Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Satisfaction is an emotion that captures the uniquely human need to impart meaning to one's activities," Berns concludes. "While you might find pleasure by happenstance--winning the lottery, possessing the genes for a sunny temperament, or having the luck not to live in poverty--satisfaction can arise only by the conscious decision to do something. And this makes all the difference in the world, because it is only your own actions for which you may take responsibility and credit."

--Gregory Berns, "Satisfaction", taken from here .

This makes a great deal of sense to me.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

socially speaking

K. coaxed me into signing up for his company's soccer team. He'll be playing as well. I'm not nervous about my ability (which is probably pretty darn low)-- more about having a team sports commitment. Historically, despite the fact I've played lacrosse, basketball, soccer, and rugby, the last time I enjoyed team sports was...well, soccer. When I was about ten. No practices, just Sat am games, which we invariably lost, with all the public school kids with whom I got to hang out.

Maybe this will be fun.

We've gotten pretty used to having all of our friends long-distance. On weekends when we're home alone, we cook up something good, read on the couch, or watch downloaded sitcoms or Sherlocks Holmes dvds.

On Thursdays, I catch a ride in with my elderly retired friends and meet K. at Thacker Mountain radio, where we join the community in watching an entertainment show that's broadcast on air (super-fun-- lots of good music, authors, and whatnot).

On Fridays, I meet the Literary Club at the drugstore and drink coffee while gossiping with the retired women at high volume.

On Sundays, we head to church, and in the afternoon, I potter while K. plays volleyball with that rag-tag group over at Poprock Canyon.

We have lots of friendly acquaintances here, but no true friends our own age-- probably because when we meet people our age, they're living with their parents, heading to late-night concerts, already have tons of friends, and are busy anyway doing whatever groovy twenty somethings do. A couple we invited for dinner three months ago finally invited us over, but had inadvertently double-booked themselves, so they ended up rescinding their own invitation. People seem so very busy to me.

I'd like to find some people with whom we could have bonfires and howl at the (early evening) moon, but for now, it's mostly us. And on Saturday nights, when my hubby wanders around in his torn pajamas and asks if I want popcorn, that's more than alright.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A week of pictures

A home-made and uber-cheap Valentine's day:

The dawning of K's 26th birthday:

We headed west through the delta to see the Missisippi River:

And because the water recedes wherever we go, we had to ford a ten-foot area and walk across hundreds of yards of sand and pebbles to actually stand on the corner of the river, on which there were barges going up and down. Apparently, the part we walked across had been covered in river water three weeks ago. Which would have made it look a whole lot more impressive. Nonetheless, the dogs had a ball.

Upon arriving home, K. took out the clippers. We've been waiting until it warmed up, and this coming week is supposed to be in the sixties, hence:

And for funsies:

Friday, February 16, 2007

good times

While it's chilly, it's also a sunny Friday.

K's heading home with stacks of books (I'm reading Algonquin-published authors, as I have the biggest publishing crush on them), we're going to clean the house, and then eat tomato soup and steak and READ.

That's what we call good times.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm interviewing my first person today.

Why I shouldn't be nervous:

--I've had time to prepare

-- the editor of the newspaper says that "he wouldn't know where to begin" so I can write it "however I want", including length

-- he's an elderly man who loves to talk

-- he lives two steets over from me so all I have to do is walk over

Why I am nervous

-- because EVERYONE in town reads this paper. Example? Well, approximately an hour-and-a-half after yesterday's paper came out (the one introducing my new feature with a picture of me), the post lady recognized our dogs who were barking in the windows 30 ft up a hill from said picture.

-- because I have to majorly fake my way through talking with people I don't know.

-- and lastly, mostly-- why give up a good reason to be nervous? That's not what nervous people do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


What's with the lack of blogging lately, yo? Elbows into the sides of everyone on my links page (with the exception of Bluepoppy and Farmgirl).


I've powered through Chapter 10; 6 chapters to go before my first novel is officially done (I'm aiming for March 1st). Of course, if I'm lucky and someone wants to publish it, I'll have to revise it probably 18 more times.


K's birthday is this Sunday, and I think I'm more excited than he is. Last week he called me from work and said "Give me a reason I can't go to this conference with S--- next weekend."

I said "because it's your BIRTHDAY!!!!!"

He laughed and said, "Right. That'll do."

He forgot his own birthday. Man, I'm fully aware that mine rolls around in slightly under seven months, and if past trends continue, I'll be insufferable for the preceding three months.

I got him presents today. They are all going to be surprises this year, unlike Christmas (which was so fab I couldn't resist telling him), and last year's (don't order something a month ahead of time because that's way too long to keep your mouth shut).


Here's the pic that's coming out in this week's Herald announcing the upcoming feature (the one where I interview people). Note the dog drool on my shirt, courtesy of the great white beast that is my mother's dog. I couldn't actually open my eyes much, as I was staring straight into the sun for the fortieth time, since Sweetie McSweetie took forty pictures before this one (I call him Sweetie McSweetie, and he calls me Spendy McSpend-a-Lot. Though not when it concerns his birthday).

Friday, February 09, 2007

Good news

I went down to the local newspaper on Monday, and I'm their new features writer (on a freelance basis).

In every week's issue, I'll be writing a profile/interview with interesting locals. My first subject hand-typed an autobiography, available in the reference section of the local lobrary.

It is AMAZING. Not only because he's had an interesting life, but also because he provides a clear, first-hand account of life in Mississippi in the 1920s. The econonomy, the social structure, race-- it's all in there. This stuff needs to be part of the Library of Congress, because it's priceless. I'm meeting him next week, and I think it'll be great.

Talk to ye elders, people! And elders, write your stuff down! Think of it as community service.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

San Francisco, Take 2

Sunday I hassled with the concierge for a bit, and after some bureaucratic nonsense and a quick trip to my cousin's house (I'd stayed there Thursday night as K. was still in conference-mode) to retrieve the coat, glasses, face wash, and contact case I'd left, we headed over the Golden Gate Bridge northwards.

Marin County's beauty was only slightly marred by me hollering at K. to slow down so I could take a darn picture.

We arrived at the Muir National Forest after lots of map-reading and amicable bickering...one of the very steep roads made even K. nervous because it had no guard rail.

Upon arriving at the park, we paid and then in true American style, we ate. Organic tomato soup with gorganzola cheese and super-good trail mix.

Much happier, we than wandered into the woods, feeling a wee bit out of place as everyone else had fancy hiking shoes and backpacks.

After an hour and a bit, we hopped back in the car and headed east along a bay and then north into Napa valley. K. wouldn't stop since we were due at aunt Mimi's, so all grapevines are blurred.

(The yellow stuff is mustard.)
Napa valley was beautiful, but kind of a disappointment after all the press. I didn't realize that the vineyards would be so close to one another, right off the main road, like a vinicultural main street.

St. Helena, however, was fab. While now priced out the wazoo, it was an actual little town, with 19th century buildings, a quaint downtown, and beautiful stonework. We lollygagged a bit-- I ordered a whole gallon of olive oil from a store where we chugged paper-cupped samples of the different varieties-- and K. got very upset with the misleading public bathroom sign.

We then got back in the car, and drove the three roads out to Aunt Mimi, aka Seavey Vineyard (seaveyvineyard.com).

The last picture (above) is of the winery at aunt Mimi's. Although we tromped around the vineyard (which is beautiful-- 40 acres in vines, all of it steep) and admired the grassfed cattle that had wandered among the vines, we didn't take any more pictures. But imagine a room, a concrete vault really, with row upon row of french oak barrels, stained red around the middle. A most incredible smell. Her two small dogs, one of whom trotted in during dinner preparations with a dead bird. The best chocolate tart thingie I've ever eaten.

After a really pleasant dinner, we drove back to San Francisco, dropped off the rental car (thereby leaving all the stuff I'd retrieved that morning from my cousin's), and walked the eight blocks to the hotel, passing an Asian prostitute with one exposed breast as she hung out on the corner.

Quite a trip.

not mine, but still:

the divine economy of salvation.

isn't that a great title?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Just now, I looked up from my desk through the window to see a black man on a four wheeler pulling a flat-bed trailer with a bathtub on it.

It made me smile.

San Francisco

In general, I don't fall in love with cities. Venice, New Orleans, and Savannah are exceptions, while NYC, Boston, Montreal, and Paris didn't compel me to pack up a bag.

S.F. didn't make it into the top 3, mainly b/c it's in California, which-- being a snobby Virginian-- I can enjoy but not take it seriously. Quite alluring, but not suitable, honk honk. Despite my east coast prejudices, we had a wonderful weekend.

K. and I met at the Cartwright hotel in Union Square (recommend it-- cheap, clean, and old-world European-style) and moseyed northwards. It was raining, but we went up Montgomery and stopped at William Stout's Architectural Bookstore.

AWESOME. We curled our sodden selves into funky little chairs and he read about stone houses while I speed-read Swedish and Finnish architectural books. Must move to Finland.

Walking the one block over into Chinatown, we discovered the dim sum is in fact middady dining and my research had been for naught. We wandered around, looked at crazy-expensive mushrooms and herbs and whatnot in jars, avoided the ppl trying to hand us menus, and ended up eating somewhere unremarkable but satisfying.

Saturday, we took our camera on the walk between us in Union Square and Ella's, a groovy brinch place on Presidio. Hence:

Brunch was fab, even though K. got up every three minutes to talk to N., his best friend, who graciously got up before dawn so he could drive from LA and spend the day with us. I just stole sips from his fresh-squeezed oj and concentrated on my bacon, havarti, and apple scramble.
Gorged and happy, we wandered northwards and found ourselves on the corner of the Presidio park place...

After walking up a remarkably steep hill, we ventured downwards to Broadway, where I'd been told there were some mighty fine houses. There were, and also, to my glee-- a view of salboats! And super-steep steps in a park thingie!

Notice the copper garage door. K. was aghast.

We walked along Broadway, passing some arty forms of yard art, and met Nicholas.

We went up to a park, ate sticky bins from Ella's, and caught up for a while, then headed towards Japantown for our appts at Kabuki Springs and Spa. K. and I got our first-ever shiatsu massages, which were...divine. This little Asian lady hopped on the massage table and rolled her knees around my hips at one point. I probably left saliva marks. Meanwhile, K-- who DID enjoy his-- came out in wonder because his small elderly Asian man would touch him with a single finger and my big brawny lumberjack of a husband would recoil in pain.

Nicholas, however, experienced the tradional Japanese baths. Unfortunately for him, no one there was actually Japanese-- or traditional. Eh, he loved it.
Later that afternoon, K. took us to the top of the Fairmont, which is where his conference was held. We took the elevator to the room where they'd brunched and whatnot to see the views.

I know, this is the longest day in the world. But we were determined to see as much as we could!

The view of the most crooked street in the world and the view from the top of it:

I was trying to herd the troops toward North Beach, but first we "had to see the sea lions." After K's one hundredth bathroom break here:

We saw the stinking seals. Unfortately, I can post no pictures, as it was DARK and we couldn't actually SEE THEM.

We then trudged up a hill, found an Italian place, and gorged ourselves.

Sunday's installment will post tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday afternoon

It's a sunny over-sixty today.

After a morning in town doing errands, I'm home. I took the dogs-- all three-- for a long slow walk and brought them back panting.

And now, I'm cleaning up chapter eight, Puccini in the CD player, Shadow splayed in the sunlight behind me, Soco curled up on a dog bed, Dido-- well, let's hope she's not on the couch. They haven't so much as whimpered in the last hour.

It's a good life.

Friday, February 02, 2007

snow in mississippi

On Friday morning, we woke to snow. Of course, it was gone by nine am. But nonetheless: snow!

My mama left at noon. We had a nice long visit, and now she's heading back to Virginia, sans Soco (her dog), because she may or may not be going to Costa Rica. Next week. To attend Spanish school. Though she's not yet sent in the application. And I'm obviously a gigantic control freak because I find this behavior baffling.

Though not this behavior:


We passed at least two homeless dogs today alone. We've tried to coax them home, but they seem quite uninterested in humans and food. Though not our girl-dogs (the strays being very un-neutered males). Since the county shelter euthanizes roughly ninety animals a week and we live in a rented house, we leave them be. I'm not sure what else to do.

Thursday, February 01, 2007