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Ever since I came across Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, I have adored an eccentric older woman. I am huge fans of the fashionable ladies of Advanced Style, and my Grandma is my style guru. My Grandma adorns herself in sequins, feather headbands, a defiant red beret. She has a beautiful hat collection, and she once refused to stand for the national anthem in a society group of southern women because she was disgusted with the way the world is going. She said, "I couldn't get on my knee, but I got as close as I could." I have several recent senior ladies that have been added to my "How to Live" list.

My first new obsession is with Barbara Cartland. I had never heard of her until I was searching something random on Ebay, and I came across one of the photos in this post. I was immediately curious about this over the top character. Anyone that has portraits like this done with their dog is a friend of mine. She wrote romance novels, and he was one of the most prolific authors. She was in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling over 1,000 million books. She campaigned for the rights of gypsies to have a place to live and be educated. Her novels focused on virgins who "were only allowed to go to bed if they were married...but its all very wonderful and moonbeams." She was organic before it was cool and wrote several books on vitamins. She obviously was a fan of the color pink, and she kept a pink rug in her car for guests traveling to her home in case they got cold. (Find more about her
here or here where I took this information from) I put a biography about her on my Christmas list so I will report back with some more fun facts about her after I read that in the new year. I'm also planning ordering one of these perfect portraits of her on Ebay because I need to look on her every day for inspiration. Here is another excellent blog post on her over at Messy Nessy. Is it too much if I buy this doll of her?  I think Dame Cartland would approve considering her love of knick knacks.  
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 She kind of reminds me of this woman named Ginger (below) we met on a house tour in Natchez, Mississippi. She collects the most over the top costume jewels. Her husband works to help deck their house out every Christmas, and we took a tour of it during the holidays called The Jeweled Christmas where they display and decorate for the holidays with their collection. I highly recommend the tour. You're not supposed to take photos, but my rebel husband did snap a few. Here's one (below) to give you an idea of what you're missing out on. Even if you can't make it at Christmas, you can tour their house, and she apparently has some over the top other collections on display outside of the Christmas season. She was the first woman president of the American Quarter Horse Association

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Ginger


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Decked out for the holidays 

 
 If you're looking for beauty advice, here are some wonderful tips from 76 year old Valerie Von Sobel.  My favorite quote from this Youtube video of her is, "I think real confidence definitely comes with age.  You really kind of don’t give a damn and so you are more authentic in the breadth and the width of what you want to do with yourself."

I may keep these posts with senior ladies I find inspiring once a week now or every few weeks any way.  I've got some more in mind to cover for future posts.  Speaking of weekly posts I'll also be bringing back (from my other blog), the lists of my Google Searches for the week for your perusal. I tend to use Google as a search engine, doctor, and therapist so some of these will be quite bizarre at times.  

1.  Can you become addicted to smelling essential oils?
2.  Why do I break out so badly in the summer? 
3.  Eat something super sweet and mouth tingles
4.  Alaffia Coconut Toner



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Last weekend, Kelly and I went junking at a new spot. Unfortunately, it was their last weekend open at this secondary location (they have a main shop in Hardy, Arkansas, but we did find some great stuff! First, I have been working on turning our home into a Kitsch Paradise, and I'd ordered the poodle below off of Etsy. Not long after, I found the two velvet Rotties for $7 bucks total. I also decided to do a frame with several old black and white snapshots of dogs/people with dogs I've found. I've got some cats to be added to this pet gallery wall, don't worry. Everyone knows I'm a crazy cat lady, too.
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I'm waiting until we get everything to have Kelly map out how it will go and hang it up. Photos when that's done to come! Below are photos to be added to a single frame.



 
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I manged not to buy the huge Donuts sign I wanted since we don't have anywhere to go for a piece that big. I wanted the cherub statue (there were a pair of those that were gorgeous), but again, nowhere to go with it/them really. I did, however, buy that chalkware cowboy in addition to the snapshots above. I also bought some black and white photos I'm not posting yet that don't relate to dogs, but I had to have them because they were great. I'll share them in my next update.





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This was huge and heavy (see the hooks on top), or it would have come home with me.

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Isn't this gorgeous for a garden?! There were a pair of them!

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My chalkware cowboy/girl in my window with my trusty old robot

 

In other news, I have recently started watching
Fawlty Towers for the first time, and it's close in the running with Keeping Up with Appearances. I love them both so much. I relate to Basil so much. Working with the public can be trying sometimes! I've also got Are You Being Served? on hold at the library so I'm going to try that one out soon.

My birthday is coming up (September 1st), and my tattoo artist who did my pug...wait, I didn't show or tell you all about that?!!! What the hell? Sorry, I've been so lazy over here. Well, first look at my new ink of my beloved Mearl-Purvis Ponder below. This is my favorite work I've had, yet. This was done by Shannon Caples at Black Arrow Tattoo in Jonesboro if you're local. I look forward to continuing to see her for many of the projects I've got in mind, and I've booked my next one on the evening I turn 36. It's going to be the Woodruff-Fontaine House in Memphis where my husband and I were married.


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She's my best girl


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Isn't it beautiful?
 
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Here we are exchanging vows in front of the Victorian mansion build in 1871 

 

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Dear Eddie,

Can't believe it yet, but I'm en-route. It's simply wonderful--just about sunset now. Say hello to all-and take care of the hungry wolves at luncheon.

Claire
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Old photo of youth. Eternal shaggy bangs and chubby cheeks. 

My friend's family didn't eat pork because of their religion. Her Mom told me once that Yul Brynner got trichinosis from eating bacon. I incorrectly remembered it as he had died of it. I ominously warned everyone of this who had the misfortune to eat breakfast with me for the next 17 years, nervously chewing and wondering if it would eventually lead to my end, too. I didn't really even know who Yul Brynner was, but he didn't die and it was spare ribs, not bacon. He sued the restaurant, and his wife joined in the suit claiming it irrevocably altered their marriage. I was always fascinated by my friend's family. Her parents were both photographers, and they lived in a house on stilts right next to the river. Sometimes, when the river got up, they had to row a boat to their house. There had been a tragic car accident claiming the lives of two of their four children, and I would stare at the portrait of the entire family and wonder what those two who had died would have been like. I observed her family as if they were my private Tenenbaums or Glass family. They had a pottery wheel under their house in an outdoor room where the older of the two sisters threw pottery. If she wasn't throwing pottery, she would be in the living room, watching British comedy.  My friend's father refused to turn the air conditioner on in the dead humidity of the south until July. They were fine financially, but my friend would roll her eyes and attribute it to him being cheap. She would spend most of her time over the summer at my house, soaking in the AC and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Her mom would turn on their oven, heating the house up to an even more unbearable level, and make homemade Yucca chips that she'd offer us. This was before the Whole Foods Movement and Kourtney Kardashian's Wheatgrass shots made the Top 40. I loved her hippie food, but my friend longed for the weekly spaghetti my Mom cooked.  She introduced me to Tony Bennett's music. We where on a trip with her family to Europe once, and they almost didn't make the flight in time. They got stuck in customs with their cases of vitamins and herbs and film. When a college girl got tanked on the trip, they offered her ginger the next morning for her hangover. I had a blister completely encircle my right baby toe, and they offered up mole skin. The girls were allowed to paint their bathroom wild colors, and they were both effortlessly artistic and intelligent. They both were in Gifted and Talented, so named as if the rest of us where some mediocre trolls that crossed the school doorways every day. They'd often laugh at inside jokes, not bothering to explain the meaning to outsiders. Their unique family sense of humor that seemed as hereditary as their freckles.
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Recent piece I had to have. Who are these people who are my soulmates? If they are deceased, I hope they're comforted knowing someone will still proudly will display their pup.  

Our family doesn't really do birthdays or holidays, but we love Christmas so it's pretty over the top. Mom and Dad start shopping early so they recently requested our Christmas lists be submitted. I love that there are no grandkids from anyone so we never really have to "grow up" when it comes to the holiday at Mom and Dad's.

1. Pretty velvet pink kimono that is the soft color of the insides of seashells and will make me feel magic

2. I had this Schoolhouse Rock shirt, but it had an unfortunate accident. I loved it so much that I want it again.

3. A Life of Love: Barbara Cartland--Barbara Cartland is my new hero. Don't worry about Googling her if you don't know who she is because I plan on doing a blog post about her here.

4. What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933

5. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights

6. Keeping Up Appearances: The Full Bouquet--Who doesn't adore Hyacinth?

7. PBS shirt

8. 200 Goetze's Caramel Creams because I am going to laze in bed and eat handfuls and pretend I'm the richest in the land.

9. Keeping Up Appearances: Hyacinth Bucket's Book of Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate--Who doesn't adore Hyacinth?!

10. Finally, the drawing below by an 11 year old that I am crazy about is what I want the most. I'm not going to link the location because I don't want you jerks to buy it before I can so go away!!! Don't buy it, or I will loathe you all with the fire of a thousand suns. It will go perfectly with this piece I bought the other day. I plan on having a gallery wall with pet portraits.

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 In honor of Proust's birthday yesterday (yeah yeah it's belated), my answers to the Proust Questionnaire:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Being rootless with no home and traveling out west with my husband and pets. Basically, I want a gypsy caravan with my loved ones that never stops. I'm a nomad at heart. I never ever want to come home. Home is within. 

2. What is your greatest fear?  It's a cheery toss up between death and going to Hell. Runner ups include: being electrocuted, driving, making change, and bears. 

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  Being hot headed and proud. I go there all the time, but I hate it about myself. 

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Prudery

5. Which living person do you most admire?  My husband, Kelly. He has endless patience, and he is so kind. He makes it look like a cakewalk.  

6. What is your greatest extravagance?  Hah!  Everything about me is extravagant.  5+ dollar coffee every single day or all my time going to me?  I’m a bit of hedonist and everything is a bit over the top. I
 have a lot of extravagances which is why I don't have kids.  

7. What is your current state of mind?  I live in a constant state of 
Ouiser Boudreaux. I'm Ouiser after huffing essential oils today, though.  That state of mind is like a buoy bobbing on the ocean if you're wondering.   


8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Frugality or tact 

9. On what occasion do you lie? If you invite me anywhere, I'm most likely going to lie to get out of it at some point because of anxiety and depression. I'm the friend that flakes.  

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  Not that much, actually. I guess my thighs or super long ski like feet? Overall, I'm great with how I look.  I love my teeny baby sometimes lazy eye. I've become attached to my crowded big horse teeth.  I recently have embraced my plump arms that remind me of how much I loved squishing and kneading at my Grandma's when I was little. Yeah, I think I have babe status besides like 10 silver gray hairs that annoy me. It's liberating to love yourself.  

11. Which living person do you most despise? I'm not a fan of the current "President", but more so I despise the people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Paul Ryan who have the nerve to try to justify this as normal, and in my opinion, are putting party over country. 

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?  When I was young, I always said creativity, but I didn't know what I needed. When I fell in love with Kelly, I came to realize it was kindness. 

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?  Brashness 

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "Awwwwwww, Hell."  My husband will tell you I say it just like Nick Nolte. 

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Kelly.  People say that stuff, but I'm truly mad about him. He's everything. I hover around him all the time with anxiety that something will happen to him. I wish I could lock him in the house or be in his pocket all the time. I know that sounds creepy, but I'm creepy. 

16. When and where were you happiest? Anytime with sunshine and warmth and a brief respite from my anxiety. When my mind is quiet, I am happiest.  

17. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could paint or be a fat ballet dancer. After I watch ballet, I try to do moves in the house which I feel are beautiful, but I'm sure look hysterical. If I ever get to Heaven, I would love to be a fat ballet dancer up there. You all better come watch me. 

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I could get over my driving phobia. 

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? This is the most difficult question so far. Getting a piece published that was deeply personal in a book?  Maybe just the fact that I continue to get up every day when I live in a brain that frequently hums with suffocating, unending fear. I live with a body and brain constantly elevated to red level terror alert. It sounds dramatic, but when you think about death and fear most of every day, continuing to exist is a victory. 

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I
 hope a monk or someone to be left in peace to study and focus on something more than myself. I want never ending quiet and a higher calling. 

21. Where would you most like to live? New Mexico 

22. What is your most treasured possession?  Letters and cards that Kelly has given me over the years/my book collection.  It's a tie.  

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Networking and/or icebreakers 


24. What is your favorite occupation? I wish I could do data entry all day long. Just tuck me in a closet with my own music or podcasts to listen to and no one around and endless amounts of data to enter. To most that would sound like boring hell, but for me, I would love nothing more. Unfortunately, I was born in the wrong period, and now, mostly people enter everything directly into the computer anyway so it's not needed. 

25. What is your most marked characteristic?  Being tell all. 
I have no secrets.  I'm an open book about everything.  I'm pretty passionate, too.  

26. What do you most value in your friends? Those who stick with me because it's not easy to be my friend. 

27. Who are your favorite writers? I could go on for paragraphs about this: Colette, Anais Nin, Elizabeth Bowen, Donna Tartt...I'm recently really getting into Faulkner. 

28. Who is your hero of fiction?   Léa from Chéri and Vinca from The Ripening Seed

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Marie Antoinette for her hedonism, love of leisure, and pugs 

30. Who are your heroes in real life?  People like my friend Natalie who seem to have this endless fountain of positivity  and joy and patience. No matter how stressful things are, she always seems to have time to give to people and without resentment! Women and men who choose to love themselves when society and/or the media tells them they're unworthy.  Hillary Clinton, who keeps getting knocked down and kicked in the teeth but always gets back up. My parents, of course.  

31. What are your favorite names? Cecilia and other names that sound old fashioned

32. What is it that you most dislike? the entire Hell that is Sam's with all of disgusting humanity clotted in front of the sample stands stuffing their faces, huge neck holes and thin shirts (the quality of today's clothing), and people singing happy birthday

33. What is your greatest regret? I don't know. There are many. Not applying myself in college. Being an asshole to my brother when we were young. Being unkind when I knew better.  


34. How would you like to die? Very, very old in my sleep 


35. What is your motto? I
 don't do inspirational posters, corny Hallmark cards, or mottoes.  

 

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Rainy Day Roses

I've signed up to audit several classes on
Coursera over the summer, and I've started on one early called In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting. I've always had an interest in art history. In fact, I even tried taking an art history course as an elective when I was in college. I had never had any art classes, and I'm not artistic in painting/drawing, etc. The first day the professor kept dwelling on the work we'd be doing over the course/presenting that to classmates, and I chickened out and dropped it. It seemed geared specifically to art majors. Now that I'm older, I think I'd confront the fear and go for it, but what can you do when you're anxiety ridden and in your early 20s? I'm still riddled with anxiety just about different things now. I have less anxiety about going out on a limb and making an ass of myself in my 30s. It's refreshing. In obtaining a true depth of knowledge on something, I believe you have to make an ass of yourself sometimes. Anyway, I thought about what type of art I didn't understand and didn't necessarily like, and instead of choosing something I easily appreciated like Fauvism, I opted for something I didn't get. I've never understood big squares or lines down the center of paintings so I thought, let me take a stab at this. Why is this important? I've been going at it for about a week. I'm definitely understanding the value more as well as the true difficulty in what, at times, can look easy or nonsensical.

The professor is The Museum of Modern Art's Corey D'Augustine. I didn't know anything about him before this class, but he's an excellent instructor. In the first video in the studio, he is showing how to stretch a canvas, and I fall in love with his arms. You never see much of his face, but his arms are always crowding the screen. I'm not interested in participating in the painting portion of this online course, but I believe you can probably learn and understand more by watching the process so here I sit, in front of my laptop watching. I like how he has this dark hair that looks soft, and there's tons of it. You can keep your smooth metrosexuals, I'd much rather have men with broken noses, a chipped tooth, and hairy arms. The way he moves his arms over the canvas, and the way he uses his hands when pointing out parts of paintings with those tripping, long fingers. He's my new art world celebrity crush. My first art world celebrity crush, I should say. There's some poetic, rhythmic sexy stuff happening with his arms. Is that creepy weird to say? Probably, but I'm creepy weird. I once had a crush on a guy in college, and I think most of it involved his use of an asthma inhaler. My husband lumbers down a hall and has this sloppy walk that seems so inherently positive and happy, and I think it's one of my favorite things about him. I find it incredibly sexy. I hate when married people act like they don't see other people as attractive anymore. My husband is my soul, and I think he's the most beautiful ever but that doesn't mean I don't recognize attractiveness anymore. I didn't die when I got married. I fell in love. That's my one and only person, but I still see beauty. If you're into thin hairy arm porn elegantly moving across space (just proves there's something for everyone, prudes), 9:43 starts is a pretty spot to start at. This isn't the best video of the arms, but the one I really wanted to share wasn't available (only through the course can I find it). You can also Google image photos of him to stare at his arms like I did. I would've posted that, but I could only find them via Flickr, and I didn't want someone finding this one day and knowing how odd I am (besides all of you, of course).I mostly see his arms, and I've never heard his voice because I watch with the sound off, reading subtitles I like when his normally reserved instructional conversation takes a turn for his passion as he says, "Look at this chaos here. Gorgeous." "You'll recall the word enamel doesn't tell you a damn thing about what kind of paint it is." I rarely see his face because when he dissects a painting at MOMA, he stands to the side and draws your eyes to points of interest. I could care less, but I have developed quite an interest with his arms and the way he's cracking the code for me.

I started watching Olive Stone's The Putin Interviews Monday night (I'm going to finish up with Part 4 tonight). I'm always interested in Oliver Stone's work. Sometimes, it seems like he's a little soft on these controversial leaders. It just appears like he goes in chummy with them from the get go. Then, there's another part of me that feels like the media in the United States obviously presents things from our perspective/biased view, and our nation has historically pimped out other countries to make money off of them and their resources (see Cuba). I mean, I understand sometimes that we're not always honest with ourselves through the media or even how we exploit others so I do think there's value in hearing the other side of the story. I've also just finished a book about the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, and there seems to be some pretty damning evidence in that so I just feel a bit confused at the moment. I'm going to try to delve a little deeper and read some more on Russian history which has always fascinated me. I really would love to take this class at the university that is taught by a Ukrainian profession with a Ph.D in Russian and Ukrainian History on Russian history. I'm not sure if I can get off for a 3 hour course just to audit it since I'm not really pursuing a degree at this time. I think whether or not you're going after a degree you should still be permitted that time off because we work at a university which should encourage life long learning even if not to obtain a degree. In the meantime, maybe he offers a night class, or even if he could recommend a book or meet with me to give me some ideas. I've never met him, but I might reach out to him by email.

In other news, our bedroom is kind of sparse. Since moving in, we just haven't put in the time there. Most of our art is still stacked along the walls, and art and books are my most important parts in the house. They are what make my house a home and give me peace. Well, that and my animals (husband is a given). With my delving into Young Living Essential Oils, I'm concentrating on making our bedroom a place of
refuge (I diffuse and relax in there). I added a rug the other day which has helped, but I want to get a new comforter. I also would love to paint, but I'd have to have approval for that since we live on campus. I've got some ideas of where the art will go, and Kelly's going to put that up this weekend. Basically, I want to live in a Matisse painting if that helps any on the kind of colors I'd like in there. I think there is room for all kinds of screaming colors all over. I'm going to work on it. I told you I dug les Fauves.

I posted on Facebook recently that I always daydream of having this minimalist capsule wardrobe, but that's just not the girl, I am. Instead, I am the girl who loves interesting patterns. I've recently bought my first
eShakti dress with ice cream cones (see below), and I have another dress with a gorgeous goldfish print on the way as well as a duster shirt with a "rich old lady" flamingo print. It sounds tacky, but it's stunning. By the way, I adore the way you can customize the eShakti dresses! I loved the fit of mine, and I definitely will continue to shop there.

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We're studying Agnes Martin right now in my class, and I'm more interested in her life than her art. She ran away to New Mexico (Taos, specifically) at one point in her life. She lived as hermit in the desert plains, and I found this article interesting. Now, I really want to read this book on her, though. Oh, New Mexico. I'm still not over you. I never will be. It seems like recently I've read a lot about artists and fictional characters, others, fleeing to live out their days in New Mexico. I also love this photo of her in that magical place by Gianfranco Gorgon. This says happy to me.



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Two weekends ago, Kelly was off duty (the hubs works for Residence Life on campus) so we took advantage of a free weekend, and we went to Memphis that Saturday. It was a nice chance to have a date day which we hadn't done in a while. We have a pug who's fairly young, and I don't like to leave her on the weekends because I didn't get a dog to leave it alone all the time. Generally, Mearl goes where we go. Anyway, we took a small break and ran over to the zoo to see Memphis' famous new baby hippo, Winnie. They also have a new baby sloth named Lua, but she isn't out, yet. Fortunately, Winnie was out, and we were smitten. I also fed the giraffe. Kelly says Memphis has the right idea because they charge you 5 bucks for 4 lettuce leaves to feed the giraffes with.  He got in trouble by a volunteer for trying to pick up teeny pieces of lettuce leaves that kids had dropped to feed them with. Haha!

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Mama Binti and Baby Winnie


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Making friends

 We watched Winnie swim around for a while which was the most charming thing ever, and then, we were off to lunch at the Memphis restaurant City Silo Table and Pantry with vegetarian/vegan options, that a friend had posted about on Instagram. When I saw the photo of his food he posted, I thought, "I've gotta try this." Kelly and I both got the Buffalo Tempeh and Sesame Cauliflower Bowl with Zucchini Noodles per my friend's recommendation (he was actually there when we walked in), and it was so good. I mean, damn. I loved the cashew ranch, and I definitely plan on going back when we visit Memphis.
 

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My bowl with the Freshen Up Kombucha on the side


In other good food news, we just had a Natural Grocers open up in Jonesboro, and since we live in a small town in Northeast Arkansas, I'm so pumped excited (since when do I say pumped? WTH?) to have more vegetarian/vegan/clean eating options. I also go nuts over a good produce section so Kelly and I went to the opening last Wednesday. I got a lot of new stuff to try out, and I'll report back on all of it in the next few days. One thing we recently tried from The Truck Patch, another local health food grocery in town, is the Upton's Naturals Barb-b-que Jackfruit (they also carry it at Natural Grocers). Kelly said he liked it, and I LOVED it! We had both read about it in magazine articles recently, and it really does taste so much like pork! They have other flavors too that I'm going to have to try! I'm generally trying to stay away from depending on too many convenience vegetarian/vegan foods because they can get expensive and, at a times, unhealthy, but once in a while they're okay. This stuff is really good.

Wednesday night, I also picked up a new face wash. I want any new things I buy to be ethically sound/vegan/etc. if possible, and I was out of face wash. I hunted around and decided to try
Alaffia's Everyday Coconut Cleansing Face Wash. I'm happy to report, I also love that! It smells amazing to me, but it's definitely more earthy and not floral or coconutty. I prefer the scent though because I'm not a frou frou smell sort of gal so that just made me love it more. It foams nicely which I liked, too! On second thought, maybe it was lavender that I smelled in it. Either way, it smells good.

I also bought my first vegan lipstick.  I'd always wanted to try organic makeup without gross chemicals, but I'll admit, I remained skeptical on whether or not it would last/be bright enough, etc.  I rarely wear makeup anymore, but when I do, I don't want it to be some light crap.  I tried out
Mineral Fusion Lipstick Butter in Blackberry.  This was most shocking to me because I loved it!!  It was bright and pretty, and it reminded me a lot of the famous Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey which I wore for years.  Now, I'm very fair so it definitely shows up pretty dark on me, but any way, I was pleasantly surprised.  It also lasted quite a while.  It's not a long wear by any means, but it didn't come right off in two seconds either.  I'm looking forward to trying other vegan makeups and cosmetic products now.  If any of you use them , let me know which brands are your favorites/what you recommend.  I'll post a photo later with the lipstick on so you can see the shade on me. 

This past weekend was Mother's Day so on Saturday we drove to Little Rock to celebrate with Kelly's mom and sister.  We grilled out, and I took the Tofurky Italian Sausage.  It was really good, and Ashley always has plenty of veggies so I knew I'd have sides.  She was a vegetarian for years, and she let me borrow a great cookbook, Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Cant' Live Without. We had a great time, and we did a little shopping, too.  We went to an Indian grocery, and I was able to finally get Indian Black Salt to add to my tofu scrambles.  I'm excited about trying that.  

Well, I didn't intend on making this all about food and such, but that's what's going on in my life so there you go.  

I'm reading a
great book on Bob Hope recommended by John Waters.  I've never seen Bob Hope on anything, and I didn't know anything about him but I trust John Waters.  He's made some great book recommendations, and I'm working my way through the other stuff on his list.  Now, I'm going to have to check into watching or listening to some Bob Hope stuff.  I'm also reading The Vegan Way: 21 Days to  Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You by Jackie Day which is pretty good.  

I guess that's about all for now, guys.  

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Through a dirty window in Oklahoma

Kelly and I are finally back from our road trip to New Mexico (it's actually been over a month now), and I'm even more in love with that state after visiting a second time. It's hard coming home for me. I always get depressed, and I want to talk about our trip, but then I'm just struggling to wade through day to day hum drum of being back to reality so I usually fail at it. Just know that I had the time of my life! I dream of moving there someday. It's stunningly beautiful, and I love and value the diversity. The food is the best. The art is everywhere. The people are kind, and the history is thick. The landscape is my favorite thing, though. It's the most beautiful place I've ever visited so far and that included several countries in Europe.

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Happy to my toes at White Sands National Monument

In other news, I used to take Polaroids with a
Spectra that I was in love with, and when they stopped making the film, I was heartbroken. I've purchased many cameras since then in the hunt for the next Spectra in my life. They have been unsuccessful, but I think I've finally found her. I got this in the mail, and I can't wait to start trying it out. If Kelly can set up our scanner at home, I might be able to post some photos here once I start snapping.

I'm attempting to be vegetarian, and I'm loving it so far! I've never been much of a meat eater at all, and I'm loving the new recipes I get to cook each week. I'd like to eventually attempt to become vegan, but I'm starting for a long time with just clean eating/vegetarian (long, long time). It's not for any ethical "meat is murder" reasons but more about my health. I know that meat eaters can be super healthy too, but I'm finding this to be easier for me. We'll see how it goes. I'm not doing it to lose weight so I haven't been weighing myself every day as I usually do. I just prefer the food right now, and it's easier for me to not eat shit when I do it this way. Why am I explaining myself? I don't owe you anything.

Kelly and I finished listening to the
S-Town Podcast a few weeks ago. We had been listening to one or two episodes every night in our living room. I joked that it reminded me of coming home and listening to an old time radio show. It was really wonderful, full of mystery, and heartbreak. I highly recommend it if you haven't checked it out, yet. As everyone has said, it reads listens like a southern gothic novel. It's special. It's also heartbreaking.

Because I am being disgustingly ungrateful at times, here are some things that make me happy:

1. We had a petting zoo at work recently as one of our final events for the semester (as I said, I work on a college campus so I never have to grow up). I made friends with many different animals, but my favorite was this camel.

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2. Everything is starting to bloom and come up in our yard. I'm so happy it's mushroom season again, and the rose bushes are blooming.

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3. Memphis date tomorrow with my love (we haven't been on a date-date in ages with art and vegan food and fingers crossed, a baby hippo)

4. Speaking of books, I'm over at
Goodreads (love new booknerd friends so feel free to add me), and I often get emails about giveaway contests for books I've shelved to read. I always enter them, but I never think I'll win anything. I won this week! I won The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I can't wait to read/review it.

5. Feeling better finally!  I've been sick all week, and yesterday evening/today is the first time I've felt back to my normal self.  

6. Mearl's birthday was a few Sundays ago. She turned one one, and we got her a pupcake. We had a birthday outfit. Yes, we're those people. See her below on Easter with her basket at Mom's house/birthday party photos.
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7. Meeting next Wednesday about my art deco/Erté tattoo I'm desperately wanting and beyond excited about

8.  
Farmer's Market back in business as of this Saturday

9.  New season of Twin Peaks coming up which I am beyond pumped about

10.  I want to live in this post. These photos feel close to my heart right now.

Anyway, I'm back, guys!  



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High School Graduation

When I had completed third grade, my parents announced we'd be moving from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri to a rural town in Arkansas called Pocahontas. I was devastated.

Thus far, I'd attended a private Catholic school, and even though we weren't Catholic, I adored the atmosphere. I went to mass once a week where I was comforted by the holy water fonts. I loved the kneeling and praying, the beautiful statues, and most of the Sisters that taught me. I appreciated how we colored in a different candle on our color pages during Advent each week, and I loved lugging around my cardboard suitcase of things to sell for fundraisers. I enthusiastically peddled Weebles each year, and once my family had purchased them, I'd harass them to give them to me. I was always in trouble in Catholic school. I went to the office to see the Principal, and my mother was called more times than I'd care to admit. Yes, I was a problem child from kindergarten to third grade. I was smart though, and I read at the top of my class. As in, myself and one other boy were the only ones in the group, and we were given the task of assisting with teaching the lower groups along with Sister Hanneke. We mostly went to a smaller sanctuary for mass, but a few times we to memorized and recited verses in our
larger church which was/is was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. It was built in 1898 by Slovakian Catholics.

I grew up surrounded by diversity, and I loved that. I was my Mom's date to glamorous parties thrown by her friends where the guests spoke to me respectfully, as a fellow individual, never a child. I paddled around the hot tub with doctors with heavy accents with skin as beautiful and dark as mine was translucent and pale. I was convinced I would marry one named Sayid who tickled me, and I knew I wanted to have a life like my Mom's best friend. She had a wall to tall tank of Oscars behind her couch, and I was allowed to play in her lab at the med school and deliver babies from obstetrical manikins or give breast and prostate exams while she and Mom worked.
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We moved over the summer, and that upcoming Fall, I started school at M.D. Williams Middle School. At my new school, we would change classes seven times throughout the day. At Most Holy Trinity, we had never changed classes. There were so many more students than in Catholic School, and I was a 4th grade child with the anxiety level of 10 adults combined. On my first day, I couldn't find my class. There were tons of papers taped up with lists of names so you could find your homeroom class. I was completely overwhelmed. It had started from the time I came to the tiny town and saw the cover of the local paper, The Star Herald. This was certainly no St. Louis Post Dispatch. There were society pages detailing who had visited whom that week.  On the cover of the first edition I read was that Bessie Lou had the first tomato crop of the season. There she was, photographed center cover, displaying a ripe red tomato proudly. I wondered where in the Hell Mom and Dad had moved me. As I struggled to find my class on the list, hot tears began to roll down my face. I was near sobbing when I heard a voice behind me, "Hey, is there something I can help you with?" I turned to see a girl with long, silky blonde hair and a welcoming smile. "I can't find my class," I manged to get out. "Well, I don't know you, but I can help you," she responded. She went on to ask me my name, and then she determined that we were in
the same class. I felt like she was my angel.  I followed along behind her, and it was the beginning of our friendship.

I spent summers with Paige in the shed her Mom had set up for us to play in with our American Girls. We played "Olden Days" and pretended to churn butter. We spent nights snuggled up with her cat Gizmo and her rottweiler, Tigger. We made mud pies, and I pet her bunnies through the squares of their cage. Paige was friends with everyone, and she was readily accepted into the popular clique in school, however, she never socialized with them at the expense of anyone else. She would be a rare one who could move effortlessly through all the social realms.  I was kind of an oddball outsider/loner, and she was my closest friend for years. Later, we both went to college at Arkansas State University, and we remained dear friends.

As often happens, we lost contact over the years after college, and we eventually reconnected on Facebook. I noticed over the next few months that we had significant differences in politics. I let those differences anger me, and I unfriended Paige frequently. She reached out to me, and explained that she still cared about me and that I had hurt her feelings. I convinced myself I never had known her and that maybe we had grown apart.  Yes, in some ways we had, but I wasn't giving nearly enough importance to the many years we had together, our history. I was nasty in my responses to her, edgy and angry. She was honest and calm and kind. Many times she moved past my anger with grace and forgiveness. She continually sought me out.

Recently, Paige shared a photo of several beautiful brooches and tagged me, "You need these, Sarah." It struck me because I had recently bought a similar one on a trip Kelly and I had taken. My eyes were immediately drawn to a beautiful peacock one, and I laughed when she posted a comment, "I'm going to try to find you the peacock one. It reminds me of you and all of your sparkle!" It made me smile down to my bones, and it made me sad about how I had treated Paige. She hadn't seen me in years, and yet, she knew me as if we had sat side by side in class yesterday. A few weeks went by, and I received updates from her that the peacock brooch was sold out, but she was still on the hunt for it. Then, "I have your brooch!"  I told her where to find me in my office on campus, but I cautioned her it was hard to find. In truth, I was nervous. What if we had nothing to talk about? What if I didn't know her anymore.

Today at work, I walked down the hall to run a quick errand to the ATM. As I rounded the corner, there in the sunlight was a mini version of Paige. I couldn't have missed him for the world. Her youngest son Abram has her exact eyes, lashes, and skin. Paige stood there with her back to me, and I was able to surprise her. We quickly hugged, and we were able to share a quick chat. They presented me with my beautiful gift to me proudly, and I adore it. It was as if no time had passed, and we laughed so much, as we always had. I was charmed by her funny little boy, and we finally reluctantly parted with promises to get together soon. We hugged, and she smelled good as she always had when we were kids.

It was the highlight of my week. I am grateful for Paige's friendship even when I don't deserve it. It was a special deep down to my bones feeling, timely reminder (Ash Wednesday), and moment.

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Beautiful brooch Paige gave me! I love it.  



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 “It’s just a silly fairy tale that says hotel chambermaids spy through keyholes. Hotel chambermaids have no interest whatsoever in the people behind the keyholes. Hotel chambermaids have a lot to do and are tired out, and they are all a little disillusioned, and besides, they are entirely occupied with their own affairs. Nobody bothers about anyone else in a big hotel. Everybody is alone with himself in this great pub that Doctor Otternschlag not inaptly compared with life in general. Everyone lives behind double doors and has no companion but his own reflection in the mirror or his shadow on the wall. People brush past one another in the passages, say good morning or good evening in the Lounge, sometimes even enter into a brief conversation painfully raked together out of the barren topics of the day. A glance at another doesn’t go up as far as the eyes. It stops at his clothes. Perhaps it happens that a dance in the Yellow Pavilion brings two bodies into contact. Perhaps someone steals out of his room into another’s. That is all. Behind it lies an abyss of loneliness. Each in his own room is alone with his own ego and is little concerned with another’s. Even the honeymoon couple in Room No. 134 are separated by a vacancy of unspoken words as they lie in bed. Some wedded pairs of boots and shoes that stand outside the doors at night wear a distinct expression of mutual hatred on their leather visages, and some have a jaunty air though they are desperate and floppy eared. The valet who collects them suffers terribly from chronic indigestion, but who cares?”-Vicki Baum, Grand Hotel 
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While we were on our trip, I bought three postcards from 410 Vintage Market in Fayetteville.  There were a huge stack of these with a ton of babies in each photo, and I found them both strange and comical.  I desperately wish I knew what they said.  Anyway, I managed to not buy them all, and I narrowed it down to these three.  If you speak French, please enlighten me.  I've been doing Google Research, but I haven't found much about these.  I'm going to mat and frame them together, but now, I'm obsessed with searching for more.  I wanted them all, but I'm embarrassed to admit I paid 4 bucks each for these.  Kelly put his foot down at three.    
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Image from
here


Lately, I've been nagged by how untrustworthy our memories can be, and how other times, they rise from some inner depth and break the surface unexpectedly and crystal clear. I've recovered something so wonderfully precious, yet randomly, as stumbling across a fourth leaf clover.

I have this one memory that I was so sure was true, and I kept it for years. One day, I mentioned it to my mother. It involved a square maroon car that we used to own, and I was shaken when she responded, "We never owned any maroon car." "Yeah, remember the plush velvet seats? It was some type that old women drive," I responded in an effort to jog her memory which to be frank, is horrible so can I really trust it? We went around and around, but I guess she'd remember what kind of car she owned. Where did this pseudo memory come from? How and why did it appear? It seemed so vivid. Come to think of it, I also remember a dark navy car that was similar. Maybe I'm getting the color confused? I think my grandparents gave or lent it to us. Same sort of velvet plush seats. I could put up the armrest in the front seat, and no one could see back to me. I'll have to ask her if that's a true memory. I guess I still keep the Maroon Car Memory even if it's false. It's a parallel universe memory of sorts that doubles back on itself as now, I remember it...in that I didn't remember it!

Actually, quite a few of my early memories involve cars. This one involves a dark green Aries with lighter green vinyl seats that stuck to your legs and burned you in the hottest part of St. Louis summers. At some point in my childhood, I found a delicate robin's egg, and I found it to be the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen thus far in my young life. I asked if I could take it to school for show and tell, and someone, maybe my stepmum, agreed. I was so excited to show the class, and off I went, climbing into the front seat with it cradled greedily in my palm. As I was buckling my seat belt, I crushed it between my palm and the metal clasp. I can remember wanting to cry out and being shocked. First, that this beautiful blue egg was gone, just like that. Secondly, the tactile horror of cold yolk squishing between my fingers and getting on my school uniform. That memory floated up recently and caught me by surprise! It was so lucid, it seemed as if it had happened yesterday.

Nostalgia has overtaken my life lately, and I am not a nostalgic type. I generally never want to go to my hometown, and I hate even thinking about high school and my youth because I made horrible decisions repeatedly, and I wasn't sure who I was and I was uncomfortable and stifled in small town monotonous Hell. I guess, I'm going back before that, though. I do like to remember and think about when we still lived in St. Louis, and when I went to Catholic school. That's a nice spot for me to visit in my thoughts. I'm comfortable going there, and it feels safe. I remember my Grandma Jo's kitchen vividly. She had this little framed picture of a mouse that had a different saying for every month. I would also sit at the kitchen table and snack while seeing what the mouse was doing that particular month. The prized part of the memory and my youth in that kitchen always took place in the afternoon. She had a small kitchen window above her sink, and she had put prisms and crystal suncatchers there. When the afternoon sun came through the window, the room would be covered with rainbows. It seemed so magical. If I'm remembering correctly there were a few plants tucked in the window too as it had shelves. I have two windows over my kitchen sink, and I have taken up the hunt to find pretty things to make rainbows and sparkle in the sun. K. has taken up my effort, too. He actually picked out our first addition to that window, a bluebird of happiness we picked up during our trip to
Terra Studios.


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Bluebird of Happiness in our windowsill

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I want our kitchen to have rainbows everywhere like this one but a ton more! Photo from here.


Another in my memory Rolodex, is my dad taking me to a store called Faru that specialized in imports. I loved how it smelled in there, and how everything was so unfamiliar and unique. He bought me many treasures from there over the years--jewelry, this display with small sticks that had different African animals on the top of each one (I can't remember what they were used for or what they were called), and a beautiful handheld mirror with a fake jade handle and butterfly on the back. I loved dusting them when I cleaned my room and wondering if I'd get to travel to see the countries they came from someday when I was grown. I always was transfixed by this eyeball jewelry in the case, and I remember Dad telling me it was of the Devil and to never buy it. That must've really stuck with me because now when I see any of that stuff in necklaces or jewelry, it sort of creeps me out. I think he was referring to the evil eye, and it was supposed to ward off bad things. But my memory usually goes first to it being of the Devil. He may have said the second, but I usually go with the first explanation. I didn't tell my Mom his take on it, and I convinced her to buy me a cheap version that turned my finger green. She relented even though, unprompted, she said it was, "Ugly and weird." 

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Photo from here


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Photo from here


To close, here is a video of dancing lights from a crystal.  I like the rainbows best, but the teeny light flecks are nice, too.  

 
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Sun coming up and fog and damp


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Francis in the sunshine
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When we arrived in Fayetteville, we beelined straight to lunch at Hammontree's Grilled Cheese. K. had briefly mentioned the restaurant to me, and I couldn't think of anything I'd like more than a restaurant with every combination of grilled cheese known to man. It was a beautiful day so we sat on the porch and shared a beer. I'd been momentarily horrified when I asked for sweet tea, and they told me they didn't serve it. Look, I get that northerners don't understand our southern dedication to tea with so much sugar it could double as hummingbird feed, but it's table wine here. I literally recoiled when the waiter told me they didn't serve sweet tea. "You're in Arkansas, man," I countered. It wasn't five minutes before I overheard another table have a similar conversation. I wonder how many times a day those poor waiters have to listen to that. It'd probably be easier to just suck it up and serve the sugar coma inducing syrup and get over it. I definitely deducted stars from their review on that, but then, the sandwiches were amazing. I had the Brie's Company which was grilled apple, Brie, Gouda, caramelized onions, and fig jam on sourdough. I love cheese, but I could probably be just as happy with caramelized onions and fig jam in all honesty.

Next, we held hands and walked through the alley to my favorite bookstore in the world,
Dickson St. Bookshop. The store is so cram packed that you have to let one person walk down an aisle at a time. It took me forever the first time I visited to find the fiction/literature section. It's just has books to the ceiling and random things taped to the walls, and it's heavenly. I'm so heartbroken that the pictures I took inside somehow were accidentally deleted because it's gorgeous if you're a bibliophile. Also, they specialize in rare and out of print books. One of my favorite authors is Colette, and she's hard to find in regular bookshops. The first time I went there, I had a religious experience when I found about six of her books I didn't own. This time, I actually put back a book of movie reviews and two screenplays by her! That's how good the other loot I found was. If you're interested, I bought Attilio Bertolucci's Selected Poems (Yes, Bernardo Bertolucci's Dad). I usually hate poetry, but I adore his stuff. Bernardo Bertolucci is an incredible writer too if you ever find any of his poetry. I also purchased: Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel, Djuana Barnes' Interviews, Elizabeth Bowen's Last September , Disraeli in Love by Maurice Edelman, La Bâtarde by Violette Leduc, Jean Cocteau's Round the World Again in 80 Days, The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani. I've read The Yonahlossee book before, and I liked it enough to add to my collection. I think I've read The Bean Trees too, but I couldn't remember. I know that I've loved several of Kingsolver's books that I read when I was in high school. I presented myself with books stacked in my arms right up to under my chin to K., and he was still sitting sifting through shelves and shelves of books on Arkansas history. By now, I think he could teach a class himself, and he must own all of them. It amused me when he told me that he most enjoys seeing books he owns on the shelves. He rarely buys anything there, but he likes to browse through them. I think that's fortunate for our wallets because I'll spend a ton of our money in there. I spent 56 bucks that time, but I got all of those books plus a postcard I found interesting. It's a great thing they're so reasonably priced. You couldn't even get half of those on Amazon for that price. Plus, it's supporting a magical bookstore. I miss bookstores. Stupid effing Kindle. I admonished K. to hurry up, but he continued singing Lucinda Williams, which was playing softly, and patted me on the cheek. I'm an impatient sort, but fortunately, he ignores me most of the time. He promised to never leave as long as they played Lucinda.

Then, were off to hunt through a
410 Vintage, a great local vintage shop in Fayetteville. Some of my photos from here disappeared, too. I guess I just deleted most from that day for some reason. I can't find them in my recently deleted file either so that's a bummer. I managed to only walk away with three French postcards which I will post a photo of later because A. I don't know what they say in French because I took Spanish, and B. I just think they're gorgeous and kinda funny, too.

 

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I found this photo I took inside 410 Vintage


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This monkey caught my eye, but then I was completely head over heels for the shell collection/diorama below him! See blown up photo of the shell shelf
here.

 
Finally, we were off to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We are so fortunate to have this museum in Arkansas. It's free, and they've got an incredible collection. Kelly and I have been before, and we didn't have a ton of time so we just wanted to hit up some of their new pieces. First, on the list was their recently acquired Frank Lloyd Wright house--the Bachman-Wilson House. It's also free to tour, but you have to get tickets to go through. I really enjoyed it. They have a little self guided tour, and you can't go to the 2nd floor but you can view photos of it online. It's not sturdy enough to have people tromping up and down on the stairs all day.

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Behind the Bachman-Wilson House. I would've taken a photo of the front, but the way the sun was hitting, you couldn't see shit.

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Crystal Bridges itself is beautiful. The architect was Moshe Safdie. I should've taken more photos of the outside of the museum, but Google it. It's stunning.


As you can see in the photo above, the museum also acquired the Louise Bourgeois sculpture Maman. I was so excited to see . I always found her her spider sculptures to be so beautiful and just truly marveled at their construction. I became even more enamored when I read about how she associated spiders with her mother--clever, helpful (eating mosquitoes), and protective. Plus, the artist was 88 when she created the sculpture. I adored it. I loved hiding beneath her and taking photos from different angels. I even liked capturing Maman in a reflection with a "twin" spider.

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Twin Mamans


On the way to the museum coffee shop, one of the docents stopped me and whispered in a beautifully accented voice, "Did you know your glasses make you an artist?" K. and I both remembered chatting with him the last time we visited the museum, and it was nice to meet up with him again. He likes to chat with guests about pieces throughout the museum, and he's warm and funny. He strives to make art accessible to the hundreds that walk through Crystal Bridges every day.

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Karen LaMonte's Dress Impression with Wrinkled Cowl as the sun goes down

Kelly is always teaching me something, and for once, I relished getting to tell him about Keith Haring and the Eames chair while I sipped a Lavender Limeade, and we waited for it to get dark to view Leo Villareal's Buckyball. Buckyball has these comfortable wooden seats for two that are in the shape of a reclining body and allow you to look up comfortably. While we settled in and watched the lights begin to change as the sun went down, people jogged by and talked about the light sculpture and other people joined us in gazing up in chairs. You can see it from the road as you drive by, but it's much more special to take the time to gaze up and watch it cycle through several different colors while tucked in next to someone you love.



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Kelly in front of Buckyball

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K. heading back to our car in the fading light 
 
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Gas Station Roses


I took notes from our trip so I could tell you about it.  I typed them out on my phone along the way, and they make no sense to anyone but me. I've done this before on trips, and then forgot about the notes.  Then I've went back later and reread them.  Some things I recognize right away and others confuse me.  I had good intentions to start telling you about the trip yesterday and to do things around the house, but instead, I drank two beers and listened to music and worked on recreating my "Night Music" playlist that I accidentally deleted.  I laughed and kissed my husband, and I yelled at our bad dog.  I love her in spite of her being so terrible.  She's not been raised properly, and pugs are number 4 on the list of the top ten naughtiest dogs Kelly tells me.  

Oh, but first on Valentine's Day we went to Thai Taste for dinner with our gift certificate Kelly had managed to save from my weekly prying.  There was nobody there, and it was nice to have the whole restaurant to ourselves.  I had Thai Iced Tea and Tom Kha Soup with veggies and tofu.  I never want any meat.  For dessert, I scalded my tongue on the Tapioca Pudding with Coconut Milk.  I just slurped it down because I'd had it before at other restaurants, and it was usually lukewarm.  Anyway, I overheard our waitress chatting with a customer waiting for a pick up order at the front, and I briefly understood life coaches.  She said that she'd come to the restaurant when it first opened and that she liked the food so much she ate there for three days straight, begging for a job each day.  She told the customer that she loved the food, and she just worked there because of her love of Thai food.  She said she was a Christian, and she looked at it as another form of service.  She really enjoyed getting to know the different people who eat Thai food, and that "even if it was a bad day at work, most people view Thai food as a comfort.  Plus, when she was having a bad day, it wasn't like someone would die like at the ER."  She told him she believed in carrying this into any job she worked in, and she was really happy working at Thai Taste.  I told Kelly I wanted to hire her so she could teach me how to live my life.  She sounded so happy as if money just took care of itself and that it was better to be satisfied with what you are doing every day.  I'm not currently into what I do everyday, but at 35, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.  I'm most passionate about books and coffee, and I think I'd love to work in one of those fields but I'm terrified about having no money and no health insurance.  I don't know, though.  She almost convinced me to ask for a job there.  I admire people who just know, without  a doubt, what they want out of life.  I've never been that sort.  People with decisive walks make me swoon because I've always been a meandering sort.  

After the trauma of dropping off the dog at the vet to be boarded, Kelly and I hit the road on Friday morning to head to the Northwest Arkansas.  It was a nice and sunny drive, and I drank lots of iced coffee on the way. We split different flavored "beef sticks" which I got a kick out of calling them in a pervy way.  Being overly caffeinated made me leer at him, and say, "Gimme some of that beef stick," and then I would laugh wildly because I'm rarely mature when it's just the two of us.  That's the fun of married life for me--being a complete bizarro day in and day out with the one you love.  Anyway, there was a pork and ostrich beef stick, and I screeched, "Who in the hell would think would think of putting pork and ostrich together?"  Seriously, it's obscene. When I ate it, it just tasted like the spices and like every other beef stick in the package.  Just the idea of pork and poultry mixed up weirded me out, I guess.  

We finally stopped at a gas station after several hours in the car and did the stiff walk like zombies.  They had all their Easter candy out already, and I bought two of the Reese's White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup King Sized eggs.  The eggs are the best because I hate the crinkly edges on peanut butter cups.  When I was younger, I told Mom once before I properly though it out, "Ahhh, the reason for the season," while clutching a Cadbury Creme Egg.  She almost slapped my face, but then I thought about it and realized what I was saying.  The man in front of Kelly and I at the gas station joked with the employees.  He was a regular, and he scolded them by name when couldn't remember what brand of cigarettes he liked.  He gave them three chances to get it right, and finally, one did.  When we were walking across the parking lot, I heard the intercom, "Customer #47, your shower is now ready." 

I will tell you more about our trip soon and show you photos.  It's a day by day retelling because we saw so much.  In other news, we've decided to drive instead of fly to New Mexico.  I'm okay with that because while I hate the drive through Oklahoma, I do love driving across that barren part of Texas.  There's this one part where they warn you by sign about 20 times to get gas before entering no man's land.  Last time when we drove through, we stopped at the gas station everyone stops at, and I checked in on Facebook out of boredom, and someone had labeled it as "Gas Station in the Middle of Nowhere."  That made me laugh, but that's really what it is.  I can't remember if the scrub brush barren zone was actually in Texas or New Mexico.  It rides that border so maybe it's in both.  

Kelly stopped by our office today, and I called him "Baby" in the workplace. It slipped out fast as a mouse before I could catch it.  One of the students leaned around the column to see who was with me. 


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I had lunch out with my dear friend Natalie and my Mama today. Nat said she thought I was feeling sassy, and I was because it's my Friday today. I don't work again until next Wednesday because Kelly and I are going on a little weekend trip for his birthday/Valentine's Day. I kicked up little tantrums here and there until I sat, back to the wall, in the center of the rounded corner booth and surveyed the entire restaurant like a queen and ate Loaded Baked Potato Soup and was finally satisfied. I'm only friends with people who will humor and spoil me, and my promise is to provide entertainment with my neuroses and flair for the dramatic in return. Nat's so nice she'll make you defensive as hell about her. She's humble even though she's incredibly talented and it's admirable, and half the time I spend wishing I were more like her. The other half the time, I think about beating to a pulp anyone who has crossed her. After lunch, Mama kidnapped her pug-grandchild and Facetimed me at the office. I answered from the front desk. Everyone in the office could probably hear the conversation, but I was feeling free and didn't care. "Look who I've got," she said, and I could see Mearl happily between Mom and Dad on the couch. She's probably getting fed so much she won't eat dinner, but that's what pug grandparents are for. We're those people. We don't have kids, and my parents were always like, "Don't have them. We don't care about grandkids." Thank God.

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Mearl-Purvis Ponder with My Mom Getting Spoiled.  She's a lady even though everyone thinks she's a boy because of her blue collar.

 
Today, a student walking by said: "You are so pretty," and I batted my eyes and lit up like a Christmas tree. Later, two other girls came in giggling and said, "We're looking at boobs." "Enjoy," I responded. I know they're adult women, but when you're 35, and they're 21, in my mind, they're girls. They have been listening to 80s music in their office and dancing. Everyone is a bit lighter because of the sunshine and almost crawling into Friday. They have been plying me with sugary coffee drinks and bossing me about what shows to watch on Netflix. They're right though, The OA
is great! They're obsessed recently with the OJ trial and Monica Lewinsky because they were wee when that was going on, and I enjoy being the expert.

This morning, K. and I deflated the air mattress because our new bed has arrived! As we rolled this way and that, pushing the air out with our weight, I confessed, "I had a sex dream with Todd Clever last night. That's what happens when you make me watch rugby before bed." Fortunately, K.'s not a stupid, jealous sort and knows he has nothing to worry about ever. He's mine for life, and besides, Todd was in a nudie shoot in ESPN magazine and his name is "TODD CLEVER", and who cares about a Viking beefcake? In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have said anything, but I'm always tell all. He's so muscly and beautiful that he's not even real. His middle name is Stanger. I give K. permission to look at boobs at a Hooters if he'd like in exchange and repentance for my dream dalliance.
Todd Clever
Photo from
here

On the agenda for our upcoming trip--Frank Lloyd Wright house, Giant Spider, maybe the 410 Vintage Market, flock of bluebirds of happiness, grilled cheese restaurant, heavenly used rare bookstore, and ancient ruins, an old brothel and a yurt.  Details when we return, I promise.  It'll be early next week before you hear from me.  

I read about a morning wedding on an old Livejournal recently, and I think that sounds so perfect now! Maybe I'll take Kelly up on renewing our vows someday, and we'll have a morning wedding and then eat beignets and have black coffee. I love the clean slate of morning. I've always been a morning person. I love the promise of the day. I can't think of anything more romantic than promising your eternal love and waffles.
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Valentine from my sweet Grandma.  I love that she still takes the time to jot out handwritten cards and letters to people all the time.  The inside reads--"Be Mine.  Keep the prayers coming. Love, Gram!"

 
Last night, around 1 a.m. Mearl woke up and started frantically pacing in circles around our bed.  She would jolt a little bit like she'd had a spasm (or how dogs have the hiccups--but it wasn't the hiccups).  I was up for about 2 hours with her doing that, and her tail was unfurled and down, and her pug eyes looked at me with confusion.  We both finally passed out, and before you know it, the alarm was going off.  She and I both yawned a lot and forced ourselves to start the day.  She seemed a bit better this morning, but I was still worried.  Perhaps from lack of sleep, maybe neuroses, potentially that I posted on the pug forum, but I was quickly convinced that my precious pup was suffering from Meningitis or Pug Dog Encephalitis.  Fortunately, I called Dad and he took us to the vet.  He tries to be gruff, but he patted her a few times to comfort her--she adores my Dad.  She has a really bad ear infection so she's on 8 drops in each ear twice a day and pain meds.  

The vet office was  a nightmare, though.  The vet is either really good with everyone excited, reuniting in the lobby and licking and jumping and yapping and baby talk and head pats, or the vet is really bad.  Today, the vet was really bad.  A grown burly man dressed head to toe in camouflage--he looked like a farmer--came in with his Boston Terrier.  He cradled her like a baby the whole time, and he rubbed her under her chin until she dozed against his chest.  When they came out to collect her, I noticed her eye was horribly infected and bulging even more than Boston Terriers usually stick out.  He was insistent that they were gentle with her, and he reluctantly passed her over to the assistant.  Then, he sat down in his chair, and he started to cry.  He had tears rolling down his cheeks for quite some time, and he snuffled  and several times wiped his entire face in his t-shirt.  I wanted desperately to hug him, to tell him how I didn't know what he was going through but how sorry I was.  I wanted to offer comfort in some way, but I also didn't know if how he felt about crying in public. I wasn't sure if he was embarrassed since he kept staring off outside the door, away from everyone in the room.  I was the only one on his side of  lobby, but I didn't want to impose on his sadness either,  you know?  When I'm having a hard time and crying, I hate people to touch me, and I'd prefer to be left alone. Out of respect for him, I averted my eyes just in case he wanted privacy.  I really wanted to just pat his knee, though.  I wanted to not say anything but give some sign that I understood, that I was sorry.  They took him back to speak with the doctor, and not 15 minutes later, an older woman came in dragging a dog slowly behind her.  The animal looked in pain and crouched low, and in spite of her soothing tones, it dug its heels in and just allowed her to pull it's defeated body behind her. This was definitely a bad case.  She covered it with a towel and sat near it in a chair.  She was already crying, and she whispered and whimpered apologetically to it, "I waited too late. I waited too late."  My eyes welled up with tears, and I figured I was about a minute away from crying myself. The assistant quickly came out, comforting both her and carrying the huge dog in her arms and found them a private room.  The administrative assistants apologized to me for making me wait, and I shook my head, fighting back tears. Compassion was heavy in the room.  The television played softly in the background, more news of the world falling apart. Everything on the Internet lately leads with “This should terrify everyone,” and it does, but this moment of pure compassion in the lobby, our eyes cast down softly, or when we dared lock them, hoping to convey our love, our understanding.  The madness of the world seemed like it was happening on another planet.  We all just stared at the 80 something year old parrot.  He meowed or said "America" intermittently while furiously ripping newspaper and throwing it through the cage bars onto the floor.  

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For a second time, just like that, a trip is born out of my deepest daydream desire. I can't get enough of sobbing lately about how New Mexico was magic, and it's the only place in the world that's magic--besides maybe the desert where I haven't been, yet. I have taken off all of spring break and, we're going back to Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos...and adding Albuquerque! I won't pout at all when we're there this time because last time K. never knew how much I loved it because I was anxious and snippy. When I got back I told everyone, "It's like an art museum exploded into a city." It made me sad that he never knew how much I adored it. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and unfortunately, it will manifest as anger when I'm all nerves. I know what to expect now though so I don't think it will be nearly as trying. I have been working on lists of things to see and do and places to revisit.

I can't wait to see the mountains. We live in the rice country which is all flat lands for ages. I think it's horribly boring, and I'm usually stunned by the beauty of mountains. I don't like the curvy, scary drop offs, but it's worth it. In New Mexico, there are mountains with different personalities, too. The ones outside of Taos are pine covered and snowy and soft and inviting, but on the way to Los Alamos they are a barren and devastating and fierce--those are my favorites. In the canyons, it looks like the Earth is yawning or maybe getting ready to swallow us all--jagged teeth mountains and secretive Georgia O'Keeffe shadows everywhere. In fact, I never really got O'Keeffe until I visited New Mexico.


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On the way to Taos
 

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Just a small part of the mountains on the way to Los Alamos. They are huge here, and this photo can't capture it. No photo ever could.



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Rio Grande

There is a church that existed in the 1600s and has a staircase that some believe St. Joseph himself designed--a miraculous staircase with seemingly no central support. There is a church with holy dirt to to touch, and you may take some home for your afflictions if you wish. There is a church that the community comes together once a year to pat with their wet palms, caking thick layers of a mud and straw mixture.



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Loretto Chapel Staircase

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Loretto Chapel

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El Santuario de Chimayo


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San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

 
 
In Los Alamos, I finally was able to quench some of my insatiable thirst for all things bomb related. I am mad about atomic history, and it all sounded so glamorous with cocktails and banding together for a common goal. I get it, I know it's oversimplified and naive and the subject they were working on was a blight on American history. I just like the idea of carving their way through the treacherous terrain, and babies born with a post office box as their birthplace. I most like the idea of fresh flowers at the commissary and the canyon stream becoming a skating rink in winter. There were parties at dance halls and community theater in this secret universe that the world didn't know existed. When the world finally found out, there were cakes and earrings and perfumes all celebrating the accomplishments of the brilliant men of "The Hill."


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New Mexico is also the land of liquid chocolate elixirs and foil wrapped sweets. If the rich taste weren't heavenly enough, they sculpt them into dainty little mushrooms and gooshy swirly 6th grade hearts. This door leads into a place more romantic than Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, I promise. I'm going back. It's on my list of places to return.

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Todos Santos Chocolates

 
 

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The teeny mushroom and heart are my favorite to look at, but my favorite to taste is the peanut butter cone.



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These are darling, and I wasn't sure what they were the first time I went but now, I'm almost certain they're surprise balls! I'm going to check when I go back, and if so, I'm picking one up.

Things I won't see next time, but I appreciated last time include--



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Horseface man and horseface horse



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Dali-esque clock in front of the perfect blue sky


 

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I won't go back to see this piece of art, but I do hope to see a duck with boobs.  It is all magic, I swear.  EVERYTHING THERE.  

I'll make a list tomorrow of things I want to see on this upcoming trip, but I'll sign off for now because this is another longest post known to man.  
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I thought about it for a month or so, and I wanted it so desperately. Oh, how I wanted it. I listed pros and cons, and the pros won every time, hands down. So, I finally did it. 

1. It’s easier. So many times, I have looked at men and thought, how easy that must be. To get up, wash and go. I’ve had a short pixie cut for years, and even though sides were shaved off, I still had to get up and wash my hair, dry it, and style it every single morning. I couldn’t imagine how liberating it could be just to get up and go. I can finally just get up on summer mornings and head to the Farmer’s Market! I can finally sleep longer on vacations. I CAN TAKE A SHOWER AT NIGHT and just wake up the next morning AND GO!

2. It’s hair. It’s not brave. It’s fucking hair or lack thereof now.

3. My femininity and womanhood is not wrapped up in my hair. Women are not their hair.

4. People didn’t want me to do it. Some old dude overhearing me talking about the upcoming buzz to a friend said, “Why would you do that? I know it probably doesn’t matter to you, but I think you need to leave your hair like that.” I swear, if I would’ve had an electric razor, I would’ve pulled it out of my purse and shaved it while standing right in front of him looking him dead in his face the entire time. Instead I looked over, and said, “No, it doesn’t matter to me.” When someone gives me there unasked for opinion and is horrified by the idea, it only served to encourage me more so thanks for that, naysayers.

5. It’s cheaper.

6. It is soft and wonderful, and I love the way the newly shorn hair feels under my palm.

7. It shows off my sexy dangly earring even more now, and it allows my Avant-Garde sunglasses to be even more outrageous (see photo below).

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8. No more bad hair days.

9. Bald is beautiful: See Charlize Theron as Furiosa, Erykah Badu, Natalie Portman, Sinead O’Conner, Grace Jones, Amber Rose, Robin Tunney in Empire Records, Agyness Deyn, etc.

10 It’s empowering.

11.Because I wanted to

 And I think I look like a stunning, warrior goddess, and I love it. I don’t regret it, and I’m never, ever going back. I wish I would’ve done this years ago.

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