July 2013 Update

Holy Hell, 2013 is more than half over already. How did that happen?! I guess time sort of passes without my noticing since i’ve always got my nose buried in one book or another. Currently it’s The Once and Future King, by the way. Here are some recent goings-on from the past month or so:

The 4th was good fun; we finally got to see a good fireworks display this year and hang out with family at the same time. My cousin Amanda’s brand-spanking-new house has a prime view of the Des Moines Golf & Country Club’s not-entirely-private show. There was a keg and a volleyball game and lots of food and a stunning array of booze and a good time was had by many.

On the 5th i went to 80/35 once again with my dear friends Emily & Sara. We got to see Annalibera, who were very decent, The Emperors Club which didn’t sound a thing like their YouTube video, Yeasayer (left; Photo: Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily) which was our very favorite act and excellent to dance to, Menomena—briefly—whose newest tracks are IMO just no fun, and David Byrne + a surprisingly blond St. Vincent. That duo’s collaborative work is rather odd, but they also performed a few other songs including a few of St. Vincent’s own, which i quite enjoyed, and at the end of the night “Burnin’ Down the House.” What a kickass sendoff for we delicate ladies who had to leave before the encore.

St Vincent at 80/35
Beautiful blond St. Vincent; Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes and/or Michael Watson

I borrowed my sister-in-law’s ice cream maker recently because i needed something to do with all the mint that’s growing happily by the side of the house. My first-ever ice cream turned out so well that we decided to buy our very own ice cream maker and have been dreaming up all kinds of exciting flavors (like Kentucky Brunch, blackberry + sage, and Horchata) to busy ourselves with making in the months to come.

mint ice cream
My first ice cream: vanilla / honey / mint

At some point a while back, probably when i was planning our wedding and learning the names of all sorts of flowers i’d never bothered to care had names before, i fell in love with the big white mophead hydrangeas like this one at the August Home test garden, and i finally bought one last weekend to adorn the front of our house. I’m pretty happy about it.

I think i’ve decided that i don’t hate summer after all. Last year it was offensively hot and i was angry about the world in general, and i’m a little angry this year that i can’t go outside without being awarded a new itchy mosquito bite, but it’s significantly cooler and the flowers are beautiful and the fireflies are abundant and the cicadas are starting to sing and the air in the evenings smells like fond memories and good times. So Summer has redeemed herself a bit in my estimation this year (but i’m still secretly dreaming of Fall).


Snow in May

Snow in May in Iowa, 2013
The Carriage House

Pretty amazing. And it’s still coming down! But, strangely enough, this bothers me a lot less than the eighty-degree day we had earlier this week. I’ve done a complete one-eighty from loving heat and loathing the cold. Gimme hot tea and blankies! You can keep the sweat and bugs and burns of summer.

The real bummer is that all the precipitation we’ve gotten this week has led to water seepage in our basement. Again. But my wonderful handy husband is on the case, so i’m not too worried about it just yet.

80/35 2012: Death Cab For Cutie

Image courtesy of Death Cab For Cutie

I went to the last little bit of the 80/35 music festival with my friend Emily this Saturday. I bought tickets solely to see Death Cab For Cutie, because i loved them so hard during my college years and always wanted to see them play a live show. I bought my favorite of their albums, Transatlanticism, during my freshman year when it was still very new, and other students in the College of Design and at Stomping Grounds cafe (unwittingly) shared all of their previous albums with me as well. So Death Cab was basically the soundtrack to countless hours of my four years at Iowa State, as well as the additional year i spent working in Ames after college. (And then i met Nathan, who doesn’t care for Death Cab For Cutie. :))

Emily and i skipped most of the music festival because it was so very hot outside. We arrived after 8 p.m., and even then we could feel the sweat rolling down our backs as we watched Dan Deacon perform at the freebie stage. But soon the sun went down, and i don’t remember feeling hot after Death Cab took the stage at exactly nine o’ clock.

Immediately i was reminded of why i don’t go to a lot of shows anymore: the other patrons are assholes. Here’s a quick list of the type of douchebaggery that goes on at any given general-admission show:

  1. Needlessly violent dancing
  2. Smoking of illicit and smelly substances
  3. Flinging various beverages on fellow patrons
  4. Pushing & shoving, coming & going
  6. Holding cell phones up to take photos and/or videos
  7. Excessively loud cheering, just to get attention
  8. Choosing new spots halfway through the show to block what was once someone’s perfectly good view
  9. Minors attending just for the chance to sneak alcohol, meanwhile doing all of the above

But after a while i realized that Emily was taking it in stride and there was nowhere for us to go anyway, and i accepted the fact that this is just part of the concert experience. And it’s worth it. Being out in the warm summer night, dancing and singing along with the artist who gave me some of my favorite songs, feeling the music all around, soaking in the moment… All good things. Things i don’t get to do very often at all. So i reveled in it. And to my surprise, they played four tracks from my favorite album and one from an even older album, despite the fact that they’ve released four (Edit: three) additional very popular studio albums since then. They didn’t happen to play my very favorite song, Title and Registration (the only song i ever got close to being able to play on the guitar), but they did end the night with the title track of Transatlanticism, which i love almost as much.

I’m glad i went.

Year In Review 2010: Life

It hasn’t been a very productive year for me in terms of blogging, but i’m pretty sure that’s one of the most obvious and overused statements in all of human existence. I have however read ten books, watched about 75 movies and listened to many new albums over the course of 2010. I’ve also gotten quite a lot done in terms of the upcoming wedding, but more about that later. Let’s take a blog moment to reflect on the year.

Last winter was actually a pretty content one for me. Having an SUV and big ol’ ear muffs and not paying too much attention to the bitchers all over Twitter kept me in really good spirits despite the crap that rained down on us for days on end. There was this day when i drove to work and everything was coated in a layer of frost and it was one of the prettiest things i think i’ve ever seen. Our downtown loft felt kinda like a warm cave—especially since we didn’t have to worry about paying for heating—and not having to shovel snow was a definite bonus. But the thin walls and high price eventually drove us to find a new place to stay.

In the spring we moved to our new house and i fell into a funk that lasted a couple of months. I had to stop paying attention to any and all news because hearing about the oil gushing mercilessly into the Gulf put a grimy layer of frosting on my not-so-happy cake. Luckily all of that junk passed and i had a very happy summer & fall planning the wedding details with Nathan and going to parties & shopping with my girls. My brother came to town for a couple of months and instilled in Nathan and me a humble appreciation for a really good IPA (i.e. beer). That was a very awesome way to spend the summer, if i do say so. We also took a trip to California to visit my dad’s family, including a handful of cousins who came to the U.S. from Belgium for three weeks to see the sights. It was a real treat to see them all again.

Come fall i’d been driving my stick-shift Honda almost every day for a year, and learning to drive it well taught me perseverance. I’ve gained a certain confidence that i might some day become good at other quotidian tasks, such as doing my hair, frying an egg or maintaining eye contact while speaking to people. When i lost my job in October, i was prepared to spend a couple of months doing very little and then go back to school to become a programmer, and i contemplated using my down time to practice playing guitar again. Okay—to be honest it was the hair thing that i was most looking forward to practicing, but—luckily i got a job as a web developer for August Home Publishing in November and was relieved of having to worry about what to do with my free time. ‘Cause when you work eight-to-five, you A. cook, B. clean up or C. watch movies when you aren’t at work. And on the weekends you sleep a lot and go out shopping/eating/hanging out with your friends. That’s just how it is. Well—for me, anyway.

My new job is awesome, and a major part of that may be that it’s just awesome to have a job. I was really lucky to get another job so quickly, and honestly if it wasn’t for the connections i’ve made via Twitter it wouldn’t have happened and i probably would’ve had to buy myself a new set of textbooks for Christmas. Thankfully, i have an income instead and i’m spending too much money on holiday steals and insurance premiums instead. The people i work with are awesome. The work i do can be challenging (which is great) and frustrating (which is not so great) at times, but it’s not a bad gig at all. The websites i work on have a LOT of potential, and i say that in the most loving possible way.

I’ve started working out again, thanks to the free gym access i get through work. And no, i’m not trying to lose weight for the wedding; i’m just fearful that with osteoporosis & heart disease running rampant in my family i’ll probably end up pretty miserable down the road if i don’t start taking preventative measures now. I’m getting married; that means i need to take care of myself, right? So i jog for 20 minutes twice a week and i’m going to work on finding ways to increase that and/or supplement it with some sort of weight-bearing exercise. I’m really afraid of building muscle, though. Especially in my legs. They tend to get muscular and i really don’t want them to be any bigger. But enough whining—i can already see the comments i’m going to get in response to that tangent.

I don’t really know how to segue into this topic, but a couple of people i knew from high school died this year and it’s been a really strange experience for me. The first was Tiffany Robb who frankly gave me more of a hard time in school than anyone else i can think of. She was my cheerleading captain freshman year and she was a big reason that i only lasted two seasons with it. When i heard that she had died i was creeped out by how little sadness i felt. But then i heard that she had been shot, and i just felt so angry knowing that her life had been stolen from her at such a young age. Whatever happened between the two of us back in high school is of so little significance compared to the fact that she’s been forcibly removed from the earth. It got me thinking about whether any of us is really entitled to life and for how long, and it made me wonder who would miss me and who wouldn’t if this happened to me and whether any of that really matters. And just on December 17th, Brittany Hall, who was a good friend of mine in high school, died of complications caused by her epilepsy. I had let her slip away from my life almost completely, except for a comment here and there on facebook. She was so passionate and unique and troubled and here again i’m angry that during her short life something of great importance was just stolen from her. But that’s probably not my place to really talk about. I know it’s natural and okay for people to drift apart after school, i’m just sorry that i never sat down to catch up with her over a cup of coffee or something. I wish i had heard her stories.

On a lighter note, i’m looking forward anxiously to what 2011 has in store. This is the year i get married. It’s something i’ve always secretly wanted but rarely dared to believe could actually happen for the right reasons. But here i am, and here we are, and i am so excited i can hardly breathe when i really think about it. The wedding is about five months away now, and i’m going to savor the days from here until then carefully, because the anticipation is so sweet. I’m definitely looking forward to actually being married to Nathan, but i’m also enjoying the planning and designing and choosing and checking items off the to-do list in good time. The day itself will be wonderful no matter what happens or what color the flowers end up being. And then there will be a honeymoon in Cancun. And then a long and happy life together. And i. Am so. Pumped.

Des Moines Arts Festival ’10

Yesterday Mom, Nathan and i braved the sweltering heat to visit the The Des Moines Arts Festival. As you may know, it’s an event i like to attend every year and have blogged about before. Last year we were able to walk to the festival from our loft, which was pretty nice. This year we drove, and it was well worth the ride and the heat.

I was drawn to some of the same artists this year that i have enjoyed in years past, which means that if i had, say, and extra $1,300 lying around it would be well worth it to invest in a painting since my taste isn’t changing too rapidly. If only! Anyway, here are some of my faves:

Bruce Holwerda
Bruce Holwerda

I posted about this artist last time, but i was very happy to see him return to the festival this year because i think his paintings are so lovely and interesting.

<a href="http://www.artfairinsiders.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?screenName=0wbb7034mvc2w&page=2&quot; target="_blank"Rick Preston
Rick Preston

I’m always drawn to the photography, as you can see…

Andrew Sofjani
Andrew Sofjani

David Powers
David Powers

It seems that strong, simple forms are what i enjoy the most. There were a couple of other painters that i enjoyed a lot but they have crap for websites so i couldn’t find good images to post. I also wanted to mention Keith Grace‘s work again but i couldn’t find images of his new object-on-gray pieces.

Check ’em out, and if you missed the festival this year, i highly recommend that you not miss out again next year!

Can’t Stop the Serenity

Yesterday evening Nathan and i attended an event called Can’t Stop the Serenity. (Here’s the page for the Des Moines Chapter.) Basically, it was a showing of the cult movie Serenity down at the Fleur, but it was so much more than that.


The first time i saw this movie was about three years ago and I pretty much hated it. I was told that without the context of the Syfy show Firefly on which it’s based, it probably wasn’t as good. So this spring when Nathan started watching episodes of Firefly on Netflix Instant Play, i wasn’t very interested at first. However, unlike Stargate which failed to interest me even after several chances, the show soon drew me in and Nathan and i finished up the one and only season together in no time. Afterward we watched Serenity, which was SO MUCH BETTER the second time.

So then a couple weeks ago i heard via twitter about this event called Can’t Stop the Serenity. There are a lot of Firefly fans out there (called “browncoats”) whose love for the series has only been fueled by the fact that it was canceled so early on and by their hopes that it might be revived again some day. These fans get together once a year in quite a few different cities around the world to watch Serenity on the big screen. I figured the event would probably be a nerdfest and thus a pretty awesome time. I had no idea.

First there was a costume contest which we missed and which we realized once we got there that we probably could have won if we’d dressed up. There were door prizes which included Anime box sets, chopsticks-and-pocky combinations and Firefly fanclub memorabilia. We won some fake Firefly universe currency – w00t! There was a showing of Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which we discovered is a short musical starring Neil Patrick Harris that was directed by Joss Whedon, the same guy who did Firefly (and a lot of other stuff, it turns out). That was pretty enjoyable. And then, of course, there was Serenity. (Which was STILL BETTER the third time around.)

But besides all of the delightful nerdery, there was a really good cause for all of this. I knew that the proceeds were going to be donated to a charity, but i was excited to learn that Equality Now is an organization that essentially fights against the things i hate the most in this world: rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights violations, trafficking, female genital mutilation, and gender discrimination. Unfortunately, i didn’t learn about this until after the silent auction had ended or i probably would have ponied up at least fifty bucks for a graphic novel to benefit this organization right then and there. (I can still donate, of course, but i won’t get a sweet comic book out of it.)

The main aim of Equality Now is to facilitate awareness about the atrocities being committed against women every day all over the world. It upsets me enough that i find it hard to write about, but this is something i think is really important so please check out their website and be sure to like them on facebook!

So nerdy sci-fi love + proceeds going to a great cause = a really awesome event that i’m already planning to attend again next year. And with that, i’ve just destroyed whatever “cool points” i may have gained with my big bro by drinking IPAs with him over the past couple of weeks. 😉

Transitions & Adventures

Happy Monday, everybody! This weekend was marked by some fun new experiences. At the end of the day on Friday my workplace bid adieu to one of our designers by having a happy hour drink with him on the company’s dime. Gotta love that – especially because it means my job security just increased a fair amount. That’s a feeling i’ve been waiting for for years.*

Saturday we celebrated my friend Calee‘s move back to Ames from Des Moines by hitting the town with her. We got barbecue at Uncle Wendel’s and then went to see the Des Moines Derby Dames‘ roller-derby bout. We lost to the Old Capital City Roller Girls, but it was a fun experience despite the fact that i had to sit on a concrete floor in my short skirt. Hopefully next time they’ll do it in a venue with more seating.


After that we headed to The Lift where i had a grand total of 3.25 drinks and ended up drunk enough to say quite a few silly things, but unfortunately not so wasted that i couldn’t remember them. That Bradie was trying to kill me. I don’t really want to talk about it except to say that i’m sorry if i offended anyone but i had a good time. 🙂

Yesterday evening we went over to my grandpa’s house where my mother had been seeing barred owls in the trees for the past few nights. At first we didn’t see them, but Mom was sure they were around because of the commotion from the smaller birds. Sure enough, we spotted one just as we were about to leave. There are four of them hanging around; two adults and two nearly-full-sized babies. We watched all four fly from branch to branch, saw them get pecked by the smaller birds, made noises at the juveniles who made noises back at us and bobbed their heads, and saw one adult feed her babies a small animal.

As it was getting dark, one of the younger owls perched on a post right in the backyard. I got about five paces away from it to try to take photos. It didn’t really work out because of the darkness, but it was amazing to just watch her calmly examine the ground for mice and occasionally swivel her head around to look at us.

This is how i wish my photos had turned out.

It’s been hot and humid here the past couple of days, and that will probably continue for the rest of the week. I’ve been working out several times a week in preparation for dress shopping, but i’m not sure how i’m going to run outside now. I don’t do hot & muggy.

*EDIT: Oh man, i forgot to write about our awesome waitress on Friday night! We went to a place called Paradise Pizza in WDM that we’d never been to, and we had a waitress who was probably just starting out. And had probably never been to a restaurant before. She brought us our beers with straws in them, and brought the check out to us before asking how the meal was or if we wanted any dessert. She wandered around looking bored when she wasn’t helping us. It was an all-around hilarious thing to see. 😆