Friday, September 30, 2011

What I am into this month.

The trees are still green, but not for long!
On My Nightstand: September, really, has been a month of YA novels. Whatever. Don't judge.

I began September with a three-day race through the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I saw the movie when it came out (not knowing it was based on a book series) and left thinking, "That was a terrible movie, but I bet it would make a good book." I was right. It's no Harry Potter, rich with allusion and Story and clever bits that drive you to read them over and over and always find something new. But they are fun.

Next came Alice I Have Been, an exceptional piece of historical fiction. It's good, poignant and delightful. But depressing. Too much a reminder that real life too often doesn't have happy endings, even if it does have graceful ones.

I am intermittently working my way through Zeno's Paradox: Unraveling the Ancient Mystery Behind the Science of Space and Time. It's not quite as coherent or readable as I'd hoped it would be, but the subject matter is of course fascinating.

And I am ending the month with another series of YA fantasy novels, The Sisters Grimm. They're aimed at a younger set than the Percy Jackson books, and are, well, again, no Harry Potter, although Buckley, like Rowling, gets better as he goes on. I would be lying if I said I was not completely devouring them. The target audience is definitely Nine- To Eleven-Year-Old Girls, though. I was reading one at the ballet with a nine-year-old friend, and she said, "Is that The Sisters Grimm? I haven't read them but my friend LOVES them!" So I guess they're hitting the mark.

Want to Read: That list never ends, does it? I have a couple of books I've borrowed from work, one on Bernie Madoff and one on, I don't remember, something else financial. I might read those. We'll see.

Grautitous Jayne picture.
TV Show Worth Watching: The DDH and I, we are followers of the Hulu. Because if it's not free and available whenever we want to watch it, we just can't be bothered. So there's the usual: This season of Hell's Kitchen is down to the final four (I mean, I guess it's actually over, but we're down to the final four). I sporadically join the DDH for Royal Pains and White Collar and some British comedy about superhero delinquents that I can't remember the name of, and other things. He watches way more TV than I do, and has a whole list of shows he follows. I mostly join him for an episode here and another there. Castle has started back up and oh. my. GOODNESS. I had forgotten on what a cliff the series left us hanging last season, and it just charged right back in. Love.

BUT. We have a date every Wednesday night for the latest episode of Blue Exorcist. Yes, it's an anime. I don't care. If you like drama and adventure and moral dilemmas and slapstick comedy and cute animals and Story you. will. love. this show and should go watch it right now. All of it forever. It's an alternate universe-type setting where the church exists to fight literal demons. Priests are exorcists with nifty powers (though I guess you can also be an exorcist without being a priest; I'm a little unclear on that) and the Vatican controls this whole hierarchy of exorcists and the main characters are the twin sons of Satan reared by the most powerful exorcist in the world and OMGSOGOOD. The only criticism I have of it is it's only half-hour episodes, so about twenty minutes of actual content, and then I have to wait a whole! week! for more. It's amazing. Why are you reading this blog and not catching up on back episodes right now?

Movies I've Seen (in or out of a theater): The DDH and I went to see a special advance screening of Courageous for law enforcement personnel. It was...fine, I guess. It was not terrible. It was relatively interesting. It has a great message that really does need to be heard. I'm just not sure that an in-your-face, hit-you-over-the-head-with-our-message movie is the way to do it. I assume that sort of approach must work for someone or they wouldn't keep producing these sorts of movies and music and books and all the other trappings of a certain stream of American Christianity, wouldn't reach anyone I know.

I will say that it was weird to watch it in a police station in a room full of cops. That definitely gave it a different atmosphere.

Anyway. I recommend seeing it unless you have a very low tolerance for being preached at, basically.

In My Ears: The DDH, cutting edge geek that he is, has had Spotify for awhile, and I am beginning to steal it from him. Mumford and Sons has really been singing my tune lately (I think "Little Lion Man" is my current favorite song). Also been enjoying some Florence + the Machine, a dash of Adele, a liberal sprinkling of some good old-school The Killers. I'm coming down off a loudrockingpartydancemusic phase (the CD in my car right now is still Ke$ha, don't hate). Raspy melancholy grooves seem more appropriate for fall, somehow.

Newest Blog Reads/Internet Interest: All of the blog-reading is new for me at the moment. Faithfully following Megan at SortaCrunchy; been enjoying Sarah Koller at Yoga For Breakfast. I know everyone else is raving about Pinterest, but eh. I have no interest in checking it out; I am not really a spatially visual person (as opposed to a verbally visual one, which I am). Oh, yeah, what happened to Google+? That lasted all of a month. Though with Facebook's changes, maybe it will make a comeback.

Lanterns on the back porch table.
What I'm looking forward to next month: October has always been my favorite month (or possibly tied with my birth month, the winningest July). So much goodness abounds in October, plus absolutely perfect weather almost no matter where you live (usually. Now I've probably jinxed it). Halloween! I vaguely recall going on a Halloween-decoration-clearance buying binge last fall, and am excited to find out what it is I bought. Also, the Fair! The Tulsa State Fair is a pale shadow of the glory that is the New Mexico State Fair, but it is better than nothing. I love Fairs. Also, Oktoberfest! Yusssss. Also, my mom's birthday! Which I will miss, being here, but, yay Mom! Yes, Oktober should be good times.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I am proud.

I may have mentioned that the DDH passed the bar exam.

Five years of law school, going part time while working full time at a variety of usually miserable jobs.

Two months of hardcore, nothing-but-studying studying.

Forty-four days of nail-biting waiting, wondering, praying.

And finally:

One ceremony for each of the Oklahoma law schools (OU, OCU, and TU).
We road-tripped out to OKC with his mom and stepdad, took a million billion pictures of the DDH in a suit in the fancy Capitol building (vastly inferior to the one in Santa Fe, IMHO), sat through yet another succession of speeches, and, yay! his name was read, he took the oath, he signed the rolls (with his work address, because apparently the bar rolls are public records and disgruntled criminals or clients or whomever can use them to look up your address, break into your home, and threaten you and your children, not that we know anyone this happened to or anything), and he's officially a shiny new lawyer with a shiny new job working for the state not making shiny lawyer dollars at ALL, but he loves it and it's work and he got to go to trial today so yay.

We followed the ceremony and picture-taking with a wander 'round Bricktown, with a stop at Bricktown Brewery for beer and food.

Our selections.
Always a good time.

A grilled spinach mushroom salad with bacon dressing. Noms.
Also, that salad? It was amazingly delicious. Fo' realz.


Monday, September 26, 2011

I am really confused by the new Facebook.

I don't really care about the little sidebar that pops up with irrelevant about your friends. Whatever. It's off in a corner and I pay zero attention to it.

I don't really care about the various cosmetic changes to the page. Whatever. Everyone will get used to a new design.

But I do not like being able to tell if I'm seeing all the updates I want to see. I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING, GUYS. WHY AREN'T YOU SHOWING ME EVERYTHING.

I mean, I clicked to subscribe to all of my mom's posts...but some of them show up at the top of the page and some show up at a random lower part of the page and some, I suspect, don't show up at all.

So for the moment I've given up on using the thing. My Farm stands abandoned because I can't see if I'm getting all the watering cans or whatever my mom and her friends are posting. I haven't read a political blog post linked by dad in days, because I can't freaking find them. I have no idea what is going on in anyone's life.  SIGH.

Facebook was a nice orderly way for this introvert to feel like she knew people and was interacting with them. Until I figure out the new system and make sure I'm getting all the knowledge I want, I am completely cut off from the world.

Yeah. I know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I am organized: Entryway

Repurposing is my favorite "green" habit. Old, broken items can become something new and totally awesome--who wouldn't love that?

I am addicted.

There is a category of item that I could shop all day for. I drool over catalogs, I stalk sales, I happily wander stores imagining owning--

Not shoes.

Not clothes.

Not purses.

No, I, my friends, am addicted to organization supplies.
When storage bins go on sale in January, I am happy. When school supplies go on sale in August, I am in heaven. Show me a cute box, a bag with a myriad of carefully designed pockets, a desk organizer with a nifty feature and I. Am. So. There.

There are two problems with this addiction. The first is the same problem I face with food and shoes and clothes and purses: money, of course, that bugbear of dreamy housewives everywhere.

The second is the weird old house I live in, where everything from the doors to the drawers to the closets comes in non-standard shapes and sizes. Nifty little drawer organizers? Do not fit. Cool and practical over-the-door storage units? Do not fit. Anything ever in the history of the universe designed to bring the glory of Order to a chaotic closet?




Between the two, I have gotten rather creative (I hope) with making up and making do, that I might worship Order without going into hock or getting a degree in carpentry.

Let's take a look at one of my little projects.

Flip through any Pottery Barn catalog, and you will discover the Idealized World of the Entryway. These people who live in catalogs always have spacious mudroom-entryway places, filled with specially designed Entryway Organizers of Awesomeness that contain exactly the right number of perfectly sized nooks and crannies in which to store everything from your galoshes to your school books to your umbrellas to your keys to your mail to your everything you could possibly want to store conveniently close to the door. People who live in catalogs, they have these glorious rooms.

Do you know what I have, guys? I have a tiny stretch of wood floor with half a wall and a miniscule hall closet. (Our garage a. has an addition built above it and thus cannot fit a standard (!) automatic garage door and b. opens onto the stairs to said addition and then directly to the kitchen. So the front door is It).

Exhibit A.

Yet, given a budget of half a wall and zero dollars, and with the help of a handy husband, I managed to come up with this nifty mail and key organizer that does at least something to assuage my longing for an Entryway Organizer of Awesomeness:

Exhibit B.
Look at this handy thing! It hangs on the wall right by the door, it has hooks for keys and a decorative Freiburg shopping bag, pockets for mail for the DDH and me and for coupons, and generally is awesome. Best of all, it cost me precisely zero dollars.

How did this come to be, you ask? Well, friend, I will tell you.

The frame with hooks used to hold a mirror and hung above the couch in one of the DDH's bachelor apartments. The mirror fell victim to an Unfortunate Shoe Kicking Incident, but packrat me could never bear to get rid of such an intrinsically useful bit of wall hanging. It has followed us around for seven years now.

Then, the DDH and I discovered that the mirror bit could be removed, leaving the frame intact. We chopped apart a bulletin board (the frame had broken, but thinking, oh, corkboard is so useful! I had packratted it away, again for several years) and inserted it into the space left by the mirror.

For several months, that is how it hung in our entryway: useful hooks, coupons messily pinned to blank, boring corkboard.

Then I had to shred a bunch of old notes at work. The handy plastic pocket-covers of the notebooks just screamed, I can be used for something! as I was shredding their guts. I took pity on the critters and squirreled them away home.

I added a strip of black electric tape so stuff wouldn't fall out, since the pocket didn't go all the way across. I drew some nifty labels on scraps of scrapbook paper (actually, the boring white paper that you get for free with scrapbook inserts), stuck them in the business card viewer pocket, and voila! organizational pockets.

Please note that the labels are yellow on one side, blue on the other, and green in the middle, as if the blue and yellow bled into each other on the coupon pockets. IT'S SO CLEVER.

When I come home on lunch or at the end of the day, I take care of my mail right away, so my pocket is usually empty (I stuck the envelope in so my pocket didn't look lonely). The DDH is happy to let his mail sit for days weeks months, so it is usually full (supposedly everything in it is organized and this is just where he wants to file it. Why he feels the need to file his junk mail instead of throwing it away, you will have to ask him). When I get coupons in the mail each week, I toss the expired ones and add the new ones to the middle pocket.

You will notice that my keys are the only ones on the hook. Obviously one of us is more into this whole organizational thing than the other. I never tell him "I told you so" when he can't find his car keys, though.

A Thing of Beauty

Linked up with Your Green Resource on SortaCrunchy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I am sore.

Two years ago, I lost thirty pounds over the course of about three months. (Nannying for two very active little boys will do that to you, once you stop eating a Sam's Club-sized bag of M&M's every week.)

M&M's Milk Chocolate - 56 oz. bag
Fifty-six ounces. That's 3.5 pounds of goodness, my friends.

I've managed to maintain most of that, but over the last month I've noticed the scale tiptoeing its way back up. This was caused by three things, I think: ice cream season, cold beer season, and waaaaaay too much eating out.

I'm working on the last one and going back to cooking more, which should help both the scale and the budget.

But. To address the first two: Giving up ice cream and beer entirely are Not Viable Options. Cutting back I guess could be more reasonable, but not as much fun as stepping up my workout routine!

Yes, I have decided that in the battle of the scale, I much prefer to work out harder than to give up tasty foodz.

I work out at least three times a week at a Curves gym near my house. It's great because the workout mixes strength training and cardio in a time period to which I know I can commit, but turns out it's also great because it's totally Girl Chat Time, too. There are several women who also work out most weekdays in that after-work 4:30 to 7 pm time range, and we have good conversation. Also, I love the employee who works evenings, and we have gotten to be fairly good friends (by an introvert's definition, which is pretty much, people who will voluntarily talk to you about something other than the task at hand). She even has lent me some books, which is a sure sign of trust.

Exercise? No thanks, Mom.
A few months ago, the club started offering a "Curves with Zumba" class, which combines the circuit machines with Zumba moves. It. is. a. BLAST. And a good workout. And a good opportunity for fellowship with other new Zumba devotees. We are very good laughing at how ridiculous we look, and lamenting the fact that our hips just don't seem to operate the same way the instructor's do. It's been just the change-up I needed for my workout routine.

Now I am trying to draw the DDH into some of the social-workout goodness. Obviously he can't come to Curves, but our church offers a fitness ministry on Wednesday evenings, where they do a half-hour Bible study/nutrition class and an hour workout. It started up for the year yesterday, and I convinced the DDH to come with me.

Oh man, was it intense. Apparently, the instructor varies the sorts of exercises we do week to week, and this was a P90X-themed workout. Holy cow. Muscles I didn't know I had are sore. My triceps are rebelling. My abs hurt so much that it seems a side bonus of this workout will be not eating as much because my stomach hurts.

It's awesome.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am Paul.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. --Romans 7:15

Freiburg, Germany

Megan says we are vessels of grace.

It's a beautiful thought. I want to say, easy to say for someone living my dream, bouncing through life with her beautiful girls, managing her household with love and ease and, yes, grace.

I am not anonymous enough here to complain about work. Let us say that--it's not where I want to be.

I think it is easier to do good to those who hate you than to do good to those who irritate the hell out of you.

But. Just because it is not where I want me to be does not mean it is not where God wants me to be. For this season, for this time, for some purpose I can't yet fathom.

Certainly lots of people have it far worse than I do. This is not particularly bad, just irritating. And I am letting myself be impatient for a future that won't be quite as rosy when it gets here as I make it out to be, anyway. Really, nothing is wrong here that isn't made wrong by my sinful, judgmental nature that insists on casting everything in the worst possible light.

But the devil knows just where to get me, you know?

I need Grace to be grace. Luckily, I've got Grace in abundance. More than I deserve.

Linked up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's "Just Write" challenge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I am loving this open-window weather.

We spent all last week with the windows open. I spent most of the weekend on the back porch. Warm sunshine, cool breezes, perfect temperatures...ah, fall is the BEST, guys!

Today we were back in the upper nineties, and do you want to know a secret? As much as I enjoyed that lovely taste of fall...

...I'm glad to be back to summer.

I know, I know. Fall, wie gesagt, is the best. But technically, it's not fall yet. And, see, the problem with fall is that it's followed by winter. And winter is the worst.

This early coolness had me worried that we were in for a long, cold winter. Maybe we are. But not quite yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later, I am still speechless.

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days. --Nehemiah 1:4

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day.
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee.
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I am overjoyed!

He passed! He passed! Thank God Almighty, he passed!

So yay! The DDH gets admitted to the Oklahoma bar on September 22, starts as an assistant district attorney October 1, and gets to continue clerking/training at the DA's office in the meantime.

We won't have to sell his car, the house, the dogs, our souls, and live destitute for the rest of our lives.


Time to hit McNellie's for a celebratory drink or three. ^_^

I am the nervousest I've ever been.

We find out the bar exam results today. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.