Monday, August 27, 2012

Time's Up!

Today is the last day of my break. Tomorrow it's back to class.

And I don't even know why I bother making to-do lists for breaks like these. I haven't even looked at the one I made last month.

And looking at it now, I realize I didn't really do much on it. But I did accomplish quite a bit of recharging:

I read a really good book: Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace. I got it off the book swap shelf at EWU's library. It was the first novel of Atwood's I've read, and I loved that she used and studied a historical event (a famous murder in Canada) as an occasion for a novel. And the point of view is neat, as she includes real clips from confessions, newspapers, etc. and then switches from third person to first, and incorporates letters from the characters. And there are just so many great lines! Loved, loved, loved it!

I also got in a lot of biking.

But the biggest thing that's been taking up my time is my work with Sundog Lit, an online literary journal my friend started about a month ago. 

I've been helping jazz up the website a bit, and once we upgrade the account, I'll get to go into full-obsession mode and spend all my time working on its design.

I'm also running one of the blog features, a contest that chooses our favorite art submission and then uses it as a prompt for writers. This week we'll be picking our favorite poem, story, or essay and posting it with the first picture we posted as a prompt. Please consider submitting something here, if you're a writer, photographer, or artist! It should be fun!

I've also made a couple of posters. Here's one.

It's been a lot of fun so far. I really missed reading submissions and taking part in the whole editorial process.

So maybe I didn't write five essays, or make those gnome cookies yet, but I did really enjoy myself. Joe's been working really hard on his summer vacation, but he had a month off at the beginning (even if it was kind of ruined by looking for jobs). But last night we went bowling for the first time we've been here. It was nice to bust out the shoes again. 

Okay, time to go enjoy the day. I hope you're doing the same!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Well friends, it's a sad day for those of us who managed to go a full year without turning in their Michigan driver's license, who thought we had slipped through the cracks, who, with less than a year left in the state, got a call from their insurance company on Saturday and realized they had been discovered.

I don't know why it's such a big deal, but it is. They took away my Michiganderness! There's no longer a bridge on my license! And now, when I show a bartender my ID there is no chance I'll end up in a 30 minute conversation about Michigan.

Now I'm just another, what, Washingtonian?


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Missed Birthdays

Today is not only my sister's birthday, but it's my grandma's too. Even though we are 2,000 miles apart, Cedric has been doing a little decorating. August is a busy birthday month in our families (grandparents, parents, sisters, nieces, and nephews) and I can't remember the last time we were around for all of them. Before moving here, we lived eight hours away and didn't have much money in the travel budget. But, hopefully, this will be our last year of missed birthdays (and other things)! 

Speaking of moving: a few days ago marked the passage of a full year since we moved to Spokane: Michigan to Minneapolis on the first day, Minneapolis to Billings on the second day, and on the the third day, we arrived in Spokane. It was such a beautiful drive and an exciting adventure. Maybe that's why I've been craving a road trip lately!

Anyway, we will probably commemorate the event by eating black beans and ramen noodles for dinner since that's all we could afford for the first month or two.

Happy anniversary Spokane! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Scenes from an Uphill Bike Ride

I'm not kidding. I set out yesterday to find some new sights, crossing the river and heading west out of Spokane. The road I chose had a generous shoulder and some beautiful sights, but I didn't know when I chose it I'd be biking up a 7.4 mile hill.

There were a couple moments of relief, but for the most part, riding to the top of this monster was a challenge. Though it did make the free fall home pretty amazing, and necessary. Once I got out of town, it was all fields and farms and little roads with names like Deno, Euclid, Hayford, and Spotted. Here are some shots:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ceddy's New Wheels

Cedric made himself a new bike! There's only one problem...

He can't figure out how to get on it. It may be for the best, though. His favorite construction tool is hot glue, so who knows how long it would hold up.

Maybe he'll figure it out in time to go for a ride with me tonight!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Alley Magic

You'll never believe what I found today! I was coming home from a run and decided to cut through this little passageway between the E.J. Roberts Mansion and my apartment building (same owners). Sunken into the tall shrubs I have been passing by for months was a wooden door. And what was written on the door?

Secret Garden! I couldn't believe it! It was so cute inside. Everywhere I looked, there was some little piece of adorableness.

 There are three entrances, which makes we wonder how I've never noticed it before.

There are also plenty of fairy doors, adorned with glitter, decorated by colorful gems, surrounded by stone walkways. One even had a little flower garden. I thought about pulling on this one's doorknob, but didn't want to disturb anyone. Maybe Cedric can make friends with them soon.

It's all so whimsical. And of course, it's making me want to read The Secret Garden again.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pork with Pea Pesto Pasta

That's a lot of Ps.

This picture doesn't accurately show the creamy, wonderfulness of the pesto very well (most of it is hiding underneath). But it really was delicious and a bit more mild than most pesto.

I don't know why we decided to turn the stove on when it's so hot out, but this recipe only took about 20 minutes to prepare. Part of my motivation was using the ingredients we had around the house: pork, peas, walnuts, Parmesan, and fresh basil from my plant that is slowly overtaking the kitchen.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but I replaced the pine nuts with walnuts and threw in a handful of fresh basil.

As for the pork; Joe cooked it. It looks pretty simple though:

 Boneless Pork Chops
  1. Heat your pan to medium. 
  2. Sprinkle flour to coat both sides of your boneless pork chops and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in your pan and add your pork. 
  4. Cook for 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until the center is no longer pink.

You know what's also good?  Putting the same pork chop on a sandwich with Alfredo sauce.

You know what else is good?  Making sure you turn on the right burner.



Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Name a Houseplant

It's hard work to name a plant.

And a lot of pressure. At least humans and animals have some control over what they are called, can change their names when they get old enough, or refuse to come when called by it. But plants have no say in the matter. In fact, they have almost no choice in anything--where they sit, how often they're watered, how ugly/adorable their pots are. So you must take special care to get their names right.   

When I asked Joe for suggestions, he said I shouldn't name plants, that it would make it harder on me if they ever died. But I thought they deserved some recognition after being boxed and covered and hauled 2,000 miles across the country in a hot truck bed.

There's Thomas, a variegated laurel that I've had for almost two years; Elliot, who's the same age, but I'm having a hard time remembering/figuring out what he is; Cassandra, an anthurium with light pink flowers that bloom all year; Frank and Chanomi, two bamboo plants that we named after a married couple we know because we couldn't remember the first set of names we gave them; and Sylvio, some kind of vine that I saved from the greenhouse floor last summer.

But the two moss rose branches I rescued never got names. I think I held off because they began as an experiment. After putting away a new flower shipment one day, I found them loose on the ground. I tucked them in my raincoat, brought them home in the evening, put them in water, and watched them slowly grow roots in their glass jars.

But now that it's been a year, I think it's time. And because the one pictured above decided to fall (or jump) out of the pot she was sharing with the other moss rose, it's obvious she is in need of attention. I just painted this little blue pot for her but can tell this diva is growing impatient for a name.

Try to let them come naturally:

  1. Walk backwards up to the plant while thinking about anything else. You want the plant to be a surprise, to keep your mind off the naming process.
  2. Spin around and look at the plant cross-eyed as if you were looking at one of those 3D illusion pictures. Don't focus directly on one specific part of the plant. Instead, you want to see a blur, to capture its aura, to take in its general shape and personality.
  3. QUICK! What's the first name that comes to mind?

Steve?  No.

If the name doesn't seem appropriate, try again. Maybe you didn't turn around quickly enough.

And again. Maybe the lighting is too dim to accurately see the plant's true essence. Try some back-lighting.

And again, until your husband/wife/roommate/pet looks over in concern and asks what you are doing.
This is the proper way to name a houseplant. If nothing feels right, just wait. Don't rush into a name. There's nothing a houseplant hates more than the instability of name-changing.

If you still can't get it, don't worry. One day, you will come home, see your moss rose on the kitchen windowsill, glowing in the evening sun, brushing her dainty pink petals against the window, and you will just know her name is... 

seriously, what is her name?  I need suggestions.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hello, August

So there's Spokane, which isn't so bad, which has some okay features if you look hard enough. And then there's Spokane in the evening, where every day for a few hours everything is transformed.

I've been starting to run again, but it's hard to keep a steady pace because all I want to do is sprint down the steep hill at the edge of Browne's Addition, past the shining purple flowers on the side of the road, and come out over a river that's reflecting so much sun you can barely look at it. The tall grass (or weeds) are yellow by this time of year, drab and dusty in the afternoon, but glowing and magical in the evening.

After I can't run anymore, I hop on my bike--I can't go inside yet!--and ride to the other edge of Browne's where there's a community garden. 

I go down Riverside, by churches, park benches, and the building that looks like Marquette. I think about how foreign they looked when we first arrived

And then I go home before all the weirdos come out.  :)

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