Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Glasses on the Way and Accomodations Confirmed for Next Week

Last month I went to the DMV to get my new Driver's License and had an awful time with the vision test. I was squinting and wiggling my head around and I just couldn't say for sure how the last line read. So today I went in to Lenscrafters and got an eye exam. Sure enough, I'm a little more nearsighted than I was before. (No surprise, I think I've probably had to get a new prescription every two to three years since I was 12.)

When it came to picking out glasses, I took a leap and chose wire frames. I just didn't feel like having clunky plastic frames anymore. They won't be ready until I get back from South Carolina, so I'll let you know then if I think I made a major mistake! Fortunately, they did have my contacts in stock, so I picked up two boxes of 30 lenses each for just $20. I don't wear contacts that often so that is perfect for me.

Poor Ross spent the afternoon trying to pin down details for the hotel in South Carolina. Apparently whoever took the reservation mis-spelled the name. A common enough mistake, but it took three phone calls to them to get them to realize it. The most frustrating thing is that even after he told them that he should have a reservation there they didn't offer to look for it and call him back or anything. It was just, "no you don't, sorry." Oh well, better to go through that silliness now than when we are standing there with our luggage, exhausted from the drive!

Since now I know where we are staying I looked up pictures! Eeek! it looks awesome!



Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Plants





Art Class and South Carolina

I went to my third oil painting class last night. Each day's class has had a completely different set of people. Apparently no one in Lombard has quite as much spare time as I do, lol. I started a landscape painting based on a lesson by Anita Hampton in one of Gerry's art books. Gerry once again commented on how quickly I paint. I usually paint alone so I had no idea I painted faster than other people. I chalk it up to a) nervousness bordering on neurosis, b) impatience to cover up mistakes, and c) the niggling knowledge that if I don't finish it quickly I will probably become bored with it and never finish it at all! Still, I wonder if I would paint better if I slowed down?

I am loving my art class, but my Fibromyalgia is not. When I paint I have to stand up or my elbows and forearms tend to get in the way. But when I stand up for two hours my legs turn to granite and my hips to oatmeal (special granite and oatmeal with millions of pain sensors.) I'm hoping that my body will adjust after a couple of weeks.

Next week I will only get to go to class on Tuesday, because Wednesday we are hitting the road! Ross's cousin, Trevor, is getting married in Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, on Friday. We don't have money to fly so we are going to drive down there instead, spending the night in Knoxville on the way. Thursday night is the rehearsal dinner, Friday night is the wedding, and Saturday everyone is hanging out at the beach. We will probably head back on Sunday morning. Ross is very excited, I am still trying to summon up my more adventuress side. This picture of Mt. Pleasant helps a little ;)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Painting from Class


The instructor, Gerry, has everyone start with the same painting - The Pears! I picked up a lot of techniques working on this that I never would have learned doing watercolor or acrylics. Now that I got the starter painting out of the way I can do whatever I want at class on Friday. (Sorry the photo is so grainy, had to take it without flash because the paint is still so wet.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oil Painting Class

Last week I was at Hobby Lobby looking for frames for the adorable paintings Steph gave me when the lady helping me mentioned that a frame I was looking at was a favorite of the students at their oil painting class. I've been wishing lately that I had someplace air conditioned and well lit to paint (my upstairs office is neither) so this caught my attention. It turns out that this Hobby Lobby has an oil painting class that meets three times a week and is just $10 a session! They had a cork board posted near the front door with pictures of the students' paintings and I was pretty impressed by what I saw. It wasn't the usual decorative flowers or Bob Ross imitations that you see in craft store classes. So I called the instructor and got the information and tonight I am going to my first class! I am so excited!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Watching and Reading


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince


From Lisa Shwarzbaum's review for EW:
"Half-Blood Prince encompasses important plot developments involving both love and death. But the story is, still and all, only a pause, deferring an intensely anticipated conclusion. And it's in that exquisite place of action and waiting that this elegantly balanced production emerges as a model adaptation. By now, as played with utmost loyalty to the cause by some of Britain's most illustrious actors, the supporting characters are as familiar as the population of Homer Simpson's neighborhood (and that's a great compliment). Yet with a big assist from cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel — a Potter newbie who memorably shot Am√©lie and Across the Universe — the filmmakers have found a way to refresh our eyes and enhance our appreciation for this rich, amazing creation."

Dexter

From EW's review of Season 1 DVD:

"Death does become him. Six Feet Under star Michael C. Hall's turn as blood-spatter specialist Dexter Morgan — who's also a serial killer programmed to knock off only bad guys — provides one of the small screen's most appealing antiheroes."

I haven't been that impressed with the supporting cast, or even the writing on this show, but Michael C. Hall makes it worth watching. He's a fascinating combination of wistful outsider and creepy crawly thing. I wish they would leave out all the blood, f-bombs, and ashen corpse boobies but, hey, it is a Showtime production.

Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters by Tom Wright

At Amazon.com.

I'm loving this commentary! Includes Wright's own translation of the full text in question (in this case 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus) as well as Wright's relevant, wise, and refreshingly simple commentary. I am particularly impressed with how deftly Wright handles controversial issues like gender roles, wealth, and politics. I will definitely be reading more of these.

Erma, Forever: Best Loved Writings from America's Favorite Humorist by Erma Bombeck

At Amazon.com.

Perfect antidote to Dexter. Guaranteed to get blood spatters and ritualistically mutilated Barbie dolls out of your head.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Car Drama

The Yukon is back from the shop, life is good!

Back on July 1st I pulled the Yukon onto the driveway from the street where it had been parked while the roof was being replaced. As I was about to get out of the car I noticed that I had parked it too close to the flower bed and it was blocking sunlight. I started the car up again, planning to move it forward a few feet, but as soon as the engine turned over it died. I tried several more times with the same result. The next day, the same thing. Ross talked to his parents (who had given us the car on our latest trip to Raleigh) and they said they had had the same problem, but thought that it was fixed when they replaced the fuel pump.

So we decided we would take it into a GMC shop when we got back from our MI trip. Surprisingly, when we got back, the Yukon started up without any problem! We took it in anyway, because when you have a car you would like to feel somewhat confident that it will start when you need it to, and if it was the fuel pump the Cangelosis ought to be able to get a refund from their mechanic. But after playing around with it for three days at the shop they couldn't figure out what the problem might have been. They washed it and gave it back to us.

Not the most satisfying outcome, but the Yukon looks clean and spiffy, it's running fine, and we didn't have to pay $600 dollars for a new part. (Knock on wood. )

I've had a lot of car troubles in my life but this one really got me, and I think the reason was the timing. The car broke down right after my rose bush was crushed, and right before Ross's job interview - I was feeling incredibly vulnerable the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Hopefully, if the Yukon goes out again I won't take it so personally!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Little Lovelies






Post-Trip, etc.

I don't know how to follow up a week like last week! Michigan was amazing - Calvin College, the Hyatt Place, the Frederick Meijer Gardens, South Haven - all perfect. Not counting our honeymoon, it may be my favorite trip we've taken together. Grand Rapids was fun because I got to visit old familiar hang outs and show them to Ross, and South Haven is where Ross and I got engaged and holds a special place in our hearts. As we sat on the beach, hair tossed by the lake breezes and toes buried in the sand, we swore that if we can we will come back before the summer is over, even if it is only for a day!

While I may not have any beaches to look forward to this week, I do have Harry Potter. We're going tomorrow at midnight with the Stangers. I don't do movie theaters much anymore, let alone midnight showings, but this is Harry Potter! Sixth out of seven - the end of an era approaches! I'm feeling nostalgic already!

After about a year of listening to NPR almost constantly I'm finally returning to music. I guess every summer needs a soundtrack. Josh Garrels, Feist and Andrew Bird are my favorites at the moment and I think "Leisure Suite" by Feist will always remind me of our room at the Hyatt Place on this recent trip.

In further randomness, here is a picture from my porch. I picked up a bench in somebody's trash a couple of weeks ago, washed it down with bleach, threw a blanket over it, and now it's the cats favorite piece of furniture.

Plant pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pictures from the Beach

Yesterday we stopped in South Haven on the way to Grand Rapids and had a picnic on the beach. It was a gorgeous day for it! Sunny, breezy, and mid-seventies. It felt so good to bury my toes in the sand and look out over the water. Ross, who has lived on the East and the West coasts, marvels at how like the ocean it is. (Only better, I say.) After eating our lunch we went for a walk and then rested on our picnic blanket in the sun for a while (not long, but long enough for Ross to get a little sun burn.) With the breeze it felt a bit too chilly for swimming, but we are going to try to do some of that when we swing back through on Thursday.




Friday, July 03, 2009

Buechner on Patriotism

All "isms" run out in the end, and good riddance to most of them. Patriotism for example....

The only patriots worth their salt are the ones that love their country enough to see that in a nuclear age it is not going to survive unless the world survives. True patriots are no longer champions of Democracy, Communism, or anything like that but champions of the Human Race. It is not Homeland that they feel called on to defend at any cost but the planet Earth as Home. If in the interests of making sure we don't blow ourselves off the map once and for all, we end up relinquishing a measure of national sovereignty to some international body, so much the worse for national sovereignty.

There is only one Sovereignty that matters ultimately, and it is of another sort altogether.


The above quote is from a book of compiled writings, so I don't know when it was written, but I would guess it's at least 20 years old. Still, even with the threat of nuclear annihilation somewhat muted, I think it is very relevant today. Recently we have seen how the actions of a relatively tiny group of people can have a domino effect, creating massive economic havoc around the world. Scientists warn us that the habits of a few nations may have a catastrophic effect on the entire planet. And we've all watched as a virus born in a remote village in Africa has spread to every corner of our world and claimed the lives of millions of men, women, and children. Despite our differences, we are all connected, and if the ship goes down, America goes down with it.

I love my country, but I'm tired of people who use patriotism as an excuse for callous indifference and smug superiority. Jesus makes it clear that he abhors apathy.

"'I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"

As a Christian I believe we are called to use our hands, our feet, our voices, our resources, and yes, our vote, to do the will of God, and God is not interested in the promoting the ease and comfort of Americans at the expense of the rest of his children.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thursday

Hooray, I survived Wednesday!

We found out that the problem we are having with the Yukon is the same thing they were dealing with back in North Carolina. Comforting to know that it wasn't something I did, at least!

Ross has an on-site interview with a video game studio in Chicago on Monday. This is the same company he's been trying to get an interview with for months and that warned him of a hiring freeze just a couple of weeks ago, so for things to suddenly go this way feels like a windfall. On one hand, we don't want to get our hopes up, but on the other hand, it is a wonderful change to have something so tantalizingly close to hope for.

Meanwhile we're still on for my birthday trip on Tuesday. So if the interview goes poorly, the trip will be our balm, and if it goes well, it will be our celebration.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away

What the heck is going on!? First my rose bush was crushed under roofing shingles, then we were plunged back into this gloomy weather, and then the Yukon died in the driveway. If I leave the house, will a piano fall on my head?

I am trying to keep my chin up. I'm playing Motown on the radio...brewing a fresh pot coffee...praying...taking deep breathes...wearing my comfiest hoody...ranting to sister on the phone...

What kind of things do you do when life seems out to get you?