Lifting the spirits

Pyrrha, rolling around in the yard.

Pyrrha has found an excellent remedy to lift the spirits: Roll around in the grass! Preferably on a slug or something equally stinky! It will do wonders for your complexion and countenance!

Hope you have a peaceful, productive, and relaxing weekend. I’ll be spending mine with Guion, the dog, the yard, Proust, and D.H. Lawrence. Oh, and doing lots of calligraphy. Lots and lots of calligraphy. I need to stop overbooking myself with these calligraphy jobs; it makes my evenings so busy that I am tempted to follow Pyrrha’s dubious method of stress relief…

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)

Monday Snax

Big city living. Davis, West Virginia.
Matt, Liz, and Ross, surviving switchbacks.

We took a very short weekend trip to the tiny mountain town of Thomas, West Virginia, so the boys could visit Mountain State Brewing Co. (Liz and I were able to find a coffee shop, to our amazement, which provided some respite from the bar.) We narrowly survived the seemingly endless switchbacks and hairpin turns and the little Versa even trucked it up there. A fun and very different way to spend the weekend; more photos on Flickr.

Snax:

Longform’s Best of 2011. The best long-form journalism from last year. I really want to read all of these. I love a good, thorough, and fascinating article. (Longform)

The 25 Greatest Epigraphs in Literature. I love a good epigraph! This is a great and comprehensive list. Have you read any of these novels? Do you agree? (Flavorwire)

World’s Biggest Websites at Launch, 1990s. Wow, Amazon. Looking pretty rough. And Google, that exclamation point? Garish. (Retronaut)

Best Correction in New York Times History. This takes the cake. You have to admire their commitment to accuracy. (Best Week Ever)

Christmas Time with the Family. Grace’s touching recap of our (lovely and goofy) family holidays. (Como Say What?)

Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview. Wow. Apparently, there are a lot of great books set to come out this year. I’m looking forward to reading many of them! (I’m especially excited about Marilynne Robinson’s When I Was a Child, I Read Books.) (The Millions)

Dallas Calligrapher: Fabulous Forty. Now that is impressive calligraphy: Flexible nib with white ink, slanted, on a hot pink envelope. I’m jealous of her skills. (The Lefthanded Calligrapher)

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Cary Grant’s Intimate Bromance. Thoughts on the beautiful and peerless Grant and his versatile loves. (The Hairpin)

2012 Resolutions

Click for source.

In 2012, I resolve to:

  1. Adopt, raise, and train a healthy and happy dog.
  2. Keep running, even though I hate it.
  3. Read 75 books. (Down from last year, because I need to be less competitive with myself about my reading goals. I read like a maniac this year.)
  4. Stop interrupting people when they are talking.
  5. Take the GRE. Start thinking more seriously about whether to go to grad school.
  6. Go hiking more often.
  7. Make books of all received letters; get them out of those musty shoeboxes.
  8. Dress better; stop schlepping around in frumpy clothes.
  9. Memorize scripture.
  10. Call my family more often.
  11. Read that book of Japanese short stories in Japanese.
  12. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA, if feasible.
  13. Improve my calligraphy skills with the flexible nib.
  14. Spend more time with women.

How about you? Figured out any of your new year’s resolutions yet?

Monday Snax

Dead orchard
Spooky peach trees.
Afternoon in Crozet
Guion on a Crozet farm road.

A peaceful, efficient weekend. Back to the book sale again; ran a lot of errands; Guion was on tour with Nettles, the Hill and Wood, and Camp Christopher in D.C. and Princeton.  One of the highlights of the weekend was a photo session with the incredible Kristin Moore, who took us out to Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet for a fun afternoon among the spooky/awesome dead trees. Kristin is so sweet and encouraging and she made us feel OK about being in front of the camera, despite our overwhelming awkwardness.

My paternal grandfather passed away this weekend. He was a happy man who flew helicopters and told jokes, but I did not know him very well. It is a strange feeling, to acknowledge that you feel so empty and detached about your grandfather’s death, but my heart is heavy for my father and his siblings. They feel something for him that I never got the chance to, and for that, I am sad. Rest in peace, Papa John.

Snax with a box of clementines, which are easily the main reason winter is passable:

Faroes. Good friend Ross McDermott went on an adventure to the mystical and hidden Faroe Islands and his photographs of the trip are just incredible. It looks like such an enchanted place; I want to go! (Ross McDermott’s Flickr)

Palmetto Bluff. Meredith visits this amazing inn in South Carolina. I’m a sucker for hanging moss; it makes me want to go read a dozen Eudora Welty stories. (Meredith Perdue)

LIFE Magazine’s 20 Worst Covers. You have to respect a magazine with the ability to make fun of itself. These are pretty horrendous. (LIFE)

Our Bella, Ourselves. As a self-respecting woman with a functional brain, I have a lot of disdain for all things Twilight. But this is a very interesting perspective on Bella Swan–the weak, useless, defenseless, and indecisive “heroine”–as a mirror of her fanbase. Teen girls love these books, because they see something of themselves in Bella. Sad, but maybe true? (The Hairpin)

2011 Holiday Card Roundup, Part 4. If I were a rich woman, I would spend an unforgivable amount of money on cards like these. (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)

Calligraphy Inspiration: Kathryn Murray. So pretty and whimsical. To have such control over one’s nib! (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)

Joan Didion’s Packing List. That is very efficient, Ms. Didion. I approve. (English Muse)

Reading 1Q84: The Case for Fiction in a Busy Life. A sound and compelling argument for reading thick novels even when your life is insane. (The Millions)

Things I want to do in 2012

Me, next year. Click for source.

Yes, I like to make my new year’s resolutions very early. In fact, one could say that I am in a perpetual state of making new year’s resolutions. Continuous goal-making is a blessing/curse we inherited from our mother. (Grace has the worst case of it, but then again, she’s the most accomplished of us all, so maybe there is something to this mania for making resolutions.)

Things I Want To Do in 2012

  1. Get a dog, which I don’t have to tell you. I already have. Like, a hundred times.
  2. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA.
  3. Take the GRE.
  4. Go hiking more often.
  5. Read 75 books (down from this year’s goal of 100, because I think I’ll be cutting down on my dog reading).
  6. Take a beginner’s ballet class.
  7. Try to take my writing more seriously; publish something, somewhere. (How’s that for ambiguity?)
  8. Improve calligraphy business; hone skills with flexible nib.
  9. Finish reading the remainder of Shakespeare’s plays (I think I have 19 more to go. Eek).
  10. Decide what I’m going to do with my life.

Do you have any goals for next year already? Am I the only one?

Monday Snax

Liz and Matt, getting married!
Liz, the beautiful bride.
Cocktail hour
A chilly, glamorous cocktail hour under the oaks.
Us
Us!

Our last wedding of 2011 was certainly one to remember: Matt and Liz got hitched at the gorgeous Castle Hill Cidery in Keswick and threw a lavish, memorable party for everyone. We love them so very much and are so delighted that they will be sticking around. Life in this town is way more exciting when it involves the two of them. More photos on Flickr!

Snax:

Meet Our Vendors: Polyface Farm Tour. We just started using Relay Foods for the first time and it’s a totally wonderful thing; you should be justifiably upset that it doesn’t exist yet in your town. Here, the Relay Foods staff takes a photo tour of Joel Salatin’s beautiful and much-lauded Polyface Farm. We just bought our first Polyface chicken this week! (Relay Living)

Farms Need People, Not Machines. Another great push to move away from factory farms and to raise employment levels. (The Atlantic)

How Manure-to-Energy Projects Make the Best of a Stinky Situation. Another factory farming-related issue: A fascinating initiative to make use of one of factory farming’s biggest and stinkiest problems. (Good)

Harry Moo-dini. If you ever thought cows were stupid, you need to watch this one. (Animals Being Di*ks)

American Gothic. Amazing. The now-famous man (the artist’s dentist!) looks none too pleased about it all. (All the Mountains)

American Modern. If pressed to describe the style I’d like to cultivate in my house one day, I think I would just have to point to this book and its pictures. (Cottage Farm)

The Cure for Math Anxiety Might Be in Your Head. Well, it’s good to know that my math phobia is grounded in mental instability. (Good)

Calligraphy Inspiration: Emilie Friday. Oh, to be that skilled with a flexible nib! (Oh So Beautiful Paper)

Why I Write. Why Orhan Pamuk, one of my recent favorites, writes. (Lit Drift)

Sundance Rings. Oh so pretty. (Unruly Things)

A Visual Anthropology of the Last Living Nomads in the World. Riveting photographs. It is hard to believe that there are still people who live like this in these places. (The Atlantic)

Monday Snax

This past week…

Sean, Julie, and baby Phinehas! (Sorry for the blurriness. Dark in there.)

We got to meet the perfectly charming Phinehas Edwards McDermott! Welcome to Earth, new McDermott. We are so glad to have you here.

And I got new glasses, which make me both totally serious AND crazy. I also got shot for the Charlotte’s new style section, which was confirming to me at what a truly terrible model I am. But Sean and Stephanie were super-nice about the whole thing. Thanks, friends.

SNAX:

Liz + Matt. Just some shameless self-promotion: I just finished this calligraphy project for our dear friends, Liz and Matt, and I had a blast doing it. This was my first time doing an invitation suite, which was turned into a fabulous letterpress invitation by the matchless Patrick Costello. A lot of fun! (AFP Calligraphy)

A Reunion with Boredom. Charles Simic discusses life without electricity, reading, and how much he owes to boredom. A thoughtful and lovely piece that will make me strive to appreciate our frequent power outages. (New York Review of Books)

Just Like a Woman. In defense of Jane Austen as a legitimate and important writer, in response to V.S. Naipaul’s remark, which is a campaign that I am 100 percent behind. It’s a little late to be responding to him now, as his comment is kind of old news, but I do wish Austen would be rescued from the plight of being constantly written off as a “chick lit” writer. Thanks a lot, Keira Knightley. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Findings. My favorites, among the lighter findings surveyed: “Florida could be up to 50 percent older than previously believed” and “Chemists discovered why van Gogh’s yellows were fading.” (Harper’s)

The Slow Art of Tea. A re-posted article from the Curator that talks about one of my favorite daily rituals. (The Curator)

There’s Nothing Like… Even though Tom Wolfe got on my nerves in From Bahaus to Our House, I’m going to side with him on this one: What an unfortunate place to live. (Unhappy Hipsters)

Before & After: Music Room Redo with Custom Shelving. Wow, so THIS is how you can make built-in bookshelves. Going to be trying this one day. (Design Sponge)

Table and Chair, Pen and Paper, Text and Time. If I was an artist, I think I’d like to do what Helga Schmid is doing. (Le Projet d’Amour)

Yaron Steinberg’s Installation, How He Imagines His Brain. Amazing. (The Fox Is Black)

When the Fog Lingers in the Forest. I just keep coming back to her blog, because I want her life. So dreamy, rustic, idyllic. (La Porte Rouge)

The College Ranking in Which a Black School Beat Out Princeton and Yale. And, might I add, UNC-Chapel Hill beat out Princeton, Yale, Duke, UVA… Interesting stuff. (Good)

Eggcellent Living Quarters. Um, can we get chickens, just so I can build them a coop like this one? OMG. The Ritz-Carlton of chicken coops. (Pawesome)

How to Buy Houseplants (Once and For All). I need to people to tell me about these hardy plants, because I am skilled at letting them die. This is a helpful introductory guide. (A Cup of Jo)

Monday Snax

Quiet hallway.

A quiet weekend at home was just what we needed. I got to read, work on a lot of copperplate calligraphy, volunteer two mornings at the SPCA, and watch “Mad Men” with my husband. We didn’t have any big plans and that was just what I needed. Now it’s time to gear up for yet another NC wedding this weekend (congrats to Shaun and Ann-Marie!). In the meantime, I will be thinking about all of the daily kindnesses of a quiet house.

Snax:

I Miss New Zealand, Queenstown, and Bungee Jumping. It’s a miracle that Grace made it back to us alive. I love the peaceful expression on her face when she is diving down into the depths. And now our little adventurer has started a new one: COLLEGE. Happy first week at UNC, Gracie. (Como Say What?)

New Copperplate Styles. Motivated by my work for a recent wedding job, I’m debuting four new styles with a copperplate nib. (AFP Calligraphy)

The Depressing Truth about Why Women Need College Degrees. Because they can’t just coast like men can. (Good)

Eudora Welty’s Jackson: The Help in Context. Eudora Welty’s short stories provide a better, more realistic alternative to The Help. (NPR)

Sweetheart Come. The fascinating and heart-breaking “letters” from a woman committed to a German mental institution in 1909. (Letters of Note)

New Notepads and Calendars. Rifle Paper’s 2012 suite is very charming. (Rifle Paper Co.)

NYIGF August 2011, Part 3. This place looks like heaven to me. (Oh, So Beautiful Paper)

The History Page: Exactly Your Type. Katherine Eastland explains how Times New Roman got to be the most popular font in the world. I’ve always wondered this myself. (The Daily)

Cutting Onions. And this photo is definitely proof of that statement. (Paper Tissue)

Japanese Etiquette: How to Save Yourself from Embarrassment in Japan. So many of these social codes wouldn’t even cross our radars as Americans. I had to learn a lot of them the hard way: Trial and error. (Tofugu)

New Discoveries. A series of very enchanting iPhone photos. It often depresses me that Guion’s space phone can take better photographs than my digital camera. (Eye Poetry)

Monday Snax

We had a perfect, celebration-filled weekend in Davidson and Charlotte. Complete set of photos here!

Marriaged!
We watched these two get married. Warmest congratulations, Jonathan and Keara!
Glowing with love
We got all dressed up.
It's Pizookie time!
We took the Pizookie challenge.
Family love
And we welcomed home our beloved world traveler!

 Snax with a piping hot cup of darjeeling tea, imported straight from the region itself:

What I’ve Done. Just reading the list of things Grace did these past six months is enough to make one’s head spin. Proud of you, muppet, but mostly I’m just really, really glad that you’re home. (Como Say What?)

Memories of Chekhov. An excerpt from a new book of people’s opinions and stories about the great Anton Chekhov. Delightful. (New York Review of Books)

The Lake House, Part 2. Does this look like the absolute perfect vacation or what? I’m enamored. (Sweet Fine Day)

Teal Blue Envelope Calligraphy. Must learn how to write like this. (Paper Tastebuds)

An Epistolary Confession. I haven’t written many letters lately, and this thoughtful piece by Jenni Simmons on the Curator made me want to revive my practice of regular letter writing. (The Curator)

No-Bake Chocolate Cake. I haven’t actually made this yet, but it sounds perfect–especially since our temperamental old oven makes baking a terrifying and often tragic adventure. (Mint)

The Unconditional Love of Dogs. This is why I think keeping pets, especially dogs, matters to humanity. (Doggerel)

Hover Cat. I feel that this GIF sums up the personality of most cats and dogs. (Animals Being Di*ks)