Boy fights and lifelong obsessions

Levi and Bo. Can you tell who is who? Neither can we.

Watching dogs play is one of my favorite things to do. On Saturday, Celeste and I let golden twins Bo and Levi loose in Liz’s backyard and hilarious romping ensued. I kept saying “boy fights!” as their behavior just made me think of this. Observing Bo and Levi was very much like watching four-year-old boy children wrestle and play, get irritated with each other, cease all motion, and then start up again five seconds later. For those who share my love of boy fights/dogs playing, a more complete slideshow is on the ol’ dog blog.

In a related note, seeing Uggie on stage was the most exciting part of the Oscars for me.

I am finally reading Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory, and I’ve started the chapter where he describes the genesis of his deep obsession with butterflies. His fascination with and desire for lepidoptera began when he was very young. As a little boy, he was chided for “spoiling walks” by disappearing into the brush with his net, chasing after a fleeting colorful wing. When he was six or seven, he wept pitifully when his hefty governess sat down on a tray of his recent captures, crushing them to indistinguishable, ashy bits. Nabokov did not grow out of this mania for pretty winged insects. His research and scientific contributions to the field are still being discussed today.

I’m not sure why all of this surprised me, that Nabokov’s love of butterflies began when he was a boy and marked the duration of his life. It makes sense that our most passionate obsessions are formed and solidified when we are children. I think of Grace, who was fervently attuned to fashion even when she was a tiny thing. (She once wore a 101 Dalmatians bathing suit, a tutu, and crocodile-skin cowboy boots to church. My mother was tired of doing battle with her over what she wore and so the miniature fashionista had her day.) Today, Grace is still very much involved with the art of wearing clothes. Or there’s Kelsey, whose favorite game as a child was playing office or playing with her “work ‘tuff.” Kelsey still loves organizing, planning, and achieving in that wonderfully efficient and self-created work environment. (Good for her.) Sam, to my father’s great relief and joy, was fixated with sports, particularly any sports involving a ball, since he was a baby.

Me? Well, of course it has always been animals, mainly dogs, and reading. (I didn’t have invisible friends, like some children; I had invisible animals, which I somewhat creepily called “spirit pets.” I named them all and tore their photos out of National Geographics and encyclopedias and plastered them on the wall next to my bed.) There are some things we don’t ever grow out of and lately, I like remembering that.

Monday Snax

Carter Mountain with Bo! (Photo courtesy of Guion's iPhone.)

We went on a long, beautiful hike up to Carter Mountain on Saturday with Win, Bo, and new friends Joseph, Lauren, and William. The day was a flawless example of the beauty of this area in early autumn.

Snax:

Three Women in Politics Won the Nobel Peace Prize. Awesome. A quick article about the three women who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. (Daily Intel)

Portrait. A series of amazing portraits from Grace’s half-year abroad. Stunning! (Como Say What?)

I Should Now. Mockingbird posts a beautiful poem by Czeslaw Milosz. (Mockingbird)

Live/Work: An Artist’s Dream Space. For real! I can has? (The Charlotte)

New Glasses Again. A brief photo history of Angela’s ever-changing eyewear. (WXTCHOU)

Return of the Kitten Whisperer. Something about this gruff, mustached man acting as a jungle gym for homeless kittens is hilarious to me. (The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee)

Hehehe. This cat looks like a fun time. (Ulicam)

Color Photographs of Circus Performers, 1940-1950. This makes being a circus performer look totally cool and awesome, instead of really degrading and exhausting, as it probably is. (Retronaut)

Ancient Chariot Fleet Unearthed in China. And all of the horses, too! (Retronaut)

Week 12: Daily walks

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.

Welcome to Charlottesville
Walking around town.

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.

DAY 1.
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?

DAY 2.
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.

DAY 3.

Watching "Gosford Park" with my bestie.

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.

DAY 4.
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.

DAY 5.
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.

DAY 6.
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.

DAY 7.
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.

Week 11: Wear a dress every day

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.

I have always loved dresses. My mom says that when I was tiny and she’d try to dress me in pants or shorts, I’d pitch a fit, tear them off, and insist on wearing a dress, like any proper lady. I love dresses. I have amassed a decent collection of them over the years. During my senior year of college, I recruited about a dozen friends to join me in a “No-Pants April” challenge, during which we only wore dresses or skirts for the month of April. This weekly challenge is a natural step down from that, but wearing a dress every day has felt like the proper celebration of spring. And a proper motivator to start shaving my legs again…

DAY 1.

Dress from: Target

This is a great dress for work. It’s breezy and a bit unusual, too.

DAY 2.

Dress from: Target

Not super-exciting, but very soft. Goes with almost every cardigan I own, too.

DAY 3.

Dress from: Banana Republic

This is one of my favorite dresses, even though it is worn out. The hem has fallen out and the stitching around the sleeves is also coming undone. I started holding it together with tape, Liz Lemon-style. Mainly because I am too lazy/unskilled to sew it properly. I should just throw it away, but I love it too much.

DAY 4.

Dress from: Gap

This is my quintessential summer dress. It’d also be a great pregnancy dress. Stretchy like no one’s business. And it has pockets!

DAY 5.

Dress from: Target

This mini-dress will always remind me of our honeymoon.

DAY 6.

Dress from: Target

OK, FINE. This should just be called “Week of Target Dresses.” I can’t help it! They’re cheap and usually cute! I bought this one for my birthday. It’s summer-sexy-casual.

DAY 7.

Dress from: Anthropologie

Happy Easter! This is one of my all-time favorite dresses. My mom bought it for my birthday three or four years ago and I still love it. This photo really does not do it justice.

Next week, ladies and gents, will be the last week of my 12 weeks of challenges! Hard to believe! I’m going to be taking a walk around town every day. And it will be great. Especially if a certain Golden Retriever will accompany me…