Friday, September 30, 2011

What's That?

Something looks strange about my bank account about this morning. What could it be? Oh, I see, there's money in it!

First thing I'm going to buy: a new razor. In fact, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my legs for the dull-blade abuse they have been enduring these past two months. But they pulled through, with most of my skin still intact.

Not only do we have money now (a least enough for bills), we actually have plans tonight too. This evening we are going to a bookstore downtown to see a writer read from his newly published book. And then, we are driving to Cheney to a party that is being thrown in this writer's honor. I'm not trying to be discrete or mysterious, I just don't remember the name, as it was told to me over a month ago. 

I just finished my Friday class and am ready for the weekend (even if it does involve more grading). Things are going well for Joe so far. Yesterday his students decided they wanted to take him out to lunch. They even bought! He seems happy to be teaching again and is staying busy with his grad work. He's reading a new nonfiction book a week, and if I was smart, I'd try to read them all too, just to put some discipline into my life.

Hopefully this weekend we will find some good chairs at goodwill! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hello, stranger!

Walking home from the coffee shop yesterday, I was feeling a bit lonely. Joe was going to be in class until ten, just like the night before, so I would have to entertain myself somehow. I didn't want to grade anymore, and I was sulking down the sidewalk, wishing I had a friend or two to waste the evening with.  I was also listening to Regina Spektor songs and trying to keep the straps of my overstuffed backpack from ripping through my shoulders when this guy across the street enthusiastically waived my way. Because it seemed like an I'm so glad to see you kind of waive, I turned around to see who was behind me. No one. I turned back to see the guy's lips moving, so I took off my headphones. "What's that?" I shouted across the street.

"I was waiving at you!" he yelled through his hands.

"Oh. Hi!" I shouted back and waived. Then the guy continued walking downtown.

I don't know what to do with this. I've never been waived at by a complete stranger before, unless it was a thanks for letting me cut in front of you waive, or a you go first waive. But never a hi over there, I don't know you but I'm waiving to you from across the street anyway waive. Maybe he sensed my loneliness and just wanted to be friendly. Maybe he thought he knew me but then realized he didn't so pretended like he meant to waive at me.

Either way, it put a smile on my face for a least a few blocks. And when I got back to sulking, a guy waiting for a bus said good evening and asked how I was. And so continued my walk home, one kind expression or comment after another until I realized there's a lot of great people in Spokane.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Grading Requires More Baked Goods

I treat grading like a trip to the gynecologist. Both are so traumatizing that I feel the need to reward myself with food.

Today I'm taking my next batch of freshman composition essays to Brews Bros. on Sprague Avenue. I've never been there, so I'm taking a risk by lugging all my things across town without knowing I'll actually want to sit down once I get there. But if it is somehow too appalling to patronize, I'm sure I can just walk a block over and find another option.

The first thing I notice are the pretty flowers growing in front of the house next to our apartment building.

I walk down Riverside, because it has some good architecture. Across from the post office, a retro clock tells me what time is it. Thanks, retro clock, for reminding me that I've wasted my morning on the internet. 

I pass by the Peacock Room, which I hear has the best martinis in town. I consider stopping in for a birthday drink next week, as I will have been paid by then! Two more days!

Down one more block, I find Brew's Bros. and wonder what's with all the people lurking outside. I think maybe it's a protest and I'll have to try to squeeze my way through the crowd just for a cup of coffee. I think maybe I just won't cross the street, I'll keep walking.

Then I think, maybe it's just really busy. Maybe there is a line going out the door and coffee-drinkers are spilling out onto the sidewalk. I consider moving on. Then I see the buses, and realize I'm right next to the Spokane Transit Authority.

I cross the street and do that creepy window-peeker thing, when I try to see the inside of a place without actually going in. That way, if it's terrible, I don't have to walk out without buying anything. By lingering outside and pre-approving the place, I can avoid that awkward moment when the person at the counter sees me come in and then watches me slowly back out. I don't have to pretend that I walked in the wrong building, or that, looking at my watch, I've suddenly realized need to be somewhere.

It looks bright and friendly, so I go in (through the door).

The girl at the counter is really nice and seems to know everyone that comes in. "Oh hey Stan! Double espresso?"  Yup, double espresso.  "Mike! Here for a cookie?" He takes the no-bake. A couple people playing scrabble near the window even ask her if she wants to meet their mom. "I already know Mom," she sings from behind the counter. 

I order a pumpkin struesel muffin and an iced coffee. Both are delicious, and the yellow walls make me happy. This will be a good grading spot--if I ever get to it. At the moment, I've been here for an hour and the essays haven't even left my backpack.

I have a nice window seat, but the sun is trying to melt me through the glass:

Time to move. Maybe the next table will be more conducive to grading. Ooh, Joe just rode up! He's got 15 minutes to visit before going to a two-hour orientation and a five-hour night class.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Walk to Rocket Bakery

With somewhere around 40 essays left to grade on this wonderfully cloudy and cool Sunday, I decided to venture out of Browne's Addition and find a new coffee shop. I always plan to try a new place so I can better acquaint myself with Spokane, but then I walk outside and see the coffee shop right across the street. See it there, the larger brick building to the right?

This is taken from my doorstep, which was recently given a brand new door mat courtesy of the building's owner. And even though her plants are dying, at least she's making an attempt.

So, I said goodbye to Joe, who was going to spend the day reading a book he has to report on this week, and headed downtown. 

And here's the outside of our building, Mary Manor. Our apartment is the first door you see on the bottom right. 

Here's the leaves of one of the trees that sits out front. I like the way they glow in the sunlight. 

 This is Elm, the cross street our building is on. Notice the valley behind that tan brick building. It was very cloudy out today, and I was hoping for some rain. And there is our truck on the right, which I am enjoying driving very much.

Fall is finally coming to Pacific Avenue!

This is the first time I've seen this adorable house, even though I drive past it 3 days a week.

Also, I know my pictures have been misleading, so here are some more realistic pictures of Spokane: 

And now back to nicer images:

The bakery is only a few blocks away from our apartment, so one neat house, some graffiti, and a bird on a fence later, here it is:

The coffee was good and look, they have turned my favorite kind of muffin (lemon poppy-seed) into something even better: a cookie!

I may have taken the mug's suggestion and blasted off if I didn't have a stack full of essays to grade. I will be back, though, because this place has it figured out: coffee, cookies, AND wine (for those especially bad grading experiences)!

Now it's seven, and I'm back in Mary Manor (sounds like a rehab center or something). Joe has fallen asleep on the couch, with only a third of his book left to read, and I'm listening to the live piano music coming from the Roberts Mansion across the yard.

Today Spokane didn't completely let me down. At the very least, it gave me a great cookie. I did get a little sad watching a couple of girls chat over a glass of wine. Maybe I'll put an ad on craigslist for a friend: wanted, two-year friendship with a non-crazy, non-bike-stealing Spokhead (I think I made up that name for Spokane residents...or maybe I stole it and don't remember).

Anyway, the piano music has been replaced with the sound of a passing train, someone's car alarm, and the creepy screeching of the angry cats next door. Goodnight Spokane.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dearest Lake Superior,

I know you're probably busy right now, impressing new NMU students and churning up more beach glass, but I have to tell you something. Today, as I was walking to the truck after class, I saw Lake Coeur d'Alene and couldn't resist. But, look, nothing happened. I just waded in a little, just to see what it was like.

It meant nothing to me! Please, don't be mad. It wasn't even that much warmer than you. And it's still 85 degrees here! What could I do?

You'll be happy to know, it wasn't the same.

Good Morning

I just got to Couer d'Alene and am about to go start my Friday class. It's so pretty here in the morning. It is getting increasingly harder to leave this little lake for Spokane.

Joe's probably up and on the bus to campus by now. Time for class!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Look at what I found tonight when I got home from school! My portulaca bloomed! It must love the dry, disgustingly warm weather we're experiencing.

So Joe's classes went well yesterday. He said his students seem like they will be a lot of fun, and he manged to survive his night class that went from 6:00 to 10:00.

That's all. Nothing else to say. Flower. Joe. Goodnight.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

cheesebra said...
What's happening now? What's happening now? 

Dear Cheesebra:

Because you asked, I will tell you even though it's not very interesting (not that eating oatmeal and watching men in cowboy boots were worth a post either.)

Right now it's 8:50 p.m. in Spokane, and I am listening to Alexi Murdoch songs and planning tomorrow's class. I'm drinking Lady Grey Tea. I am sitting on a cooler.

Here is a visual aid --------------------------------->

That's me, drinking tea.

Joe is still downtown at his first MFA class. I'm alone in our apartment, and I'm feeling it.

Actually, I take that back. Cedric is here, guarding the door.

What's happening at 1:25 p.m.

So maybe I haven't started grading yet, but I did do everything else I was putting off for class (giving credit for small assignments, grading quizzes, etc).

I just spent ten minutes watching a guy waiting for the downtown bus. He was wearing a big white cowboy hat, a black and white button up shirt, brown boots, and--what else--Wranglers. His leather wallet was sticking out of his back pocket, and it was embellished with large metal letters, which I assume are his initials. He also had a lighter sticking out of his front pocket. He seemed more like a movie character than an actual person.

Now there's no other work I can do and no other mysterious bus riders I can watch. I have no choice but to start grading.

What's Happening at 9:32 a.m.

Joe just left for his first day of teaching. He was excited and joked that it was the first time all month that he hasn't worn gym shorts. 

I am eating oatmeal and drinking English Breakfast tea. I am also staring at my two folders of student essays, none of which I've read, and considering telling my students that this was just a practice round: "These won't be graded. Just look back at them and think about what you could have done better."

I always do this. I wait too long to start, so in my mind it's turned into this terrible, grueling, impossible feat. But really, if I just started, I would see it's not so bad.  It's like that with a lot of things for me: making phones calls, ambitious craft projects, exercise. Last year when I was riding my bike to school, the hardest part was the all-uphill ride home. After class, I would spend an hour sitting around the office trying to get psyched up to do it.

So, after I finish this oatmeal, which I've made way too much of, I am going to start! Here we go. Someone put on the coffee. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What has four legs and no face?

The table we just got from our friends Jonathan and Amy!  Now all we need are a couple of chairs and we can work/dine/craft in style. I still did some work at it last night even though I had to sit on a plastic tub that occasionally caved in. It was wonderful.

I keep checking craiglist for free things, hoping to find some shelves, a desk, or coffee table, but so far I've only found things we'd have to use pretty creatively: a puppet theater, a cat condo, piles of rocks, giant cardboard tubes, and a surprising amount of hot tubs.

Soon, some rich person too lazy to bring their old furniture to goodwill will throw their items on their lawn and post that thoughtfully written message so popular to craiglist: "free come get it." And we will.

Dump it, and they will come. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Morning Stats

Student Essays Graded:  0

Classes Planned:  0

Hours Spent on Internet:  1,000,001

Shelves Fixed:  1
(We were even promised to be reimbursed for our broken glasses and mugs...Joe and I could have sworn we had those Fancy Riedel glasses we've always wanted.)

Non-internet Pages Read:  11

Bowls of Oatmeal Consumed:  3

Loads of Laundry Finished:  1!
See I did something productive this weekend. And, the washer and dryer we have in our building actually produce clothes that smell clean! That's new.

I'll grade today. Or tomorrow. Or in October. It should be a rule that you don't have to grade anything until you've been paid.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tonight Joe and I watched the movie Benny and Joon since it was shot completely in Spokane. We did the same thing when we were in Marquette by watching Anatomy of a Murder. Even though I should have been grading, we decided we needed to relax after our eventful day.

Joe woke me up last night to tell me a random leak had sprung from above our kitchen cupboards. Then, this morning, after two sets of people had trapsed through our apartment to look at the leak and the Comcast man had come to set up the internet, I thought we had our apartment back--finally a normal Saturday of sitting around in pajamas!

We were enjoying our newly installed internet and trying to decide how we would spend the day when we heard a crash followed by the sound of several shattering glasses.

When we got to the kitchen, we discovered one of our cabinet's shelves had collapsed, both dumping the glasses it held on the floor and crushing the coffee mugs that were below it. After wading through the broken glass, I discovered the shelf was actually too short for the brackets that were installed.

On the bright side, we had no problem filling up our afternoon: drive around town looking for a cheap broom, sweep up and locate all the glass that exploded throughout our kitchen, wash every single dish that was exposed to the raining shards of glass. 

As we were watching Benny and Joon, we came to a scene where Benny goes to feed his fish and finds him dead. "See," Joe said, waving his hand at the computer screen, "nothing works in this town."

On the other hand, we did find some super cheap ice cream at the store.

A brief moment in ENGL 101:

I’m gesturing to a projector screen that shows a month’s worth of assignments and begin an announcement. “Hey everyone, I’ve put the reading assignments on the online calendar, so…”
“I love your accent,” a student interrupts from the back.
“Your accent. It’s cool,” she says.
I click the top of my dry eraser marker open and closed, open and closed. “Accent? What do you mean?”
“Like when you say calendar.” Other students nod in agreement.
Students laugh.
“See?” she says.
“No. How do you say it?”
“Yeah," I say, "calendar.”
“No, we’re saying it exactly the same way. Calendar.”
“No, you say it Kaaaaayyle-ender.”
“That’s what you said.”
“No, we’re saying, cahhhlendar.”
“Oh. I see. So, if you draw your attention to our cahhhhlender...”

This is funny because the only other time I’ve ever been told I had an accent, I was also in Washington. My cousin Kali was making fun of the way I pronounced her name. I didn’t see a different then either. I mean, I understand how they say they pronounce it and how they say I pronounce it, but when they actually say it, it sounds exactly the same to me.  

Well anyway, the school week is over and it’s finally cooling down a little here—today was a chilly seventy degrees! This morning, I drove to Post Falls, Idaho for an English Department retreat and was greeted by a chilly, gray morning. I can’t figure out why, but cloudy days always seem to put me in a good mood. I know it’s the opposite for most people, but there is something comforting about a day like today. The world feels a little bit smaller or something, as if a big blanket has been stretched out over the city and we’re just curling up to watch an old movie.

I just collected two classes worth of essays and they are just in time to spoil our first weekend with internet. INTERNET! It should be here tomorrow, which when I post this, will be “today,” making any previous mentions of today actually yesterday. Ya know? This is why one should always have internet, so they never end up explaining the art of time travel.

Joe starts classes next week, and that will put our lives a little more into the “routine” category. And in 14 days (13 if you’re reading this tomorrow, which is really today because it won’t be up until then) I will get my first paycheck!  We will have at least enough to pay the bills. And then, who knows? We might go crazy and buy a toilet bowl brush. Or, I don’t know, trash bags. If we’re really feeling wasteful, we might even splurge on some dryer sheets.

This post is a little unorganized. I spent this morning grading English entrance and exit exams. If I were grading this post on the English Department’s scale of 1 to 5 (5 being clearly competent and 1 being not competent), I might give this post a 2: not competent. While the ideas are clearly a 5 (strong and lively, right?), there is a definite lack of organization and paragraph unity (1). And, I can’t know for sure because I woke up at six-thirty and it’s pretty late now, but I assume there are plenty of undecipherable sentences, numerous mechanical, usage, diction and sentence errors (1). And, there is no reference to the assigned reading (1).

The only thing I can’t decide on is the voice. I’m torn between giving myself a 5 (consistent and original) or a 2 (unclear, inconsistent, and inappropriate).

Or maybe the voice is a 3: generic with occasional clich├ęs? I do talk about the weather a little. That’s a bit overdone in writing.

So, that settles it:  5, 1, 1, 1, 3, which I will average out to a 2 because a 3 is passing, and I’m clearly not passing. I can’t even pronounce the word calendar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beet & Olive Salad

After I convinced Joe he liked beets, we went on a week-long beet-eating spree. Here's a salad combination we found enjoyable:

Beet and Olive Salad
This isn't much of a recipe. Just throw it all together in proportions that sound good to you. 
  • Beets (we got the kind that were canned in red wine vinegar)
  • Feta cheese
  • Spinach
  • Kalamata Olives 
  • Walnuts
  • Red Onion
Look at those pretty colors!

Anyway, here's a dressing I made to drizzle on top:

Creamy Balsamic Dressing
Whisk together 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon plain Greek yogurt. I also added salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oh by the way:

Why did I walk through the neighborhood today instead of ride?

Because when I went to unlock my bike, IT WASN'T THERE. Spokane really doesn't want to be friends.


Walking Tour of Browne's Addition

 Went for a walk in Browne's today, and here is what I saw:

I love these stubby little trees! And their leaves are huge:

There are a lot of these in Browne's. I love their bark and their bumpy trunks.

And then there are a few of these, that have little surprises hanging from their leaves:

I'm pretty sure these are called horse walnut trees.

Coming to the edge of Browne's Addition.

There are some pretty neat houses in Browne's, and a lot of them have signs out front that list their construction date and their original owners.
Just keep in mind, for every house that looks like this:

There are at least five more that are in need of some loving care:

Anyway, here are some of the neat ones:

Sadly, the windmill wasn't moving.

I love the contrast of the iron gates and lion statues with the decaying couch on the balcony.

Yes, this building is called Moot Pointe.

The Olmstead House. Built in 1899 for the former mayor of Spokane, Dr. E.D. Olmstead.

The Argyle-Soss House, built in 1899 for a mining investor, John Argyle.

This house doesn't have a sign, but I thought it was neat.

The back of the museum--we haven't gone yet.

The Reid House, built around 1899..

The Campbell House, built in 1898 for mining bigwig Amasa B. Campbell. It even had a matching little guest house.

The Odell House, built in 1899 for real estate investor, George Odell.

The Wakefield House, built in 1898 for an attorney named W.J.C. Wakefield.

The Weil House was built for a department store president, Mrs. Reuben Weil.

Not a house, but one of the neatest buildings in Browne's Addition. We looked for an apartment here, but they only had a studio available at the time.

It was originally a hotel.

 Just two houses down from our apartment:

The coffee shop, a pizza place/bar, and a bus stop.

The roundabout, check out the birdhouses!

Inside the coffee shop, where we find our escape through the internet.

The Elk, Public House. We had a great lunch here the day were were apartment hunting.

This is where my walk ended. I'll post pictures of our apartment once they finish painting it. 
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