Christmas recap, etc.

First, a poem.

A reading from the book of exile

chapter four

there are some things too meaningful for talking

and even feeling leaves us full of grief

at all we touch and need and

can never speak of

we are living lives that we can’t state the name of

we are loving things that

we can never bear

we attempt belief in things that we can not explain

and we rest uneasy in this

sometimesseemingcruelgame

and we rest with tension so

beautiful

its heartaching

(by Padraig O’ Tuama)

I have had a very full week.  I took Tuesday off, made 3 loaves of babka and prepped 4 linzertortes and made about 4 dozen rugelach.  I cleaned most of the house, and wrapped presents.  On Wednesday, I went to Jeff and Tammy’s and was happy to see that family (especially Bill who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time).  After, I picked up Stephen and we went to Knoxville to see the Reeves.  Christmas Day was very typical – stockings, then breakfast, then presents, then naps and general lethargy, then Aunt Carol and Uncle Walter’s for dinner and more presents.  We headed back to Nashville and got back before midnight, because I had to work on Friday.  We were able to leave work early though – around 3pm – and I then rushed to Stephen’s and we left for Chattanooga pretty much immediately.

We got to Stephen’s Mom’s house a bit late because of post-Christmas traffic, but we were still in time for dinner and to see Stephen’s nieces before they got too tired (and grumpy).  Dinner was steak, gravy, sweet potato casserole (a la Aunt Carol), mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, cranberry salad (served with mayonnaise which was surprisingly not bad at all)….and I think I’m forgetting something.  Brussels sprouts maybe?  Hm.  Anyway – after dinner there were more presents, and then soon after was bed – which was very welcome.

Stephen has been sick for about a week and the medicine his PCP prescribed before Christmas wasn’t really helping.  So we went to a CVS clinic on Saturday morning and he was prescribed an antibiotic, an inhaler, and some cough medicine – maybe one other thing too.  That used up most of the morning, and when we got back to his Mom’s we both took naps.  Later in the day we played Dutch Blitz with his mom and his sister (it was actually kinda fun, even if I came in 3rd…), and had leftovers for dinner.  Made that Kahlua-brie bake again, and I made the fourth linzertorte of the season, and we sat around playing Carcassonne.  I was exhausted by this time and didn’t do a very good job of being social at all.  But.

Sunday was also low-key; we had bagels and lox for breakfast (er, everyone else had lox – I had bagel and cream cheese and veggies), and Stephen and I went out to a coffee shop for an hour or two.  I’ve started Cold Mountain finally, and am very much enjoying it so far.  It’s making me want to find a secluded field somewhere and read for hours.  Or even a sparsely-crowded coffee shop with overstuffed chairs would do.

Actually I think the real problem here is that I’m just over-peopled right now.  By a long shot.  I had a tiny breakdown on Saturday evening because of several little factors that added up to too much stress.  I’m such a homebody sometimes.

Overall though, I had a good Christmas.  I was glad to see my family and I think they mostly all liked my gifts to them.  I was glad to see Stephen’s family, and glad that he wanted me to go with him and also that they seem to like me.  I was glad to see the Ralston/Rogers/Kings too.  Now I’m going to be glad to sit at home and avoid socializing at least until NYE.

I would put up some pictures…..but I’ve somehow reached 75% of my data limit and don’t want to risk going over this month.  So!  Maybe this entry is interesting enough without pictures?

I like making things.

Can’t stop sneezing this morning.  Guh.

Made that mac and cheese last night, and just wanted to tell you about it a little.  It ended up being delicious, of course, although I wish I’d added a tad more liquid as it ended up being really thick and creamy.  Which is kind of ideal, except that I used linguine and I like to cook the noodles a tad softer than al dente (I’m sure there’s a word for it) – so they were not all able to bear up under the weight of the sauce when it came to transferring them from fork to mouth.  Nevertheless, that does not affect the taste.

So the recipe called for sweet potato puree, brie, cheddar, neufchatel, and milk.  I added onions and garlic, because I add them to everything, and I also had some bacon left from brunch last weekend which I fried and added as a garnish.  And man it was soo good.  Served with salad and baguette — mmm.

pasta

After, Cathy went home and I watched most of V for Vendetta, though turned it off when I got tired which happened to be RIGHT before the climax.  Oh well, I’ve seen it before.  I know what happens.

I’m posting a picture of my current leather project, because I want to, because I think it’s turning out pretty well (not done yet, obviously).  As long as all goes well, this will be a Christmas gift for someone, but, uhm, assume it isn’t for you.

seal

I encouraged someone on reddit to buy a leather burning kit, and she did, and just sent me a picture of some doodles this morning.  Maybe I’m posting this here because I really wanted to send it to her, but don’t want to come off as a show-off.  Not that it’s that good.  But…..it’s not a complete mess.  It’s decent.  Actually I think it’s kinda cool-looking.

Crafts

You guys, I’ve spent the last day or two planning Christmas presents, and at the moment I am VERY excited about what I’ll be making all you people.  (Well, not all of you.  Just the ones of you who are family members.  Sorry.)  I just put together a template for the thing I’m making Sister X (because I found a tutorial online which linked to a template, but the link was bad so I just made my own – which I think looks better anyway) and I REALLY want to post pictures and tell you about how excited I am about this project.  Buuuut I can’t.  Ugh.  Dammit.

Also I spent last night sewing a couple of presents.  Again, not going to say what they were or who they’re for, but it’s not that big of a deal anyway because they aren’t fancy – they’re just part of the gift.  Nevertheless, I had an absolute blast making them and still wish I could blab about it.

I just bought a gold wholesale membership at Tandy Leather.  Wasn’t going to, as the last time I had one of these I used it about once, but leather is so expensive for heaven’s sake!!  Was browsing the leather selection and decided that even if I buy just one hide, I’d save money with a wholesale membership.  (So that extra paycheck I mentioned?  Whatever doesn’t go to bills will probably be going to leather.  I need to start selling this stuff.  Hmm.  I might make some extra of the Gift for Sister X, depending on how difficult it ends up being.  I’m positive that I could sell those, if they turn out well.)

So anyway, if anyone needs leather LET ME KNOW.  We can go to the leather store together!

Someone please make it 5:00 now, though.  Please.

Had an amazing weekend – I pretty much loved every minute of it.

Friday ended up being an extremely slow day at work, so I mostly sat around trying to practice portrait-drawing.  If you’re unfamiliar with this type of drawing, let me just tell you that it is entirely dependent on getting shapes and proportions correct, and if you make a nose even a tad too big, the face will look like a distant cousin of the person you’re trying to draw.  It’s not easy to get those proportions correct, so practicing (with an eraser…) can be beneficial and gratifying.  Was fairly happy with the way these turned out (except I realize that the one on the left is kinda cross-eyed)….

pictures

Anyway, it was fun.  After work I went to hang out with Mar, whom I see infrequently these days.  We drank wine and ate cheese and talked about life — it was a lot of fun.

On Saturday, Katie came into Nashville and we went to get lunch and coffee at Cafe Coco, then walked over to Centennial Park for TACA (which is now called Tennessee Craft…..whatever).  I got these gorgeous earrings and ran into a couple of friends.  It was warm outside but pleasant enough in the shade.  Had a good time.  Then we made a pit stop at my house and went on to Percy Warner where we mainly drove around looking for that one field near Old Hickory, and once we found it we spread out a quilt and sat, or lied down, or read, or talked, or whatever.  I brought my quilt to sew, but didn’t end up getting much work done.  Which was perfectly fine with me.

Katie went home after, and I cleaned the house a little, took a shower, etc.  Stephen got home that evening so I went over to see him, which was also great.  We ended up going to Fido on Sunday morning, which he does every Sunday if he can — he takes a book of poetry and braves the line which usually doubles back around the front counter… and apparently if you’re lucky, some days it goes out the front door.  Nearly as bad as Pancake Pantry!  But anyway – the company was good and we had books so I didn’t mind.  After, went back to TACA again, because I would go all three days if it was feasible and I could control my spending compulsions.  I bought a pie dish that I’d picked up and loved on Saturday but didn’t feel good buying as I’d already spent money on the earrings.  (Sunday was a new day though….)  After TACA, went to the Brewhouse for a couple of beers and then back to his house where he made pork chops and artichokes, with a dipping sauce consisting of mayonnaise, butter, herbs, lime juice, hot sauce, etc etc etc — basically it was amazing.  And went perfectly with the pork and the artichokes, and the cheese.  And wine.  Watched the Simpsons season premiere with dinner, which was probably pretty funny but honestly I think I was mostly focused on food at that point…….

Anyway, it was an absolutely lovely weekend.  I am SO glad that it’s fall now, and so excited about seeing more and more colors in the trees.  Oh Fall, how I love you.

Today has been a very average Monday.  I was pretty groggy this morning and am still yawning, actually, but I’m awake.  Also – am excited about tomorrow; we have tickets to see Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer play at …I think the Blair school of music or something.  I’ve been listening to their new CD, Bass and Mandolin, and I think it’s just fantastic.

anxious!

Naw, not actually anxious.  Just wishing to be home, rather than at work – although, come to think of it, if I didn’t feel that way it would likely be cause for some alarm.

Feeling quite significantly better than I was this time yesterday; I won’t go into details except to say that I don’t know how people don’t write.  If I didn’t write, my brain would be a huge jumbled mess that I would never want to tackle because of the backlog of unresolved, unanalyzed, and ignored problems.  Writing is the thing I do to understand myself; how do people who don’t write understand their motives and impulses and feelings?  Oh well – at any rate, wrote a bunch yesterday and feel better today.  Also got some work done on my quilt yesterday, after cleaning the kitchen and making homemade pizza, so it was a good evening.

I’ve been thinking about delving into oil pastels or watercolors again.  Or both?  I haven’t really mixed mediums before (except for watercolors and acrylics and I was never any good at that at all).  Didn’t last night because the quilt was just right there, asking for me to work on it (plus I put on How I Met Your Mother and that show isn’t particularly conducive to artistic creativity).  But anyway.  I may go home today and watch Babette’s Feast or a Wes Anderson movie, and do some oil pastel-ing.  Wonder if I have any blank canvases.  Hm.

excerpts

these passages are bringing me peace this morning.

Stephen is en route to LA and will be gone until the weekend.  I’m reading Hannah Coulter which made me cry last night – it describes love and grief with such raw beauty.  what would be my 4th anniversary is a week from tomorrow.  I feel discouraged and hopeful at the same time, which is a confusing mixture of emotions.  so …… I just thought I’d type up a few of these excerpts which I’m reading this morning, and which I should read every morning.

If you close your mind in judgments

and traffic with desires,

your heart will be troubled.

If you keep your mind from judging

and aren’t led by the senses,

your heart will find peace.

Seeing into darkness is clarity.

Knowing how to yield is strength.

Use your own light

and return to the source of light.

This is called practicing eternity.

(52)

Fill your bowl to the brim

and it will spill.

Keep sharpening your knife

and it will blunt.

Chase after money and security

and your heart will never unclench.

Care about people’s approval

and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.

The only path to serenity.

(9)

Colors blind the eye.

Sounds deafen the eart.

Flavors numb the taste.

Thoughts weaken the mind.

Desires wither the heart.

The Master observes the world

but trusts his inner vision.

He allows things to come and go.

His heart is open as the sky.

(12)

Knowing others is intelligence;

knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Mastering others is strength;

mastering yourself is true power.

If you realize that you have enough,

you are truly rich.

If you stay in the center

and embrace death with your whole heart,

you will endure forever.

(33)

The Tao is always at ease.

It overcomes without competing,

answers without speaking a word,

arrives without being summoned,

accomplishes without a plan.

(73)

If you realize that all things change,

there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

(74)

That last one is going to probably take my whole life to master, and I doubt that will even be enough time.  However – I feel so much more peaceful right now than I did when I started this entry, so the words are doing me good.

So the equinox seems to be today at 9:30pm (CDT)

I know, I’m terrible at titles.  The equinox is on my mind though, because I just got back from my lunch break and am saddened that I can’t spend the rest of the day outside.  That said, the mere fact that it’s beautiful outside and that fall is coming improves my mood (which is stupid as it has no actual affect on my afternoon whatsoever – I can’t even see out a window without standing up).  That one tree on Bagleyshop which always turns yellow while the rest of the trees are still dark green has started shedding leaves, which makes me happy.  So, so beautiful.  I love fall so much.

My lunch break was productive, though I again neglected to get any actual lunch (good thing I have an apple left from Friday…).  I went to Costco to pick up a couple of prescriptions, and then went to Old Navy where I got some pants (um, I don’t know why I’m hesitant to admit this, but they’re skinny pants) and was pleased to be able to fit into a size smaller than I typically get.  Which is especially odd, given the fact that they’re the skinny cut.  But whatever, not complaining, just thinking that I should lose some more weight.  I don’t actually feel like I’m losing weight at all though, so I’m really assuming this is a fluke – or the brand.  (Although, most of my jeans are this brand, so I don’t know what’s up.)

But yeah anyway, I wanted to get some – even though my calves are about as big around as, um, my head – so that I could use them as a template to alter some of my work pants.  All of which are baggy and make me feel like a slob; a few are baggy everywhere, and a few are just baggy in the waist area.  Instead of buying new clothes for work (blah), going to see if I can adjust these myself.  Good thing I know how to sew!!  (Ha!  That’s a joke you won’t get unless you know how complicated it is to sew clothing — it’s so much more involved than sewing quilts.  Even when you applique and then hand-quilt them.)

Had a good weekend.  Went to a free Over the Rhine show on Saturday with Stephen, a couple of his friends, and his sister/brother-in-law.  Had Prince’s hot chicken for the first time, and it was really really good – the seasoning on the mild was delicious, and the really hot stuff was a bit hot for my taste but I’d be interested in trying something in-between.  Fortunately/unfortunately, Hattie B’s is literally 10 minutes from my house so doubt that I’ll be trying more Prince’s any time soon.  But, ya know.  Funny – was listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me yesterday, and they took a call from someone in Nashville.  The first thing the host said was something about hot chicken, to which the caller replied that she was a lifelong vegetarian.  It’s nice when you hear about non-embarrassing Tennesseans on NPR.

So anyway, in addition to having Prince’s for the first time on Saturday, I also went to the Pharmacy for the first time.  I really liked the place overall, and if/when I got back I want to try their burger that comes with mushroom stroganoff bechamel, but to be honest I thought Fat Mo’s regular burger was better than the regular Pharmacy Burger that I ordered.  (Bun quality was better at the Pharmacy, though.)  I will say that they had some amazing-looking sauces, and the curry ketchup I got on the side was amazing.

Sunday was a pretty typical Sunday – which basically means that I spent most of the day trying not to feel bad about how lazy I was!  Ha.  I got up and took a walk around the neighborhood (in lieu of hiking, as I slept a little later than I’d meant to), then did some laundry and washed some dishes and cleaned the living room.  Oh, also hung some pictures on the wall in my bedroom but I can’t decide whether I like them or not.  That wall has been difficult to find appropriately-sized pictures for.  Most of the rest of the day was spent watching TV/reading entire issue of the Sun that came in the mail on Saturday/playing Skyrim…….until I met Ryan at the Brewhouse for a couple of Blue Moons, and then went to Stephen’s later.  You know, when I write it all down like that, it was actually a pretty fantastic Sunday.

Speaking of Skyrim, I ordered this shirt which came a couple of days ago.  (Oh yeah, no way I’m losing weight as this shirt is a XXL — which I assumed would look like a dress on me, but I guess not.)

highhrothgar

I guess you probably can’t read it – but it’s basically a tourist ad for High Hrothgar and the Seven Thousand Steps.  Which…. would not be my #1 destination for a vacation in Skyrim, but can you imagine standing at the Throat of the World — what an amazing view!!!

Well anyway, I think that’s all I have to say, I guess.  What a feeble ending.  Need to work on titles and conclusions.

What day is it?

Thursday right?  Yes, yesterday was Wednesday.  (Arithmetic, you see, is very useful; without it I should hardly have been able to …guess the day….ok ok that’s not even applicable, but I just felt like throwing that line in.)

Stopped off at Pilot this morning for coffee and a breakfast-y thing, and the coffee is probably 3/5 Columbian, 2/5 hazelnut.  I meant to make it 50/50.  Oh well, no big deal.  Noticed that they have Pumpkin Spice coffee now, but did not get any.  Not the biggest pumpkin fan, unless we’re talking about muffins.  Mm, now I want to make pumpkin muffins.

So I decided I was in a tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese mood yesterday, and had just recently been given a bunch of cherry tomatoes, so I made a creamy tomato basil soup with fresh mozzarella (and more tomato and basil on the sandwich) grilled cheeses.  I was pretty happy with the way they both turned out!  I did not seed the tomatoes but they just added an extra crunch to the soup.  I think that one of my biggest hang-ups with regards to making soup is that so many of them have a puree-ing step, and since I keep my blender and food processor in the garage, it’s….a deterrent.  Stephen keeps his blender out on the counter though, which is much more easily-accessible than mine.  Sometimes I think I should re-arrange my kitchen so that my appliances are all easier to reach.  Then I start mentally complaining about how small my kitchen is, and THEN I remember that my kitchen is actually a decent size and that i should shut up.

Eh, anyway.

So I got a gift card that I can use for ProFlowers, and I also get a discount with them through Lipscomb, so I’m thinking about sending myself flowers on October 1st (anniversary flowers, if you can call them that).  That’s a good idea right?  I mean it’s unlikely that I’ll wake up that morning and not think about the fact that I got married that day 4 years ago, although I’m not sure how to expect myself to feel about that.  Hmm.  Conversely, I could just go to Costco for flowers and save $50, but then I wouldn’t get them delivered.  Hmmmmm.

Oh yeah, I renewed (questionable word choice) my Costco membership which had lapsed several months ago for basically $35, which is a great deal especially since the whole package comes with stuff like a free rotisserie chicken, and other coupons which I’m unable to list as they have not come in the mail yet.  Mostly I’m excited about being able to buy flowers and books and movies that I don’t need.  Woot!  Oh and I should for sure start getting gas there again, too…..

Tonight, I’m going with Stephen to see Victor Wooten play with the NSO.  They’ll be doing some other pieces too, but I’m excited about seeing VW.  Stephen said he’s probably wearing a suit though, so that means I should try to look presentable.  I’m going home on my lunch break to figure out what the hell I should wear.  I’m tempted to just wear a black dress because, why not, but we’ll see.

Finally  made myself a “classical music” playlist since I can’t shuffle by genre on my phone (grumble).  So far have listened to  Chris Thile playing Bach, les Demoiselles, and now Arvo Part.  Would really like to be cranking this shit, but alas, I bet someone would complain.  Since these folks like to listen to country music around here.

Have I complained here about my Asian neighbors yet?  No, don’t think so.  Long story short – I seem to have inadvertently volunteered to try to help this lady get a job.  That’s not really quite right — what I did was try to help her one day, but she keeps coming back like a stray cat looking for food that I don’t have.  It’s getting pretty damned annoying, honestly, because she seems to think that I can somehow get her a job, even though the thing that’s holding her back is 1) language skills (she doesn’t speak English very well AT ALL) and 2) no car.  Neither of which am i prepared to help her with.

I felt that was appropriate.  Anyway, she really wants me to call the GM at O’Charley’s where they are apparently now hiring, because she thinks that even if she can’t call him and be legible over the phone, somehow it’ll be fine for no one to be able to understand her if she’s working there.

Anyway, I tried to help and I really don’t think I can do anything else.  She needs to start looking for a job within her circles, instead of asking random neighbors for help.  When she first approached me, for all I knew she was practically living on the streets or prostituting herself and really needed help getting back on her feet.  Since then, i have discovered that this is not really the case, so I don’t feel that much obligation.  That said, going to ignore her from now on.  If she can’t take a hint, that’s her problem.

Man I love It’s Always Sunny.  That line about jobs growing on jobbies makes me laugh every time!!

Well anyway, I’m out of even mildly interesting topics, it would seem.  Oh well.

Embracing my inner dork

This is going to be about Skyrim, so be forewarned.  (I’m a tad bored at the moment.)

I’m currently playing a level 57 Breton named Astrud.  She is pretty damned bad ass if I do say so myself, and wears Dragonscale light armor (each item dual-enchanted as I have reached 100 on Enchanting twice now).  Weapons of choice are a Dragonbone bow (along with Dragonbone arrows), and a Dragonebone dagger used only for filling soul gems.  

I basically look like her, only 1) I’m wearing an Aetherial Crown, and 2) I just noticed that this is not a Dragonbone bow in the picture.  Meh.

So anyway, because I’ve gotten a few level so high (Enchanting, Smithing, Archery, and Sneaking all at 100 – with Enchanting as a Legendary 100) I’m loathe to stop playing with Astrud.  So I’m looking for new missions to do – stuff that’s kind of random and somewhat off the beaten trail.  At the moment, I’ve decided to go after the Dragon Priest Masks so that I can take them to Labyrinthian.  For visuals, this is what your typical Dragon Priest Masks looks like (this one is Morokei).

Pretty, eh?  I know, not so much.  But whatever.  Here’s a screen shot of the Dragon Priest shrine in Labyrinthian, which I guess is less visually stunning than it could be, but I’m hoping that getting it filled will be more gratifying than it looks.

YEA Dragon Priest Masks!!  I’m currently missing two (plus the additional wooden mask needed to activate the shrine) — Nahkriin, and Rahgot.  I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m excited about finally getting this quest under my belt.  Labyrinthian is this mysterious, ancient place which has some kind of long-dead appeal about it…er, rather, the appeal is still there, but the place itself is long dead.  I should word that a different way.  It used to be the capitol of Skyrim and the ruins are in excellent shape, considering the age of the city.  

Note: these screen shots are not mine.  I found them all on google.  Don’t sue me.

Might update you later after I have completed this mission.  If it’s anticlimactic though, I probably won’t.