Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Summer Magic and Memorials

One of my favorite movies is Summer Magic, a Haley Mills Disney classic that hardly anyone has heard of, in other words totally typical of my favorites list.  At the end of the movie there's a big dance in the barn behind the house and each gentleman greets their date at the bottom of the beautiful wrapped staircase to escort them.  The girls parade down the stairs in their best dresses, giving their fellas ample time to appreciate the view.

Ever since I first watched Summer Magic I dreamed of living that scene.  Getting ready for a big night with the girls and each having their moment to shine down the staircase of a grand front entrance.  Growing up in a rancher and with best girl friend lived in homes that lacked such entries I never thought I could make it happen, that is until one of them moved to a grand-foyered home our senior year, just in time for prom.

Prom was an event to remember, that's for sure, which is quite a statement given I don't remember very much of the actual event.  It was the pre-show that really sticks in my mind:

There we were, 4 best friends getting ready for arguably the biggest night of our high school careers.  Steph stood in full make-up, a perfect French twist, pantyhose, heels and tears having realized she'd forgotten to bring her dress while either Cher or VA both made rumblings about the likely hood of us falling down the highly polished curved staircase in the vaulted ceiling foyer.  I, for once being the voice of reason, insisted that the more we focused on our mishaps and spoke of falling the more likely one of us would bite it.

One by one our dates arrived and soon I was left alone in VA's bedroom watching intently out the window for my date as seemingly endless minutes ticked by.  From downstairs I could hear laughter, idle chit chat and ponderings about whether or not I would get stood up.  Finally (only 15 minutes late) my date arrived and the butterflies in my stomach turned from fear to excitement.  VA's mom handed me the corsage I would present to Mike and between that, my stole, purse and skirt of my fabulous Jessica McClintock I rapidly discovered I had no hand left for the banister.

At this stage in the game an intelligent might pause, take a moment to consider a safer alternative, one that could be executed quickly and gracefully so as not to show the nearly 2 dozen people consisting of friends, dates, neighbors, family and parents of girls not even part of our prom group any cracks in the illusion of a cool and collected facade.  In high school cool and collected is crucial.  I, however, am not always an intelligent person and so I forged ahead without a safety net, thighs flexed to capacity to carry me as safely as possible down the polished wood.  I stared at those stairs as if they would jump out from under me.

Finally after seconds that felt like hours I reached the 3rd to last step and deemed it safe to look up to find my date in a sea of watching faces.  A decision that proved to be my undoing.  The moment I looked up my thighs revolted and my foot shot clean out from under me.  I landed on my backside so hard I bounced and found myself standing on the floor, having skipped the last two steps completely, with my stole now hanging over my head.  Embarrassed I rushed forward to present the corsage I had held onto dutifully only to find I mistook the form standing in front of me as I stared down the lens of a video camera, not my date.

Yup.  All on tape.

After prom came graduation where the pre-game chatter involved certainty that I would be the one to fall down the stairs.  Ha ha.

A few years later VA's parents had their foyer stairs carpeted for additional safety.  More for their daily use than because I fell that one time.  For Christmas that year I bought them something to mark the occasion...

This plaque lives on the side of the rise I fell off, just below the lip on the back side of the staircase that faces the dining room.  With any luck years and years and years down the road when a new family moves in that plaque will still live there, unnoticed and forgotten, left to live there indefinitely.  Or until some small child or an overzealous house cleaner finds it and wonders if there be a need to call in the TAPS team.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hoofing It

I jogged last night.  Real, honest, premeditated jogging with intent to jog.

You may not believe it (or you are already rolling your "Well, DUH!" eyes at me) but this is an epic accomplishment in my world.  I've a long standing history of uncooperative joints that make activities with impact particularly difficult for me to stomach.  That and I just hate running. I admit I like the idea of activities that include the necessity of running (ToughMudder, Warrior Dash, surviving a zombie apocalypse) but generally speaking I'd rather have an un-sedated root planing courtesy of Dr. Giggles than have to perform the act of traveling faster than a speed walk in a linear direction for any length of time.

I know that running is a passion for a lot of people and this I have never, ever understood.  I supposed if I thought about it really hard I could whip up a short list of appealing points in its favor but my Do Not Like list chumps the pros substantially.  This aversion makes it particularly difficult to walk up to an old friend who has obviously lost some weight and is looking fantastic and find out that their secret is diet and not just exercise, but the running variety of exercise!  It sinks my heart.

This past weekend I saw such a friend and felt my stomach seize when I heard she'd started running.  Unlike others who found their way to the cult (that's right, I called it a cult, bunch of crazies...) she shared her introduction to it.  She and her husband would visit a track and she walked while he ran.  One day she thought she'd see what that whole craze was about and upped her pace to jog for a brief time.  She started sprinkling her walks with jogs here and there and now she looks incredible and can run for 3.5 miles.  This story flipped some kind of switch in my head.  Curiosity I understand.  The desire to try something new and exciting (dangerous) I also understand.

I spent that evening and the next visualizing myself running.  First slowly, just barely above speed walk pace and maybe for only 2-3 house lengths.  I could wear some spiffy workout clothes, feel all official and drag Clif along as he walked the dogs to be my company and traveling "home base" should I feel over my head.  Last night I turned my visualization into action and stepped out with a cheer leading squad of a husband and two completely distracted dogs to try something I never thought I'd do willingly.

I made it past the first house, then the second and then the third and kept going.  I made it down the block, around the bulb of the cul de sac and back across the street before stopping because my calves felt like they were going to snap in two.  Lately my calves have always stopped me well before my elevated heart rate and exercise induced asthma do.  I limped along with Clif for another block and a half then forced myself to slowly, steadily jog my way half a block back to our house.  I spent far more time jogging during our brief outing than I had expected I would be able to and I'm ready to try again.  Just don't tell my calves, I think they're ready to riot...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Twisted Sense

I have this habit of... well, it depends on who you ask.  If you ask me it's being truthful.  Others call it self deprecating humor and I'm sure there are plenty who think it's just a bid for attention.

In the last few years I've noticed sweeping changes in the great Who I Am.  In my grade school days I was never one of popular crowd, often teased, picked on, forgotten about and fantastically invisible.  Some of that was a product of my own perception but ingrained perception like that comes from somewhere solid, know what I mean?  As I got to the college years I had a dawning realization of having gained the title of Doormat (bred from an overwhelming desire to please and like everyone and have them like me in return), yet I found it nearly impossible to find the strength of character, the self value to change that status.

A few years ago my world rocked enough for me to put my foot down and grow a spine.  I had to unmake a difficult decision in, unfortunately, a very ungraceful way and I had made a friend who ultimately made me realize I wanted to be anything in the world but like her.  These two large events, combined with the beauty of growing up, drove me to change my fundamental operations in the choices I made, the people I associated with, the things I thought and said, how I treated others and most importantly how I treated myself.  At first I didn't have high hopes that I could actually change myself so drastically, it had been so hard in the past, but this time around I was surprised at how easy the changes were.

The biggest and, in my opinion, most notable change had to be in my self assurance and esteem.  I have struggled to evolve from a weak willed, insecure person to something better.  And I do mean struggle.  Yet, here I am today a much, MUCH happier, thankful, optimistic, peaceful and strong, though with it remains a bit of residue from the past.

A few months after I first started training capoeira I traveled with our instructor and some fellow students to New York to what I call our "sibling school".  We have no direct affiliation other than being from the same training style but geographically we're close-ish and travel back and forth to support each other.  I was very green and the workshop that was being given was geared toward slightly more experienced capoeiristas.  It was apparent in moments that I was bad apple of the bunch.  Being overweight and out of shape I often struggle in highly active environments.  Exercise induced asthma, terrible joints and unforgiving muscles compound my weight issues, but by gracious, I try!  I try as hard as I can until I struggle for air and my body screams and it is NOT a pretty thing.  My fellow capoeiristas at home are far more forgiving than they were up north and I realized if I had tried to learn capoeira -any-where else I never would have returned after the first class.  The New Yorkers were more intense, less forgiving and quite obviously made it known that I was That Girl, the one no one wants to get stuck training with.  Quite soon I shifted myself to the furthest corner of the room as I could, like a pariah, hoping no one would notice me and I could survive the rest of the workshop in silent efforts to keep myself from sobbing.  Naturally I was discovered by a graduated student who pulled me to the middle of the room, in front of the Masters, where I floundered in hot, red-skinned mortification for all to stare at.  For the first time since I'd made my great change my new foundation of self-assurance almost broke out from under me.

Before that trip, and certainly since then, I suppose I've made it an unintentional point to make sure the populace knows that I am not delusional.  My commentary is met with responses generally saying I'm silly and over exaggerating, but there's method to my madness:

1) At the very least to me it is truth.  I am overweight and out of shape and usually when I struggle in my physical activities it's because that is my fact.  Ex: the other night in training I took a foot to the arm, not in a painful way but enough for it to shake my balance.  Afterwards I thought about how I missed seeing her kick, I had been staring at her (upside down and between my legs) before I realized my backside is big enough to cause a sizable blind side.  I don't say that because I'm trying to have someone tell me, "No!  You look great!" or think I'm just being whiny, it's because I have a wide load!

2) Something about saying it out loud guilts me into trying to be better about doing something about it.  If I get angry enough at myself for struggling so much with the simplest things then maybe, just maybe I'll take bigger and better steps to fix it.  Believe it or not every time I acknowledge my wide-comings I have the desire to eat a salad and hit the gym.  I don't always follow through and DO those things but my track record is improving, albeit sloooooowly.

3) I want to beat someone else to the punchline.  This one stems the most of childhood years being picked on and tears over not understanding why or how to make it not hurt.  Someone telling me I'm fat would hurt, a LOT, even if it is true.  If I say it first if leaves less ammo for someone else to use.

What I can't figure out after all of this pondering and analyzing is whether my mechanism helps or hinders me.  I'm sure it's a little of both though it certainly feeds my strength to feel calling myself out leaves me firmly in control of the situation, and that, in some twisted sense makes me feel stronger.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Simple Daydreams

As I neared high school graduation I found myself spinning in questions about what my next life step would be.  College seemed inevitable yet inappropriate at the same time.  I had no idea what area of education I wanted to pursue that would feed into a desired career.  During my search for something that Felt Right I ended up in an army recruiter's office before being told in no uncertain terms if I found the need to sign up for a branch of the military it better be the Airforce (though I was more highly encouraged to not sign up for anything).  My parents understood something about me I tried to ignore back then: my love of my country was not at all in question but my physical, emotional and mental ability to cope with that kind of environment was.  My intentions were in the right place, my ability to deliver was askew.

Giving up on the idea of a stint in the military somehow gave way to a dream of moving to Scotland or Ireland for a year to live in the country and work on whatever farm would hire me.  I dreamed of sparse lodgings filled with necessities and a small fortune of books to pass the time, lively neighborhood pubs, rousing song and flying dancing feet, lush green hills rolling from my feet and days getting filthy on the farm.  I would have missed my family in painful ways but deep down I knew it'd only be for a year and the experience and education that came from it would be incredible.  I'm married and settled now so such a year is no longer anywhere in my future but I still day dream about it now and then.

Just this past week I stumbled across a new blog site and in classic OCD fashion I've been reading the entire thing from the very first post.  At first I thought that the main source of entertainment would come from the fantastic photography and irresistible coyote subject.  As I got into some of the meatier update posts, however, I was shocked to discover that the main draw of the site for me had become more about the woman writing it and the life she seemingly picked up one day.  I don't know anymore about the author of the site than what she shares in her posts but I feel like I can imagine her character; bold, confident, independent, ambitious, adventurous, motivating and inspiring.  Reading about her life in the wilds of Wyoming has sparked in me a dream I never could have imagined for myself.

Much like my year abroad this dream will never come to fruition but I've been enjoying the wishful thinking.  The author brings to life the image of a modern pioneer woman, shoes I've been pretending I could fit into.  Her existence is simple and basic to the point of having seasonal running water and a wood stove to bake bread.  Her farm seems to grow one animal at a time (cat --> coyote --> dog --> cow, a horse somewhere in the mix), as do her self sufficient capabilities.  Living off the land has a growing appeal to me as I've gotten older, peaked now by reading her seemingly effortless ability to become one with a beautiful land.  This post and this post in particular struck several notes with me and I was surprised at how moved I was by them and my desire to have experienced them first hand.

I love my life just as it is and wouldn't truly want to change it for anything in the world.  I feel, however, that I should be able to wonder what might or could have been if I'd gone down a different path.

Friday Groove

Today's offering actually has a story behind it.  Whether or not I'll get to that story in a timely fashion, well, who knows but I'm going to try!

In the meantime sample a song that seemed to pop up fatefully during plethora of some of my more shadowy moments (and try to ignore the fact that it's Christina >.<).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hallowed Hauntings

When I was in middle school my brother and his friend, Tommy, had this idea to build themselves a haunted yard for Halloween.  They collected and dried oodles of bamboo to construct a formidable wall to cover a wimpy chain link fence and used strategic landscaping and a white Christmas light lined plywood tunnel to funnel their victims, I mean, trick or treaters, along the side of the house.  At the end of the narrow side yard was a detached garage, in front of which was a hefty tree stump that held a cauldron of candy.  Tommy stood in a floor length cloak and creepy old man mask with a walking staff perfectly still right behind the cauldron.  You were too worried about him to pay attention to the stuffed body they had rigged to fall from the tree as you got close to the candy.  One year they simply let a noose hang empty over the bowl, swaying ominously in the breeze and let your imagination fill in the rest.

The front yard was riddled with white crosses made of scrap wood and quickly nailed together.  Donald drove his car up into the ditch in the yard and left the car doors open, hazards flashing.  Also flashing were enough strobe lights to stock a Disco and somewhere I believe I recall a fog machine.  Creepy music played and one year there was the not-so-smart idea of making a white body outline in the street with something more permanent than chalk.  If memory serves it looked like a crime scene on the driveway weeks into November.

When I was old enough to handle the creep factor (debatable, I still can't handle creep factor) my parents would drive me to trick or treat after I'd made my usual rounds in our neighborhood.  Donald and Tommy I think delighted in my arrival.  I squealed spectacularly and the fact that I was blood related meant all bets were off when it came to going for the Big Scream.  One year we packed my youth group up in the church van to visit the house and Tommy ended up chasing me squealing in panic down the entire street, into and through the van.

Around high school I was too old to go door to door, or more interested in playing with the big boys.  I got the invitation to join Donald and Tommy in their yard slinking and couldn't have been more excited.  I dressed in head-to-toe black,d borrowed a great skull mask and slinked my heart out.  My memories of being chased through this very yard by my ghoulish sibling came flooding back to me at the sight of a 4-year-old Superman peeking hesitantly through the tunnel I sat on the other side of like a spider waiting for prey.  He was too young for our antics, though and so I turned my glowing skull face and held my breath, hoping desperately to blend enough with the shadows that he wouldn't notice me.  Blending failed!  After seeing me sitting there in arms reach he decided the candy was SO not worth the trip through the tunnel.  I ended up taking my mask off and reaching out a hand to guide him the rest of the way down the lane to get his treat.  Tommy seemed to understand the unbridled fear in this poor super hero and maintained his statue-stance instead of going for the scream factor.

Years later I own a house and am determined to build the best haunted yard in the neighborhood.  It has been slow going, this year marks our fourth Halloween and our second without bells and whistles.  Two years ago we didn't even hand out candy, Clif instead having the unpleasant task of tending to me and my horrific bout of swine flu.  Last year we were on, though, and in the great tradition of yard slinking I donned all black and a spectacularly creepy skeletal mask and sat amongst our tombstones in a smothering fog from our smoke machine.  I would turn my head ever so slowly to watch the kids come up our driveway, only half of which even noticed my existence, much less that they were being watched.  They would greet Clif sitting on a cooler by the front door in my full-hooded Half Moon cloak with black mask and red glowing eyes warning the kiddies of dangers around the corner.  By the time they came off the porch I'd be crouching around our hedge bush, forcing them to walk right past me, allowing me to give chase.

One little observant girl spotted me half way up our drive and dug her heels into the black top.  Even her fathers encouraging nudges couldn't move Snow White and she backpedaled herself right back to the street, foregoing candy at our house.  The boys she was with were oblivious to our encounter and moved on to the next house without a second thought.  I felt bad for Snow White, she reminded me of Superman from years ago.  I got a good handful of candy out of our bowl and walked across the street to stand next to Snow White's mother while she waited for the kids to finish at the door.  I asked if I could give Snow her candy since she was obviously not up for working through her fear (a feeling I know oh so well) and mom obliged.  When Snow turned around and saw me standing there her dad REALLY had to give her a hand or she would not have budged from where she froze half way across the yard.  Still in my mask I made a show of covering my skeletal face and turning away, stretching my candy-filled hand out to her.  I wasn't looking so I'm not sure if she took the offering or her father took it on her behalf but as I strolled silently back to our house I couldn't stop grinning ear to ear at what I hoped would become as great of a story for her as it would be for me.

My philosophy is if you build it they will come.  Much like in my youth I am convinced that if we build our yard a little every year eventually the kids will start talking and we'll be the coolest house around at Halloween.  Sadly this year our decorations have been buried in the farthest corner of our storage room behind the meat of our bathroom renovation project.  On top of that Clif is taking classes on Mondays, including tonight, so he won't even be home to enjoy tormenting the neighborhood kids.  I'll spend my evening with Rocky Horror and The Great Pumpkin, day dreaming of ways to make up lost ground next year.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Family Ties

I remember a road trip when I was younger that I spent in the backseat of my brother's green Saturn.  I think we were going skiing (the ski trip I managed my most epic wipeouts ever, stories later) and my sister was riding shotgun.  I have a vivid image of sitting in the seat behind her, staring at the cd cover of DMB's Under the Table and Dreaming.  Satellite came on and I started singing along as quietly as I could.  The High Note (you know the one) came and Donald turned to look over his shoulder, "Was that you?  Did you just hit that note?"  I smiled back in confirmation and felt this swell of pride that my older brother, whom I'd spent my life looking up to and admiring, thought something I'd done as simple as singing in a range fitting for a pre-adolescent girl (no offense, Dave) was mildly impressive.

Before I loved DMB for their own merit I loved them because my siblings did.  As was the case with the vast majority of the things I loved.  My brother and sister are 10 and 7 years older than I am, respectively, and I spent my childhood looking up to them so hard my neck is still sore decades later.  If they loved Metallica, so help me I would ROCK that Master of Puppets tour shirt once it reached hand-me-down status, even though I was too young to appreciate the music the way they did.  Mario and Zelda drown me with waves of nostalgia, not because I dedicated my hours to playing them but because I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do than watch my siblings play.  Graphic novels line my bookshelves that I hold as dear as treasures because they were important to my brother first.  JMU will always be special to me because it's where my sister went to school and therefore the college I dreamed of attending.

Unfortunately my age made it difficult to keep up with them.  In my infancy to toddler years we were all of an age where I made a great dress up doll and photography test subject and they were happy to take advantage when it suited.  By the time I was old enough to want more than anything to go out with them and their friends to do-whatever-the-big-kids-do I was too young to participate and they were too old to want me along.  There was one Friday night in particular I closed myself in my bedroom, peeking through the blinds as they both got in the car, heading on some great  Cool Kid adventure, while I stayed home to watch TGIF through tear-filled eyes.  I don't remember any other time that stands out so vividly as that one where I was so upset I cried until I couldn't anymore.

Last night Laura called and asked if I'd go with her to a show at a live music coffee shop in Vienna.  Vienna is close enough to Sterling that you can make that kind of last minute trip without a lot of preparation but far enough to make it An Effort to go when it's pouring and past 7:30 pm on a work night.  A friend of hers and my brother's (Todd) who had been in a band called the Excentrics that they followed dutifully in high school and college was playing and she wanted to see it, but not if it meant flying solo.  I couldn't blame her, some activities just aren't worth it if you don't have company. 

Initially I resisted, hoping that someone else out of their group of friends would be in attendance.  When I got the call around 8:00 that no one else was up for the task I admit I had to willfully drag myself out of the house to go.  The weather made a long-ish but simple enough drive turn into one filled with u-turns when each of my subsequent route options turned up flooded.  Try number three was the one and I made it to Laura's house 45 minutes after we thought the show had started.  Luckily it was only 2 miles down the road and we were not so easily deterred. 

The show was great for so many reasons.  Laura got to have a change of scenery and be overwhelmed with teenage flashbacks.  The strange thing is, so did I.

I recognized the music because it had been a presence during my most impressionable years.  My brother, the amazing artistic talent that he is, designed the album art for 2 Excentrics cds, which to me made my brother akin to celebrity.  Not only was he friends with the band members but his work would live forever in a piece of their history.  Maybe not such a big deal when you reach a certain age but I hadn't reached that age yet, wouldn't for years and was easily impressed.  I'm still easily impressed.

During the show I had flashes of memories of Donald working hard on delivering great art, Laura going out with friends to local hang outs to catch their shows, years later playing the albums for the first time for myself and falling in love with the music the way both of them had years before.  It didn't hurt that Todd looked so much like Donald it felt like he was well represented even though he wasn't there with us.

Laura mentioned something on our way out that I had already thought about inside about half way through the show.  We ended up leaving before we got a chance to say hi to Todd, something I'd been hoping to do.  I wanted to smile at and shake the hand of someone who resides in little bitesbof my memory because of his relationship with two of my most favorite people in the world.  I jokingly thought and Laura jokingly said out loud that he would probably just be confused having never before heard or known that a third sibling even existed in the Bullach family.  Over the years I talked about my siblings to my friends all the time because they were SO COOL!  Their stories were my stories and I'd get high just from telling them.  I wouldn't blame Donald or Laura for never thinking to mention me much in their conversations with their friends, we were far enough apart in age and worlds that the two just wouldn't have naturally passed, but there's a part of me that will always hope in some tiny way I was as much a rock star to them as they always will be to me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Groove

Mmmm, sounds like velvet...

Seriously not enough words my love of his voice, his style and this song in particular.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Girl

This is Zen.

Zen is my first furchild.  I'd never been allowed to have pets as a kid and when I moved out of my parent's house it was into my sister's.  She's allergic.  About a month before moving out of her house to a condo in Herndon where I'd end up starting my furry collection, Zen came into my life by a twist of fate.

Originally I planned on only fostering her.  Even through I was grown and in a place of my own I'd not yet had the realization that I'd actually be able to get, and keep, an animal.  Once I brought her home, though, we fell madly, truly, deeply in love.  Me with all of her, her for my opposable thumbs and ability to fill her food bowl.

Because Zen (originally Fen) came to me from a heartless, ungracious man who was angry at his ex-wife I never received any of her medical records.  As far as I was concerned she was just a full grown cat that magically appeared in my life.  We guessed her age at the time but I never thought much about it until a year or so ago.  I went to pet her as she walked by and froze with a horrifying realization: Zen had old lady hips.

Now, don't read too much into that.  It's not a slam or insult or jab of any kind, but during all the years I worked in vet clinics I would always think to myself how bony and fragile a cat's hips felt when they were in their senior years.  More often than I should I would equate that feeling to a lifeline much closer to the end than I wanted Zen to be.

Zen is in wonderful health though she's overdue for a trip to the vet.  I'm in denial about how old she might be, conveniently forgetting that she has been with me for nearly a decade! 

I'm very stiff and sore this morning, significantly due to a week full of physically demanding classes back to back, but plenty of that can go to Zen, the Empress of Casa Castle.

You see, Zen is part Siamese and as the reigning presence in our home she has no reservations about clearly vocalizing her opinion.  Brush her with the tip of your finger on the fringes of her fur and she's demanding more.  Try to walk down the hallway and she's telling you you must be crazy because she ain't movin'.  Move her from her throne of comfort and she's like a 2-year old who missed their nap.

At night Zen has taken to sleeping with me.  Not just with me but curled up against my side, physical contact and pinning the blanket so that any movement would illicit complaints at volumes that would wake Clif who in turn would unceremoniously chase her off the bed.  To avoid interrupting everyone's sleep I've taken to not moving throughout the night as I normally do.  Hence frequent mornings of body stiffness and protests from staying in one position too long.

Zen, what I want to say is that my physical sacrifice might appear to have much to do with not exacting your vocal indignation in the wee hours, but it has so much more to do with how much I love you and want to gather every single moment I can with you, even when I'm sleeping.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nostalgic Noshes

Somewhere in the Arlington Bullach household there is a picture of a summer blonde me around the age of 6-ish sitting at the bottom of the rickety wooden stairs to the basement of Luray. My grandparents used to keep those awesome bottles of Dr. Pepper around and something about that picture and the vague memory of drinking out of the ice cold bottles in the cement cold basement in scorching summer days has helped solidify it as one of my all time favorite beverages.

Birthday dinners rocked because the birthday celebrator got to pick their favorite dishes for the menu. For me that almost always meant Brussels sprouts and cauliflower mountain - a head of cauliflower dripping in melty mustardy cheesy amazingness. I have never claimed to be normal.

Whenever I was sick or had an upset tummy Mom would pour me a glass of Coke and stir it until it was completely flat. After a dose or two of tummy-settling syrup she'd follow up with toast topped with a little butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

According to my recollections when my bother moved into his condo he started turning into a chef extraordinaire. The standout example being when he began experimenting with a recipe he found for Aztec soup. Donald hosted the big family birthday gatherings for years in a row and always served this deletable soup bar. I could never remember the official recipe name so it became and remains the birthday soup.

My all-time favorite dessert treat when I was growing up was a root beer float with vanilla ice cream and A&W. A close second were the butterscotch Popsicles Mom made in those do-it-yourself molds.

Over the past couple of years Mom worked hard to compile recipes from all corners of our extended family. With each recipe she found a picture or story to go with it so the final produt was more an overall family history than just a collection of tasty food. Receiving my copy and watching others recieve theirs I waas struck by how intregal food is to friendships, family ties and life Lon memories.

What are your nostalgic noshes?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Groove

This is one of the grooviest of Grooves.  Discovered this little gem at Zumba class with Laura and I can't get enough of it!

Go ahead, listen to it and try to sit still.  I dare you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Like My Mother

For many, many years I've said, "If I can grow up to be even a fraction of the woman my mother is, I'll be an incredibly blessed woman".

Not too terribly long after Clif and I had been seriously dating I called Mom one day in tears with desperate apologies for my rotten teenager-ness.  I honestly don't remember what exactly it was about something he did that triggered the realization that my mother put up with my frustrating behavior for years.  I was so overcome by thankfulness for her unending guidance, patience and love that years later I wanted to beg forgiveness for my behavior that she never deserved.

We've always been close but as I matured my appreciation for her grew by leaps and bounds.  She is, hands down, one of the best friends I have ever and will ever have.

I love you, Mom, have a beautiful birthday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Groove

This song always relaxes me, makes me want to close my eyes and drift away to daydream Neverland and I never want it to end.  Her voice is so clear, crisp and soothing, I love just about every thing Sade sings.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Full Disclosure

I am an overly emotional person.

I laugh, I cry, I laugh until I cry and cry until I laugh.  I can love or loathe until I do both.  There was even that one time Clif sneaked so silently into the bathroom that when I pulled back the shower curtain I screamed then immediately burst into body wracking, gut twisting, completely uncontrolable sobs brought on by terror-induced adrenaline.  What I'm saying is I can be a little intense in the feeling department.

Have you seen this yet?

Show of hands, (be honest, ye be not judged here) how many of you ended up misty eyed?

The song is Somewhere Only We Know by Keane and for reasons I can't explain it always nearly makes me cry.  Now Disney has paired it not only with one of my all-time favorite collection of Disney characters, but a Classic Disney version of them.

When I was young Disney was wonderful and catered to the entire family with wholesome goodness.  I fully admit I was, am and ever will be a tremendous fan of movies like The Parent Trap, The Ugly Dachshund, Polyanna, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sword in the Stone and so forth.  Those were movies from the time before Disney was all about obnoxious neon colors, overly-exuberant children hopped up on pixie sticks, cheap looking computer animations and tweens so sickly sweet they make your teeth ache.  Even the Disney Store lost its charm since when it opened and offered treasures and collectibles for Disney lovers of every age.  Now it's a joke for anyone above the age of 8.

During my very first glimpse of this year's Winnie the Pooh movie I held my breath and prepared for more atrocities to be done to my favorite childhood friends.  I can't explain my relief (or the glassy eyes) at reaching the trailer's end and feeling an overwhelming sense of coming home.  I want to see this movie.  I want to relive a piece of childhood joy and shamelessly shed a tear at the emotion it brings.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rainy Day How-To

Step One: Wait for a day like this - gray, hazy, threatening a glorious downpour.

Step Two: Light some candles, pour some wine.

Step Three: Play this song

Step Four: Find someone special and slow dance *Swing Style.

*Swing Style: 
- Get close.  I mean really close.  Even closer than that.  The only thing between you should be fabric.  
- His left and her right hands placed as usual on the small of back and shoulder, respectively.  His right and her left clasped and either hanging lazily down to the side or pressed between heart beats.  
- Him: take control and be her safe haven, her comfort zone. Her: close your eyes, relax and find complete peace and comfort in trusting him to lead you.  Lean into him, it's easier to follow.
- Now, just move.  One foot than the other, always alternating feet as if you're walking but with absolutely no direction in mind.  Simply sway back and forth or travel in linear or twirling fashion, quickly or slowly.  Mix it up and do a bit of both.

Step Five: Rinse and repeat for as long as you are moved to.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guarding the Colors

Today's post is dedicated to my friend Kate, she tells me this is her favorite of my crazy dreams.  Also to Mr. N., just because.

Let me start by saying I'm not a very athletic person.  I played basketball for a while when I was in middle school in a church league.  Church leagues and, oh, let's say middle school basketball teams, are entirely different monsters.  Needless to say the one and only time I ever tried out for a school athletic team was a bit of an embarrassment.  In fact, that audition and the freakish disaster we loosely called an audition for my 8th grade musical stand out as some of the most embarrassing moments of my life that I, unfortunately, remember vividly to this day.  Even more embarrassing than the time I fell down the stairs on prom night...

Point is I sucked at sports, a then well-documented fact amongst some of my more popular school mates.  If you remember anything about school you'll know that's not good.

When the Yorktown high school color guard came to give our 8th grade class a self-promotional assembly in our gym I was spellbound by the show.  I'd never seen a color guard before (I mean the flag and weapon spinning kind, not just displaying the colors kind) and loved everything about it.  They were dancing!  Gracefully and joyously while spinning and throwing long pvc pipes, solid wooden rifles and metal sabres!  I don't care if they're dull those suckers can HURT!  I was impressed.

At the end of the assembly the members of the guard came up to the bleachers and asked for volunteers to come to the floor and try their hand at some flag spinning.  You'd think I'd have remembered my previous attempts at trying something new but no, my hand SHOT up into the air and I grinned like a fool as I was picked and handed a flag.  If memory serves it was one of the more senior girls who taught me my very first basic spin and I got the skill immediately.  She seemed impressed and taught me something a little more advanced which I also got the hang of rather fast.  I was then greatly encouraged to come at the end of the school year for color guard tryouts.  Since I was strongly encouraged by my parents to belong to -something- during high school I saw this as an opportunity.

Talk.  About.  Excitement.  From the very first moment that flag touched my hand I was hooked, line and sinker!  I could not WAIT to go to guard tryouts and counted down the days.  I knew that the auditions would be difficult.  Color guard was incredibly competitive when I was an upcoming freshman and I knew a lot of people who tried out got cut.  I tried not to get too excited, fully anticipating that my complete lack of previous experience would be a huge count against any slim chance I already had of making the squad.  I swallowed my nerves and focused hard during 3 grueling nights of workshops, desperate to learn and absorb every movement I was taught as quickly and solidly as possible.

I was so consumed with desire to give a standout performance at my audition that I dreamed:

It it was my turn to audition and I stood with sweaty palms, one of 3 girls at a time demonstrating their ability to learn a routine in a short period of time.  I knew that routine, knew it backwards and forwards.  It fit with the music, accenting the crescendos perfectly and I stood ready, waiting for the opening chord of music.  

The music started and I flexed my arm to bring the flag up to sharp attention only to have it almost ripped out of my hands!  I looked down, confused, and saw I was standing on the very tip of the flag.  I lifted the pole, kicked the fabric out of the way and prepped  for a second attempt.  Again the music started and I lifted harder than the first time but again it was caught under my foot!  I couldn't fathom how since I thought I'd been careful about getting it out of the way.

Looking up I saw the furrowed brows of the band director as he tried to assess what exactly my problem was.  My cheeks flushed and I gritted teeth knowing I wouldn't get a chance past this one.  The music started again and I ripped that sucker as hard as I possibly could!  Good thing, it had gotten is freakish little self wedged under my foot again but it couldn't withstand my might.  I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt as I spun that flag like I'd been born with it.

It was about this time that my anxiety at having almost blown yet another embarrassing audition was enough to wake me up and I looked around confused.  I wasn't in the Yorktown gym, I was sitting straight up in bed and that hadn't been a flag in my hands but my sheet, a blanket, a quilt and an afghan, all clutched tightly in my fists as I'd ripped all four layers of my bedding out from the snug tuck job I'd just done when making my bed so I could flail them around the room.

100% true story.  Next time I might tell you about how not to fall down the stairs at prom.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gotta Dance

I need a new pair of Swivels (mine were black):

Laura and I tried our hand at Salsa last night which was overall pretty awesome, except for the fact that about 2.5 minutes into class I looked down trying to figure out why my shoes felt so funny only to find the heels were disintegrating out from under me!  I guess after roughly a decade of fairly significant use that is to be expected.

No worries, though, I popped on my split soles and took my position on the guy's side of the room.

Yes.  I said the guy's side.  It is not an unknown fact that the distribution of men to women at pretty much any and every partner-needed dance class you will ever go to is grossly unbalanced.

It is also a fact that most women would rather, or are more comfortable, standing around for a good half of the lesson waiting for the instructor to rotate the leads to finally give them a chance to dance for a round or two before being rotated back to the sidelines for the next available guy rather than take up the lead with another partnerless female.  Last night was no exception.

I, however, shared the bulk of my dancing lesson life with my loving and wonderful sister who is possibly one of the greatest follow-leads ever.  Early on in our swing dance lives she would frequently grab my hand, fling me around to the guy's position and start the steps we had just learned, leaving me to figure out how to do them in reverse in classic sink or swim fashion.

Times like those made me wish the ability to watch someone do a dance step once or twice then be able to repeat it with fairly decent accuracy was a marketable skill or else Laura might as well have been dancing with a post.

These days I pretty much expect to step into a lead role at most dance classes I attend (which is sadly too few), and am often surprised when there are enough guys to go around that I can learn the girls steps.

This brings me to my utterly confused point: what is WRONG with you guys?!?

I don't think very many men would deny their excitement at finding a woman who shared in their interests, the one who prepared a feast of game day munchies on Sundays or wore team jerseys to all the home games.  Moreso the ones who made an effort to enjoy those activities with their significant others, even if they weren't interested before.  So why is it that men have such a hard time learning to dance?

To add to our list of not unknown facts, I believe one of those is women find men who dance sexy.  Heck, men who even make an attempt to dance are sexy!  Not to remention the fact that there are almost always so many more women than men at dance gatherings, it's practically a buffet!  Why is it, then, that there aren't more men tapping into this opportunity?

Until logic and men meet on the grounds of suck-it-up-and-give-it-a-try I suppose I'll continue to exercise my left brain and fight muscle memory to play the guy role.  At least that way I won't spend half my lessons with sideline blues.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Full Disclosure

We have this tradition in capoeira where during our closing roda in the week before or after someone's Birthday we wait anxiously for them to buy into the game. Immediately we sing happy birthday in Portuguese, on repeat. They must stay in the roda while everyone else buys in with them, often more than once. It's sort of like hazing only with less booze, humiliating slave labor and a lot more kicking.

To top off the celebration we finish class with birthday cake. As you can imagine the birthday boy or girl by now has well earned their slice of deliciousness. Few things are as tempting as a gooey slice of triple chocolate gourmet goodness but for the las several months I have made a hasty post-roda retreat to facilitate my denial of sweets after my hard work.

Then, I head home and weakness kicks in. A combination of a late dinner time, being too tired and sore to even think about cooking when I finally get home and complete lack of willpower I (more often than I should admit to) stop at the drive through for a cheese burger and some fries.

Still, those brief moments when I can stare down a beckoning treat and tell it firmly I will not partake, not even a bite, I feel empowerment and strength. I may still make poor decisions, but any time my mind wins over matter I will keep as an accomplishment.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Groove

Today's groove is pretty jiggy!  In honor of hitting the road this afternoon to spend the weekend in the country with the family on the river I'm sharing one of our favorite country road cruising songs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


So.  Last week was crazy. This week less so, but not without its quirks.

I've officially moved over to a new office with shinny new windows and am getting more in swing with some new tasks and responsibilities.  Yay!

On top of work upheaval I've been trying to cram in as much as inhumanely possible to every nook and cranny of my remaining evenings as possible.  Between capoeira, troupe dance practice and weekly exercise classes with my awesome sister I've been a little more active than usual.  Add on a wilderness first aid class or two, a pending evening trip to Baltimore and other miscellaneous commitments and I've been running solid for a good two weeks straight.

More entertaining (well, hopefully more entertaining) posts will resume!  Just as soon as I find out where I set down my head...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Groove

A mellow tune for a mellow day.  One of my all time faves.

Fishing Lessons

My brother recently shared a picture he took in Luray:

It brought back the memory of the last time I'd seen one of these monstrosities.

I was... 6 years old-ish?  Young.  Still blonde.  It was one of the many weekends during one of many summers that I was spending time with my grandparents at their house on the river in Luray, one of my favorite places in the world.

Grandpa was going to teach me how to fish so he hooked up the little motor boat to the Koboda tractor (I called it my first car) and plopped me on the boat bench to be towed along to the neighborhood put-in.  The roar of the tractor always seemed completely deafening to me, less so now that I'm older, so when Grandpa stopped the tractor just before the boat launch and turned to talk to me sitting in the back of the boat he had to yell.  Unfortunately Grandpa yelling wasn't loud enough so I was forced to decode his gesturing.

What I gathered is that there was something off to our right in the strip of grass between the road and the tree buffer along the river bank.  I hopped out of the boat and inched closer to get a look.  It took me a minute or two and lots of looking back and forth for a visual game of Hot or Cold to try to find what he was seeing: a HUGE turtle staring right at me!

I looked back at Grandpa, grinning ear to ear and making the very obvious gesture that he wanted me to touch it.  Without a moments hesitation I faced that turtle, as big as my torso, square on and slowly reached OVER ITS HEAD to touch it's shell!  That day I discovered the value of finely tuned reflexes.

In slow motion I watched that turtle with his now obvious pointed beak-like mouth, shoot his neck out and aim right at me.  My index finger had made contact with his shell and the distance I had to pull it from there to the safety of a fist clutched tightly to my chest seemed miles long.  I made it out of his snap by centimeters and whipped my head around to see Grandpa doubled over the steering wheel in a fit of laughter.

Startled and a little bit shaky I walked back to the road and hopped up in the boat and Grandpa taught me how to fish for something ever so slightly less dangerous.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Standing Corrected

So you know that last story I wrote about my first exploration?  Well, thank my 80-year old brain for the mistake, that was actually my second excursion.  Allow me to share the story of my REAL first urban exploration adventure...

I wanted to get my hands dirty with my first exploration but I did not want to do it alone.  Not that I didn't feel capable, but for logical safety reasons it's just not advisable to go trekking through dilapidated buildings by yourself where it's highly unlikely someone will hear you scream when you fall through the floor.  I'll leave the Darwin Awards to someone else, thank you.

My Godfather of Exploration (the one who helped teach me so much) told me he knew of a couple of folks who were also new to the UE site we were on and suggested I get in touch with them.  I'd done some fairly extensive research and gathered a plethora of tips for a fairly low-key location.  Rumor had it it was nearly a cake walk to enter with some fantastic sights to see and we should have no problem getting in.  Double bonus was having two separate institutions to explore just a few blocks away from each other.  Two birds, one stone, a long and crazy day.  I contacted the new couple with my proposal, made sure Clif kept his schedule clear for that day and four fresh explorers penned in a unique double date on the calendar.

Clif and I met our new friends for the first time in a parking lot above the first of two sites we were about to attempt.  I was as prepared as I could possibly be and absolutely terrified at the realization that this was my show to run.  I shared all of the intel I had, gave some ideas for entry and exit and established an emergency plan should we get separated and soon we were on our way.

At the bottom of a very large hill sat a very large campus of buildings that had once held mental patients before it was repurposed to hold inmates and along the road in front of that campus sat a couple of work trucks complete with workers and a backhoe making trips back and forth to the main road right in front of our point of entry.  Not ideal exploring circumstances.

Well, we'd come all this way and made so much effort, half of our merry band (Clif and Laura, AKA Team Ballsy) was determined not to let the Presence of Unexpected People keep us back while the other half (me and Seth, Team Not-So-Sure-About-This) was ready to throw in the towel.  Our half was overruled by theirs and we huddled in the bushes to come up with a plan.

The Plan

Step One: wait until backhoe goes down the road (roughly 2-3 minutes until return) and guy by work truck to turn his back.  Both needed to happen simultaneously.

Step Two: Team Ballsy runs like crazy and swan dives into ditch under guard tower next to open gate in security fence where we need to enter.  Stay as flat and still as possible in the could-be-taller grass until backhoe makes its pass.  Check that backhoe is back down the road and guy by work truck is still facing the other direction and gesture wildly to Team Not-So-Sure-About-This who does the same.

Guard Tower

Step Three: When next 2-3 minute window is clear run like crazy out from guard tower ditch, into gate and start frantically looking for any open door.  Strain ears for sound of backhoe returning and duck behind corner of wall when it gets close.

Step Four: run around front corner of building to be more readily exposed to busy road instead of backhoe and guy by work truck and continue frantic door search.

We eventually found a place to get in and took a collective sigh of relief.  Well, half of us sighed, the other half rolled their eyes as commentary for how pansy-like their significant others were.  For the rest of our time at the first site Team Not-So-Sure-About-This ended up holding everyone's gear when we finished a building while Team Ballsy was free to search for our next point of entry, unencumbered.  Points of entry included rapid and graceless leaping into windows and running down metal fire stairs almost directly into the front end of some other guy's work truck.  CLOSE CALLS!  So much for an easy first exploration...

The second site we visited down the street was significantly easier which allowed Team Not-So-Sure-About-This a little more room to breath.

Photo Flood

Team Accomplishment

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Groove

Not all grooves need to have a party beat.

I love her voice and fell more in love with the song after watching the video.  I'm always, always drawn to dancing, particularly when it moves you with the story it tells.

The video and song have a haunting beauty to them but even more significant were the feelings it invoked afterwards of uncertainty at which side of the story I would put myself on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Someone has been up to her knuckles in the dirt...



Vile Urban Decay Temptress

I have been given a title and while I feel most people would take exception to the vile part, I'll let it slide.

A handful of years ago I learned of a fascinating hobby: urban exploration.  UE is the art of gaining access to and photographing abandoned buildings.  It is not a particularly legal hobby, unless you are very lucky, but many say that's part of the thrill.  In all honesty I would like my urban explorations to be filled with as little threat of law enforcement activity as humanly possible. 

The big issues stem from safety and getting lumped into the same category as taggers and scrappers.  A good, true urban explorer's motto should be "take only pictures, leave only foot prints", however we are looked at in the same light as punk kids with nothing better to do than roll out with cans of spray paint or launch old toilets out of second or higher story windows just because they like the crash and scrappers out to leech every free penny they can with no regard to the destruction they leave behind.

The appeal of urban exploration is multi-faceted and every explorer you talk to will have different reasons for why they chose it as a hobby.  Some live for the adrenaline rush at the thought of getting caught and the more difficult a location is to enter, the better.  Others, like me, lean towards the history, documentation and Story Factor of dying breeds of architecture.

I have not been exploring in over a year but my itchy shutter finger is a constant reminder of how much I miss it.  It's been my plan to share my stories from the locations I've seen and today seems like a good ohe to start at the beginning.

Her First Time

Once upon a time I saw an impressive picture of an even more impressive (and creepy) abandoned building.  It spoke volumes to me and thus began my education of UEing.  Research eventually led me to a forum site that I stalked extensively before joining.  After much more stalking I slowly started participating in discussion threads and ventured out to do my own research, trying to find the physical locations of all the incredible pictures I was exposed to.

More time passed and I made some friends (one in particular who I can't appreciate enough for his guidance) and was invited along on a group adventure to an abandoned mill.

Access to the building wasn't easy and blood was rushing through my body so fast I could barely hear anything but muffled swooshing in my ears as I tried to keep up with the crowd.  This panic-filled adrenaline drove my determination to NOT be the person that held everyone up with my inexperience and less than stellar athletic capabilities. I would not be bested by the large, awkwardly hinged window we had to climb through and choosing speed over safety used the back of my leg over the metal rod running along the sill to pull myself through:

In this hobby you just walk that off.

Once inside it was a little bit easier to breath but overwhelming in a completely different way.  The location was MASSIVE and trying to find a place to start shooting was intense.  I held back, letting the other more experienced photographers work their way through, partly to not get in their way, partly to try to hide my incompetence.

One fellow explorer had lent me a spare tripod though it must have been apparent I had no clue how to use it.  I stood back awkwardly, pointing and shooting my new DLSR Cannon as it if was an Olympus.  He held back and helped show me some tricks that helped transform my shots from this:

To this (thank you KTS!):

The rest of our exploration was fairly uneventful and FAST!  For more seasoned explorers the two hours we spent there was more than enough time.  I think I could have spent an entire weekend in that location and still not have seen everything it had to offer.  Being very much along for the ride I saw as much as I could in the small window of time I had.


By this point it was not even lunch time and since we'd already trucked on up the road the majority voted to to further to another location.  A more difficult location.  A location that should not have been attempted with a dozen people, a late start and no real planning.  That, however, is a story for another day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Home View

The story of how Clif and I bought a house:

Clif had moved in with me and my roommate, Jed.  Let me tell you just how fast one can loose their mind when living with two men, three cats and a dog in a 1 bedroom plus den condo in the middle of Herndon.  Pretty. Darn. Fast.

This is the time of the housing slump when it was still possible to get mortgage loans.  Home costs were down extraordinary amounts and the market was ripe for picking.  One such potential pick was just a few blocks down the street from us.  I wasn't sold on buying a house in that particular part of Herndon but curiosity, especially around the exterior of people's houses, always gets me.  We had no plans, or even partial plans, to purchase but I suggested to Clif we take a look at the house, just to see how much it was listed for and have a peek inside.  What could be the harm?  It would be fun to dream.

A realtor we knew from church wasn't available on the day we wanted to look and so he left us in the very capable hands of one of his co-workers.  Being a good broker he took the liberty of doing some additional research and suggested we take a look at a couple of other comparables in the area while we were at it.  If there was no harm at looking at one house for curiosity's sake, why not add a few to the list?

Roughly two weeks later Clif and I had compiled a list of wants and needs and visited over two dozen homes.  Our realtor suggested we move our search from the bowels of Herndon to the other side of Rt. 7 and the Sterling area.  Home ownership was still mostly a dream to us at this point, we were open to looking just about anywhere!

One of our must-haves was the ability to transform an area of the home to a rental unit if it didn't already exist.  Towards the end of our search we found a home that fit our needs fairly well.  Though it wasn't in an ideal neighborhood, the price and space were better than we had hoped for and we started entertaining the idea of making our dreams reality.  Our realtor wasn't as convinced and suggested we hold off on our decision a little bit longer.

The next day he sent me a list of two dozen more homes that he wanted me to narrow down by half.  By this point the thought of carefully studying one more listing so as not to be swayed by one way or the other by the picture provided made me nearly sick to my stomach.  I'd done a fair amount of research on my own and had been dreaming on a regular basis about asking prices, square footage and more.  I made quick, perhaps sloppy work of the list until I got to the 12th slot to fill.

Out of the remaining homes on the discard list I needed to choose one more to look at and finally settled on a listing that almost lost out because of it's picture.  No curb appeal and it looked TINY, but something told me to give it a try. Bless our realtor.  The charm-less looking home that barely squeaked onto my narrowed down list is the one he had us hold out to look at.  He knew it's potential and wanted us to have a chance at it. 

From the moment we stepped onto the front porch and looked in the window we were in love.  It was beautiful!  Updated!  4 bedrooms and 3 baths including a master suite (something I never dreamed we could have), a deck off the sunroom and a huge kitchen!  The basement was in substantially sketchier shape but it was already outfited as a completely separately functioning apartment.  It had its own entrance, bed and bath and kitchen on top of a huge rec room with great views.

And talk about those views!  The development we were in was designed with paved walking paths and a nature cushion behind every home.  The back yard spilled out to lovely walking trails, a creek and woods so lush we couldn't see the neighbors behind us. 

We simply had to have it.

On Superbowl Sunday in 2008 Clif and I waited anxiously in our empty dream house to hear our realtor tell us that two other bids were placed on it and they were going in for their second and last chance bids the very next morning.  If we wanted this house, really wanted it, we needed to get our finances in order and draft an appealing contract immediately.  We agreed to the suggestion of our realtor for an escalating clause and pushed our financial cap to uncomfortable heights, we wanted this home so badly.

That Monday was an nightmare of anxieties and it may have been that night, or maybe even the next, but we finally heard from the realtor: the house was ours!  One bid never came back for their second chance and the other barely increased their offer which kept our budget at a substantially more comfortable level.

Less than four weeks later the lending laws changed to be such that we could not have gotten a loan.

Three plus years later we are still so thankful and blessed to be living in such an amazing place.  Often I look around and imagine further updates we'll be able to make and one day raising our children there.  Bit by bit I'm putting a stamp on the design inside and out, cultivating a green thumb in the garden and whatever the equivalent is for minor home repair projects (bruised knuckles and knees?).

Even though we've had our rough spots and in the beginning made a sudden and monstrous jump from "just looking" to making one of the biggest decisions of our lives, every moment has been worth it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Groove

This one always gets me moving in the right direction.


It's wedding day and I've come away with two very significant facts:

1) William and Catherine (Kate) are beautiful, glowing and I hope their love withstands the tests of time.

2) Soon our house will become The Fascinator Zone.  Below are some snippets of inspiration.

Small, simple, elegant.

I love the lines of this one and you don't need to get into neck strengthening exercises in order to wear it.

 A little bit of butterflies and a little bit of steampunk.  Yes please!

 I love feathers, particularly when they are spriggy and defying the laws of gravity.

 I am a COMPLETE sucker for peacock feathers.  The colors and angled feather shape in the first speak to me the most, the almost antique quality of the second is beautiful and the third is hard to get wrong.