Saturday, June 26, 2010

This is the humorous story of a boy--a boy, his girl and two bikes. But I’m getting ahead of myself because the bikes didn’t start off in the opening scene. Let me start where every good story begins.

My mom, George and I spent last weekend at Callaway Gardens. We started our Saturday morning with what was supposed to be a 2.5-mile hike around one of the lakes on the premise. When our off-road trail dead ended into the road, our only directional indication was a sign that instructed us to “follow the bike path back to the boat house.” The only problem was that the bike path went to the left and to the right. I recommended we go left. We went right. Ten minutes down the oppressive, shadeless path, we approached a way-marking sign. Lo and behold it listed the boat house...with an arrow directing us in the direction from which we came. (Imagine that.)

We paused, soaking in the humidity and our quandary. I said we needed to backtrack, but others insisted if we pressed on in our present direction, we’d “cheat” the path and get back to the car sooner. Ok, fine.

A few minutes later, we found ourselves standing near the shore on a 180-degree heading from the boat house, which was tauntingly visible across the lake but a long walk away. Fortunately for us, this side of the lake had a bike rental station, and I proposed we use this to our advantage. After all, it was stifling hot, Tipper was tired, and every stomach was hungry.

I told the girl on the other side of the window separating me from the air-conditioning that all we wanted were two bikes that could get us back to the car. We didn’t need anything fancy, just something with two wheels we could ride. Half seriously, my mom asked if they had a bike for two.

“Yes,” A/C girl replied. “For an adult and small child.”

“Don’t I count?” I jested.

Unbeknownst to any of us at the time, this was the epitome of ironic foreshadowing. (Pay attention English majors.)

So she filled out the necessary paperwork to let us borrow their most basic cycles.
“They’re not very good,” she warned.

“That’s OK,” I said confidently. “We’ll be fine.”

When we handed in our request to the man responsible for setting Callaway’s two-wheel tourists on their voyages, he did a slight double-take at the paper in his hands.

“Oh, you’re getting these?” He confirmed.

“Yes, we’ll be fine,” I emphasized yet again. “We’re triathletes. We just need bikes to get us back to the car, which is on the other side of the lake.”

And so our story began. Up until now, it had not been an adventure--just a lot of dialog explaining why we wanted bikes, and not the nice kind.

I couldn’t help but giggle uncontrollably as George & I started peddling out the gate and on our way. I haven’t ridden a “normal” bike in years. These days, my familiarity with bikes is within the parameters of triathlons. I’m used to aero bars, clip-in peddles, and hard, narrow seats. These handle bars were high, my feet were free, and a wide, cushy seat supported my tush. I was in unfamiliar territory, which usually results in giggling.

A few yards down the road, I hit a bump and went airborne, thanks to the super-shocks on these babies. Almost simultaneously, George changed gears on his bike, resulting in a noise that seriously made me question the integrity of our transportation. It sounded like the whole bike was going to crumble to pieces beneath him.

We kept riding.

Two minutes later, George threw his chain trying to change gears again. He replaced it, and we kept on riding.

We got a little farther this time, maybe 5 or 7 minutes down the path, and this time when he changed gears, the chain stayed in place....the derailleur just broke.

“My bike broke, Britni.”

“What?,” I said, chuckling as a turned to find him behind me. “What do you mean it broke?”

“It’s broke. For good.”

It was true. That bike wasn’t going to roll its tire any further into our journey. Fortunately, the bike rental place had provided us with locks and combinations for the bikes. These came in handy when we finally decided on chaining the broken bike to a tree for safe keeping (because someone might really want to run off with a broken bicycle).

And while a very viable option would have been for me to ride the bike and George to run along beside me (he could have kept up), we opted for the old-fashioned approach, and I hoped on the handle bars. There are a few things to keep in mind at this point: 1) As the above picture accurately depicts, I was in a rather short jean skirt, and 2) I’ve never ridden on handlebars before. But off we went. Riding.

I laughed the whole way.

There are several good reasons for my entertainment, not the least of which was the fact that since the bike seat was too low, George’s knees bounced up and bopped my behind with nearly every revolution of the peddles. Then there was my imaginary eavesdropping on the thoughts of those we crossed paths with. In my mind, the women were thinking things like Oh, that’s sweet. The men: Good grief. And I imagined a funny response from George might be, “Yeah, I love going biking with her, but she just refuses to peddle.”

One guy verbally expressed his sympathy for poor George.

“That’s the rough way to go,” he said, as we went our separate directions.

For the most part, things went exceptionally smoothly. I bounced around on the handlebars, and George got in his daily workout. I trust George, which was mandatory in our present situation, especially when we started a rapid descent down a curvy hill. As we approached the turn about half-way down the slope, George announced we had no brakes.

“I have the brakes pulled all the way in. They’re not doing anything,” he said.

We made it through the corner, and I continued to giggle, knowing how ridiculous we must have looked.

Fortunately for my bottom and George’s legs, the car wasn’t much further. We celebrated our success, loaded the bike on the rack, and drove back to the other side of the lake to return it and pick up my mom and Tipper.

“Where’s the other bike?” my mom inquired when she saw us.

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “About that...”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

woolly invasion

I spent a few days lusting after a much-out-of-my-budget rug [see post below] but got over it quickly. And I moved on and found something that doesn't cost almost as much as half a year's worth of my mortgage.

As you can see, I'm not the only one happy about my new living-room decoration. I think Tipper's convinced I bought the rug specifically just for him. First, it's wool. He loves wool (to point of once unstuffing a wool blanket I had). And if its material structure weren't enough, it also smells unquestionably like a sheep. I suppose this would seem obvious, but I never imagined when I ordered a wool rug that my living room would send my olfactory nerves back to my parents' farm. Neither did it ever cross my mind that the new floor cover would provide adequate camouflage opportunity for him. He literally blends right in with the rug, like someone sheared him to make the rug. Of course, since he's somewhat claimed it as his new 5 x 8-size bed, he often smells like a sheep, too.

In conclusion, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new rug (I'm lying on it as I type this), and if Tipper ever goes missing, I know where to go looking for him.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This crocheted pouffe is the brilliant product of European company le souk. Don't you just want a few of them scattered around your living room?! If only they'd appear--POUFFE!--by mere whimsical desire.
And if I were a mom, I'd be slobbering for one (or a few) of these adorable crocheted terriers for my child. Does a stuffed animal get any cuter? I'm a grown woman, and I want one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

just out of touch

I've been consumed as of late with decorating. One item on my still-to-get list is a nice high-pile shag rug for my living room. The good news: I found the perfect one!

{Amelia by Urba, courtesy of}

The bad news: It costs a mere $5,300 (for the 1-inch pile version). I had my suspicions this would be the case when I found the well-designed Urba site and it was sans prices. (Always a bad indication for those on a budget.) Needless to say, my feet won't be traversing these threads, which at that cost, would probably be a good idea even if I did buy it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

update of the craziness

Here's a small recap of all the carouselling we've been doing on the fun side of Life's merry-go-round.

Warrior Dash: May 23
Included scaling ropes,
navigating a car junk yard,
slithering through a mud pit
and hurdling fire

Oh yeah. And getting filthy.

And (below) on Memorial Day at the lake
Because really...
who couldn't see the opportunity to turn a steep rock into a playground?

Then this past weekend, we carted our bikes, running shoes, goggles and fannies up to North Carolina with my family (try 4 people and 2 dogs in a Jetta wagon for 8 hours) for an Olympic-distance triathlon. It wasn't half as dirty as the Warrior Dash or nearly as creative as our kayak slide, but it was fun, and we enjoyed it. Maybe because we all broke personal records, and George & I took first in our age groups. Maybe because we're all a little insane. Maybe both. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

strawberry festival

I'm a little delinquent in posting these, but here are some photos from our first visit to The Chattanooga Market. It was their Strawberry Festival. As far as first impressions go, it was a great one.

Have you ever seen such deliciousness?!

{George took this one!}

We taste-tested, approved & went home with salsa!

Because I adore sprout pictures. :)

Patience is...
waiting until we leave the pavilion
before digging into the basket.

Wash them? Nah.
Just blow the sand off.

Delicious! See?

and i quote...

“I have enough MONEY
to LAST me the rest of my LIFE,
unless I BUY something.”

• Jackie Mason

Thursday, May 13, 2010

tingly toes

Last night Dad & I went to a local track to do this week's speed-work session. A not-so-long story made shorter, I wound up running 2.5 of the 4.5-mile workout barefoot on the grassy middle. It was so freeing. I thought I might have unusual soreness today from jumping so eagerly into something different, but I really don't. Dad tried it, too. He sod his feet and jumped back on the track sooner than I did but said his feet stayed "tingly" for the next mile.

While experimenting with the new method, we both became tangibly aware of the theories we'd been reading about and researching. Once the spongy soles of our running shoes were left standing alone, we naturally landed on our mid-to-forefront foot areas, which is ideal.

When we initially freed our feet, I verbalized how light I felt, at which point Dad guffawed and retorted with, "That's so mental it's ridiculous." Of course! Ray Zahab, one of the three Sahara runners, put it well: Running is 90% mental. And the other 10% is mental.

In that case, why run barefoot? It feels good! And it's good for you, too, because it teaches proper form. I find my Newtons to be extremely comfortable (and I adore wearing them as "everyday shoes"), but as Dad astutely pointed out last night, their theory is maybe a bunch of malarkey. They've built up the forefront of the soles, and claim their shoes will make you fast, more efficient and teach you to be a forefront striker. The cost for this technology starts at $150 and goes skyward. (Granted, this isn't that unheard of for running shoes. Runners nearly rival Hollywood fashionistas when it comes to what they're willing to spend on shoes.) Nevertheless, when you're buying a new pair every couple hundred miles, it adds up. The other option is to incorporate shoe-ditching into your weekly training plan and teach yourself proper form for the whopping cost of nothing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Newton. Like I said, I enjoy my pair, just not as much for running as for casual comfort.

My conclusion thus far is this: Running is more fun when you do it naked. (Ooops...I mean shoeless.) Try it.

{Photo borrowed from 802 via}

pretty please

I can summarize my feelings in exactly three words (and a little punctuation): I want one!

Monday, May 10, 2010

ashley & james say i do

My childhood best friend got married last Thursday. So far it's the only wedding I've cried at. I was emotionally stable until she appeared in the doorway at the back of the chapel. By the time she reached where I was sitting, I was already digging through my purse for a tissue because my embarrassing lack of control needed a solution. There are likely a multitude of reasons for my unanticipated sentimentalism, not the least of which is the irony that her beginning of a journey sent my mind traipsing into a nostalgic past. Our dads were business partners for many years before her father was killed in a car accident. With such closely tied families, we were equally attached friends. Not surprisingly, a disproportionate amount of my childhood memories include her. We played endlessly with American Girl dolls and Ty Beanie Babies. Summer days slipped by too quickly while we played in their pool. During the holidays, we debated the existence of Santa Claus. I was there when she busted her head open from falling on a root below the hammock. We watched "Little Rascals" on a small TV in the back of the car on family vacations. And we stuffed asparagus up our noses. (Whether or not I should have admitted that last one is debatable. But in the spirit of the trend of transparency, I'm leaving it there.) More than a decade has past since those days, and we grew up into women separately. Nevertheless, I've always considered us close, and the realization of the present combined with memories from the past was enough to break the dam. I think I cried, too, because her exuberant happiness was matched only by how beautiful she was. I just hope crying at weddings doesn't become a trend for me. I'm not a very good public weeper.

Fear of runny eyeliner aside, the celebration was remarkable. And inspiring.

No doves, birdseed, rice, or bubbles. White balloons, instead.
Guests lined the chapel's sidewalk, each clasping white balloons to set free as the couple ran through. I don't know who to credit with the idea, but it's beautifully brilliant.

We ate Mexican food.
I've never been to a wedding reception (that I can remember) where Mexican food was served. I wasn't so sure about it at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. First, it's unique. Like I said, it's not traditional wedding food (at least, not among Caucasians). Second, it was delicious. Third (and probably the most influential), I love Mexican food.

They played music they like.
I think brides and grooms sometimes feel it necessary to play a particular genre of music at their wedding/reception because something else might be seen as inappropriate or unfitting for a wedding. Maybe not. It's more than plausible that I just don't have the same taste in music as some of the people whose weddings I've attended. Regardless, I got the feeling that Ashley & James hand-picked the music that would orchestrate their big day. It ranged from trumpet solos at the ceremony to classic love ballads and modern, beat-driven songs at the reception. All of it complimented their obvious enthusiasm, which set the mood just as much as what was pouring from the speakers.

And finally, my favorite...

She wore a dress with pockets!
Yes, that's right. Her wedding dress had hidden pockets--one on each side. I adore dresses and skirts that have pockets. And I'm completely ruined now. Up to this point, I had no idea this was an option. Now that I do, this might become a point of insistence for my own wedding one day.

It's occurred to me that I somehow failed to get a picture of the two of us. (See what happens when I get emotional?) Oh, well. I'm too happy for her to cry about it. :)

Congratulations, Ashley & James!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

saying goodbye late

We sold our boat (about two weeks ago, now). The day before it went, we took it out for a final lazy hour on the lake.

He loves the wind.

past the point of decency, approaching ridiculous

Thursday, April 15, 2010

learning to run like a child again

I haven't gotten the Vibram FiveFingers yet, but that hasn't deterred me from beginning to run like a child again. I have to learn this because I've been a shoe-donning adult for too many years. As a little girl, I used to gallivant around our yard barefoot all the time. Even the gravel driveway didn't pose too much of a problem. These days, my feet are much more sensitive.

My current experiment is my choice of foot apparel for my short morning walks/jogs with my dog. I started slipping into my Mary Jane-style Crocs out of sheer, time-saving convenience. Then it dawned on me that it didn't bother me to do the periodic jogging sprints that are dispersed throughout our walks in them. In fact, I kinda liked it. So I started jogging the whole mile. Maybe they'd start rubbing, or the distance would prove their cumbersomeness, but so far it hasn't.

Yesterday morning I decided to test them on a longer distance. I ended up doing a little over 2 miles. No rubbing. No blisters. They felt great. Maybe I'm confused about the source of my exuberance--it was a crisp, spring morning, after all--but I'd like to think that just being one step closer to being barefoot (or in my FiveFingers) is making a tangible difference. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

obsessed with insanity

I'm a hair over 100 pages from finishing "Born to Run," Christopher McDougall's national best seller about "a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen." It's been the fascinating catalyst for my new obsession with ultra-distance running. I'm spellbound by the concept of running 100 miles, intrigued with the biological science supporting barefoot running, and adding new names to my list of people that can only be described as "anything to do with them is cool, and you should think so, too."

The topic is the epitome of exciting because it's equally insane. Take for example the Leadville Trail 100. McDougall writes a fitting analogy:

"To get a sense [of the Leadville 100]...try running the Boston Marathon two times in a row with a sock stuffed in your mouth and then hike to the top of Pikes Peak. Done? Great. Now do it all over again, this time with your eyes closed. That's pretty much what the Leadville Trail 100 boils down to: nearly four full marathons, half of them in the dark, with twin twenty-six-hundred-foot climbs smack in the middle. Leadville's starting line is twice as high as the altitude where plans pressurize their cabins, and form there you only go up."

And people do this. Because they want to.

Then there's Badwater, "the Foreman Grill in Mother Nature's cupboard," that requires participants to run 135 miles through a scorching 125-degree Death Valley. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it's nearly a requirement to run on the painted white line if you'd prefer your shoes not melt and broil on the blacktop stove.

It's crazy! And I love it. Not because I have any desire to experience it. No thanks. I'd rather stick to my comparatively pithy half marathons (and maybe full marathons), but the simple knowledge that such races exists (and you have to have participants to have a race) is both sick (in the younger-generation, "good" sense) and inspiring.

It's also lead me to take my own running to a new level. I'm going to exchange my Mizuno Elixers that haven't left the box yet for a pair of Vibram FiveFinger (barefoot) shoes. All the evidence that proves running barefoot is better has convinced me of its veracity. I could recount the research minutia, but I won't. Bottom line: Wearing running shoes means injury at some point in your running career. The more expensive the shoe, the greater the risk. (And here I've been preaching all this time that a good running shoe will cost you.) The God-given way to strengthen your feet (and prevent injury) is to run with naked pods. So I'm going to try it with a minimalist pair of these:

Maybe you think I'm crazy. And maybe I am. We'll see. Either way, you should try running. A lot of people who run are crazy, but it's not a prerequisite. :)

bird eggs

These adorable bird houses and feeders are by J Schatz. I'd snatch up one (or two) in a heartbeat, except their price ($135 each) is deterring me. They're also made of porcelain. What if they fell? Or worse yet, what if too-big a bird tried to squeeze herself through that little doorway?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

you & i, items on a shelf

It's not what's on the outside that counts, it's the WHOLE product.

What most people have a tendency to forget is that "whole" intrinsically refers to the inside and the outside. When it comes to purchasing commercial goods (everything from Fido's treats to hair products), most people belong to one of two consumer identifications: packaging judge or packaging apathetic. The prior assume that if the outside looks good, the inside must follow suit. (My natural tendency lies here.) And the latter think, Who cares what the contents come in, as long as the contents are good? Both avenues are extremes and have ultimately resulted in a marketplace far too littered with ugly wrapping and disappointing products.

Applying lopsided focus to any leg of good marketing strategy leaves consumers unbalanced, overly accepting of the unacceptable. The obvious problem with my soap box speech is that reality flies in its face. If grocery store shelves are any indication, it's a fact that companies with disgusting packaging will never learn the importance of aesthetics simply because there's no one to teach them. People don't boycott products because the package isn't well-designed. (But they should.) Likewise, companies that put makeup on their blemished products will never learn about customer satisfaction because there's a limitless number of people who haven't fallen for their facade yet. (This scenario is less prolific than the other. All it takes is wasting your money once. Also, people seem less willing to buy something they don't like solely because it comes in a pretty box. But I digress...) As long as companies push product, there's little motivation to change it. Ergo, the eyes of the (adept) graphic-design community continue to tear.

The hidden pearl in the commercial carnage is that some companies have reached beyond the line of aesthetic (or content) complacency. Companies like:

Organix [hair products]
Burts Bees [whole-body care]
LaraBar [yummy bars]
Savanahh Bee Company [soaps, lotions, etc.]
Izze [natural soda]
Tazo Tea [ummm...]
Teavana [see above]
Zuke's [dog treats]
Method [cleaning products]
Hammer Nutrition [low-energy fixes]
Mrs. Meyer's [cleaning products]
Clif Bar [more yummy bars]
Jones Soda [I refuse to even put it]
Kiss My Face [body care]
CloudStar [everything for man's best friend]
Hugo Naturals [whole-body care]

If you haven't heard of some of these, go introduce yourself. They'll make you happier. Promise. :)

This all becomes strangely pertinent when we realize that you and I are just items on a shelf. We're "for sale" to others as friends, husbands, wives, employees, bosses, and every other relational label you can imagine. Just like a bottle of shampoo, we should be as appealing as possible on both the outside and the inside. Humanly speaking, most content mishaps are more correctable than packaging ones (plastic surgery not withstanding), but having a third eye doesn't mean you can't dab a little mascara on it.

The disconnect in all this is our contradictory standards. We have a propensity to judge each other by the cover and our groceries by the pages. This explains well why there are beautiful people you couldn't be paid to be friends with and products you love that come wrapped in a gag-fest.

So, yes, beauty is skin deep. And, yes, it's what on the inside that counts. But the package and the product don't have to be mutually exclusive, for us or the things we buy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

CSA alphabet soup

One of my friends has introduced me to the CSA initiative. She wrote a blip about it on her blog.

So now I'm excited about (and maybe a little obsessed with) the whole concept. Not unlike my friend, I want to join Rise 'N Shine Organic Farm. The way I see it, my benefits are these:

•Fresh-out-of-the-earth produce every week for 30 weeks

•Trips to the farm in exchange for time spent under the halogen lights of the grocery store (Ok. I don't actually hate it that much.)

•I think I'll save money

•All the warm gooey feelings I get from supporting my community, being green and eating chemical-free goodness

What could beet that? (Yes. That was wrong of me.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

berry bars

One of my dearest friends celebrated another year this past Tuesday. She & I have been friends since our families moved to the same town when we were 6 years old (almost 18 years ago). Together we survived liking the same boy in elementary school, the drama of freshman year in high school (and the next 3 years), a trip to Spain, nearly killing each other as roommates our first year of college but caring enough to split and save the friendship, taking a whirlwind tour of 8 European countries in 28 days, and the list goes on. These days, adulthood has meant we don't see each other as often as we'd like, but we're still close and, when we do see each other, we just pick up right where we left off. Good friendships are like that. So are desserts. You can put the fork down and trust that when you return, it will be just as sweet as it was before.

These are berry bars, and they're delicious. (Yes. I tried them. I've accepted the fact that I simply can't bake and not taste. It's impossible.)

twofer, threefer

UPDATE #1 | Tipper graduates from basic training class (Yay!)

Last spring, we enrolled in obedience school, but vacation made me miss a few sessions, and his puppy attention span (he was only 5 months old) only complicated things, so we didn't actually finish the course that first time around. So we re-joined the class six weeks ago. I figured since he was another year older (and theoretically more mature), he'd do better and learn more. I guess I was right because he graduated last Tuesday night, despite our practicing way less than the first time! He heeled, sat & stayed, came when called (after a quick detour to retrieve a dropped treat from the previous dog and his owner), and walked away with a certificate and a new toy, which he promptly destuffed once we got home (some things aren't correctable).

UPDATE #2 | I'm now grinding artichokes (and other foods)
Actually, I don't eat artichokes unless they're disguised behind the thick veil of creamy ingredients in artichoke dip. But I could grind them if I wanted, which is the point.

Several afternoons' and late nights' worth of home improvement effort, a good handful of trips to Home Depot, and a handy boyfriend have given me a food disposer in my kitchen, a new electrical outlet in my basement, and a motion-sensitive light in my backyard. The latter two were tangential projects that sprouted off the original goal of installing my food disposer. I don't have a picture of my new kitchen toy because food disposers do not lend themselves to attractive portraits (and I refuse to post an ugly picture on my blog). [I might link to it, though... or at least to the mess we made installing it.] The grinders manage to look aesthetically presentable on the packaging and on the packaging only, which, in my case, got filled with dirt and carted off by the garbage truck yesterday. Which leads me to my final update (and where the dirt came from).

UPDATE #3 | I have a tulip branch
My dad has many passions, but two of them are easily identified as 1) landscaping/gardening and 2) me. Consequently, he gave my lawn a springtime face lift. The gift came with a tree for my front yard, and after much dialog and a modicum of botany research, we settled on a dwarf-genre tulip tree.

At maturity, it will be about 8 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and bloom gorgeous cups of a purplish-pink hue.

But right now, mine looks more like a branch plucked straight off the tree and transplanted upright into the ground. That's ok. We all start somewhere. Usually the beginning. Which for this little guy is fairly naked and humble. Like most botanists must feel, I'm excited about his potential.

And there's your 3 for 1. Great deal, yeah?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

in the face of cliché

I love. love. love. the face-lifts Anthropologie has given these classics. Titles include: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sense and Sensibility, Great Expectations, and Wuthering Heights.

Oh, to decorate my shelves with such art.

book covers

I love books (have I mentioned this before?). I dream about owning a bookstore one day. I get giddy about bookshelves. And I'm an advocate of judging books by their cover. That said, here are a few on my literary wish list. (Incidentally, it's no coincidence that they all have well-designed covers.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"dunder mifflin. this is....BRITNI"

I'm now a part-time receptionist. Ok, so it's not for the infamous Dunder Mifflin. But then, I told them I didn't want to move to Scranton, Pennsylvania, when they offered me that position.

In actuality, I took the real job offered me at the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. Today is my first day. Eeep! I'm excited about this.

Friday, March 26, 2010

a sublime disaster

You'll be enamored. I promise.

unexpected beauty

I totally stole this from a friend's blog, but that's what sharing is all about.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

pendulum swings

My last post featured a photo of me up a tree and the story of how I found myself in a place I would otherwise assign to squirrels, raccoons and other woodland creatures. (See...I am not a woodland creature.) Despite my visible apprehension about inch-worming my way 50 feet up a backyard tree, I've now swung (Tarzan & Jane style) to the other side of the pendulum and set my sights on new heights. In short:

I desperately want to be one of the suspended silhouettes in this poster. This new dream is the result of my inquiring of an every-day climber "How exactly do you sleep 60 feet up?" (He had suggested the prospect of such elemental slumber on a future camping trip.) So now, a mere week after anxiously making my first barky ascent, I'm fantasizing of dreaming inside a hanging canopy, sublimely suspended mid-air from the middle of a sturdy branch.

Sweet dreams!

Friday, February 26, 2010

raccoon afternoon

I spent the better half of my afternoon attempting to scale a tree with my boyfriend--he the agile flying squirrel, me the scared raccoon. Ropes and trepidation in place, I eventually made it to the top (though my boyfriend's toenails probably grew visible lengths in the time it took me to get there). Unlike him, I found great comfort in hugging the tree, which clearly only inhibited my ascent. But then, any number of my friends could have told you I'm a tree hugger. (Incidentally, it should be noted that I've yet to chain myself across a booming oak to prevent it's demise. Not that it's unlikely.)

Despite my gradual adaption to tree clambering, I have lofty hopes that next time I'll be more squirrel-like (and that maybe my boyfriend won't find his toenails in need of trimming when his feet touch ground again).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a series of slightly overexposed, monochromatic squares

He got me a new thingamajig for Valentine's Day: a wireless shutter-release for my camera. We tried to refuse, but it begged us to break it in.

we know:
we're cute

don't look at me
in that tone of voice
young lady

like i said:
what'd you say?

child's play
ages 3 & 5

this is my serious face
no, seriously

we've been caught,
my dear

Monday, February 15, 2010

cooking with the devil

Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a thing against garlic. I'll eat dishes it's been put into for flavor, but that's pretty much the extent of it. My family's always thought my DNA is mildly mutated since both my parents could be happy garlic-breathing dragons. My disenchantment with the onion-kin, combined with my family's persistence in amending my taste buds--"But, Britni, it's good for you!" they say, as if that will win me over--has resulted in my defending myself, most notably by pointing out that garlic is Satan's food. Who else would create something so offensively stinky and then say, "Here, eat it."? I've also refused to wash the garlic press. I will wash everything in the sink and leave that piece of sin for Mom.

But then my boyfriend came along. And if Mom & Dad were flirting with garlic, he would be involved in full-fledged affair with it. (As evidence, the guy once ate no less than 7 cloves of the raw stuff on his pasta. Sweet Mary!) So in what can only be described as an act of devotion (and an ounce of insanity), I've cut garlic, pressed it, cooked it and washed the press all within the past month. What is happening? Next thing I know, I'll be craving the stuff. My boyfriend will be thrilled. All these developments reek of villainy. So I guess it's official: I'm one step closer to the underworld of Satan's liar. The good news is, I'm joining my family and boyfriend there.

(Dun, dun, dun...)

what is this stuff?

It snowed this weekend! Tipper's never really seen anything more than frosting. He head-over-heels loved the flake-accumulation and spent the weekend romping in it, chasing us on sleds and playing with his partner in canine mischief, Scout. He also discovered that water tastes even better when it's in the form of frozen precipitation.

punk tipper

Last summer I saw a guy and his black Standard Poodle at the park. I was surprised (and a little presumptuous) since Poodles aren't typically a "guy's dog." I was quickly reprimanded. When we got up close, I realized the Poodle was decked out with a goatee, socks and a mohawk that ran from head to tail. Instantaneously, I decided I wanted to duplicate the cut on Tipper this summer. So a week ago, I took him to the groomer. Later that day, I had myself a punk Goldendoodle.

Friday, February 5, 2010

beautiful without accompaniment

Have you ever noticed that the lyrics to even some of the best songs don't read as well as they're heard? No matter how sentimental or penetrating they are when the voices streaming from your speakers carry them to your ears, they suddenly feel cheesy and immature when they stand alone.

Snow Patrol's "Set the Fire to the Third Bar" is one exception to this commonality. The song, even sans the music, seems more like poetry than lyrical dictation.

I find the map and draw a straight line
Over rivers, farms, and state lines
The distance from 'A' to where you'd be
It's only finger-lengths that I see
I touch the place where I'd find your face
My finger in creases of distant dark places

I hang my coat up in the first bar
There is no peace that I've found so far
The laughter penetrates my silence
As drunken men find flaws in science

Their words mostly noises
Ghosts with just voices
Your words in my memory
Are like music to me

I'm miles from where you are,
I lay down on the cold ground
I, I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms

After I have traveled so far
We'd set the fire to the third bar
We'd share each other like an island
Until exhausted, close our eyelids
And dreaming, pick up from
The last place we left off
Your soft skin is weeping
A joy you can't keep in

I'm miles from where you are,
I lay down on the cold ground
And I, I pray that something picks me up
and sets me down in your warm arms

I'm miles from where you are,
I lay down on the cold ground
and I, I pray that something picks me up
and sets me down in your warm arms

lime-light doggie

I simply couldn't help myself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

berry crumble

Tomorrow is my aunt's birthday. As per my 2010 custom, I baked her a little something called berry crumble. It was a simple recipe that I'm concerned may go down in February history as simply too plain. We'll see. All it called for was layering frozen berries in an oven-proof pan and covering them with an oatmeal-sugar-butter-vanilla concoction before baking for 30 odd minutes. I pulled it out of the oven and sat at the counter nibbling oatmeal crumbles off the top in an effort to inconspicuously sample it. (I'm afraid it might taste too much like cooked fruit with vanilla oatmeal on top, which sounds good and probably looks better, but will ultimately lead to disappointment.) If it is a failure, I might have to bake her a belated gift, but perhaps a small scoop of vanilla ice cream will spice it up. At the least, it will sound like a menu item that would certainly tempt me: Berry Crumble a la mode. Waiter...I'll take one of those!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

another way men are like shoes

The national divorce rate hovers somewhere around 50%, give or take a few points. I'd like to know what the dating break-up rate is, if there is such a statistic. Some human relationships end for valid reasons; others because the hearts involved simply give up. They give up loving, give up caring and, most detrimentally, they give up trying. I purport that if women felt toward men more like how they relate to shoes, we'd see a national decrease in relationship failure. Let me explain.

Most women have a life-long, on-going affair with shoes. (If you happen to be one of those women who do not, forgive my stereotyping; it's fundamental to my theory, though.) We can fall in love instantly with a sandal. And the x-chromosome has, on occasion, gone feral when two women want the same pair of size-8 Jimmy Choos. (I have never personally fought for a shoe, though I have had friendships fill with tension when the other girl feels the same way about a guy as I do.) Once the shoe is ours, we spend the next month in new-shoe inebriation, intoxicated by the leather or giddy with how feminine and delicate it makes our foot appear. Whatever the drug, we're high on it. All because of FOOTWEAR.

Now suppose a girl gets a pebble in that shoe one day. No girl in her right mind would return home and toss that shoe in the trash because of a tiny stone. She'd recognize that the pebble wasn't a reflection on the shoe--how it fit, how it made her feel, her level of adoration--but on the kind of ground she was treading--obviously rocky.

And so it is with men. A pebble interrupts the relationship's journey, and people quickly want to call it quits, throw away the shoe. That shoe is the same one you lusted after when you saw it in the magazine (the analogy fits uncomfortably well), fell in love with at the store, handed over your credit card for and mentally paired with all your favorite outfits. The shoe hasn't really changed--the ground has. Of course, shoes do eventually age. Threads start unraveling, and soles become slightly less supportive. But a lot of the time, even when those shoes are out of fashion by two whole seasons, they're still the favorites. We seem pretty devoted to our shoes; shouldn't we be even more so to our men?

I'm a relationship newbie, and my boyfriend and I don't really fight. We have the run-of-the-mill disagreements, and we don't see eye to eye and nose to nose on everything (in part because he's 6'2 and I'm under 5'5), but we don't fight. As much as I like it this way, I'm not naive enough to think there won't come a day when we temporarily don't like each other. But I hope neither of us wants to give up because of a pebble in the road. I like my shoes a lot, but I like my boyfriend more.

[Photo thanks to]