Friday, August 28, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Florence

Earlier this week Jason and I watched a special about the secrets of Florence. I don't think that we really learned anything new, but it was nice to see because it brought back so many great memories of our travels there.

I like to learn as much as I can about a place before I travel there; I find that it makes the experience better when I can connect the dots during our trip ("Oh, look, here's a statue of Chopin; they have his statue here in Warsaw because he's from here, and he said that he was inspired to write his music by the wind blowing through the trees of his native and beloved Poland." And all of our Polish friends fell in love with me then and there.). :) Before we went to Florence the first time in March of 2005, I read this book about how Filippo Brunelleschi designed and built the largest dome ever built of bricks and mortar. EVER. It was completed in 1436 and they still don't know exactly how he did it; he was fiercely proprietary about his designs, and he left no drawings or plans behind. Five hundred seventy three years later and it's still the largest. What other record has lasted that long?

I was (and am, obviously) fascinated by it. Brunelleschi, trained as a goldsmith, for crying out loud, had to fight (even literally) to be appointed and remain the lead architect. He not only had to completely invent a design for the dome, but he had to invent tools and machinery to make it come to fruition. And most impressive, the dome is still standing. If it doesn't seem like that big of a deal that this thing hasn't fallen in on itself yet, please consider that Galileo Galilei, the "Father of Modern Physics and Science," wasn't even born until the dome had already been standing for 128 years. In other words, Brunelleschi was a technical and mathemathical genius, far ahead of his time. [For all my art school friends, he also is credited with inventing one-point linear perspective. For real.]

So when we traveled there in March of 2005, I was already fascinated with the dome; being able to climb up inside, in between the inner and outer domes, and see the herringbone brickwork was just amazing. Our friends Kellie and Alex were with us, so I proceeded to tell them all about everything I'd learned. By the end of our walk up and around and back down, I'd developed quite a group of people around us, listening in to my free tour!

We traveled back to Florence several times, and Il Duomo still holds a special place in my heart. I took many, many photos of it, but this one might be my favorite. To get it, we had to climb up 414 steps in Giotto's Campanile (bell tower).

Totally worth it, right?

I hope that something fascinates and inspires each of us this weekend! Have a great one! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Does anyone else suffer from Once-I-Catch-Up-itis?

I'm suffering a MAJOR case of it right now, paired with my usual But-First-I-Need-To-syndrome. Lately I feel like a lot of my life and the things I want to do are on hold while I catch up with an overwhelming To Do list. Being gone for 2.5 weeks gave me a LOT of housework to catch up, especially considering I didn't do any housework for the week before I left because I was too busy preparing to leave! But there are other things that I feel like I need to do before I can do other things that I want to do.

  • I want to blog about my time in Orlando and at CHA, but first I need to edit all the photos because my camera sucks I haven't ever been able to figure out how to make my camera work the way I want it to, so every single photo needs to be futzed with.

  • I want to play with my advance copy of This Is Not a Book and show you all, but I feel like I need to do one of the BIG challenges to be really worthy, but those are more time-consuming, so first I need to finish up a swap I'm in that's due this week.

  • I want to start on the swap that's due, but first I need to clear a space in my craft studio to work, and I need to find the supplies I plan to use, and as long as I'm doing that I might as well organize all my inks and paints, and....

  • I want to send the photos to the winners of my blog contest from forever ago, but first I need to edit and upload photos to print at the same time, because if I'm going to upload and send an order and make a trip to the photo place, I might as well do it all at once.

  • I want to start work on our "formal" living room, but first I need to clear it out and move all the stuff into the dining room. But first I need to go through all my Polish pottery and decide what I don't want/need and list it on Craigslist, so I'd have less stuff to move back and forth, plus a little extra money in my pocket!

  • I want to get our master bedroom cleaned up and organized and pretty, but first I need to go to Wal-Mart to buy hangers for all those clothes piled up on my table that need to be hung, and if I'm going to go there then there are other things that I need to pick up, and I might as well go to Home Depot, too, and if I'm going there then I should ask Jason if there's anything he needs, and I think I had a coupon around here somewhere....

So that's the way things are going around here. I feel like I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and getting nothing done. Obviously I'm excellent at making mountains out of mole hills until I'm so overwhelmed that I just don't know where to start. I just need to STOP and focus on one thing at a time. Cultivate. Slowly-but-surely. Slow-and-steady-wins-the-race. STOP GETTING DISTRACTED.


Hope to see you again tomorrow with something to show for my work today! :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Solitary

I believe I've mentioned before on here that I'm a major introvert. A lot of people (like Katie!) don't believe that, because I'm social and can be outgoing. But the difference is that, unlike extrovert Jason who gets so recharged by interaction with others that after a big party he bounces around like a kid on Jolt Cola (and we are ALWAYS the last couple to leave a party because I almost literally have to drag him out, I am not kidding), being social requires a lot of energy from me. A LOT. No matter how much I like or love the people I'm hanging out with, my energy is drained by spending time interacting with other people. Let me repeat that because it is huge for me and all introverts: No matter how much I like or love the people I'm hanging out with, my energy is drained by spending time interacting with other people.

So it should come as no surprise that after spending 2.5 weeks traveling around to three different places on opposite sides of the continent via nine different flights, hanging out with people, meeting people, taking classes, making small talk with people whom I didn't know but happened to be sitting by, chatting with vendors at CHA, seeing a bunch of different family members, hanging with my nieces, meeting my good friend's serious boyfriend, not to mention seeing classmates I haven't seen in 15 years, I needed a bit of a break and some serious alone-time.

Those 2.5 weeks were filled with all good things--it was amazing to hang out with Lori and meet Anke (my newest BFF and WHY don't we three live in the same state?), and it was great and fulfilling to see my nieces and my parents, aunt, and grandparents, and I even had a great time at my reunion (at least what I can remember of it--OH LORDY). I loved doing all of it; and then I needed some time to myself. It's like I retreat into a "cave," shunning all interaction. Which is kind of crappy, considering that I hadn't seen Jason in 2.5 weeks and we had some catching up to do! Luckily over the years he's become more understanding of my introvertedness, and as he's become more respectful of my needs (yes, for me time alone is a need, not a want) then I'm more willing to venture out of my cave for short stretches to provide a balance. :)

In the midst of my cave-dwelling, last weekend our lovely neighbors (one set of our many sets of lovely neighbors, we're lucky to be on a very friendly street!) invited us to a party at their parents' house on the lake. We'd been wanting to join them at the beautiful house we'd been hearing about for some time, so even though the timing wasn't great for me, we decided to go. Sweet Jason tried to explain to the neighbors about my exhaustion from my travels, just to pave the way for me to take my leave and take a nap if need be. And I am happy to say, it was a great day! There were only two small hang-ups, which I'd like to share in the interest of explaining introvertedness.

First, from the moment we arrived there were screaming children and barking dogs, in that way that seems that you are surrounded and have ended up on the island from Lord of the Flies and there's no way out of the noise and chaos; I didn't know how I'd make it through the day, honestly. Luckily, within an hour it was determined that the culprit was one lone child who was terrorizing every creature in sight and whose mother had absented herself to the house to talk on her cell phone (did I mention the house is on a lake where children need to be watched???); our lovely neighbor, who is a schoolteacher and whom I adore, had a little chat with the mom about her child's behavior and the mom chose to pack up and leave. The entire compound was instantly quieter, I'm not even joking. [Allow me to insert here a small prayer that I never be that mother!]

The second small hang-up was that a friend of our neighbor decided to take it upon himself to make sure I was never alone at any point during the party. Obviously the guy was an extrovert and couldn't imagine any reasonable possibility why a person would actually like to be by him- or herself. I spent more than two hours eating with everyone and swimming in the lake, talking to people (during which time he never introduced himself or made conversation); the moment I headed back to the hammock with my book (I'd not even settled in the hammock or opened the book yet), this guy walked up to me and said in an accusatory tone, "Either that is a really good book, or you are just unsocial." I was so shocked and just wanted to end the conversation that I just said, "I'm really tired." Later when I headed to the dock (when everyone was upstairs on the upper deck) he followed me and said, "What are you doing here by yourself?" I wish I'd had the energy to explain to him that I just wanted a few minutes to myself; instead I just said that I'd come to get a drink (true) and then I headed back upstairs.

I can appreciate that the guy was, in his own way, trying to include me. But the point is that if you are an extrovert (and chances are that you are, since extroverts make up about 75-80% of the population), please understand that we introverts actually crave time alone, even if it's just a few moments. I found this great article that is Top 5 Things Extroverts Should Know About Introverts. All I wanted was a few moments to regroup; instead I felt slightly stalked and harassed; I don't want to be paranoid, but how did this guy always show up within 30 seconds of my being alone unless he was keeping an eye on me the whole time?

In any event, I've been appreciative of my alone time this week. So what else could I choose for Favorite {Photo} Friday except a photo of a lone, solitary boat in Lago di Garda in Italy? Solitude is not a bad thing, my friends--to me it's a necessity! In fact, as if to add an exclamation point to this week's post, this photo was taken by Jason on our anniversary weekend in 2007, while I napped in the car. I'm not even joking. I was so tired and worn out that I fell asleep and Jason parked the car and took photos for me to see when I woke up! If that isn't love, I don't know what is. :)

Have a fabulous weekend, friends, whether it's partying like a rock star or staying at home and catching up on your DVR! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--Reunion

Last weekend I had my high school reunion in Oregon. Ohhhh, boy, what a party! It was great to see everyone and I really hope to see them again before 15 more years passes. Let's at least have a 20th! Thanks to Lisa for the photo!

It's been a long week and I'm ready for some much-needed cuddle-time on the couch with Jason! Tomorrow we're driving to Lake Anna to hang out at my neighbors' cabin. To be honest I have noooo energy after all my traveling and socializing, but Jason's already warned them that I will be curled up in a corner with a book all day. I hope they don't think that he was kidding.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--More, More, More

A year and a half ago, my sister (Tauni) had a baby and they named her Lily. I flew to Washington (state, and being from Oregon it annoys me that I have to specify that) for two weeks to help out. Mainly I helped with Emma, who was then two and a half and a bundle of energy. Or, rather, she is a bundle of energy and she was then two and a half. :) Of course there wasn't much help I could provide with newborn Lily, who slept like an angel for 20 hours a day, although I did provide some relief one night when she was fussy and I stayed up and rocked her so my sister and brother-in-law (Erik) could sleep long enough to get some REM. :) The great thing about being an aunt is that it felt like a privilege to rock her for hours in the quiet of the night!

A few months later I flew back because they had chosen me as Lily's Godmother, so I held her during her baptism. That was a super cool experience and I feel so happy that her parents chose me for this honor. :)

I was supposed to see them at Christmas but then the Great Freeze of 2008 happened and they couldn't come down to my parents' house. :(

I saw them for a couple hours back in March when I went to Seattle to visit Kellie and they happened to be in the area visiting other family.

And I'm seeing them now. Four times in 18 months is not bad, considering we live on opposite sides of the country! These little girls grow up so quickly, I'll try to see them as often as I can. So while I'm here, I'm just enjoying the time and eating them up!

Speaking of eating things up and wanting more-more-more, meet Lily.

You can tell me she isn't just the cutest thing ever, but I. WON'T. BELIEVE. YOU. I mean, hello, CUTE. Look at those eyes, puh-lease. Come on, eyes just cannot be that big and blue. She is covered in orange cherry tomatoes because her dad was making dinner and cutting up the homegrown tomatoes for our salads. And as I have quickly learned, at 18 months old Miss Lily is a chow hound. Her mouth will be full and she has a bite ready in one hand and she is already asking for more-more-more. She does the sign for it, too, which is so cute. If she sees food, she wants some. If you are eating something, she wants some. If you are drinking something, she wants some. She usually finishes her meals and wants some of whatever is left over. More-more-more and then, suddenly, ALL DONE.

I think she must take after her aunty Cameron... did I mention that I gained EIGHT POUNDS during my seven-day Orlando trip with Lori and Anke? EIGHT. Otto (Italian). Ocho (Spanish). Okto (Greek). Huit (French). Acht (German). EIGHT. It was an awesome and amazing trip and I can't wait to share photos once I get back home to Virginia. It fed my soul and my creativity and I'm so happy I went. But EIGHT POUNDS? I didn't know it was possible for me to gain eight pounds in a week!! I wouldn't really mind all that much, it was that worth it. But it is quite inconvenient, considering that I'm traveling and chasing small children and being seen in public in my now-too-tight clothes. Not to mention that I have my HIGH SCHOOL REUNION this weekend. (YIKES.)

The good news (I really must be an optimist to find a good side of gaining 8 pounds in a week!) is that those extra eight pounds have freed me from my anxiety about the reunion. I've found myself singing Popeye's anthem, "I am what I am and that's all that I am." And what I am is an incredibly lucky aunt, wife, and friend. I'm able to do what I love to do and visit the ones I love scattered across the country. My husband and I adore each other with a passion I wouldn't have believed possible when we married 9.5 years ago (and we were pretty passionate back then, lol). :) My parents are still well and still married (and how sad is it that this is unusual?) and are thrilled to have me home. I have dear friends in cities across the country that I could count on and stay with. I've had an amazing 15 years since high school so why should I be concerned in the least? I wouldn't change a thing. Not even these damn eight pounds.

Happy weekend, my friends. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Nieces