Recently in Pictures Category
We're safely home. Wonderful trip-I can't even pick a best part. The photos don't do it justice, but I thought I'd share a few anyway.
Yesterday, Hillary asked for a picture of the contents of her readers' bags. It is her early birthday wish! Who am I to deny a woman a birthday wish?
This is the contents of my bag. It's pretty typical, except that my keys and cell phone are not pictured (because they only go in the bag when I'm headed out).
The bag itself is from Rose City Totes and was purchased at the Saturday Market in Portland. My friend Skye had one at BlogHer and I loved it so much I ran right out to get my own on my next Portland trip. It's the perfect size and shape and zips closed. I'd love a few more, especially since the print I picked, though really cute, isn't terrible in keeping with a lot of my clothes.
The little bag with the stenciled owl on it was a gift from an online friend, and it houses my traveling pharmacy--Epi pen, inhaler, migraine pills, allergy pills, Tylenol, etc.
The pink pouch with the hedgehogs on it is from The Dainty Squid, and I can't recommend it highly enough. So cute, great prices, has held up great (I've been using mine for over two years). It serves as my wallet and currently contains no cash and the following plastic: two debit cards (personal account and joint account); bank-issued Visa; Discover card; $100 Visa gift card I was given as a birthday gift; library card; driver's license complete with terrible picture; Sephora Beauty Insider card; Costco card; very old gift card from Best Buy; insurance card; coupon for a pair of free jeans in-store only at the Gap (who do not carry my size in store); and Unique (my thrift store) frequent shopper card (25% off on Thursdays!).
The tampons are self-explanatory.
The purple and white case houses a pair of oversized tortoiseshell sunglasses from Zenni Optical, where I buy glasses like candy. The case itself is old and I think from Target.
The black square with the rubbed off logo is the compact Sephora gives you when you buy a gift card. I bought a GC as a gift for someone and kept the mirror. I'm a selfish ass like that.
The square with the water aviator girl on it is my business card case, from Uncommon Goods. It was a birthday gift from Mark last year. It holds my professional grant writer business cards and some cards I collected from clients on my last business trip. They don't seem to have this design anymore, but they do still have the other card case I have, this one (which I use for personal cards).
The package of baby wipes are a thrifter's staple--I always have something similar in my bag, since hand washing facilities are not always available. I used to use hand sanitizer, but I really hate the way it smells and feels--baby wipes are gentler, and at least they get the visible scum off my digits. My very favorite things to carry, though, which I have but don't seem to have in my bag right now, are these individually packages wipes from Giovanni. They are expensive as heck when I see them at Target, but I've seen them in T.J. Maxx/Marshall's quite a bit recently and have been stockpiling them.
Next to the baby wipes are the inevitable pile of receipts and coupons that find their way to the bottom of my bag. In this collection I believe there is a Caribou Coffee receipt/coupon, a McDonald's receipt, and a receipt from a Turkish restaurant in Fredericksburg. Above that is the stack of change that meanders to the same place, right now just three quarters.
At the very top is a small black moleksin that contains my thrifting list, a pen, and a tube of Stila Pearl Shimmer Gloss.
Whew! I didn't think I carried much until I started typing it out! And Hillary is right, this is fascinating. I'm definitely going to be peeking in on her other birthday wish granters!
Though I thought the pictures looked pretty, I never really got the appeal of having someone paint words on your body and take photographs of it. I've seen a few people do it on their blogs (like here), but never had any desire to try it myself.
So, tonight, when I saw that Karen Walrond (yeah, I know, I'm her fangirl) was painting words on folks' bodies at a BlogHer art event, I didn't think a whole lot of it. Cool, not interested. But after a bit, walking around and seeing people and reading what they had chosen, I decided to give it a try. Karen wasn't doing the writing anymore, but another lovely woman (whose name I so sadly did not get) was. I thought of a word, got painted.
And felt fucking great for the rest of the evening. There's something to this.
I've always hated the way I photograph. I don't believe I am ugly, but I sure look that way on film a lot of the time. I'm not one of those people who shies away from cameras, because I really feel like photographs are important historical markers and memory devices, but I'm always inwardly groaning when I see a camera pointed in my direction.
Or at least I was. Over the past year, two things have happened to change my photo phobia. The first, which I told you about before, was having my picture taken by the amazing and inspirational Karen Walrond. Karen is soon to release a book of words and pictures called "The Beauty of Different," and I can't wait to get my copy. I know from my own mini-session with her that she has an amazing talent, both when she's behind the camera and when she's not, for making you feel like everything about you is fine, is, in fact, beautiful. I can't thank her enough for what she did for me in just a brief meeting (and one of the pictures she took the day I met her may end up in the book!).
The second thing is actually a little bit funny. I got a computer with Photo Booth, and I started playing with it. Photo Booth is a little bit like a mirror with a response mechanism--you can take a million pictures of yourself, and it's easy to see, right away, what "works" and what doesn't. Using it has taught me something I probably should have figured out already--photographing well is about how you hold yourself. Anybody can take a bad picture, and people who take consistently good ones have either learned how to hold themselves to make themselves look good, or do so naturally. The flaws I have always seen in pictures of myself aren't due to my being ugly, or to some devil that lives inside the camera, but mostly to my carriage when having my picture taken. I learned that, somewhere along the line, and I can unlearn it.
Since I'm feeling all body positive and open today, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Photo Booth experiments:
I wrote a bit ago about how torn I am about moving farther away from my family. As we get closer to our moving date, that isn't changing any, and I don't think it will. It just plain sucks to be moving farther from home when you want to be moving towards it.
But there is good in this, as well. I have a wonderful, close group of friends from college who mostly live on the East Coast. To make myself feel a bitter better, I did some mapping. Instead of being three days' drive or a 3 hour flight from my wonderful friends Howell and Melinda in the Boston area, I'll be a day's drive or an hour and a half in the air. From Mychy in New York, we'll be only a couple hundred miles or a quick commuter flight (or a nice train ride). And from Ron, who took the great picture in this post, we'll be less than an hour's drive. I haven't lived anywhere near these folks since they graduated from college in 2000. And I still miss them all the time. I may not be so lucky as to have the family I was born into around me, but I will, finally, be closer to my chosen one. I love these people the same now as I did nearly ten years ago, when we all lived within a few doors of one another. It will be good to live in their world again.
As I mentioned, one of the best things to happen to me at BlogHer was to meet, chat with, and have my picture taken by Karen Walrond. I can tell you, now, why Karen is such a great portrait photographer. She makes you feel beautiful while she's doing it. Having my picture taken makes me all kinds of nervous, and yet when Karen had her camera all up in my face, even though it was in a room full of people and exactly the type of situation guaranteed to send me running for a benzo, I felt calm. I felt safe, like she wasn't going to laugh at whatever came out of the camera. She's just got that kind of presence.
I didn't automatically like all the pictures she sent me. When I first looked at them, I wanted to criticize myself--bad skin, frizzy hair, all that. I looked and thought, "why did I, on that day of all days, not bother with makeup?" But there is something else, too. I see Karen, pointing out to me on the little screen on her camera what she sees in this shot or that one. Pointing out my pretty. (As it turns out, I can share that with you, too--while Karen was taking my picture, Bossy was taking Karen's.) And it really, really helps. I know that I am not and likely never will be the type of person who just takes good pictures naturally. I'm all angles and planes and I make funny faces and I show way too many teeth and I usually look gawky and geeky and awkward, because that's pretty much how I feel. Like them or not, though, none of the pictures Karen sent me are gawky, geeky, or awkward. Even the ones I didn't automatically love I could see myself in, and not be embarrassed.
And then there is that one shot: the one I was hoping for. The one that I can look at and see exactly what I look like, to myself, inside. What I hope I look like to everyone who sees me. The one that shows who I am.
Thank you, Karen.
Didja miss me?
I missed you. I definitely missed blogging. Having a week or so off was really good for me though--I had a very relaxing and refreshing holiday, and was able to get in some really good paper journaling, which I've been trying to get back to and being distracted by blogging. So all in all, a very good thing.
There's lots I want to tell you, though. I've been thinking a lot about progress and goals, as one is apt to do at this time of year. I've also been really really inspired by the blogging my friend Rachel is doing at Crunchy Turtle these past days--she's captured a lot of what I want to do. So Rachel, be forewarned--I'm going to be copying you in my next few posts, which are all going to revolve around those subjects.
In the meantime, though, how about some pictures from our holiday in Minnesota?
(You can check out the whole bunch here.) Mark gave me a new camera for Christmas, and I am in the gooey early stages of love with it, so I've been snapping a bit excessively.
Before we left for Minnesota, we opened the presents my folks sent us here. Here I am peeking over that pile. It contained books, wine, and coffee!
Christmas Day itself started with a lovely breakfast, complete with mimosa action and cappaccinos (they have a machine, and now I really really want one). Then, presents! Here I am showing off a favorite present of mine, a Liverpool FC t-shirt:
The weather was a trip as well. Winter Wonderland! It was well below 0 when we got there and when we left, but got up above freezing a bit in between. Always too cold to spend much time outside. Lovely from the window, though. See?
Does it look like we had a fantastic time? We certainly did. It was a perfect holiday, with no stress, no responsibility, and no worrying. It's actually a little bit of a bummer to be home and face the animals, and the house, and the plans that need to be made and goals that need to be committed to. But I think that is, in part, how you know a good holiday--you miss it when you get home.
Now, for some less happy news--for those who don't follow me elsewhere and don't yet know, my grandmother is dying. She has been declining for a few weeks and is now almost certainly in her final days. She is 98 (would be 99 in March) and has had a long and full life, and she is ready to leave this world, but it is still heart-breaking and I am having a much harder time dealing with it than I would have expected (in part, I'm sure, because it's hard to be so far from home when something like this happens). I likely won't say a whole lot about that here, because it's not something I am really ready to talk about publicly, but I thought you should know.
It occurred to me, astute photojournalist that I am, that my avid readers might like a look at this mysterious Bins you hear so much about. So I took my trusty (hardly) digital camera with me to thrift today, and snapped a few shots. I felt weird doing it--people were not looking at me in the friendliest ways--but I live to serve my adoring public, so here you go:
Here you see as much of the store as I could get in as possible, from the front left (near the entry door).
This is from the opposite side, the back right corner, and is once again as much as I could get in.
This is a big pile of VCRs and DVD players. There is always a table like this, with what seems to be rotating stock. Makes me proud to be an American to see this, let me assure you.
About 1/3 of the store is devoted to these tables of clothing. This is the hardest part to shop in, for me, as sifting through table after table of clothes gets tiring. In the rest of the store, things are mixed up so it doesn't get boring.
Most of the store looks like this, with tables (and sometimes bins, like you see in the second picture) of what I'd call "general refuse." Could be anything and mostly it's not sorted in any way. This is my favorite part, because you'll never know what you'll find.
These pictures don't really give you an idea of the enormity of the stuff in this place, but they're a first try. Maybe I will get bolder as a photographer if I keep trying to do this. Looking at them, just like being there, gives me this combination of adrenaline (what might I find?!) and sickness (how did we get to be a society that throws this much stuff away?).
Wanna see what else I've been working on?
Of course you do--that's the joy of a captive audience!
This is what I am calling the bloom table. It's my second attempt at a collaged table top (the first was years ago and it's really too bad I don't have a picture of it, because it was very cool). The materials are basically all re-used: thrifted table, pictures from old magazines and calendars that I either thrifted or had around. The only thing I bought was the varnish with which I am now coating it in the hopes it will be somewhat durable. Even the Mod Podge I attached the pictures with originally and the paint brush I am using for the varnish are leftovers. So that part is good. And doing a completely apolitical collage like this, which focuses on pretty colors and shapes rather than any greater meaning, has been good for my psyche. I haven't decided yet whether to just varnish the wooden legs or spray paint them a bright color. And then I think it's going to become my nightstand.
I really love collage as an art form because it is so free-form. There are no wrong answers, and it can be as sloppy or as precise as you want it to be. I rarely plan a collage out--I just keep adding and moving things until it feels right to me. This isn't a great method in terms of making things come out perfect or neat, but it is what has felt best to me so far. As always, when I look at this finished product I see how I should have done it differently (for example, started at the outside and worked in to avoid bare edges), but all in all I am pretty happy with it.
Check out this idyllic scene from my house last night.
Atty and Ez remind us that it's not just the kittens and their mama who are cute.
I make no bones about it--Yuel is my favorite of the kittens. I'd love to keep him (her?). Yuel is the slowest, cuddliest, shyest, sweetest. Also, to my eye, the cutest. So I thought I'd share.
A week ago, we had adopters lined up for all of the kittens.
This afternoon, the last of those adopters backed out, for various reasons (and some without reasons). We are now back to square one, with four nearly eight-week old kittens and nary an adopter in sight.
I have a post up at Craigslist about them, as well as on Petfinder. I've gotten quite a few initial emails, but so far nobody is willing to pay an (IMO small) adoption fee or sign a contract guaranteeing they kitten won't be declawed, will be spayed/neutered, and will be indoor. Those are all non-negotiable for us. We would rather turn them over to the Humane Society than adopt them to homes that can't or won't agree to those stipulations.
So...here we are. They aren't hurting anything and are fun to have around, so it's not that big a deal if we need to keep them for a week or three more, but I'm still frustrated with the adopters all bailing at the last minute. And concerned...are we doing something to alienate them?
To make me feel better, I took some pictures of Feliz and Noel.
The babies are six weeks old tonight/early tomorrow morning, so we weighed them in tonight. They're not as compliant as they used to be, so we have to use restraining measures.
Noel is still the biggest, at 1 lb 9.0 oz.
Feliz is next, weighing 1 lb 6.0 oz.
Yuel, who was the least excited about being weighed, is almost as big as Feliz, weighing 1 lb 5.2 oz.
And finally, Holly is still the baby (though she clearly has no idea that's the case) at 1 lb 3.2 oz.
And yes, I am aware that Yuel and Noel somehow switched names at some point. Now that the kittens are big enough to definitely tell apart, their names are set, but early on I did mix them up. So, for edification, the one with the black nose is Yuel, the big one with the fewest markings is Noel.
So yesterday I thrifted a couple of brand new pop-up cat cubes (like this) for our pride of cats. The adult cats played with theirs for about 15 minutes (mostly hiding in it in order to ambush one another) and then they were done. The kittens, however, LOVE the cube. Love it so much that I made them a bed in there. And y'all, the cute is almost killing me.
Can't help it...
This one is Holly with Leo.
And this is me with Noel. You can't tell in the picture, but he was just about to rip off my nipple with his tiny sharp kitten claws.
It's been a while. I thought maybe you all were missing the kittens.
These first two pictures are rare glimpses of all four kittens, holding fairly still, in the same frame. From left to right you see Holly, Feliz, Noel, and Yuel.
This picture just shows three of the kittens, Feliz, Yuel, and Noel, but it was too cute not to show you.
This next one is close-up of Noel, who is still the biggest of the lot--fat little thing.
The next two funny pictures are of my baby tabby, Feliz. In the first, he's showing his mean face, in the second, his table manners.
Finally, here's one of Mama. She's looking a lot better these days--weaning is probably a smart move at this point--the little ones are half her size by now.
Jenn over at Breed 'Em and Weep has a great post up today. Among other things, she writes:
It’s why I like it out here in blogland, because people are less neutral than they seem to be in person. There’s a certain audacity (or idiocy, some insist) to Putting Your Stuff Out There. Certainly the blog idiocy theory has been argued in full. But I see value here, value that I’d like to coax into my real life.
This puts a finger on something I've been trying to articulate for a long time, and I appreciate it. Y'all should go over there and read the whole post.
In other good stuff, we had this amazing spread for our first course for dinner last night:
What you see here is (from top left): Marcona almonds, sesame flat bread, chianti salami, Braeburn apple slices, Serano ham, lightly dress microgreens, shaved fennel, marinated fresh mozzarella, lavender dusted goat cheese, and assorted olives.
It was so good I forgot to take pictures of the rest of dinner. I am a lucky woman.
Long live the three-day weekend.
OK, weigh-in time!
Noel is still the biggest of the bunch. Her Day 19 weight was 12.6 oz, today she's at 1 lb 4 oz.
Feliz is next. He was 11.6 oz at Day 19, 15.2 oz today.
Yule is still after Feliz: Day 19 weight was 11.4 oz, today he is 14 oz.
And Holly is still a teeny little thing. She was 9.8oz, today she is 12.4 oz.
In the past few days, they have learned to play. It's hysterical to watch. Less funny for Illy, I think, as she tries to nurse them or just lie down where they can get to her and they all jump on her head.
We are letting them have free run in the bathroom for as much time as we can now, so they'll be able to play and so Illy can teach them to use the box when she's ready. The picture shows three of them running around in there, with Mom. The fourth was there too, but hiding behind the box. Once again, Feliz seems to be the least camera-shy of the group.
When she's not minding the young'uns, Illy has discovered she likes to spoon with Atticus. I think she might be going into heat. Wonder if she knows he's fixed?
Lest you think things at my house are all bad, I give you the following photo series:
I know you were wondering! Everyone is still happy and healthy and growing, and they are beginning to get a bit friskier and more playful. Updated pictures:
Noel and Feliz are still the big guys, but Noel has overtaken Feliz. She weighed 12.6 oz today, to Feliz's 11.6.
Yuel is just slightly smaller, at 11.4 oz.
At 9.8 oz, Holly is still the runt. But she's healthy, she's growing, and look how cute she is!
I am back in the U.S. of A., with new stamps on my passport, worn in long johns, and an air of European sophistication. OK, well, a stamped passport and dirty long underwear, anyway. The trip was truly out-of-this-world fantastic. I have a little travel diary that I may or may not transcribe here later, but in the meantime, suffice it to say that it rocked. Seeing my friends was wonderful, I loved Oslo, and the whole trip was the perfect mix of touristing and relaxing. Honestly it couldn't have been better.
And now I'm home, and real life will commence. Real life that is going to take some uncomfortable turns for me in the next months. But I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about that in the future. For now, here is a picture of me at the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo.
I missed you!
I'd love to regale you with stories about how wonderful my Christmas in Oregon was, and I do have lots of those stories, but damn it's late and I spent all day traveling, so I'm gonna to keep it to the essentials. New kitten pictures, now with NAMES!
The tabby is now called Feliz. As in Feliz Navidad. He weighed in today, Day 12, at 9.6 oz.
One of the black and white kittens, now called Noel, has gained even more quickly and is the same weight as Feliz!
The next biggest kitty, Yule, weighed in at 8.6 oz.
Finally, there is itty bitty little Holly, who only weighs 7.2 oz. But she's growing!
All of the kittens surprised us when we got home today with how big they are and how much more they look like little cats than they did when we left. Their eyes are open and they are starting to explore their box a little bit. Mama is a little bit skinny, so we're redoubling our efforts to pump calories into her, but she looks good too and is obviously taking excellent care of the babies.
Finally, individual kitten pictures! Keep in mind that when these guys went to the vet on Monday (Day 1), the biggest of them (the tabby) weighed just about 3 oz. So they've grown quite bit.
The tabby weighed in at 6.2 oz.
The largest black and white kitten at 5.6 oz.
The medium black and white kitten at 5.0 oz.
And the littlest kitten at 4.4 oz.
(The four pictures each show a kitten on a postal scale.)
I am cool with the lion bedding down the lamb and all that, but do they have to do it on my bed?
(The photo is of a large white dog, Ata, stretched out on the bed, along with two cats, the tabby, Atty, and the tortie, Esme.)
No reason me feeling crappy should deprive you of this.
(The top picture shows the mama cat, Illy, who looks kind of like a Siamese with tabby points, and her four kittens. The bottom shows just the kittens, nestled together against her stomach. There are three black and white kittens and one brown/gray tabby kitten.)
Illy, day 1, 4 lbs, 12 oz.
(The photo shows a very thin cat.)
Illy, day 53, 7 lbs, 8 oz.
(The photo shows the same cat, much fatter.)
Cats gestate for approx. 63 days. She's been inside for 53 days. We should have kittens within the next ten days.
When you can't find Atticus and Esme, it turns out they might be making out in the linen closet. I remember the days when these two hated each other. Ah, young love.
(The photo is of two cats, Atticus and Esme, curled up together on a shelf of folded sheets and blankets in a linen closet.)
Last night, with the help of some good cheer in the form of a hot chocolate spiked with Cointreau, I set about decking our halls. Or our kitchen and living room, anyway. Given that we have a plethora of pets, we have no chimney, I'm allergic to pretty much all trees, and we're going to be gone for quite some time over Christmas anyway, some compromises had to be made. That being said, I'm very happy with the results.
The stockings (made by my mom, and just like the ones I grew up with at home) were hung in the window with care:
(The picture shows six homemade felt stockings hung on the curtain rod in the kitchen window. Each has the name of a family member: Mark, Grace, Atticus, Leo, Esme, Atakan.)
And the tree is a foot tall rosemary plant. This is suitable for several reasons, including the pet and allergy ones mentioned above, and the fact we can plant it outside and use it for cooking later.
Of course, due to its small stature, it's a bit ornament heavy. But that's OK.
(The pictures show the right and left sides of a small rosemary plant shaped like a tree. It is hung with several safari-animal ornaments, including an elephant, a hippo, a crocodile, a monkey, etc.)
Not even a quarter of our ornaments fit, so we had to add the set of AKC dog ornaments to the stand the tree is on. You can't see them very well in this sub-par photo, but there are four doggies hanging from each shelf.
(The photo shows an iron plant stand. The tree is on the top shelf. Each lower shelf has a framed photograph on it, and there are dog ornaments hanging from each shelf ledge. The entire stand has lights and tinsel on it.)
That will probably be it for holiday decorations, given our constraints. However, I'm pretty happy with it. Beats the hell out of the giant wind-filled Santa my neighbors have in their yard. They never have the wind on when I drive by, it seems, so they just have a puddle of Santa in their yard. It's kind of sad, actually.
This picture is of my 1976 edition Our Bodies, Ourselves book. It's probably kind of a silly prized possession, as this same book can be had on Amazon Marketplace for $.01, but it is a prized possession anyway. I also have a mimeographed copy of the much less accessible first edition of the book, but it doesn't make as pretty a picture.
I got this book while I was writing my undergraduate thesis, which was about Our Bodies, Ourselves and Ms. magazine's health care coverage in the 1970s. And honestly, I probably did get it from Amazon for $.01 or similar. But it's not monetary value that draws me to it, it's what it stands for. Our Bodies, Ourselves was and continues to be an amazing project, and it was with this edition that I learned about that. Plus it's just a really cool old hippy book. I recently added the 1978 Ourselves and Our Children (found at the Goodwill) to my collection, and it's quickly becoming a prized possession too.
Mark has started calling Yogi Smeagol the Beagle. Which is funny, really.
Smeagol totally attacked Ata like 2 seconds after this picture was taken.
(The photo is of Ata, a very large white dog, and Yogi, a largish beagle, lying close together and smiling.)
Clearly a killing machine.
(The photo is of Yogi looking up with an angelic expression.)
And so miserable!
(The photo is of Yogi with a big smile on his face.)
Happy Sunday, y'all. Gotta go help with the lemon-poppyseed Challah French toast now.
This is a pair of black low-top Chuck Taylors (or Converse All-Stars). It isn't that these particular shoes, which I think I bought off Zappos a couple of years ago, are significant to me, but rather than this style and color of shoe is significant. I've had a pair of shoes just like these, or a high-top version of same, constantly for probably 16 years. My first pair of Converse was like a religious awakening, fashion, rebellion, and nostalgia all wrapped up in a low priced, made in the USA (then, not now) shoe. And I have been a convert to the Church of Chuck ever since. My uniform, at many ages, was built around Chucks (jeans, black tshirt, Chucks; baggy cargos, cami, Chucks, etc.) They used to make me feel hip, then ironic, and now, just...young.
I honestly don't wear my Converse all that often anymor , but I will always have a pair on hand.
Yesterday, Jenny of Triumphantly Jenny posted a brief review of the book Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance, Basically, the book is photographs of objects that artists/literati/etc. give significance to and short essays about why. An interesting idea for a book, I think, and an even better one for blog fodder. So I went around my house last night and looked for significant objects to photograph. In doing so, I learned that there are very few objects that have a lot of significance to me--mostly objects are just objects--and those that are significant are generally representative of larger concepts. But anyway, I'll post a few over the the next few days.
The first object I chose is actually objects. It's the built-in bookshelf in my living room. The value of this object is both literal and representative. It's representative of my need to horde books, and my love of organizing things. Literally, it houses some of my favorite books, which are objects I do treasure, as well as some pottery I like a lot, made by the potter in my home town, and some photographs I cherish (photos are definitely among my most valued objects). And, of course, it holds the urn with Chance's ashes.
Plus, if you've never been to my house, isn't it fun to look at the picture and feel like you are looking through my stuff? I did no touching up or reorganizing for this photo, just snapped the bookshelves as they are, in all of their cluttered glory.
I had this grand plan that I was going to use this month to make my great entry into photo blogging. So, of course, my digital camera isn't working. Instead, a picture of home, taken by my mom and sent to me. Probably just to rub it in.
I just realized I haven't introduced you all to our new foster dog, Eugene.
After our long break from fostering, we decided it was time to start up again. Since our house is pretty much in shambles anyway (more even than usual--I actually put my foot through the shower wall the other night), there isn't much they can hurt, and we're going to be home steadily from now until Christmas. So we went last week and met a beagle mix, at the pound, and Saturday we brought him home. And named him Eugene, because we're cruel like that.
Eugene is a fantastic dog. He's clearly been someone's beloved and cherished pet. He is the cuddliest thing ever, loves to sit on your lap and sleeps contentedly (and quietly!) right next to me at night. I really wish I could find his people, as I'd assume he lost them, but since I can't, I am dedicated to finding him a great family to replace them. Honestly, I'd keep himself if given half the chance.
I've been thinking about my body a lot lately.
This is not exactly news, as far as being a woman in Western society goes. We think about our bodies a lot. In fact, we're more or less obsessed with them, as a rule. I know I am and have been in the past. But lately, I am really trying to think about mine in a different way.
With me, it usually starts with clothes. My body has a tendency to fluctuate quite a bit in size and shape, so the clothes that fit me last fall don't necessarily fit me right now. In fact, I've realized during this past couple of weeks that I have basically no pants that I don't have to hike up every five minutes. Also, my bras are too small around and too big in the cups. So off to Ross I go.
I get sick of doing this. It's wasteful, buying new clothes every season because last year's models don't fit now, and I am large enough that I have a real problem finding thrifted clothes in my sizes. The shopping is also frustrating, as I hover between plus-sized and not, and have a generally hard-to-fit body. For every pair of pants that makes a reasonable approximation of my waist-to-hip ratio, I'll try on at least a dozen that don't. Due to these frustrations, I can get kind of twitchy about the whole subject.
What I am trying to internalize, though, is that clothes not made to fit me is their problem, not mine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my body. The path it travels between a size 14 and a size 18 is not a negative reflection on my character. My breasts are not less attractive at a 38B than they were at a 36C. And I have an absolute right to buy myself new things when the old ones don't fit--nothing makes me feel worse faster than facing getting dressed in the morning when everything in the closet is the wrong size. While it is a hindrance financially to have to buy new clothes every season in order to have things fit properly, doing so not a reflection on my character or even on my physical attractiveness. It is also not a reflection on something bad I'm doing--I don't yo-yo diet. I don't binge eat, at least not recently. My current slightly-smaller physique is due mostly to the bout of food poisoning that left me down nearly 20 lbs in four days a month or so ago, but I've made no particular effort to keep that weight off, or to put it back on. I try to eat a reasonable diet and eat when I am hungry, what I'm hungry for. I'm not physically active enough, but at this point in my life, given other health and lifestyle issues I am working on, I can accept that. I'm doing just fine.
I've been watching with great interest a Flickr project called Pictures of You. In it, women post photographs of themselves at different times in the history of their bodies and write notes on them explaining what was going on, how they felt about their bodies at the time, and how they feel about looking at the photos now. I submitted some pictures of my own, but as yet they haven't been added (the group may be closed, I'm not sure). Going through the photos and thinking about what to say about them was extremely cathartic, though, as was the prospect of sharing my thoughts, so I thought I'd do my own little exhibition here. Step right up for a brief photo history of Grace's body:
This picture was taken in the early summer of 1994. I was 14. If memory serves, I was about 5'10" and weighed about 145 lbs. I wear a size 8 or 10. My breasts and hips hadn't developed yet and looking back at this picture, I had amazing legs. At the time, I had just started being truly concerned about my body, but weight wasn't an issue--I spent all my mortification on how tall I was and how I didn't have any chest to speak of. Looking at the picture, though, I see comfort, confidence, joy.
This picture is also at the beach, almost exactly three years later. I'm 17 and just about to leave home and high school. I've gone up another 1-2 inches and gained 15-20 lbs. I wear a size 12. By this point, I've begun to be concerned about my weight on and off, particularly the inner thighs I am blissfully showing in this shot. Looking back, I think I look fantastic, of course. I still have almost no chest, and it still bothers me.
This picture is at the end of 1997, only about eight months after the previous picture. You can't tell, but I'm actually 10-15 lbs lighter here than I was before, due to a stressful first semester at college (my freshman 15 went the other way). I'm still generally in a size 12. However, I have started to really obsess about my body at this point, in part due to being larger than my new boyfriend (also pictured). Oddly, the first thing I notice about this picture now is how incredibly fat my arm looks. I think it's just a weird angle or something, because I know it wasn't that big, but I can't help but think it looks terrible. Guess I still have a long way to go.
This incredibly silly picture, taken in the summer of 1998, represents probably the best shape I've ever been in as an adult. It is at the end of the summer when I got my lifeguard training and certification. I worked at a public pool and swam a lot (which also explains the hair and the tan). I'm at my full height by this point (about 6'1" but I am still calling it 5'11.5") and probably weigh about 160 lbs here, still in a 12. I honestly don't remember if I knew then how great I looked, but I sure know now.
This picture was taken the following summer, 1999. I'm 19 here. I've just been very very sick and my weight is way down--probably back down to 145 or close to it. I'm swimming in my size 12 clothes and have no money to buy anything else. My hips and breasts have started to actually come out by now, and my body just seems weird to me. Looking back on the picture, all I can think of is how much I love that haircut.
This is the following summer, 2000. I am 20. I am back up to my regular (at that time) weight, probably 165-170. I've moved to a size 14 in most clothes. I've developed a love/hate relationship with what I now think of as my enormous ass, and I wear baggy pants all the time. I still feel pretty good about my body, though, as shown in my typically short shirts and lack of sleeves. Looking back, it is hard for me not to think of this as my best natural body.
This picture was taken in September of 2002. I'd just turned 22. My post-college weight gain has started, so I'm probably about 180 here. My breasts have blessedly grown and with the help of a push up bra I can actually fill out the front of that dress. I remember being concerned about how I was sitting when we took these pictures, as I wanted to be shorter than Mark in them (he's about 5'8"-5'9") and not have my legs squished up so they looked fatter. I guess it's safe to say I now officially have weight concerns. It bothers me that I weigh more than Mark, even though I know I'm much taller and built heavier. I'm wearing a size 14 and periodically try to get back into a 12 through crash dieting.
This photo is, I believe, from the spring of 2005. I'm 25. I'm at around 200 lbs, struggling to stay in 14s and branching out to 16s much of the time, and really, furiously unhappy with my weight. When I saw this picture the first time, I mostly saw fat arms and belly rolls. With more retrospect, though, I don't think I look bad at all, and I remember the day (The Mighty Texas Dog Walk) as being a great time.
This is last Halloween, almost a year ago. I am probably at about 215 here. I'm wearing men's jeans with a 38 waist, and I've moved into a lot of size 18 clothes. I didn't show many people this picture when it was taken, because I thought it made me look fat (and honestly, it does). However, I have to end with it for the sake of symbolism now. I am a strong, beautiful, competent woman, no matter what I weigh or what size my pants are, and that is what this costume was supposed to be about. Comically, it's also an illustration of how wearing clothes that are actually too big for you does nothing to make you look smaller.
Today, October 3, 2007, I am 28. I am still about 6'1" and I weigh somewhere between 205-215, I think. I have on brand new jeans, which fit me perfectly and make me feel good, and they are a size 16. Whether I remain in this size, or go up, or go down, it's fine. That's not what that is about. This is about realizing that I look good in ALL of these pictures, and that the changes in my body are fine.
Austin has a really cool zoo. It's actually a rescue/preserve, which is why it's so cool. When our college buds were here last weekend, we went there. Our good friend Howell took this picture of me with a great big
turtle tortoise, and I loved it so much I had to share.
Once upon a time, there were two kitties. One was a big tabby named Atticus, the other a more petite tortie named Esme. It seemed that in their interactions, Atticus would have the advantage, as he outweighed Esme by a good six pounds.
However, Esme had many tricks up her sleeve, including seeming to be uninterested in Atticus' exposed belly.
Being a cat, however, Esme was unable to feign disinterest for long. Soon she was licking her kitty lips in anticipation of her attack.
At the sight of Esme's renewed interest, Atticus went on the defensive.
But alas, his defensive posture was too late, as Esme went in for the kill!
I finally got it together and got my hair cut today, and I am big with the post-haircut happiness. It has been thinned by about half, as well as de-mulleted, and I feel so much better! I'm even beginning to have some love for my natural hair color. Which isn't to say I'll never dye again, but it's good to be au natural for a bit.
I just couldn't resist...
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Friday!
In honor of Love Thursday, and the last day of NaBloPoMo, and just because I wanna, I give you a family portrait of all of the mammalian inhabitants of my house, taken last night, by my friend S. This isn't the one we're going to use on the Christmas card, since not everyone is facing the camera, but it's still my favorite.
Here's something you probably never expected to see:
Mark and I got all dressed up today to go to my good friend's wedding. It was a great wedding and we didn't look too shabby, so I thought I'd share.
My Halloween costume.
As you can see, our newest member has made herself nice and comfortable.
Atakan, our younger dog, is completely convinced that he is a lap dog. I think in his mind he weighs about 10 lbs. In reality, he weighs about 120 lbs, I think. When these pictures were taken, it felt more like 300.
As you can see, Ata is really quite tiny.
I feel sure that pictures of my dogs will improve your day. Or, you know, just improve mine.
Especially if you happen to be a shoe...
Apparently all that shoe fighting is very tiring.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Atticus (Catticus)!
Actual text about our adventures in picking him up to come, but until then, pictures!!
Looks pretty comfy in his new home, no?
Exploring the garden jungle.
Learning about toys.
After his much-needed first bath.
Isn't he cute? So far he's an absolute joy, but I'll fill in the details later.
There will never be another dog like this dog.
Cuddly Bow and Chancers
This is Sahara. She is somewhere between 2 and 3. She's half Pit Bull, half Boxer. She was rescued within minutes of being put down.