Another year closer to death

“Oh, yeah, I guess that’s kind of funny…” (“Arrested Development” Wiki.)

I’m 27 today, and it’s the first birthday I’ve had in which I have felt old or anxious about my age. 27 is chillingly close to 30, after all. Shouldn’t I have accomplished something by now? Achieved some modicum of fame or tweet-able career success? Wasn’t I supposed to have had a passel of sticky, bug-eyed children by this advanced age?

Yet. Aside from the intimations of mortality that 27 brings, I feel very content with my life. If anything, growing older has given me more grace for myself (and hopefully, in tiny degrees, for other people, even though I still score off-the-charts judgmental according to Myers-Briggs).

This year, I’d like to be more capable at giving and receiving grace, however that shakes out in my daily life. I’d like to write more and take the craft of writing more seriously. I’d like to tend to my husband and plants and animals with generosity and patience. I’d like to learn simple conversational French and how to eat food without getting bits of it all over myself.

So. At 27, I feel relaxed about the future, even though death looms.

Sweet Kelsey

Happiest of birthdays to my wonderful sister Kelsey! The sweet one, the go-getter, the consummate athlete, the heroine in all of my scary childhood dreams. I love you and I’m thankful to be related to you. Can’t wait to see you soon!

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Kels

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Kelsey and Alex at their rehearsal dinner

Looking for her lover

Celebrating Grace

My Scandinavian sister

Baby Grace turns 21 today!

I am thankful for this little marmoset. Creator of all good things: absurdist pop art (of which we are the proud owners of three works, featuring Tracy Morgan, a bearded infant, and David Bowie riding a seahorse), photojournalism, documentaries, yoga classes, poetry, blogs, and perfectly composed outfits.

It is so good to have you in my life, sister. Hope your birthday is filled with stardust of the Ziggy persuasion, tiger kisses, yoga poses, and a smörgåsbord of elitist foodstuffs.

Red lips make the leg pain go away.

Would that I could spend every day with you! Then my life would be complete.

First party success

(No photos, because hostesses don’t have time for such things.)

Last night, we hosted our first party at our new house. As Cate said, “You haven’t really moved in until you’ve thrown a party.” And so now we’re official. We gathered in the backyard to celebrate Guion’s birthday AND his amazing cobbler-making skills. I announce it freely: My husband is a way better cook than I am. It’s taken me two years to admit it, but there it is. Pyrrha did amazingly well with the whole party, considering we had 20 new people swarming her yard. By the end of the night, she claimed the picnic blanket as her throne and watched us, mere minions, flit about her.

Caleb is with us this weekend, having made his annual summer sojourn to Charlottesville. He is helpful and funny and speaks Guion’s language in a way that few other people do.

I am reading this oft-mentioned article right now and have been pondering its many ramifications; poor Caleb got an earful when he was helping me with the dishes. I need some lady-friends to talk to about this. I need those long, rambling nights with Rose, Cristina, Emily, Kathryn, Catherine

This past week, in four photos

Guion’s final poetry reading.

On Wednesday night, Guion–who is extremely sexy–gave his final poetry reading at UVA. It is hard to believe that we’ve been here two years and that he’s already finished his coursework for his MFA. He did a wonderful job, as always, and we had a beautiful evening in the gardens celebrating these five great poets:

The graduating poetry MFAs: Melissa, Guion, Marielle, Juliana, and Austin.

I am so very proud of him!

With my accomplished husband.

Saturday afternoon, we celebrated Leah’s 1st birthday at the park! Watching a baby have her first taste of chocolate is a glorious, intense experience.

The Montgomery family at Leah’s 1st birthday party.

More photos from the MFA readings and Leah’s birthday on my Flickr.

This is our last full week in our beloved Belmontonia, so I will be thoroughly consumed by the task of packing and preparing to move. My posting here will be a little more sparse than usual. But I still love you. If you’re looking for something sweet to read, you should check out Granddad’s memories of his mother’s German shepherd. OK. Talk to you again soon.

An even fuller week

Thursday night: Tiny Nettles concert in honor of Lulu and her birthday.
Friday night: The sisters arrived! (Plus Eva and Alex, not featured here.)
Saturday morning: Post-race malaise.
Saturday night: Dinner at Monsoon with the fam. Brothers Pratt here.

This past week I:

  • Attended a surprise birthday show for Lulu, in which Tiny Nettles played; ate the best (and longest? Most intestinal?) baked ziti ever, by Greg.
  • Turned 24; received tulips, chocolate, and a beautiful leather leash (for the dog, not me) from my dear husband.
  • Welcomed my sisters, Alex, and Eva for the weekend.
  • Ran the Charlottesville 10-miler, didn’t die.
  • Ate a celebratory dinner at Monsoon with family and friends.
  • Enjoyed the company of many friends at The Local for drinks; felt so very blessed by each one of them.
  • Went to the Gordon Avenue book sale, the best bi-annual book sale ever.
  • Met a new calligraphy client to start on another job.
  • Observed Palm Sunday; was reminded of that feeling during the Passion reading, “Wait, why do I have to be the crowd? I don’t want this part; it’s the bad guy’s part… Oh, wait. Right.”
  • Watched Guion finish his master’s thesis, provided some opinions on last lines and em dashes; felt so proud of him.
  • Felt very happy.

Love you all very much. There’s a complete set of the weekend’s photos on my Flickr and Grace also published a very nice weekend re-cap, if you’re hankering for more.

20 reasons why Grace rules

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Happy birthday, Grace!

Baby Grace turns 20 today! I barely believe it. It seems like just yesterday Kelsey and I were tormenting her by playing “mean dogs” and not letting her come to sleepovers with us. But look at what that mild childhood trauma has done to her! She is the most accomplished 20-year-old I know. Here are 20 reasons why she rocks:

  1. She loves people well.
  2. She has the most infectious laugh of anyone I know; if she starts that rollicking laughter, you are compelled to start laughing, too, even if you have no idea what she’s laughing about.
  3. She’s an incredible painter, and we have the absurd paintings to prove it.
  4. She writes a kick-ass blog that’s way better than mine and with good reason.
  5. She is a gifted photographer, well on her way to dominating UNC’s photojournalism school.
  6. She is undeniably fearless. Girl went all over the world by herself! Got interrogated by Chinese government officials in Beijing! Hiked in the Himalayas! Rode an elephant! (See below.)
  7. She was the youngest yoga instructor to graduate from a yoga school in Asheville.
  8. She’s very funny. And she thinks I’m funny, which is a plus.
  9. She’s super-cuddly. She will cuddle with just about anyone.
  10. She is tenacious. Grace fights for what she believes and desires!
  11. She can find the ugliest garments at Goodwill and transform them into an amazing outfit.
  12. She loves dogs, even though she’s allergic to them.
  13. She’s always been my buddy for watching black-and-white and/or foreign films.
  14. She also can cultivate an appreciation for the patently terrible, including “The Vampire Diaries” and “Gossip Girl.”
  15. She has a keen eye for visual detail and color relationships.
  16. She is relentlessly stubborn, which may be her simultaneously great gift and great weakness.
  17. She is wonderful with kids, whether they’re in small town Davidson or in an Indian orphanage.
  18. She is a quietly accomplished reader. She’s read a good portion of the general literary canon, but she doesn’t often brag about that fact. I also think she has excellent taste in literature.
  19. She is humble about her spiritual growth.
  20. She loves her family–and, boy, do they love her!
Grace bathes with elephant in Nepal
This alone should be proof enough that she is cool.

Happy birthday, chicken! Love ya.

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)

Under the eyes of love

The Waves

There can be no doubt, I thought, pushing aside the newspaper, that our mean lives, unsightly as they are, put on splendour and have meaning only under the eyes of love.

— The Waves, Virginia Woolf

Happy 22nd birthday to my dear sister Kelsey, whom I wish I could be with today. Right now, in fact. Just a few more days! I love you and I am proud to call you my sister.

Monday Snax

Today, importantly, is Guion’s 24th birthday! I wish I could have just stayed home to celebrate with him all day long. I love that man very much and I think I love him more every day, as totally absurd and romantic as that sounds. He’s the best. I hope his unsurprising birthday present, Bon Iver’s LP, comes in the mail today… G., love you forever and always. Happy, happy birthday!

On Saturday, we went adventuring in the gorgeous wilderness of White Hall with a band of friends. We bought a wheel of gouda from a Trappist monastery and then went to a forbidden but wonderful swimming hole on the Moormans River.

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Sam in the very green Moormans River.
Band of trespassers
The band of trespassers.

After we’d had our fun and settled down with some gouda and wine, we were discovered by a pair of old and understandably grumpy farmers, who kindly asked us to leave and stop trespassing on their land. We complied. Although we won’t be going back there again and felt bad about clearly violating their “no trespassing” signs, it was definitely worth it.

Snax with Trappist cheese and wine on a rock outcropping:

Catching the Bouquet. Here, Emma gives prime advice on how to catch the bouquet at any of the zillion summer weddings you’ve probably been invited to. Heed her wisdom, friends. She “caught” my bouquet and saved that moment from an otherwise awkward end. She’s a pro. (Take Two)

Finally in English: The World’s Best Type Reference Guide. Oh, want it. (The Atlantic)

Brooklyn Moms Now Need to Get High to Play with their Kids. This is sad and funny. I love the comparison in the last paragraph between a high mother and a toddler. (Daily Intel)

Gay Talese: What I Read. A day in the life of the Internet-free human. How nice! (The Atlantic Wire)

The Mind and Fog. So gorgeous and haunting. As you can probably tell by now, I’m a sucker for foggy field photos. Can you believe this woman lives here? Jealous. (La Porte Rouge)

Sebastien Galtier: Beautiful Friends. A collection of dark and dramatic photographs of modern ballerinas. Love. (The Ballet Bag)

Yann Gross. Fascinating photographs of high-fashion models with unusual animals. (Wolf Eyebrows)

Please Have a Seat. A collection of pretty place cards from calligrapher Barbara Kua. (Barbara Kua Calligraphy)

Stereotyping You By Your Favorite Rapper. I don’t know enough about rap to verify these generalizations, but it’s a funny catalog nonetheless. (Flavorwire)

Good News! I’ve reached the point where Etsy just makes me viscerally angry. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. (Regretsy)

Dog and Orangutan BFFs Are Today’s Reason for Living. Um, yes, please. I can never get enough inter-species friends (we’re not kidding, mac!). The dour expression on this hound’s face in all of these photos is priceless. (Best Week Ever)