We don’t have cable, but we watch Netflix on it through Guion’s laptop. It’s pretty awesome.

Miss you guys; see you in November??

xoxoxo
A.

JFARSON TO ABBY:

Eeeeemmmmma. Prettiest dog literally I have ever seen. Well there is one dog … Hint starts with S

ABBY TO JFARSON:

S? Samson? I can’t think of one among all your favorite dogs, unless you spelled Cheyenne with an ‘S.’

Too many people in Charlottesville have great dogs. Every time I go out and walk around the neighborhood or through the downtown mall, I feel the desperate need to get a dog. Sigh.

JFARSON TO ABBY:

You have a problem.

S – Samson is close.   Remember that tick-infested, mangy coated smelly dog.  Still a great dog though, but not the dog I had in mind as the coolest, smartest, greatest.

I tell Sam all the time that if he was a dog he would be this mystery dog.

The greatest dog ever is Sam, next door the Alexander’s dog.   All you have to do is spend time observing that dog and that will cure your desire for a dog.    I love telling Sam that he is just like Sam the dog.  It builds him up.

See you in November 2012.   I really hope it is not before then.

Have a good life.

JFARSON TO ABBY:

I called Sadie, Kiki because that was her real name.   Foxy?  Foxy – really now.  You are getting old and forgetful.

So dogs. You have me consumed with dogs now.

Here is my analysis of people trapped in a dog’s body:

DaDan is Blue (Quillen’s dog)

MaMaw is Belle (quillen’s dog)

Sam is Barney (Beutel, friendly guy dog)

Kelsey is Dublin

Grace is Victoria

TT is  Ebony

I am Chino (big studbolt wolf dog, killer of bulls and horses and buffalo)

Guion is Jake (Dave’s 1st)

Gran is Chance

Dave is Scoop

You are Emma (cute as can be, can run like the wind, smart, trainable, barks until she gets her way)

See you in Nov. 2013