Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sneakadoodle Bear

I'm no dummy.  I know why most people read this blog.  It's not my writing and it's certainly not the beautiful photography (ahem).

I know Bear is my best feature.

And so I heretofore resolve to have more posts specifically dedicated to him.  He's an entertaining and slightly crazy pup, so I'm sure there will never be a shortage of content.

Bear got a hair cut about a week ago and he's been extra sassy every since.  I'm pretty sure it's because he can see better without all the fluff in his eyes, but maybe he just knows he looks dapper with his fluffy new 'do.

After a matting disaster a few moths ago, Bear no longer wears a collar.  I put his tags on his harness, so he wears them when we go out, but when he's at home he's a barbarian with no accoutrements to speak of.  Voila. No more super-mats on his neck.  I've also been making a habit of brushing him every single day, which is probably the most significant change in keeping the mats at bay.

Basically, I'll do anything to keep him out of the groomer on a regular basis.  We take him to get groomed every three or four months.  It costs twice as much as one of my haircuts, so it nearly kills me every time.  Good thing he's cute, right?

But enough about his grooming habits, here are four recent pictures of the little fluff ball (clockwise from top left):

1.  We were trying to put new sheets on the bed and Bear kept popping up to play in them.  We finally just put the quilt over the top of him and he popped his head out like "hi!!!!"  Sneakadoodle.  (What would we do without iPhones to capture these random moments?)

2.  We picked Blake up after his meetings at church on Sunday and Bear was over-the-moon about having an extra car ride with the windows down.

3.  When the groomer blow dries Bear's hair, it fluffs up in a big bouffant on his head.  It's hilarious and we always end up calling him "fluff head" for the first few days until it's under control again.

4.  This is Bear's "I don't trust you" face.  He jumped up on the couch next to me while I was reading, so I gave him some rubs, but I think he could tell that I was about to leave him to go do something without him.  He kept giving me the side-eye to show his disapproval.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shopping DC: Books

Lately (while Blake was up in NYC) I've been eating all sorts of random things for dinner, so I've edged off the meal planning for a while.  I don't think my smorgasbord dinners would be all that interesting...and they certainly wouldn't contain links to great recipes.

Basically it's been like this:

Monday:  Chips and salsa and pickles.

Tuesday: Pita and hummus and raspberries.

Wednesday: Frozen enchiladas from my frozen meal stash.

Thursday:  More frozen enchiladas as leftovers.

Yes. It's been a classy affair over here.

So as I've been slacking on the meal planning posts, I thought I'd start on another series.  I love DC.  I enjoy shopping.  I adore lists.  Add those together and I give you "Shopping DC."

Mostly this is for my own good so that I keep it all organized.  Like I said, I love lists.

Where do you go in DC to buy books and enjoy the experience?  Well, in the spirit of lists and DC adventures, here is my first foray into "Shopping DC."

1.  Friends of the Library, Montgomery County Book Sale.
I've mentioned this place before (probably as the Wheaton Library Book Sale) because I visit it all the time.  I'm probably there at least twice a month and I leave with a stack of books every single time.

The Book Sale takes in donations from all over Montgomery County and organizes them into category and then by author last name.  It's as big as a Barnes and Nobel, but resides in the basement of the Wheaton Regional Library.  They've got a great kids section (with board books that look like they've never been used) and a fantastic young adult section (I got a whole set of hardcover Harry Potter books for $15.00) and a classics section with beautiful leather-bound copies...it goes on and on.

Most books are between 25 cents and a dollar.  So, whether you're looking for beautiful books for decorating purposes, or to build up your own library, or to purchase your book club books on the cheap, this is the place to do it.

2.  Capital Hill Books
Blake thinks of this more as Capital Claustrophobia Books (I sort of agree), but it's a great place to visit.  It's a used bookstore located right by Eastern Market and you feel like you're being transported through time when you walk through the door.

The best way I can describe it is 1 part hoarders episode, 1 part Harry Potter's experience at the wand shop on Diagon Alley, and 1 part Shakespeare and Company in Paris (minus the cats and the transient writers living in it).

It's worth checking out just for the experience and the great photo-ops.  Also, it doesn't hurt that it's across the street from the delicious breakfast options at Eastern Market.

Photo from here

3.  Politics & Prose.  Arguably DC's most famous bookstore...and the only non-used bookstore on my list.  Politics & Prose is a great store by itself, but my favorite thing about them is that they schedule so many events and author talks that you can keep endlessly busy satisfying your bibliophile needs.

They offer writing classes and support local authors.  They put together book signings and help sponsor the National Book Festival.  I've been to a number of their events at various locations throughout the city (my favorite was seeing Khaled Hosseini at the Historic 6th Street Synagogue) and am always impressed.  Don't forget to sign up for their email lists so you don't miss out on any of the events or interesting classes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

War-like

I studied Linguistics in college.  Languages have always interested me, and I loved being able to study something that was also my hobby (and now I am qualified to flip a burger in three languages, yippee!).  I've had a niggling feeling lately that I've fallen off the proverbial academic bus, so I'm looking for ways to stay up on my linguistics research.

Which brings me to my first question for the void: does anyone out there have recommendations for interesting reads in the realm of linguistics or language?  It's sometimes so hard to get a sense of what's good from Goodreads, so I'll leave the recommendations to anyone out there who happens to have an opinion or recommendation.  Help?

But anyway.  I've been thinking for the past couple of days about a study I read back in the day about English language and violence.  I can't remember the name of the study, so don't quote me on anything, but the gist was this: language, and specifically slang, tells you a lot about the culture in which it is spoken.  More narrowly, English speakers use a variety of violent and/or war-like slang words...and what does that say about our culture?

For example:

"I bombed that test."

"Knock 'em dead!"

"That class totally kicked my butt."

"I'm so mad, I'm going to kill him!"

"I'm so tired, I feel like I got hit by a bus."

"That oral exam? I killed it!"

Etc.

There are a ton of other examples that I can't think of right now (because it's Sunday night and my brain has been off for some hours), but it's a pretty interesting concept, don't you think?  Frankly, you've only got to turn on the news to see how violent a society we live in.

I speak French (but not well enough at this point to compare idioms) and elementary Arabic (heavens, I basically only speak "TV/24 Terrorist" Arabic...), but I'd be interested to hear how much of this exists in other languages.  Would a peaceful/pacifist country like, say, Sweden, have far fewer violent slang words in their language?  Would German speakers use more violent language than English speakers?

[These are gross over-generalizations about these two cultures, but there you are.]

AND. At what point does language start influencing culture rather than the other way around?  Can it?  Does it?  If we started speaking in less violent terms, would that make us a more peaceful people?  I doubt it.  But it's an interesting thought.

More often language evolves as the culture changes.  It's like the words we use to describe the internet (blog, web, etc.) or mass-produced items (fast fashion, McMansion, etc.) that only recently came onto the scene.  I think if Shakespeare visited suburban DC tomorrow, he'd be hard-pressed to understand what anyone was blabbering on about.  Then again, put me back in Elizabethan England and I'm sure I'd have just as much trouble understanding The Bard.

Now there's a thought.  How much violent language does Shakespeare use as description?  Has the language culture shifted that much since his time?

But, that's a study for another day...when my brain is on again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Maybe

While my Mom was here last week, we worked some more on Maybe's nursery.  I had to do a lot of sitting, so my Mom graciously did most of the hammering, arranging, hole-filling, and curtain hemming.  And I sat.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Maybe's (the someday maybe baby) room has been a really fun project for me so far.  It's basically a storage room right now...when I find things for free that I like, I store them up in Maybe's room while I figure out if a. I want to keep it and b. if I'm going to fix it up.  The things I don't end up keeping I either sell on Craigslist or give to friends.

All of this has made for an extremely cheap nursery.  I figure that if I keep collecting until Maybe decides to join us, I'll have saved a bundle of money and can splurge on a few things like my ideal crib and a nice, plush rug.

A couple weeks ago I picked up a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair in denim from a neighbor.  I washed the slip cover and it looks almost brand new (I always wanted one of those as a kid, so I'm sorta geeking out about that find).  I also got a brand new changing pad from someone at church.  Sure, changing pads aren't that expensive in the first place, but I'm happy to save money on the boring stuff so I can spend it on the fun stuff.

I think Maybe's room is my favorite room in the house.  It's towards the front of the house and has big south-facing windows that look out over our cherry tree.  It also has small east-facing windows (pictured below) in a little nook off the main room.  The room is always light and bright...and it's big enough to be a bedroom and a playroom in one.  Actually, there is a playroom built off the main room in the attic portion over our addition, but it needs to be re-insulated and sheet rocked before it's functioning for all four seasons.

Our upstairs bathroom shares a wall with this nook (pictured below) and we're hoping to expand it sometime soon.  So, when we do that, we'll be doubling the size of the bathroom (it's about 5" by 5" right now, so doubling won't make it huge, but it'll make it much more functional), but we'll lose this cool nook in the nursery.  It's not a totally necessary space in the nursery, so I'm not too sad to give it up someday.  For now I've put the small table and chairs that I re-did, a painting of a barn, my framed dress notecards, and a toy/blanket storage thing.  The best part?  Everything you see here was either found in the garbage or purchased at a yard sale (except for the framed dresses, which were gifts).

The barn picture was in a pile at the side of the road.  I cleaned up the glass and painted the frame teal.  The table and chairs were also from the side of the road.  I fixed their wobbly legs and painted them in high gloss for easy wipe-ability.  The organizer was also a side-of-the-road find (I'm thinking of painting the iron a fun color at some point).  I made the baby blanket hanging over it from yarn I inherited from my neighbor.  Blake made the wood sail boat from some scrap lumber we had laying around in the basement.  The books are from the Montgomery County Library Book Sale (also known as my idea of heaven on earth) for 25 cents each.

Progress, folks, it feels so good!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks

It was an eventful week IVF-wise, so my Mom came out to help while I was out of commission.  It turned out to be the perfect week for her to be out here in more ways than one:

-I was on partial bed rest for part of the week, so she generously did my cooking, cleaning, shopping, dog walking, and house project-doing. My house and yard have never looked so good.  Bear has never been happier to pal around with someone, or sadder to see someone leave.

-We ate like kings (reference Mom's cooking, above).

-The weather was glorious, so on the days that I was able to be up and about, we spent a lot of time outside.  We even had a couple days in the low 70's - which is pretty unheard of in July in DC.  I couldn't help but gush every few minutes about "what a gorgeous day" we were having.

-Blake happened to be home sick all week (not part of the great things), so my Mom was able to take care of both of us...which was perfect because otherwise the two of us would have been a disaster all week.  I'm picturing take-out boxes strewn about a super gritty un-vacuumed floor, with Bear terrorizing us and tearing up the rugs.

-I've been dying to visit Dumbarton Oaks for ages, so my Mom and I spent a 72-degree afternoon there touring the gardens.  I'll tell you what - I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be fabulously wealthy.  I mean, I could get used to waking up every day to 16 acres in the middle of the city with terraced gardens, a huge swimming pool, deco wrought iron gates, climbing vines, outdoor amphitheaters, and my very own orangerie.  Yes. That is the life for me.