In the Pines (Christmas, Part I)

We had a lovely Christmas holiday with both of our families in North Carolina. Part I!

With Guion’s family

Christmas shepherd is all tuckered out.

Cuddling with his niece Adelaide. #realdog #cockapoo @tracydare
Cuddling with his niece, Adelaide.
Christmas in the Pines
Official sister!
Christmas in the Pines
My common smirk.
Christmas 2013
Multi-dog household.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013
Checking out how hot they are.
Christmas 2013
Drinking from the Christmas tree.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013
A real smile!

Christmas 2013Part II coming shortly…

Final exercises, University of Virginia

Guion received his MFA from the University of Virginia this weekend!

Serious graduate

With my MFA

I am so very proud of him (and so thankful that his degree brought us here, to this little town that we love).

Guion and parents

We had a great (albeit soggy) weekend with Mike, Windy, and Georgia.

Kitchen table chats

Looking forward to seeing them all again soon!

UVA Final Exercises 2013

Receiving his diploma
Receiving his diploma from Chris Tilghman.
The MFA
The lone MFA.

And now the poet doth seek a nap.

Tired graduate

Tired graduate

Choosing the given

Click for source.

“I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don’t think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particular–shall I suck warm blood, hold my tail high, walk with my footprints precisely over the prints of my hands?–but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical senses and the dignity of living without bias or motive. The weasel lives in necessity and we live in choice, hating necessity and dying at the last ignobly in its talons. I would like to live as I should, as the weasel lives as he should. And I suspect that for me the way is like the weasel’s: open to time and death painlessly, noticing everything, remembering nothing, choosing the given with a fierce and pointed will.”

Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A little more on my animal theme this week. I also have sad news: We learned that dear Aoive, Guion’s parent’s springer spaniel, had to be put down last night, after an excruciating cycle of non-stop seizures. She was such a sweet, affectionate girl. Rest in peace, Aoive; I hope you are stalking birds to your heart’s content in heaven. Happy weekend, everyone.

No Snax, got hacked, feel tired

Why? It’s Labor Day, I’m still feeling a little clammy and sick, my Twitter account got hacked and now I think my computer is infected, so I’m not in the mood to be anywhere on the Interwebs right now. But we did have a very nice weekend with Mike, Windy, Win, and Tracy, so that made up for it. Talk to you later!

Family love: Mike

I am writing a series of posts about why I love my immediate family. This is the fourth installment. All wedding photos courtesy of the brilliant Meredith Perdue.

Mike

One of my favorite qualities about my father-in-law is how easy it is to fall into a serious conversation with him. It’s not that he’s overly solemn; rather, it’s because he’s always ready to engage with you on a level that transcends small talk. He also knows a lot about a lot of things.
325/365Mike has taught me a lot about how to love people. And even more than taught: Mike has shown me how to love people. Since we met, he’s always shown me deep wells of compassion, even when I had done nothing to merit such merciful treatment.

Mike’s theology matches the way he lives. He knows more about Anglicanism than anyone else I’ve met, but he also lives a daily practice of grace and love toward everyone. Mike and Windy were YoungLife leaders back in the day, but Guion likes to say that they never stopped being YoungLife leaders. I think that’s probably true. Their welcoming home in Southern Pines has never stopped being “the hang-out place” for kids during the holidays. Mike is able to keep up with people with astonishing energy and accuracy. I like to think that he and Windy were gifted with an endless supply of social energy. It’s very admirable and it frequently amazes me.

He can switch from joking to serious life discussion in a minute’s time, whatever the group or mood or tone requires. His careful mix of humor and politeness has always astonished me, because, well, I grew up with Juju, whose humor is never tactful.

M. PrattAside from Angela, I think Mike has been mine and Guion’s biggest fan. His unconditional support to us while we were dating, engaged, and now married has been invaluable to us both. He often reminds me that he and Windy have been praying for me since I was born. I smile, thank him, and feel overwhelmingly grateful.

Weekend ready and dads

I’m taking the train to D.C. this weekend to stay with Angela before she jets off for NYC. I’m oh-so-very excited! The last time I went to D.C., I was a freshman in high school and I had an absolutely miserable time. I have no doubt that this visit will erase any lingering bad memories of the Capitol. I’m going to be with Angela, after all! It will be magical. I may also get to see the long-missed Eric and Cristina, which I am also really looking forward to.

God tempted my willpower this week when I saw that a purebred Australian shepherd had come into the Charlottesville SPCA. And he was a beautiful blue merle, too. However, like most pretty dogs who come into the shelter, he was adopted within a few days. He is probably enjoying a happy life with his new family right now. See how I am trying to console myself…

Happy early Father’s Day to Dad and Mike! You’re great and mean so much to me and to Guion. Thanks for supporting, teasing, and loving us.

Talk to you on Monday.

The wilderness

A mountain near Chuzenjiko that we almost climbed, 19 July 2008. I love the way that Japanese mountains look: this clearly could never exist in Charlottesville.

Guion said something interesting yesterday when we were at the church series, “Good News for People with Big Problems.” He was explaining his current position to some new-ish friends; how he gets paid to do one thing–write great poetry. And he was talking about the feeling he gets when he sits down to write–a feeling that is purportedly shared by his fellow MFA’ers–the thought: “I have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea how to write!” But then you do. And you keep venturing into the wilderness.

The other internal wilderness in my head right now: the notion of graduate school. Yesterday, I spent some down-time doing practice GRE questions. The analogies absolutely killed me. You can’t figure out an analogy if you don’t know what “adumbrate” means! Le sigh. I was simultaneously daunted and excited. Daunted by statistics like the fact that UNC now only offers a Ph.D. program in English and accepts a mere 18 of the 400+ that apply. Excited by the idea of getting to be in school again. I miss it. I need to talk to people who have master’s degrees or Ph.Ds in English. I’m going to e-mail the few that I know this week and ask them in the most polite way I can think of: “Was it worth it?”

I’m reading my first Pynchon novel now, The Crying of Lot 49. He writes like a post-modern Dickens (the fateful coincidences; the intentional and hilarious naming of characters, e.g., Oedipa, the protagonist, and Mr. Fallopian). I’m not sure what I think about it yet, though. It’s pretty confusing.

We have our church classics book club tonight. We are discussing Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. I hated it so much. I can’t even say how much. So I might not. I might just let everyone else talk about it tonight and try to discern why people worship Percy as a Giant of Literature at our church. Maybe his non-fiction stuff is good. I can’t say I’ll ever attempt to read another one of his novels, though.

We got Halloween presents from our parents; it was super-cute and exciting. Mike and Windy sent us chocolate bars, and my mother sent us a package full of candy and her prize-winning (at least, in our house) Halloween cookies. Guion says he doesn’t like them, which I think is super, because that means I get to eat ALL of them.