We are all falling

Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park, Iceland, this June. Just because.

We are all falling. This hand’s falling too—
all have this falling sickness none withstands.
And yet there’s always One whose gentle hands
this universal falling can’t fall through.

— Rilke

Unexpectedly, owing to my grandmother’s rapidly deteriorating state and a general lack of a contingency plan, my grandparents have moved in with my parents.

Mom called me yesterday to fill me in on everything. I feel weighed down and lost and helpless about it. Mom and Dad are so boundlessly generous and took them in with no hesitation or questions asked. Mom and Dad sleep upstairs in the guest room on the double bed now. We talked and teared up for a while, and I put down the phone and felt hollow and useless.

Predictably and gratefully, Kelsey called me some minutes later (presumably after Mom had filled her in), and then we talked about our joint feeling of uselessness and schemed about how we could be helpful at Thanksgiving. Kelsey is a source of compassionate comfort and strength in hard times. I am the eldest child, but even when I was young, I relied on Kelsey perhaps more than she ever relied on me. I still feel this way and look up to her in this essential, dependent manner. I am so thankful that she and Alex are so close by (it is worth noting what a marvel it is that she married someone as compassionate and kind as herself). When I think of them, I am filled with the conviction that I could turn to them in any form of need.

Inspired by an interview I read with an author, I am keeping a five-year diary (designed by Tamara Shopshin). It is very interesting to me to note the limited phrases and sentences that come to mind, at the end of the day, that I consider necessary to record.

The seeing eye

Mýrdalsjökull
Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland (June 2015).

“No, when evening came and we sat down to watch a film we wanted to be entertained. And it had to be with as little effort and inconvenience as possible. It was the same with everything. I hardly read books anymore; if there was a newspaper around I would prefer to read that. And the threshold just kept rising. It was idiotic because this life gave you nothing, it only made time pass. If we saw a good film it stirred us and set things in motion, for that is how it is, the world is always the same, it is the way we view it that changes. Everyday life, which could bear down on us like a foot treading on a head, could also transport us with delight. Everything depended on the seeing eye. If the eye saw the water that was everywhere in Tarkovsky’s films, for example—which changed the world into a kind of terrarium, where everything trickled and ran, floated and drifted, where all the characters could melt away from the picture and only coffee cups on a table were left, filling slowly with the falling rain, against a background of intense, almost menacing green vegetation—yes, then the eye would also be able to see the same wild, existential depths unfold in everyday life. For we were flesh and blood, sinew and bone, around us plants and trees grew, insects buzzed, birds flew, clouds drifted, rain fell. The eye that gave meaning to the world was a constant possibility, but we almost always decided against it, at least it was like that in our lives.”

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle, Book 2

An Icelandic holiday

We went to Iceland for a week and it was everything we hoped it would be: endless beauty, so much that it almost felt impossible to take it all in, as if your eyes or heart would burst if you kept trying. I think you can’t be indifferent to Iceland; there is no way to visit this little island and not feel moved by it.

A few photo highlights / (The complete album is here for those who are interested.)

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic church at the heart of Reykjavík.

Reykjavík

A great view of Reykjavík from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja.

Reykjavík harbor

The Reykjavík harbor around 11 pm. Yes. It’s a surreal experience, being in Iceland in the summer, and I’m not sure I ever got used to the feeling of endless sunlight, even as much as I loved the sensation. The perpetual light makes you feel full of energy; we didn’t want to eat dinner until 10 or 11 pm. And it’s also a great boon for exploration; you can keep driving and discovering all night long, because there is no darkness to hinder you. We did, however, feel very grateful for all of the blackout curtains at the places we stayed.

Reykjavík harbor

Another shot from the Reykjavík harbor in the late evening.

En route to Þingvellir

On our way to Þingvellir, a national park; the route looked mostly like what I imagine to be a softened version of Mars.

Þingvellir National Park

A view over Þingvellir.

Geysir

The beginning of the eruption of Geysir, the original geyser for which all geysers are named.

Gullfoss

And here we are at Gullfoss, the largest of the many magnificent waterfalls we saw.

The sociable Icelandic horse

I found the Icelandic horse to be a very sociable creature. From time to time, we’d pull over and I’d approach a fence, and they would all come running up to greet me, eager for interaction. Later in the trip, we took a horseback ride through lava fields and the countryside surrounding Reykjavík. We got to practice the tölt, the Icelandic horse’s special fifth gait (something between a trot and a canter), which was especially thrilling, even though I didn’t look at all like the commanding equestrienne I’ve always wanted to be.

Péturseyjarvegur

A shot from one of my favorite drives, around the area of Pétursey; I just cannot get over these farms.

Akranes

A charming glimpse of the town of Akranes, which we stumbled on by accident. We saw dozens and dozens of trailers, RVs, and little tents set up all around town, and we finally asked someone what was going on. We had arrived right on the cusp of the nationwide youth football tournament; everyone who has a soccer-playing kid from around the entire country treks to Akranes every June to camp out and attend the tournament.

Hraunfossar

The landscape and the countless little waterfalls at Hraunfossar were also a great favorite of ours. I mean, look at this place. Give me a break, Iceland. Give me a break.

Icelandic sheepdog at Deildartunguhver

Being who I am, I got very excited to meet a few bonafide Icelandic sheepdogs on the journey. This chubby little funster was hanging out in the parking lot of Deildartunguhver, home to Europe’s hottest naturally occurring hot spring. No one responsible for him was in sight; he just seemed to want to be around the action. He wagged and grinned at us and was eager for pets (rolling over on his back) but completely unwilling to make a move in our direction. We petted him for a few moments, and then three riders came trotting by on horses, and he perked up and sped off after them. I was stunned that this lazy little dude could move like that; he was booking. “I guess he really likes horses,” Guion said, solemnly.

Kirkjufell on a bright morning

A view of the spectacular Kirkjufell from Grundarfjörður, where we spent a night in a hostel. We met a delightful French couple that night and talked with them for hours about our respective countries, politics, language, and the pitfalls of thinking that other nations have achieved perfection.

Ubiquitous lupin

Lupin is ubiquitous in Iceland. It was apparently introduced to help control erosion, but then it took over and sprawled out of reach. What a pretty invasive plant, though.

Rauðfeldargjá

The stunning gorge at Rauðfeldargjá, which you can climb up into (and which we did, among the faintly creepy scores of seagulls).

It’s a breathlessly beautiful country, and as we were leaving, we were already scheming about how we could get back there one day.

Thought in parables

Home and garden, May 2015

My front-yard landscape is filling out in a clumsy kind of way, but its advancements since last year are noteworthy. Almost everything survived the long winter, which made me supremely happy. And we harvested about five cherries from the cherry tree in front, which I also consider to be a success. The plants are happy and thus I am happy. It is a simple formula.

Home and garden, May 2015
Lamb’s ear gone wild.

One mistake was underestimating how crazy lamb’s ear is. It is taking over the tiny plot I naively stuck it in. It’s time to divide and conquer.

My generous, stylish friend Cate bought me this beautiful vintage pair of Italian loafers. She gave them to me as a surprise gift, wrapped up in brown paper, before we sat down to dinner with friends. I am totally in love with these shoes, even though they pinch my gangly toes. I wear them to work as often as I can, in the (vain) hope that they will stretch. They are so perfectly narrow and charming; they make my feet magically look like the feet of a Russian novel’s desirable heroine, who always has two sexy, sexy qualities: (1) “tiny feet” and (2) “a soft, downy upper lip.” Ladies with barely-there mustaches were Tolstoy and Dostoevsky’s jam. Mercifully, I haven’t achieved that yet. But the shoes, ah, the shoes, they are perfect.

We are going on a brief summer holiday to Iceland next week; photos to come!

Also, this dog wants you to come over and play with her.

Dog life in May 2015
Edith!

Monday Snax

Mama and baby
A perfect dinner out at Blue Mountain Brewery. Baby Leah is trying to decide what kind of beer she wants.
MB!
The tenacious Mary Boyce saved us from a perilously grumpy waitress.
Guion and baby Leah
Guion is undeniably good with babies.

We had a beautiful weekend in Charlottesville; the weather was exquisite, as the humidity had fairly retreated and we were left with idyllic warmth. Paul and Christie invited us on their Friday date night and a small group of us went to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton (a few photos above; more on Flickr). We went to a church potluck and then we hosted a potluck of our own last night. It was all very wonderful.

Win and Tracy were visiting with the purpose of scouting out a place for Win to live in a few weeks. By the grace of God, Win is living in probably the coolest house we’ve ever seen in town: the Massie-Wills historical home, built in 1830. It’s amazing. He is one lucky dude.

Potlucked Snax:

Pratt’s Ex Libris Collection. Well, of course I’m posting this (if I haven’t already…) The Pratt Library’s collection of gorgeous book plates. I wish people still used these things. I know I would. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors. I enjoyed reading about the habitual quirks of some of my all-time favorite writers, including Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, and T.S. Eliot. (Flavorwire)

Other People’s Houses. A collection of dreamy photographs from the domestic lives of some of today’s most beloved bloggers and photographers. Who doesn’t love a dash of beautiful voyeurism? (Other People’s Houses)

Jennifer Egan Fever. It’s worth catching. (The Paris Review)

South Sudan: The Newest Nation in the World. A series of powerful photographs from the birth of South Sudan. Welcome, South Sudan; we wish you great peace. (The Atlantic: In Focus)

Iceland, Part 10: Blue Lagoon. I know I just keep posting Kris Atomic’s photos of Iceland, but I can’t help it! This place looks so otherworldly. I must go. (Kris Atomic)

Kimono. A collection of gorgeous, modern-looking kimonos from 1920s-1930s Japan. (Anne Louise Likes)

Wasabi Wonder. More from Japan: Ever wanted to know what wasabi looks like in real life, i.e., coming straight out of the ground? Take a look! It’s such a fascinating and weird plant. I bet that friendly-looking farmer just reeks of wasabi all day long. But what a gorgeous place to farm! (Tokyo Photojournalist)

Paper & Kyoto: Shops to Visit. Even more from Japan: Uuugh. This post just confirms what I already ardently believe: That I have to get to Kyoto soon and that the Japanese create the world’s most beautiful stationery and paper products. (Upon a Fold)

Intricate Pattern Notecards from Wild Ink Press. So beautiful! I always feel like I need more stationery, even though it’s almost never true. I also love the “literal” cards at the bottom of the post. (Oh So Beautiful Paper)

The Supermom Myth + Follow Up on Breadwinners. An additional post from Jenna of Sweet Fine Day, just because I always like what she writes and I think she’s a wise, judicious woman. (Sweet Fine Day)

Five Women Who Changed the Face of Ballet. I loved reading about these dancers, mainly because I’m gearing up to read Jennifer Homans’ widely acclaimed Apollo’s Angels. (Behind Ballet)

Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Noted photographer Emily Shur talks about her casual cover shoot of Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Shur really humanized Palin for me in a way that the “liberal media” have not. It’s an interesting little vignette, at least. (Emily Shur)

Dear Mom. Catching bunnies snuggling together? The best thing ever. Guion, I think you should know that even though I’m obsessed with getting a dog, I’m also still obsessed with getting a bunny. Or three. (Maura Grace)

How Handwriting Builds Character. If this is true, I must have really well-built character. Kidding! (The Atlantic)

Megegan: Un an plus tard. What a beautiful woman. And I’m so very interested in the things that she happens to be carrying around with her. (Au coin de ma rue)

On the Street: Via Fogazzaro, Milan. This looks like a still from a film I’d really want to watch. (The Sartorialist)

Women’s Magazines Are Obviously Horrible. This is true and hilarious, but I still really love reading In Style and People on the beach… (The Hairpin)

Instant Cat Pants! Why do kittens do the things they do? We may never know. (Pawesome)

The Lost Roles of “Arrested Development.” Rainn Wilson as Gob Bluth?? Can you imagine it? I certainly can’t. I love Rainn, but let us all say thanks that we were gifted by the glorious presence of Will Arnett. (The Bluth Company)

Monday Snax

NERDZ. Bahaha. This makes me laugh a lot.
Cute brothers. Having Win here for the day was the best.

Win came for the weekend to scope out Charlottesville and we had such a good time with him! I have the best bro-in-law ever. We’re really, really crossing our fingers that he’ll come here, but we will support him regardless of his decision. Even though Charlottesville will get the sadies real bad if he doesn’t move here…

Snax with homebrew from the Pratt brother master brewers:

Even Kate Middleton’s Bridesmaid Has Had Enough. I feel ya, kid who looks almost exactly like I did at 4. I was not an attractive baby. (NY Mag)

Netflix Instant for Every Situation. Have totally watched all of the BBC period dramas on Netflix instant. Will not lie. (The Hairpin)

Nontraditional mother. Will never get old. (The Bluth Company)

And that’s why you… A Craigslist post in line of the Bluth family lore. This is awful. Are there really parents out there like this? (You Suck at Craigslist)

Can We Have Some Spare Blank Pages on the Web Site? OMG. I love that there are still so many humans who have no idea what the Internet is. (Clients from Hell)

Iceland, Part 3: From Above. Is this for real!? Is this a town for ants?? Tilt-shift makes everything look so tiny and magical and dollhouse-y. (Krisatomic)

The Advantages of Writing in Bed. Proust did it. Maybe I should try. (The Guardian Book Blog)

In Which I Pretend That We’re the Oldest and Dearest Friends. It’s like a movie review of You’ve Got Mail that’s a decade too late, but on the other hand, it’s an interesting and thought-provoking reflection on the voyeurism and psychological effect of a culture of online living. (This Recording)

What’s Your Secret, Deborah? Apparently, Deborah is the top name for female CEOs. Why? My guess is that these girls heard about the story of Deborah in the Bible, the only mentioned female judge of Israel, and felt empowered to divide and conquer because of their ancient namesake. (The Hairpin)

Where Your Money Is… A small but powerful reminder from my friend Lauren. (See the Cities)

The Tub. So precious. (Emily Corey Photography)

Portraits of Intriguing People. Indeed! I’d like to read a story about all of these people. (Modish)

Monday Snax

Chillin' on the couch with Windy!
Happy birthday, Granddad! He looks very much at home in his chair, which is now taking residence in our house.

We had a lovely weekend with Guion’s parents and his grandfather, aka Granddad; they came up to celebrate my confirmation at Christ Church and Granddad’s birthday! We had such a great time squiring them around town, eating tons of amazing food, and exchanging stories and memories. Brother Win was greatly missed, of course. Wish they could only have stuck around longer!

Snax with roasted kale and butternut squash, because, believe me, this week’s Snax are super-delicious and good for your heart:

With Love from Chitwan. To my heart’s relief, Grace is alive and finally well in Chitwan, Nepal! Read about her adventures and go see how totally adorable she looks on a bicycle by a rice paddy. (Como Say What?)

In Which There’s a Girl in New York City Who Calls Herself a the Human Trampoline. A thoughtful reflection on and celebration of the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s magnum opus, “Graceland.” Who doesn’t love that album? (This Recording)

Proust Questionnaire: Tina Fey. One of my all-time favorite women answers the classic questions from one of my all-time favorite authors. What do I have to do to become BFFs with this woman? (Vanity Fair)

A Guide to Crying in Public. As you know, I cry in public often, so I found this especially helpful. Retreat! (The Hairpin)

Big Laughs, Cheap Grace. Thank you, Rob Hays, for finding the words for my dislike of “Modern Family.” Thanks for finding the words when I could not. It is entertaining, but perhaps that is all one can say. (The Curator)

How Dancers Prepare Their Pointe Shoes.  I had no idea this process was so involved! (Behind Ballet)

Iceland Part 1: Roadside Horses and Geysir. Here is a Law of the Universe: If anyone on the Interwebs posts photos of Icelandic ponies, I shall immediately repost photos of said ponies. This law is immutable and shall remain unbroken for the duration of time. (Kris Atomic)

Here’s Another Thing Julianne Moore Will Ruin. FOR REAL. (Best Week Ever)

Dog-Friendly Paris: Doggy Etiquette in the City of Lights. Kelsey and Grace regaled me with stories of the impeccably well-behaved and countless pooches in Paris. I’m not one for big city living, but this account of Paris is tempting! (HIP Paris)

Origami Animals. Origanimals. My dad had a client who once made me an intricate Japanese beetle out of a $5 bill. He would have liked these paper animals. I like them, too; they look like they want to be friends. (Miss Moss)

The Desktop Wallpaper Project. I change my desktop image every Monday on my work computer, and my Mac desktop rotates every 15 minutes, so I guess you could say I’m a bit of a stickler for change. It makes me happy to have a new, pretty image on my computer. If you are like this, check out this site. A collection of beautiful, graphic designer-friendly desktop wallpapers! Artist Michael Cina’s work (around page 7) is my favorite. (The Fox Is Black)

Is Ulysses Overrated? Now I feel a little bit better about giving it only spot no. 7 in my top 10 books of 2010. This guy from Slate thinks it’s a crock and not worth all of the hype. He says there’s only one chapter worth reading. (Slate)

Happiest States According to Twitter. As far as useless and unreliable maps go, this one may rank quite high, but I like its findings. According to a mood map of Twitter, the top three happiest states are: 1) Tennessee, 2) Colorado, and 3) North Carolina. I like it! I can definitely attest to Colorado and NC making that cut. (Daily Intel)

I Am Only 6, But I Think I Can Do This Job. KIDS! Killing me again with cuteness! Application letter from 6-year-old Andrew Scott, who applied for the position of Director of the National Railway Museum. What is it with little boys and trains? It will never fail to make my heart melt. (Letters of Note)