Friday, November 21, 2014

Beth Handy - The Power Drill

I don't like loud things, concerts being the only real exception.  It took me years to work up to using the food processor.  Like Ginger, I avoid being around the vacuum if I can.  Motorcycles and throaty muscle cars do not impress me.  Fireworks are pretty and fun.  Firecrackers are pointless.  But, I wanted to learn how to use the power drill.  It didn't seem that loud or intimidating, for a power tool.

See, Matt had mounted some hooks in the bedroom closet, one of which eventually came down as he'd used a pre-existing hole instead of drilling a new one.  It had been laying around the house for months since it came off the wall.  This is the sort of cluttery household detail that I can't help notice but which Matt is fairly oblivious to.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to mount it myself using a screwdriver before realizing I was going to have to step it up.
So I got a little tutorial from Matt--marking the location for the holes with a pencil, choosing and inserting the appropriate sized bit, and how to hold the drill steady and do the actual drilling.
The hook is back on the wall.  It was easy and not loud at all.  I suppose I could have just asked Matt to do it, or put it on the to-do list, but now I know how, too.  And I think that's better.  Who knows when a power drill might come in handy?!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Rock Pile - Inspiration Thursday

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
All photos from Bryce Canyon National Park, October 2014.  Bryce is certainly a fairyland cathedral.  It was mesmerizing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

HMV Day 5 Val's Wedding Day

The natural progression from the bachelorette party on day four was the wedding on day five.  But, first....

Matt and I rented a convertible.  A Ford Mustang convertible, to be specific.  We were going to have to rent a car to take in the Zion-Bryce-Grand Canyon loop and it was our honeymoon and all so...convertible!  We picked it up at the airport and drove back to Val's via The Strip admiring the sights with the top down.  Immediately we could tell it was going to be fun.  (Except the traffic, which was terrible.)
Back at the house there was lots of wedding prep going on and some football watching, it being a Sunday and all.  I was one of Val's bridesmaids along with Shay and Alli, the Maid of Honor.  I absolutely adore the dresses she picked out for us.  For the flower girls, too, for that matter.  The polka dots were very classic and the dress was absolutely something I would pick out for myself.  Wide strapped sleeveless with a fitted waist and a full skirt.  I wear it all the time as an everyday dress now.  Someone actually asked me if I made it the other day--that's how much it looks like a dress I would wear.  I don't know if the other bridesmaids loved it as much as I did, but boy, I thought Val did good.  The orange and brown looked good together, too.  The groomsmen had fabulous brown suspenders.
The wedding was short and sweet.  It was touching and funny and unique.  When the officiant was saying the "Now with the power invested in me by the State of Nevada..." part Val was bouncing up and down for joy.  It was perfect.  The sand ceremony with their daughters was really sweet.  Val look beautiful.  Her Matt looked handsome (I mean, my Matt did, too, but we're talking wedding here).  Their daughters were adorable.    The veranda at the rented house served as a splendid chapel.

And then we had a dance party and ate and drank and made merry!
Hannah and I will dance anywhere, even if we're the only ones.
The first dance.
And it was a wonderful day full of love and friendship with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

HMV Day 4 Bachelorette Night and a Hummingbird

As I mentioned, the Vegas portion of our honeymoon megavacation centered around the wedding of one of my oldest and best friends, Val.  To a really nice guy named Matt, by the way, just to make things extra confusing.  "Your Matt?  Or My Matt?"  Thus, HMV day four was bachelorette time.

Val and her Matt had rented a great, big ol' house and it was really awesome.  The wedding was held there, the wedding party and many wedding guests were staying there, the reception was there.  It was one big house party--with a slumber party, too!  I thought it was quite fantastic and convenient, not to mention a seriously good time.  So, after checking out from our hotel off The Strip we all met up at the house.  Alli, Matt and I took a little swim with Val's kids and then a soak in the hot tub.  Everyone had had a chance to catch up and visit on the patio.  I wandered around the yard admiring the flowers and birds.  We saw--and heard--our first northern mockingbird.  Its song was pretty spectacular.  There was also a hummingbird flitting about.  It landed on a branch overhead, flicking its nearly invisible tongue in and out.  We were never able to positively identify it, though not for a lack of trying.    It was a really relaxing afternoon.
You can see the wee tongue in the photo on the left.
And then it was time to think about our big night out on the town.  Matt had tie-dyed some shirts for the bachelorettes to wear.  Alli, the Maid of Honor--or should I say Babe of Honor--brought fabric pens so people could gussy up their shirts with witty titles or phrases.  Like Babe of Honor, for example.  I have to say that the shirts were a smashing success, at least in my opinion.  The slogans were fun and in the crowd, be it on the street or in the casinos, it was easy to make sure our crew was still all together.  Plus, we looked great and had at least four groups of people stop us to take our photo or have their photo taken with us.
The Babe of Honor
Decorating shirts.
I sure am blessed to have such fun, fantastic friends as these.
For the bachelorette celebration we went out to "old" Vegas and took in the Freemont Street night scene.
Blurry bachelorettes on the street, in the elevator, and in line for a plastic football full of liquor.
Chantz proving to me that he still knows how to carry a football.
I found Freemont Street to be more up my alley than The Strip.  There were more street performers and less people flicking cards for strip clubs, for example.  It was still quite a new and usual experience though.  Certainly a break from my normal way of life.  So many lights and people.  So many celebrity impersonators.  There were break dancers and puppeteers, musicians, and people folding palm fronds into all sorts of shapes.  One fellow gave me a triplet of palm frond roses because I "took him back" with the tie-dye shirts.
Welcome to Vegas where there is a waterslide that shoots through a tank of sharks.  The bottom photo is from outside of the Heart Attack Grill.  Our bachelorette party weighed 1600 pounds, apparently, for an average of 181 pounds per person.
This guys snuck up behind me so that when I turned around his knife was right at my throat.  I do believe I shreiked.  I know I nearly jumped out of my skin.  And then we posed for a photo.  The palm frond flowers, mentioned above, are tucked behind my ear.
Both my gut reaction and further reflection lead me to the fact that Vegas really isn't the city for me.  Cities aren't for me, really, period.  I am much more keen to visit any remote, wild, natural location.  But, man, oh man, did I have fun with my friends.  So much fun it was ridiculous.  It was like a high school best friend reunion!  I think it would have been a hoot no matter where it took place. Though I bet the anything-goes attitude of Vegas did allow everyone to cut loose a little more than normal.  Frankly, an open container law is all it would have taken for that, I think.  It was sure strange being able to walk around the streets with nice beer in hand.  Stranger still that there were people smoking indoors every which way.  Its amazing how quickly I grew accustomed to the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act.  But, I digress.  There was dinner, a tiny bit of gambling (I put in and lost a whopping $2), and lots and lots of walking and looking at things.  The music and lights of the Freemont Street Experience were pretty fun.  Hannah and I started a couple middle of the street dance parties.
Chantz is the only one who won any money, I think.
Meagan and I couldn't figure out how this game worked.  I am not sure if Alli figured it out or not.  I am clueless when it comes to gambling.  Evidently, so is Meagan.
The bachelorettes resting our tired feet poolside at the shark tank.
Oh, and there was that silly bachelorette party game that had some members of our group winking and moaning at perfect strangers, among other things.  It was fun to watch my friends compete to see who could check off the most on the list, though I wasn't about to ask a stranger to lick the head off their beer myself.
Shay won.  She got to spray a bottle of cheap champagne over the bride-to-be's head when we got back to the house.  I won because I convinced Val to get dowsed in the flavor of champagne I didn't want to drink.  The berry one was bubbly and delicious.  And then I stayed up way too late once again.  It was too fun to go to bed any earlier.
Last cats standing, er sitting.
So I tumbled into bed, exhausted and delirious with good times.  A very good fourth day.

Shield the Valleys - Inspiration Thursday

"Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
All Photos from Grand Canyon National Park, October 2014.
I stumbled across this quote shortly after our return from the canyon country of the southwest.  I wonder if it would have stuck with me so if I had not just been hiking and contemplating in the quiet, orange stillness of those towering canyon walls.  I find the phrase apt and lovely in both the literal and metaphorical sense.  Oh, so many windstorms we all encounter that shape us into who we are, beautiful and rugged, perfectly imperfect, with a story to tell.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ripening of the Year

I read an essay by Henry David Thoreau last month called Autumnal Tints.  The leaves were starting to change and I was between books so I thought it would be a timely read.  It certainly was.  Honestly, Thoreau never disappoint me.  He is a poet, even when he writes verse.  His eloquence and admiration of the simple, humble, and natural have earned him my admiration in return.

The essay completely altered my perspective on the fall.  What I had always perceived as the regrettable dying of the year, Throeau proposed as the beautiful ripening of the year.
The metaphor of an apple is a keen illustration.  Like an apple, the leaves start as buds, grow ever larger as they take shape, are green and sturdy in their youth, and begin to ripen, and then, just like the apple, the leaves start to turn colors through the spectrum of reds and yellows, grow soft, and fall, at last, to the earth to become one with the soil again.
In Autumnal Tints, Thoreau comments, "Our appetites have commonly confined our views of ripeness and its phenomena, color, mellowness, and perfectness, to the fruits which we eat, and we are wont to forget that an immense harvest which we do not eat, hardly use at all, is annually ripened by Nature."
Its so true!  I'd never once considered the autumn as the year's grand conclusion in a flame of brilliant hues of ripeness.  I'd never once thought of a red leaf as a ripe one.  How remarkable!  It flipped everything on its head.
I've since found that viewing the transition through this lens suits me better.  It seems more appropriately celebratory--an acknowledgement of the silent striving that culminates in such perfect ripeness as found in these leaf strewn yards and parks.  Nature is surely not "dying" in the autumn.  The individual plants may be--though most are not really dying either, but merely going dormant for a winter nap.  Nature has finished the work of growing.  The concluding chapter of ripeness and decay which leads to new beginnings once again.
All photos from Zion National Park October 20-21, 2014
I like it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The November Resolution of the Month and Reflections on Planking

Color me happy!
I am super excited about my November Resolution-of-the-Month.  This month I am going to read every book to win the Caldecott Medal.  Just in case you aren't familiar, the Caldecott Medal is annually awarded to "the most distinguished American picture book for children."  Most are text and illustration, though some have no words at all and just let the illustrations speak for themselves.  Its been awarded since 1938--and my library happens to own every single one.
Its not every day I run into three people wearing suspenders standing in a row.
Many I have already read--you probably have, too.  Where the Wild Things Are is one title that most people are familiar with.  But most of the books are new to me.  Since they are children's books I am sure I will breeze through them.  I'd only need to read 2-3 per day to finish up the collection by month's end.  I am reading them in chronological order by award date, too.  I figure that way I can enjoy and note the changes in illustration style as well as they types of stories that win the award each year.  I bet it will offer me an interesting cultural perspective through this one facet of historical reference.
This oversized Jenga game was pretty amazing.  I think I will have to make one.  Or, rather, have Matt make me one.
With the start of this resolution ends the resolution from October.  Man, planks are hard work!  I, of course, knew that, but, I guess, I probably hadn't done the math--converting those seconds into minutes--before I jumped in.  I never made it more than 1 minute and 45 seconds.  That was taxing enough.  I wasn't ready to go I didn't.  At the start the plank length was gradually increased, but soon it was increasing by 30 seconds at a time.  That was too fast of a transition for me.  I could tell that as I tired my form suffered.  I could foresee low back pain which I cannot afford to encourage.  So I listened to my body and stopped increasing the duration of the plank.  Even still I felt tremendously proud to be able to go 1 minute 45 seconds.  That was tough!  I can remember when I started out on October 1st thinking that 15 seconds was long!  It was pretty amazing how easy it was to build up to 60 seconds--after that was a totally different story.  It had its fun though.  I got to plank with a couple of my aunts.  I can tell my arms and stomach were being developed--and that is a good thing.  I don't really aspire to make it up to that 4 minutes 30 seconds mark, but I will keeping planking when the spirit moves me...but maybe just for a minute.
Its Lela from Futurama...and a very happy crayon!  Yellow has always struck me as a very happy color.
(All photos, which are totally unrelated to the post, are from Halloween.)