Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to School

Today I start graduate school. Finally.

In the past few years I've pursued one direction after another. I've looked at everything from Biblical Theology to Ultrasound Technician to Publishing and announced those choices here and you've all been supportive and excited with whatever I've come up with. I've thought long and hard about what I want from a graduate degree - personal enrichment, a good job, or it doesn't matter as long as I check this goal off my list.
In the end I've come full circle beginning the Graduate Institute at St. John's College, the ostensible reason I moved to Maryland in the first place. Deciding factors: I thought it would be cute for Zeb and I to have matching degrees. And we already had the books. Also I get really jazzed about those books in a way I never did about Ultrasound Technology (sorry Natalie!).
I've been nervous, though, finally deciding and tying myself down. I like having my options open, and I realize that after this I probably won't get to go back and do something else for a long while. But as soon as I opened my first reading (coincidentally Descartes who I started Gutenberg with ten years ago this fall) I calmed and realized this is a decision I don't think I'll regret. Not that Descartes is calming, in fact some of the things he says are quite alarming, but this program will only strengthen my mind and hopefully my soul. That's never ever a bad thing. And I need it, I think my brain's gone soft lately, too much Apartment Therapy and not enough Arts and Letters Daily.
On the arguably more practical side, in my spare time, I've also begun a course in Herbal Medicine. It won't lead to a 'degree' because there isn't one available, but at the end of three years or so, if I make it, I'll be a Certified Herbal Therapist. It's a correspondence/online course that can flex around other life commitments. The thoughts behind that decision are many, and growing all the time, so I'll probably save that for a different post. So far, though, I've loved the ideas I'm encountering and the very practical skills I'll walk away with. Even if I never use it professionally, which would be my hope, it's good to know how to brew up concoctions for sore throats and ear infections.
Life will certainly change. Zeb, the dear, will be taking over most of the cooking and cleaning duties in order to free me up for homework. As grateful as I am, I think it will be difficult for me to relinquish control of those things, I'm used to feeling connected to my life through the rhythm of household duties, and also I'm very particular. It will be good though. I've promised I'll be OK with two ingredient meals like chicken and rice over and over again, and he's promised he'll at least cook it all from scratch.
So, now, of course, I must rush off and re-skim readings before my first class this morning. That will probably be a common end to posts from now on. Yay!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Last Weekend of Summer

Last weekend felt like a last hurrah of sorts as the Julians came down for their summer visit before school starts for some of us (more on that later). So we went peach picking.

We had in mind jam made in our bread machines, and the peaches in wine that's on the menu at Delancey, and mascarpone stuffed french toast with peach syrup, and learning to can. Such summery things.

The boys did much more than stand around holding baskets and bags, but this picture was too cute with all their goofy, deadpan and quizzical expressions.

After two baskets of peaches, a not very glamorous amount of sweat, some peach cider and farm-made ice cream, we headed to Naylor Winery in Pensylvania for an expansive tasting and a picnic by the vineyard.
The next day, after our requisite tour of Baltimore, especially the ghetto, we opened some apple wine and set to canning. Melanie was the experienced teacher and she assured us Botulism isn't nearly the threat Zeb fears it is.
While we canned the boys did this:
Brian was busy taking pictures of us.
Rowan begins to perfect Zeb's carefully taught 'Mad Face.'

I tried not to think too much about things like 'last free weekend' and 'summer's almost over' because that would make me panic and forget to enjoy myself. I, of course, feel like summer just got started even though it has been rather full and wonderful. The only thing that consoles me is remembering how much I like fall, and that there will be another summer before we know it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Honnah and Mia

They arrived last night. I don't really have words for how amazing the whole thing was, much to my surprise. Everything started in earnest around 5:30 and at 6:21 Honnah was born into a rose petal bath. Lisa was so strong and dignified and beautiful, most of her rushes were just a flicker of pain across her face. And along came this perfect miniature person. There are three hundred pictures on the camera but I love this first one taken in between contractions as Lisa looked at Honnah to gather her strength for Mia.

Two hours later Mia was born with a loud yelp. It all happened perfectly and (relatively) quickly and with dim lights and Over The Rhine playing and Sonora sneaking in to give a goodnight kiss. Two hours later Lisa was laughing and nursing in her own bed and eating spaghetti. I might have more pictures or words later, but right now I'm just overwhelmed with what I witnessed and with love for those two little girls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Weekend That Tim Gets Married

My boy is off in Canada this weekend being a groomsman for an old friend and the cost of travel necessitated I stay home. That, and the fact that there will probably be babies this weekend. I don't want to miss that.
This house without Zeb is so strange, I hope I never get used to it even if there are prolonged times apart to come. I keep thinking he's just quiet in the other room and then remember he is not and I'm alone. I still sleep on only my side of the bed and wake up throughout the night wondering where he is. I'm eating pre-packaged meals instead of cooking. But this is not going to be another post about how I can't live without Zeb, we all know all about that. It's about the projects I rounded up to keep me from just wandering circles around my house this weekend.
I really love giving gifts, and my notebooks and tumblr and Etsy favorites page are just full of gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, weddings and babies. Of course, I usually adore the $70 angora baby blanket and I know exactly where to get the $70 dress Axon is craving and at that rate it just takes a few special events before we've spent the whole year's gift budget. So I've been on the lookout for things I can make for gifts. I do have more time than money at this point.

I've always loved papercuts, or scherenschnitte, and even more so since I found the breathtaking creations on Elsa Mora's blog The Heart Of Papercutting a while ago. I had no idea how easy they are to do yourself until I found the Free Template Tuesday series on Cindy Ferguson's blog this week and thought why not try it? Between the two blogs I borrowed (I hope that's OK since I won't be selling them and I'll more than give credit for the sources) all these patterns I've cut in the last few days.

I seem to do very well with tedious tasks. In junior high I was very into making Ukrainian Eggs - an utterly useless and very very time consuming craft. I kind of like stuffing envelopes for mailings. I didn't mind folding hundreds of napkins as a server. I had a feeling that scherenschnitte would be right up my rote alley. These papercut patterns are not hard, they're just time consuming.

I'm behind on boy baby gifts, so I picked mostly boy themed patterns to start with.

The materials required are a self healing cutting mat and an x-acto knife with #11 blades, and of course the paper with the design printed onto it. All in all the cost for supplies came in at around $16.

The cost to my back, however, is another story. The accumulated hours spent hunched over each one of these in the last two days leave me feeling, well, in a lot of pain. Yet the addictive fun of it leaves me contemplating ibuprofen so that I can do just one or two more. That is only impressive if you realize that I hate taking ibuprofen and hardly ever do.

Another thing I'm doing this weekend, when my back absolutely needs a break, is reading the wonderful book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth in preparation for aforementioned birth that will hopefully take place this weekend.

I'm also watching movies Zeb has no interest in such as The Triplets of Belleville which is very delightful and quirky.

I'm also practicing low light/night photography, for aforementioned birth, and many of these photos are the result of my practice. I'm very pleased with what that camera can do in low light without a flash. If it's even possible, I'm even more in love with that camera than before.

I should probably also scrub that moldy grout in the shower this weekend. But I probably won't.

Monday, August 10, 2009


A little while ago Summer posted a mosaic of photos from her home and challenged others to do the same. You've seen corners of my home before but here are more (I'm back to my Fuji FinePix with these, though there are more of the Canon photos coming soon).

I really love our home right now. We've been about to move for years now and all of a sudden we've decided to stay for a while. So I got out some pictures I'd been saving and I hung them, I got a magic eraser to at least scrub the scuff marks off the dingy walls, and I'm even thinking of doing some re-grouting in the moldy shower. This has been the only home the two of us have made together so far, and the day we give it up will be, in some ways, a close to this first stage of our lives. So I'm glad to stay for now. The whole house and all the furniture lean toward the East, the sea, and when the weather changes the building smells like mildew or cats, depending on the season. The wood floor has a few several inch holes (into which I've been known to sweep the dust pile) and they say that George Washington slept here. There are tall ceilings and huge windows and for those I can forgive the lack of dishwasher, air conditioning, hot water in the shower, laundry, and the leak in the roof. Everything we own was gathered for these specific rooms so it feels like this little apartment has had more say in shaping our 'home' than I have. At any rate, it's my favorite place in the world, as long as the boy's here, and we're settling in.

(Please, others, share corners of your home? Summer pointed me to Big Huge Labs to make the mosaic, so fun!)