(As a preemptive warning, all of my post titles are probably going to be lifted straight from Mrs. Dalloway, which I am currently re-reading for the fifth time. I am suffused with emotion! It is everything I remembered it to be and more, particularly because I am actually living in her pulsing city.)
Oh, right. I already talked about Vita. But I still want to. If I ever wrote a nonfiction book, I’d want to write one like that — loose, unstructured, pretty little thoughts about a favorite topic, with the liberal dispensation of advice, such as this:
Gardening is largely a question of mixing one sort of plant with another sort of plant, and of seeing how they marry happily together; and if you see that they don’t marry happily, then you must hoick one of them out and be quite ruthless about it. That is the only way to garden; and that is why I advise every gardener to go round his garden now—and make notes of what he thinks he ought to remove and of what he wants to plant later on. The true gardener must be brutal, and imaginative for the future.
Inspired by A Joy of Gardening, when I got home from work last night, I pulled on my Hunters and walked around in the back garden with the chickens for a while, inspecting all of the plants that are slowly resurrecting themselves. I think one of our blueberry bushes didn’t survive the winter; we’ll need to get another little bush soon, so that the other two can have necessary company. The blackberry bushes, however, are thriving, and all three apple trees have started producing tiny buds on their glossy branches. The forsythia is just about to burst into yellow flame. I’ve heard that some high-class gardeners disdain forsythia, but I love it; it’s so fast-growing and hardy, and the fact that it produces that first shock of spring color will always endear me to it. I think I’d like to get a few more, to perhaps balance the yard out.
The hens have become very bold and chatty lately, especially whenever they see me. I won’t claim that chickens are the smartest winged creatures, but they are a lot brighter than people give them credit for. (You can, in fact, clicker train a chicken.) Our ladies have become much more interested in us, especially whenever they see us approaching the gate (because this means FOOD or OUTSIDE TIME TO SCRATCH UP ALL THE BEDS). They’re still quite skittish but noticeably less shy by degrees.
Last night, they were really getting into dust bathing. I’d read that chickens do this, but I’d never seen our hens partake in this particularly adorable and goofy-looking activity. At one point, one of the girls, in a little indentation she’d hollowed out for herself near the apple tree, flipped herself on her back and squirmed around while keeping her neck high, alert for danger. A hilarious, ungraceful posture, but she was having a grand time. The chicken instructional books I’d read said that chickens use dust baths to “clean themselves and socialize,” which delights me to no end. It’s the equivalent of a bunch of ladies taking a spa day together. Treat yo self, chickens. Treat yo self.
(*Title explanation: Whenever someone says something about spring, Guion and I cannot stop ourselves from putting on our best, bass-level Robert Pinsky voices and chanting, Springtime, springtime/the only golden ring time…)
Apparently I forgot about this blog.
I’ve been so absorbed with real life — and the very serious, very important work of dog blogging — that I seem to have lost interest in this little space. I may wander back from time to time.
General Life Updates
- We have to move out of our weird, happy, little farmhouse–hovel, as the landlords (who really are wonderful humans, let it be said) are putting it on the market. This is very sad, but it might also be very promising, because now we’re thinking about buying a house of our own. Pray for us. We have no idea what we’re doing.
- Guion got a job!
- I’ve had this stupid, lingering cold for a week now, which made me miss out on the family camping expedition.
- We’re taking a hiatus from fostering dogs, because the housing situation is up in the air. This makes me sad, but not as sad as it makes Pyrrha, who really misses having a live-in playmate. I think she’s fundamentally bored with just the two of us humans.
- I’m re-reading The Sound and the Fury, and guys, I am loving fiction again, after being rather immune to its powers for months and months (thanks a lot, David Foster Wallace; you broke me). I have also learned the secret to Faulkner: SLOW DOWN. To a snail’s pace. And then you shall love him.
- I’m throwing out most colors in my wardrobe.
- So OVER the government.
What’s new with you?
Piecemeal thoughts on a Wednesday:
“Like” and “like” and “like”—but what is the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing?
— Virginia Woolf, The Waves
It is easy for me to forget that God cares about little things. I’m a little thing, after all.
Even though I very much hope one of the candidates loses, if I am really being honest with myself, I don’t think much will change at all, regardless of the victor. Such is the nature of the American political machine. It has made me an unapologetic cynic with regard to all politicians everywhere. Machiavelli was the one to convince me not to become a political science major during my freshman year and I still think of him when I watch the debates or muddle through social media posts; it’s all a farce, all a dirty game.
I miss my family.
I need to read some lighthearted, dreamy fiction. Flannery O’Connor and Jesmyn Ward and Samuel Beckett all back-to-back = Violent, dark times. I need some fluttering, social web-spinning, 19th-century British ladywriters, STAT.
Lately, I have been so thankful for my job and for the work that I do. I am grateful for my coworkers, for the camaraderie that we have, for the rarity of our very happy workplace coexistence. I love being an editor. I’m so glad I found this profession.
New Life Goal: Read 100 books a year for the rest of my life.
Guion plucked this bouquet for me straight out of our yard. I KNOW. (He even arranged the flowers himself. I, for one, am very impressed.) He is turning 25 on Wednesday and we are going to have a whole WEEK of birthday celebrations. Just because he is that special.
Sunday (and part of today), we were graced with Courtney‘s presence. Nothing like seeing an old friend to remind you how much you really, really miss them. Coco is happy and beautiful and we had a lovely (if too short) evening with her, watching the dog play-fight Guion in the backyard, eating French Silk, and introducing her to the joy of the first season of “Community.” Next time, she’ll have to come for a whole month.
Things I would spend an embarrassingly large amount of money on if I were rich:
- Fresh-cut flowers! In every room!
- My (hypothetical pack of) dogs.
- Expensive sight hound puppies, like Afghans and borzois, from top-notch breeders.
- Books. I would buy a million books. And put them in my house.
- Makeup. Secret: I actually really like makeup, even though I don’t wear much of it. I think I just like to play with it.
- Stationery. I would send everyone, even people I didn’t like that much, $6 letterpress birthday cards.
- Bunnies. I would get a lot of bunnies.
- Art. I would have a painting in every room, too.
- Dresses. I would buy all the dresses.
- Adorable little notebooks that I would probably never use but keep in my purse, “just in case.”
- Tickets to the ballet.
- Japanese pens. They make the best pens.
- Antique furniture.
Inordinate wealth is not in the cards for us, so Guion doesn’t really have to worry about this list. But daydreams are a great zero-cal snack.
A wonderful weekend of gatherings and dinners! On Friday, my small group + husbands came to our house for a potluck dinner after we returned from the Compline service at the monastery in Crozet. On Saturday, I went for a run with Liz K. and Bo, and then we had lunch and went to Mallory‘s for a holiday-themed domestic afternoon of baking and nail polishing with the set of super-beautiful and funny Trinity ladies. Then that night, Dave and Kirby had a bunch of us over for an incredible lasagna dinner. Sunday, we finished almost all of our Christmas shopping, which was an incredible feeling. When we got home, I started wrapping them all like a fool. I realized that I really love wrapping presents, even though I am objectively terrible at it. I am way too impatient with ribbons and paper. But I love it just the same. Even if my presents turn out looking like a four-year-old boy wrapped them.
I don’t really feel like snaxing today. Ho-hum. Back to work. But here are a few things:
Americans Are 20 Pounds Heavier Than They Were Just 20 Years Ago. Way to go, America. I think you’re winning this one! While we were at the mall yesterday, Guion commented that they would soon have to widen the lanes to accommodate shoppers. It’s only a matter of time, apparently. (The Atlantic)
Pretty Books Redesigned: Virginia Woolf. I approve! I think Woolf and her sister and creative director, Vanessa Bell, would have approved, too. (Black Eiffel)
Uptown. Just looking at this arrangement makes me feel calmer, happier. (An Apple a Day)
Um, yep. That’s all. It’s been a busy week! More important things to do!
We had a delightful (if extremely hot) weekend with Kelsey and Alex. They are a lot of fun and I’m so glad they were able to drive up for a few days. We ate dinner, grabbed dessert and drinks at The Local, sweated around downtown, and introduced them to the joys of “Friday Night Lights”–and didn’t want them to leave! In other exciting news, though, Win is moving most of his stuff today into his swanky house in town. Our crafty plan is to get all of our family members to move to Charlottesville… so far, it’s working. A few more photos on Flickr.
Snax with lemonade so refreshing you wish you could just bathe in it:
When All Is Lovely. Oh, nothing. Just pictures of my dream life, that’s all. (La Porte Rouge)
Elmwood in July. Can I live here, too? All peonies and rowboats in the mist? (An Apple a Day)
A Dinner Party. Amazing things like this happen all the time in Charlottesville. Sarah of JohnSarahJohn writes a guest post for The Charlotte about a classy party she threw at the new store on Main Street. (The Charlotte)
A Cube with a Clever Layout. With the help of a Japanese designer, UVA graduate Alison Threatt builds this crazy house in the woods outside of Charlottesville. Featured on the New York Times this past week. (NYT Home and Garden)
Height and Cancer. So, I used to be proud of the fact that I was a tall woman. No more! Because now I’m going to DIE of CANCER. For sure. (The Hairpin)
Molly Stern: On Makeup and Motherhood. A down-to-earth makeup artist to all the biggest celebrities talks about how she juggles her looks-driven career and her children. (Girl’s Gone Child)
Mark Twain’s Illustrated “Advice to Little Girls.” Twain provides some tongue-in-cheek advice to his daughters, presumably. (Flavorwire)
It’s a Bunny’s World. Indeed. Totally getting a precious house rabbit like this lop one day. I wonder how a German shepherd would deal with that… (Pawsh Magazine)
Cats vs. Dogs: Infographic. I mean, clearly, dogs win here. (The Hydrant)
Seeking Redemption One Kernel at a Time. A food blogger says some nice things about much-maligned corn. I concur. There’s nothing so great in July as corn on the cob. (The Sweet Beet)
A Visit to the Chocolate. Where is this? Can I go right now? (Andrew + Carissa)
Riding Bikes While Wearing Skirts. I am also a huge proponent of this practice. Although, perhaps, I am too enthusiastic about it, as I once mistakenly tried to ride my bike around campus in a wrap dress. Yes. I sufficiently flashed the entire student body and not a few significant professors at UNC that day. (A Cup of Jo)
If Women Ruled the World. As a feminist, I’m not supposed to like this, but… it’s funny. (And probably true?) (French By Design)
Sandra Reichl: A Face a Day. Someone should write stories about these people. What a cool project. (Design Work Life)
A Few Things You Probably Didn’t Know about “Friday Night Lights.” For instance, that “Taylor Kitsch earned the part of Tim Riggins by chugging two tall boys in his audition video.” But should that surprise anyone? No. (Flavorwire)
Texas Forever. A meditation on Tim Riggins–in the Paris Review! Love it. And this, because truthfully, we have all prayed the same prayer:
When I lie in bed at night and imagine white-bearded God making his earthly presence known at the foot of my futon, he asks, “And what is your deepest desire, young man?” I say, “Lord of all things, king of the universe, purveyor of rain, and pain, and occasional love, would you be so kind as to turn me into Tim Riggins?” (The Paris Review)
A Critic’s Notebook: On Meeting Ayn Rand’s Editor at Antioch College. A funny and illuminating conversation with Ayn Rand’s editor. This exchange I particularly loved:
Do you want to know why Ayn Rand’s books sell so well? he [Rand’s editor] countered.
Because she writes the best children’s literature in America, O’Connor said. The Fountainhead is practically a rite of passage for alienated youth. She writes these epic, Wagnerian things. Where the sex takes place on the very highest plane and it speaks to the kids’ highest aspirations, their youthful idealism. It’s all YA stuff.
In that case, I argued, people should grow out of her, like a phase, they should get over her ideas when they become adults.
This is America, he said. There aren’t many ideas. Ayn Rand had a few simple ones which she believed in fiercely and promoted relentlessly. (The Millions)
Happy, hot Monday!
This is a companion list to my recent post, Things I Should Know. These are the few things that I do know and could plausibly teach someone.
This list is simple proof that the bulk of my knowledge is almost entirely useless.
I could teach someone…
- How to identify most AKC-recognized dog breeds.
- Hiragana and katakana.
- How to use apostrophes.
- How to train a dog seven or eight basic commands.
- How to fold a paper crane.
- Why you should always spay or neuter your pets.
- Fundamental Japanese verbs.
- The names of most flowers and ordinary songbirds.
- How to French braid.
- Basic HTML and CSS.
- About Virginia Woolf’s life and work.
- Rapid alphabetization.
- How to read and correctly interpret a dog’s body language.
- The commandments of maintaining naturally curly hair.
- How to incorporate lists into every part of your life.
As you proved with your earlier helpful and enlightening comments, you’re smart people. What basic things could you teach someone? Do share.
Long weekends are such a gift! Yesterday, we had the pleasure of joining Andrew and Tara at her family’s farm in Rapidan, Virginia. We played with the beautiful Leah, swam in the pool, and planned our future farm commune. A lovely afternoon, and some more photos on Flickr.
Oh, and happy Independence Day and a BIG welcome home to Grace, who has finally returned from her world travels! Hallelujah! We get to go see her this weekend and I CANNOT WAIT.
A lot of Snax with a lot of juicy watermelon wedges:
Miss USA: Should Evolution Be Taught in Schools? THIS is the greatest thing I have seen on the Interwebs in months. Tears fell from my eyes. You can’t write this stuff. After you watch that, please also enjoy Mackenzie Fegan & Co.’s hilarious response. (The Daily What and Got a Girl Crush)
When You’re the Breadwinner in the Family. The dynamics of the American family are shifting. Many newly married women I know are out-earning their husbands and yet it’s still a touchy subject. One of my all-time favorite bloggers has a beautiful and honest post about her own experience as her family’s primary source of income. (Sweet Fine Day)
The High Line. A mile-long urban park in New York. What a cool idea; looks like a great place to bike, run, or walk a few dogs. Jenna, from the Sweet Fine Day post above, has some pictures of her visit there with her family at the end of post. (Wolf Eyebrows)
From When Grandma and Grandpa Davis Came to Visit. If you’ve talked to me lately, you know that I’m not into childbearing ANY time soon. And yet I can’t help but melt when I see pictures of grandparents and their fresh grandbabies. Something about that interaction always gets me. (Rockstar Diaries)
America’s Progressive Catholics: Another Side of the Church. It’s not all anti-abortion rallies here. An interesting perspective on the small but growing group of Catholic Democrats. (The Atlantic: Politics)
Top Metros for Same-Sex Couples with Children. Do the results surprise you? They surprise me. Way to go, RTP! (The Atlantic: National)
Palin vs. Bachmann: A Poem-off. The stirring words of the Tea Party’s leading ladies, converted to poesy. (The Book Bench)
What America Looks Like: Variations on the Swimming Pool. A collection of photographs of the various forms of the pool around the country. Some are weird and jovial, others decrepit and haunting. (The Atlantic: National)
The Five Food Groups. Amen. (Little Brown Pen)
Lobsters Don’t Age. Um, hey, God? That’s weird. Why? (Broken Secrets)
Kari Herer. Dark, lush photos of beautiful bouquets. Can never get enough. (Design Sponge)
Better Book Title for Wuthering Heights. Truth! I’ve always thought that about this book, too. (Better Book Titles)
The 20 Most-Watched TED Talks. Will be adding these to my list of things to watch when I feel like killing time productively on the Interwebs. (TED blog)