Summer is Waning

September 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

There’s a crispness in the air lately, or, as a line in a Longfellow poem called “Autumn” puts it,
“There is a beautiful spirit breathing now.”
The season changes just when really you want it to. Just when I think I’ve wilted enough, the summer’s heat begrudgingly starts to relent. These final days of high summer have brought much fun with them. A trip to Portland to visit my aunt and uncle, along with my Grannie and mom; a peach season finale pie; a street-wide slip-n-slide; visits with dear high school friends and their new babies; and a lull in the busy-ness at work have all been welcome indeed.

Our trip out west was one of the highlights of my summer, an adventure I’d been long looking forward to. Oregon is such a beautiful state, green and misty, kind of like Ireland, which explains my fondness for it. The sights I’ve seen there make me thankful for a God who was so creative in shaping the world. The swelling of mountains above winding rivers or hugging rocky coastlines point in His direction. The food is another plus: fresh salmon, plump berries, hard ciders galore. Every restaurant my uncle has taken us to on our visits out over the years have been exciting and interesting and mouth-watering. This trip, I enjoyed all the flavors I could fit in 5 days: a fried chicken biscuit with pickles and sweet-hot mustard from Pine State Biscuits; a Nutella crepe alongside juicy produce samples at the farmers’ market; dijon-slathered salmon grilled with fresh-picked peppers; almost the entire menu of dishes at Aviary; a peanut butter dusted, blackberry compote filled donut; and chocolate from shops like Moonstruck and The Meadow (which has a whole wall of chocolate bars!).

IMG_7209IMG_7235IMG_7272IMG_7181IMG_7317It was just the respite I was hoping it would be, navigating the Atlanta airport not included. I came back refreshed and wistful. The idea of moving to a place like Portland never looks more appealing than when you’re freshly back.

Before I could let the summer produce go, I had to make a peach pie. It was a smashing success, which I shared with ladies from church at a potluck. And! There was even a slice left for me to take home. I used a Smitten Kitchen recipe, of course, and though my lattice making needs practice, it turned out pretty as a picture. IMG_7364My most recent hurrah to summer’s end was to recruit my brother and dear adventurer-friend Alison to Slide the City with me in Huntsville last weekend. After 9 runs down the potentially 1,000-foot length of slippery tarp, I’d say I got my money’s worth. The day’s morning chill thankfully gave way to a mostly sunny afternoon. (A rare thought for me, wishing it were hotter.) The festive atmosphere provided by various food trucks, live bands, and a drum line added to the fun.

IMG_7482Bring on the golden leaves, mugs of steaming apple cider and luscious chocolate, and blankets to curl up in. Fall’s just getting started.


Season of Work

August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s been so long since I’ve logged in here, it took a beat or two to remember my password. But truthfully I sometimes forget passwords to sites I log into everyday. There are so many to remember.

I have watched summer creep by mostly in a work-induced haze these past two months. In mid-May, 8 people at my company were laid off, creating quite the situation for those left without jobs and those of us left to continue to do the work. In our busiest season. When everyone takes vacation. And the deadlines I was responsible for doubled, or tripled. It has been no small miracle that books have still gotten to production on time and that, while it felt like it, I didn’t work any 50- or 60-hour weeks. Just a couple of 10-hour days. I am so proud to work with the people I work with. We all were in the same boat, and we helped each other row, or bail out, as the case required. We have laughed to keep from crying or pretended to politely ignore the tears.

I miss our coworker friends who have moved on, just about every day, and we all await news that they’ve all found new positions, which has been slow in coming. (Though just last week one of the designers did get a full-time job!) I am grateful to still have work, still have income, still be able to pay my rent. If previous jobs have taught me anything, I hope it’s to not let the stress build, to not “take it home with you,” and I think, praise God, I’ve been able to successfully do that lately. My mental state is unfettered by concerns about work when I leave, though my physical state may bear the toll of sitting at a computer for too long. Office-chair butt seems to develop overnight! I do feel tired most days and pretty drained in the brain and long for days that aren’t so go-go-go from moment to moment.  Just this week, after two big book projects went to the printer, I felt a relief, that maybe a brief reprieve was coming. A glance at my upcoming schedules revealed that may not be the case, but at least the beginning of a book’s journey to print isn’t as intense as the final stages.

Thankfully, a long awaited trip to visit family in Portland, Oregon is upon us and from Thursday to Monday I’ll be traveling with my mom and Grannie to that beautiful city. I look forward to delicious eating, welcome relaxing, spur-of-the-moment exploring, and less sweating.

Long on Fun

May 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Weekends are great. Often, weekdays/nights can be too. A Wednesday surprises you with dinner with friends. You can take yourself to the early movie on Tuesday to get the cheap (a.k.a. normal priced) fountain drink. Sometimes you meet a friend for scones on Monday morning. But, weekends. The unfettered time stretching out before you as an actual oasis, not a mirage. Long weekends, that rare breed of 2 days+ to do your own bidding, are welcome indeed.

My mom and I drove to Huntsville this past weekend for many reasons: to see my cousin graduate high school, to visit my brother, to take my Grannie out to lunch for an early birthday outing, and just generally enjoy being out of the routine. Work and under-the-weatherness kept my dad at home, sadly, or we would’ve hiked something, to be sure. We stopped by the Huntsville Botanical Garden on Saturday to explore the Lego sculptures on display. I’m often bowled over by any form of artistic expression, and these Lego sculptures by Sean Kenney provoked the same reaction. Such time and attention to detail and planning these obviously took and patience working with Legos…which are tiny! There were lily pads, a rose, a dragonfly, a life-size gardener, a butterfly, a bison, and more. It was the kind of day so beautifully sunny and breezy that it eclipses all memory of days where the weather isn’t so fine. IMG_6844IMG_6857IMG_6860IMG_6841When we weren’t eating, we played Carcassonne and saw the second Avengers movie and slept in. Times like these remind me of when my brother and I were younger and lived at home and did things together all the time. Growing up and moving out are a natural progression of life, but I do find myself wistful for those days when all 4 of us were under the same roof. The wistfulness coexists with the gratefulness for such a family that desires to spend any amount of time together.