Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pageturners 6.25

"The Decline and Fall of the English Major" The New York Times
The teaching of the humanities has fallen on hard times...Undergraduates will tell you they are under pressure--from their parents, from the burden of the debt they incur, from society at large--to choose majors they believe will lead directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities. In other words, there is a new and narrowing vocational emphasis in the way students and parents think about what to study in college....What many undergraduates do not know...is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing...Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. 

"The World Arranged: A Profile of Claire Messud" Poets & Writers
'Ten years ago wasn't so good for women...but now its unquestionably not good for women. Just simple, practical things. I was speaking to a woman who is a dorm mother in a boarding school, and she says the girls get up at a quarter to six in the morning so that they can do their hair. When I was a student in the 1980s, nobody was doing that. Those girls are getting an hour less sleep a night than the boys in the class. That's ridiculous, and its not even questioned. Nobody's asking. I feel like we're living in a time where there's a whole set of assumptions about what's expected superficially, but those things matter.' Such things do matter and those considerations are artfully woven through The Woman Upstairs. The book may rant but like the best rants, the novel relies on a virtuosic synthesis of anger, social awareness, and aesthetic performance. .."I love a ranter," she says. "And the girls have not been ranting." 

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
I just started this novel today. I've been eyeballing it at the bookstore for several weeks, picking it up and reading the first few pages. But somehow I always end up walking away without buying it. Finally I caved. (Isn't it crazy how prices have changed? I used to go into the bookstore with twenty bucks and buy five books. Now, that gets you one paperback.) If you're interested, here's a review by the NY Times on the novel; otherwise, I'll return soon with some thoughts of my own.

image source: via Pinterest

Thursday, June 20, 2013

In So Many Words 6.20

. In a somewhat morbid yet funny moment, my sister once told that if I ever returned after death as a ghost that I would haunt our piano room around 8-9 every night. That was typically the time I sat down to play. There's no better way to wrap up a long day, no easier way to recapture your own rhythm, than to lay your hands on the ebony and ivory for an hour or two.

image source: Pinterest

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Currently 6.19.13

It has been a hectic, busy week! Let's slow down for a second, shall we?  Stretch out the crick in the neck and take a few moments to chat about what's going on currently.

Anticipating: Over the next few days, two gigantic big-happy moments should occur. The first: two of our best, closest friends  are getting married Saturday. Mark and I will be rambling down to North Carolina Thursday evening in order to help prep and party. Can't wait to watch these two take such a special, beautiful step together! The second: in about 6 days, Amp and I should be homeowners! Can't wait to move downtown into our little brick rowhome--to clean, paint, and decorate this unique little place--and to start make memories of our "first home."

Reading: Can I just say that this month's Poets&Writers issue was particularly helpful? My favorite quotation (so far): "I always feel ...we should only take on writers whose manuscripts are so good that you can open them to any page, read a paragraph, and say, 'Here is a true writer,"" Haven't you experienced reading an author who just captures you like that? Every few sentences come with an intake of breath and a moment of pause as you realize "wow. These words are exactly the right way to say that." That's the sort of writer I aim to be...if I can just get over the anxiety of writing a bad first draft. ...*cough Anyway...

Watching: House Hunters. Yes. I know- I fully acknowledge that this show is the show you watch at the beach when its raining and there's nothing to do and nothing better on. But lately, it has just been incredibly entertaining to me. And what's more: my husband even likes it! I realize this is undoubtedly a passing phase, one from which he will abruptly startle...and probably very soon. but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. (We particularly enjoy the International episodes...who doesn't love fantasizing about buying a house in Paris or Prague or Marseilles?)

Wanting: The last of my wedding photos to arrive! When Mark and I got married, we ordered the majority of my wedding photos. I greedily snatched up all the photos of us together as well as our individual portraits and the necessary bridal party and family shots. But the wallet prohibited buying the photos of other important moments. All the little things, like the table arrangements, the front door wreaths, the flowers on the cake, the white wedding pumpkins (my personal favorite artistic detail of the day!). Or hilarious candid shots of guests doing the Electric Slide or our parents laughing or (the best one yet) my dad stealing a mid-dance smooch from my mom. Of course, I love all the posed moments, but going back through the second time, I found myself drawn to the little details and candid shots. That day, I was so swept up in the hugeness and awesomeness of the event, that I missed out on some of the tiny things. So, I'm grateful that our photographer captured them for me--and I have to say, I loved reliving the day through the photos. I'm anxious to get all the photos together and finally (after nearly 9 months) assemble our wedding album! It's about time, don't you think?

What's going on currently in your life?
Share in the comments below or leave a link to your own currently post at your blog!

image source

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


^^ In just one week, we should be attending settlement for this adorable little rowhome downtown. Built in 1899, this place is the cutest little blank-slate space--just waiting for someone to come in and glam it up again. My favorite part of the place so far: the red alley door, the huge front windows, the private rear courtyard, and the old-style trim.

Mark and I already are brimming with ideas for the interior and exterior (no. 1 on the list: remove vinyl siding to reveal original painted brick underneath), and I am chomping at the bit to begin. We only have to survive the incessant question-barrage from the lenders. Everytime I foolishly think I have sent them everything they need, my email chirps its increasingly annoying little bing, informing me that "oh there is one more document needed."

Nonetheless, we are attempting to get all our little duckies in a row. (And if we're missing a few, I'm sure Culler Lake has a few to spare.) So wish us luck these next few days. I'll let  you know when "our place" is officially ours!

p.s. Fear not... the eye-sore trashcans will not be lingering on the sidewalk when we live there. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Tromping through the woods for lost golf balls.
Singing Steve Miller as loud as possible ("Go onnnnn take the money and RUN!").
Watching old Star Trek reruns.
Teaching me to golf, to bike, to swim, to run, to walk.

For all you've done and still do in my life:

To the funniest story-teller,
the loudest sneezer,
the foremost Kennedy expert,
 the best singer,
and the most skilled air guitarist I know:

I'm so blessed to call you "daddy."


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Today We Found a Lake

The thing I'm going to love most about living downtown is being within walking distance of the city's best parks, shops,  and restaurants. Frederick is a city that boasts its history; it seems like every corner you turn you encounter a  house, a bench, a statue, or tree preserved and named after some important citizen of Frederick history. Francis Scott Key, Barbara Fritchie, Roger Brooke Taney. As a self-proclaimed history buff, I have to say I love being immersed in this kind of environment. The city has so well maintained its culture that you can easily close your eyes and envision the Fredericktowne of long ago. You just wonder who might have walked these undulating brick streets, their voices mingling with the carriage rattles and horse  whinnies echoing off the buildings

I have a feeling that evening walks are going to become a staple of our days living downtown. You never know what you're going to stumble upon: what concert will be playing in the park, what shopkeeper will be brimming with stories to tell, what friendly mutt will be waiting to play fetch with a stranger. Several times a week we stop by our soon-to-be-home, just a quick visit to say hello--but these little stops excite me for all the adventures and discoveries ahead.

I mean, today we found a lake. A whole entire lake--just blocks away.Complete with a little family of baby ducks and their sentry-vigilant mother. Who knows what else is out there waiting to be found and explored? I know one thing: I can't wait to find out.

Here are a few photos of our downtown day. Have a beautiful Saturday, friends!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Interior Obsessions {Brick Wall}

What says downtown living more clearly than exposed brick interior walls? To me, the chipping patina of white on brick instantly adds a little drama and history to a space. And a great deal of shabby urban charm. Unfortunately, our little townhouse doesn't have any original brick walls of its own....but we're tinkering with the idea of adding one. After all, if we're going to live downtown....we may as well live it up, in full style, don't you think? 
Here are a few inspirational images. Which space is your favorite? 

All images found via Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

{Garden Fresh}

Today we harvested the first few leaves from the basil, the fast-growing star of my mini balcony-garden. Thank you to all those who responded to the basil-growing questions I tossed out somewhat helplessly into cyberspace. Your helpful responses on Instagram and Facebook are most appreciated!

Tonight on the menu: tomato-basil capellini pasta and balsamic-vinaigrette chicken. Yummy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


While digging through our storage closet (part of a clean-up-and-clear-out initiative I've undertaken), I ran across a few old photos. Among them, this one of my grandmother and two of her friends from Missouri. The smiles and sassy off-the-shoulders pose just made my day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Keep on Keeping On

Today's quote was just the kick-in-the-butt I needed to plop back down at my desk and start scribbling (or at least typing) away. Being sick this past week gave me an excuse to laze about in my pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, sniffling the day away...and ultimately get nothing done in the way of writing-this-novel-I've-been-working-on-and-talking-about-for- at-least-five-years.

Enter today's quote.

And its back at it, boys!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gratitude Lately

This weekend I was grateful for steamy walks by the canal 
and little white tents filled with talent. 

For rows of yummy food and even yummier smells. 

For the sudden shocks of beauty blooming all over our little city. 

For a good house-inspection report and the freedom to start pawing through paint chips. 
(Our soon-to-be house is in surprisingly good health for such an old girl.) 

And for little seedlings that will eventually make for some fine pasta and pizza cooking. 

Our weekend was generally filled with sunshine and smiles, exploring our little city. 
A friendly man sipping iced coffee informed us that
 Thursday is apparently a night for festive Irish reels at Boe's Strings.
The kind where if you have a guitar and can play a few chords, you're in.
If you have a mandolin or accordion and know your way around...even better.

And a lady selling beautiful canvases of sunflowers and hyacinths
 taught me how to properly pick and use a palette knife.
Goes to show you that you never know what you'll learn
or who you'll meet if you just take the time to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

How was your weekend? 

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