Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am beside myself with excitement: Win, Guion, and I are trekking down to the Old North State in about an hour. Cannot WAIT. There shall be much food, laughter, and loving of dogs.
Wishing you all peace and merriment. See you Monday!
(Tell me that’s not the cutest picture you’ve seen all day.)
This weekend, we traveled to Oak Ridge, NC, for the joyful wedding of Danielle and Logan, whom we love. So delighted for them! Just look how beautiful (and cold) they are:
More photos on Flickr! A thousand happy congratulations to Danielle and Logan; hope you two are soaking up some of the last warm rays on the Hilton Head shores!
Meager snax, because apparently, I was too busy last week to read anything of any great interest on the Interwebs. It’s OK; no one will die. Because, really, the less time I spend online, the more I enjoy my life.
Detroit Free Press Accidentally Prints Vulgar Headline. And this is why you always check and then re-check the front page copy… (I knew people from my Dow Jones internship who worked at this paper. I wonder if they heard about this!) It’s funny, though. You have to admit it. (Best Week Ever)
Audrey Hepburn Reads. I think it is impossible to look at photos of Mlle. Hepburn and not think one of two things: 1) I want to hang out with her right now, and 2) I WANT TO BE HER. (Awesome People Reading)
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.
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)
Animals distract me. This, the title of Isabella Rossellini’s new film for Planet Green, could very well be the story of my life. It premiered a few weeks ago and, of course, I really want to watch it. Rossellini is busy training her eighth guide dog and making this documentary, a tribute of her lifelong love of animals and a public exhortation for people to realize how their actions affect other living creatures.
I watched the series of bizarre trailers (in which she impersonates a chicken on hormones and an eyelid parasite) and just kept thinking, “I want to BE this woman. Maybe I AM this woman.” I wish. If only we could all be rich, quirky, gorgeous Italian model-actresses…
I think it’s the title, though, that especially resonated with me. What a perfect description of my (now well-documented) condition! Guion certainly knows this is true. We can’t go on a walk without me pointing out every animal in sight: Pigeons, feral cats, skinks, songbirds, squirrels, and dogs, of course always and forever, dogs. We’ll be driving through the Virginian countryside and I’ll point out cows on the hillside. As if they were something novel! As if we hadn’t passed 700 of them minutes before! It’s a problem. But, like my kindred Isabella, I’ve always been this way.
My parents were fairly tolerant of my animal obsessions as a child. They let me get six mice to “train” for a “science” experiment when I was in early middle school. Really, I just wanted some mice because I thought they were cute. I named them all after Shakespeare characters and kept the males in females in separate glass tanks. Then I found out that Romeo was a Juliet and we had a potential population problem on our hands. The parental edict descended and I had to get rid of them. But they were fun for a while. If extremely smelly.
I went through a brief budgie obsession, which culminated in me getting a pair, Monet and Renoir, for my 13th birthday. They were cute and affable and liked to use my fingers as landing perches. However, I was not prepared for the nocturnal activities of such birds. My annoyance with the noise grew and I began to pray that they would die. This is a dark confession for an animal lover. But there you have it. God rather unceremoniously answered my prayers and about a month later, I found Renoir dead on the floor of the cage. I grieved, but not as much as his pretty gay lover, Monet. Monet died of a broken bird heart a few weeks later. We buried them both in the backyard and ornamented their graves with twig crosses.
Spencer was our family rabbit, a large and happy Dutch lop. He was our first true playmate and easily the most tolerant rabbit ever to live. We acquired him from our irresponsible neighbor, who was running a de facto rabbit colony in her back yard, which met up with ours. She probably had anywhere from 20 to 30 rabbits back there and never fed or cared for them. I like to think we rescued him from that situation, even though he could still play with all of his poor half-siblings, cousins, and assorted relatives along the fence line. Dad built him a two-story rabbit mansion in the back yard. We believed that he played hide-and-seek with us. He never bit us, not even once, which is remarkable, considering that we tried to dress him up and smuggle him inside for tea parties.
Then, of course, you know about Emma, my beautiful, intelligent Australian Shepherd that I failed with my teenager-ness. I think she’s the primary reason I want another Aussie; I have this feeling that I have to make it up to her somehow.
My need to lavish affection on an animal has even extended to Reuben. A fish is barely a pet–they’re about as much fun as a plant–but I love this fish. I talk to him in the mornings when I feed him. I think he’s very handsome and I worry about his manorexia.
The other day, during my lunch break, I made a list of all of the animals I wanted to own on our fictional 300-acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Here is my ideal menagerie:
Pack of dogs, at most four (Shepherds from most regions: Australian, German, and Anatolian. And probably a Great Pyrenees.)
One to two cats. (I do not know anything about cats and I’ve only met a few that I’m fond of; I loved Kitteh, my housemate in Denver, for example. Yet I probably shouldn’t be allowed to get a cat because I think of them as purely decorative beings. Cats are so elegant and pretty and they go with everything! If I got cats, they’d probably be functional barn cats.)
Two to three bunnies. I love bunnies!
A flock of finches or two budgerigars for the parlor. It’s only proper.
Goats for lawn control and cheese.
Sheep for the dogs to guard and herd. And for wool. And lamb kebobs.
A llama. For inter-species friendships with the sheep. And because they’re super-soft.
If we suddenly inherit millions, two horses. For riding around the property and for brushing. Haven’t gotten over My Little Pony yet.
Chickens. Guion will probably make me get chickens. I have no interest in them, but I think I could learn to love them.
This list has the potential to grow. Consider yourself warned, husband.
I am finally going to my volunteer orientation at the Charlottesville SPCA this weekend and I could not be more excited. It’s absurd. I was talking to Emily yesterday about her life and she’s talking about huge things like her career and moving to the West Bank for six months and she’s all, “What’s the big thing in your life right now?” And I’m just, “OMG, I’m going to the animal shelter!!” No comparison in the magnitude of these life plans.
But there you have it. Animals distract me. That’s all I really need to say.
In honor of my sister Grace, I am imposing a set of weekly challenges on myself. For 12 weeks, I will attempt a different “challenge” each week–to do one thing every day for seven days, ranging from serious to silly. At the end of each week, I’ll let you know how it goes.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve completed twelve weeks of challenges. They’ve ranged from serious to silly, but they have all been fun and often enlightening. I’ve learned a lot of little facts about myself and about my process of making and following ritual. Some of the challenges have been incorporated into my daily life and I hope I’ll continue some of them in the future.
For this final week, I wanted to take a stroll. Now that we’ve skipped spring and gone straight into summer, a week of daily walks has been really enjoyable, if occasionally sweaty.
If I was a good blogger, I would have taken pictures from all of these walks, but I’m not, so you’ll just have to deal.
Guion and I walked downtown to meet our Bible study friends Mark and Christina for Chap’s ice cream on the Downtown Mall. It was a hot and breezy afternoon and a little cup of Chap’s made it feel like heaven. I love strolling around the Mall and we walk there often. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from our apartment and it’s always packed with dogs. What’s not to love?
I had to do some research for my boss at SNL Financial, which is also downtown. I parked the Jeep at our place and then walked over. Got there a bit early, so I strolled around the blocks behind the building and looked at all of the historic houses that now feature the offices of real estate agents or lawyers.
My weekly walk with Bo turned out to be something of an exhilarating misadventure. I head over to Liz’s to pick him up and we chat about how silly it is that her team’s soccer game was canceled because of a thunderstorm/tornado warning. Yeah, absurd. I walk Bo downtown and we’re having a fine time until I feel a spattering of rain. Then I look at the sky. It is not gray. Or dark blue. It is black. Slate. Full of doom. Bo and I then run–sprint!–across the Belmont Bridge and make it back to my front porch right before the sky bursts open. We had amazingly good timing, because a second after we got inside… thunder, lightning, torrential rain, minor flooding, wind howling, the whole deal. Thankfully, Bo isn’t thunderstorm-phobic (like Emma was) and so he chilled with me in our apartment. He helped me do the dishes and then started watching “Gosford Park” with me until it cleared up enough to take him home. I think he’s the perfect dog. I confessed to Guion and Liz that I am now worried about getting a dog because he or she may not be as amazing as Bo is. I love him.
Despite starting out rather rough, it turned out to be a very beautiful evening and so I took Bo for another walk. Guion joined me this time and we went wandering through the charming and eclectic Belmont neighborhood. We daydreamed about houses we’d buy and dubious ways we’d coerce current residents to move out and give us their gorgeous homes with manicured lawns and sprawling gardens.
Guion joined me on a walk to the Downtown Mall to buy cupcakes from Cappellino’s for Cate’s royal wedding princess party. He was a bit astonished at the price of gourmet cupcakes. Aren’t we all.
Our lovely housemate Hannah joined us on a late morning walk to the Charlottesville farmers’ market. We ended up buying delicious mint tea, baklava, and a babe in the wood, and therefore nothing really healthy or valuable for the rest of the week. Oh well! From there, we wandered over to The Garage, where Stephanie and Emily were hosting a tag sale. Guion went off to brew day for the rest of the afternoon; I went to Mecca, aka Target. When Guion got home, we walked downtown again to eat at Miyako for dinner. Quite excellent, if I do say so.
Win came! We walked downtown with him and went to church and it was awesome. We’re crossing our fingers that he moves here…
That’s all, folks! It’s been a fun way to welcome spring. To be honest, it will be kind of nice to not worry about weekly goals, but I think I will try to keep some of these habits on regular rotation. Thanks for reading; talk to you soon.
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.
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.
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??
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)
So. We got pummeled by what appeared to be a tiny tornado last night (also called a “mini-burst” apparently) that caused a lot of damage. We were without power from about 5 p.m. last night until 6 a.m. this morning. Lightning ripped giant oak trees out of the ground, crushing our neighbor’s truck and trailer. Downed power lines splayed across the street. Our porch chairs were flung out in the street when we got home. Caution tape was tied over our street to prevent anyone from entering. It was outrageous. The whole neighborhood was huddled around outside, in shock. The storm happened in about 15 minutes and took out most of Charlottesville’s power in its wake.
We managed to make the most of an unfortunate situation, however. We were planning on making dinner for our new friends Michael and Mallory (Guion had a lovely dish of ricotta-stuffed shells waiting to go in the oven), but after we couldn’t figure out how to start our oven without power, we wandered to the downtown mall. We managed to find the one place that miraculously had power, Eppie’s, and had a nice dinner there. Michael and Mallory were lovely and fun and we had a great time with them. (I was especially pleased to find a fellow reader in Mallory. I haven’t met any girls here except for our neighbors.) Conveniently, the concert we were planning on going to (our worship leader Sam’s band, Hill & Wood) relocated to the Tea Bazaar just next door. And then we came back home and slept in sweltering, humid blackness.
There was something remotely touching about the surge of interdependence in the neighborhood, though. Everyone huddled together in hushed groups on the street, walking together along the dark and eerie downtown mall, swapping horror and survival stories from the afternoon. It evoked images of “The Road,” for some reason, although infinitely less bleak. Charlottesville is still very pretty and lush, despite all the trees on the ground.
I think this is very interesting. This is from the paper I’m proofing today at work.
The critical implication of the research on evolutionary preparedness is that people are likely to react with little fear to certain types of objectively dangerous stimuli that evolution has not prepared them for, such as guns, hamburgers, automobiles, smoking, and unsafe sex, even when they recognize the threat at a cognitive level. Types of stimuli that people are evolutionarily prepared to fear, such as caged spiders, snakes, or heights (when adequate safety measures are in place), evoke a visceral response even when, at a cognitive level, they are recognized to be harmless.
Loewenstein et al., “Risk as Feelings,” Psychological Bulletin, 2001
Guion and I are going away for the weekend! He’s turning 23 on Sunday and so we are going to celebrate his and Emma’s birthdays with a bunch of friends at Emma’s family’s new cabin. Photos of the mini-burst carnage coming on Monday night, ideally. Be safe; have a lovely weekend.