Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden

On the way to Tennessee, Dean and I stopped off at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville. Oh man! This is a must-see for anyone in or around North Georgia. Finster used his art to spread the gospel but his vision is so joyful and inspirational, it transcends religion. Every painting, sculpture, and structure emits the warm fuzzies.
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hf01The World’s Folk Art Church, designed to resemble the tiers of a wedding cake.

hf02“I never seen a person I didn’t love.”

hf03bits and bobs for bicycle repair

hf04a lovely sort of archaeology

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hf08messages underfoot

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hf10cloud car garage

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hf15mirror house super selfie

hf16dragonfly lovers

Wu-Tang Trains Comin’ Atcha

How do you celebrate your wedding anniversary? If you’re me ‘n’ Dean, you co-celebrate alongside the 10 year anniversary tour of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. We saw Rae and Ghost back in August, at Chattanooga’s Track 29. Seeing these legends perform behind a historic train station was straight-up surreal.
Wu-Tang (and our marriage) is here forever!
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wu02This was a perfect, two-day trip. We went out for a late screening of Escape From New York with James and his girl then hit a wonderfully empty road after midnight. We stopped outside of Summerville and visited Paradise Garden first thing in the morning. By lunch time, we’d checked into the charming Chattanooga Choo Choo.

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wu05If you’re already going to see two of your favorite rappers amidst 19th century trains, you might as well keep mixing it up with drinks at a German gastropub and vegetarian club sandwiches at Sluggo’s. Cheers!

wu06There were a ton of apple farms on the drive home. We stopped at one for peach cider and apple donuts. Yum!

wu07Lounging Pink Panther (Lady Pink not pictured) in Cumming, Georgia. These sculptures were our last stop on the way home.

Hello 2016!

The past year had some serious high-five moments. We bought a motherfucking house (tha dream)! Dean’s working full time again. We both got health insurance. HECK YESSSSS. I’m also grateful to have made some super cool friends. Dean and I both work 40+ hour weeks, we don’t go out a ton, and we still miss our Seattle crew like crazy– our Athens pals have helped us big time. In spite of these things, 2015 is not going down as a great year for me. The last couple months were stunk up with a frankly awful and stymied roommate situation. The silver lining there is it made me think a lot about friendship and how I want to make it more of a priority in my life. (I found this wonderful post after actually googling ‘thirties friendship waning’ and it was like reading the perfect articulation of my thoughts.)

Staying in touch with far-away friends isn’t exactly hard, but it takes effort. I feel lucky to have held onto my closest friends from my teens and 20s but those relationships have inevitably grown quieter with time and distance. I think a big part is the adult push to focus more selectively on careers or marriages/families but, ya know, personalities shift for any number of reasons. No matter how tight we still are, that bullshit time to talk nonsense for hours, hit up Twin Peaks brunch on a whim, or marathon horror movies together is gone. In Seattle, more than a dozen friends flew in to visit us. In Athens, three were able to swing by in the first year. For years, I’ve made excuses as to why I don’t visit anyone (I’m practically broke and I only get 2-4 days off each month) but they’re just excuses. If I can subsist on rice and beans all month for a $$$ Prince show, I can prioritize for people I care about. Much love to everyone in the New Year. Ride-or-Die 4eva.
01goals 02nyOur last movie of the year was The Hateful Eight. Honestly, I did not love it in spite of a top notch cast (Walton Goggins!), gorgeously shot violence, and a bomb-ass Morricone soundtrack. We’ll always pay to see Tarantino movies though. New Year’s Day we went to my co-worker’s house for collard greens and black-eyed peas. We’d never heard of this tradition but it was delicious! Also, I think in the way many women get baby fever, I have puppy fever. Love their dog, Frannie! (Not that their baby isn’t also insanely cute!)

#intheATH: Mr. and Mrs. Goose

In May, a pair of geese decided to make their home on one of Target’s parking lot islands. They were there for over a month and it such an odd thing to drive by. In defense of humans, I think we all kept a respectful distance, but there’s no denying these love birds got a rough real estate deal. I snapped a few photos on my zoom lens but I could tell Mr. Goose still wanted to peck my eyes out. Poor guy.

One day in June, we noticed the nest had been abandoned. It was one of those dark, foreboding summer evenings where you could tell the sky was about to open up with one of those God’s-wrath thunderstorms. I like to pretend Mr. and Mrs. Goose were just running a quick errand for tiny ponchos but it was really fucking sad to see their eggs deserted. I don’t know if the constant cars or the imminent storm drove them away but, ach. :(

Shelf Life: January

Matilda Cackle photobomb!

Sunny, Vol. 1 by Taiyo Matsumoto: Jason warned, ‘get yer hanky ready!’ and oof- there are definitely some heartbreaking moments. ‘Sunny’ is a broken-down car/playhouse in the yard of a Japanese orphanage. For every first crush, runny nose, and action movie fantasy, there’s something terrible that made me go, ‘Eff this terrible world and all the adults in it.’ The book itself is a beautiful. I wish more manga got the fancy hardcover treatment.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: The story is set in London, at the end of the first World War, and Frances and her mother have fallen on hard times. To make ends meet, they open their house to two young lodgers who rock Frances’s world. I read this quickly and think Sarah Waters is a sublime writer (I’d been meaning to read her novels for some time). However, the limitations in this time period are so fucking frustrating, I had to put the book down at one point to groan loudly. Sorry for this hint of a spoiler but AHHHH!– if only these women had been born a few decades later to enjoy baller lifestyles!

The Hospital Suite by John Porcellino: An account of Porcellino’s health problems. It’s perfect.

Snowpiercer, Vol. 2: The Explorers by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette: I don’t want to hate on a COOL dystopian future story with great art but I didn’t love this. The plot is riddled with confusing jumps and the ending seems very abrupt. Also, why is it ok for the train to stop now? I enjoyed the movie and the first volume of the original comic but this follow-up left me COLD.

Endless Summer


Sometimes it feels like we left Seattle a few weeks ago, a few months ago tops. Other times, it feels like we’ve been in Athens for ages with the days just dribbling away. I was in this same limbo-funk when I first moved from New York to Seattle- and before that, when I moved from Upstate New York to Wrong Island. Moving is tough and I think it’s extra tough to leave the towns you spent your teens and 20s in. You know… they have an extra special chunk of your memory. Dean and I have been in Athens for a little over a year now. It’s been challenging but it’s also been great. A few rambling highlights:

Last month, Dean and I bought our first house! I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the #1 reason we decided to move out here. This is something we couldn’t have done in Seattle despite having rad, full-time jobs and saving every scrap. The rush of joy we felt at closing is beyond words. A million kisses and high-fives as our suburban dreams become reality! Flamingo Ranch is currently under construction but we’ve got some pretty fabulous plans. I’m so lucky to have a husband with similar tastes in eye-bleeding colors and kitsch.

Something that soothed the homesickness this year was the stream of Seattle visitors. Dave came out for Fluke, Steph O. stopped by on her solo southern road trip, Josh S. drove through on his book tour. It also helps that my best friend James moved to Athens in January. Some people think it’s weird that we’re best friends who’ve lived together in multiple states but I don’t know of many best friends that stay this tight long distance. What can I say? We’re destined to be Golden Girls. James’s lady Nancy is moving to town soon and I’m already thinking about how fun it’ll be to go on best friend double dates!

Finally, I turned 30 this past spring and I’m pretty sure my 30s are going to rule. Women in Athens like to say they’re “old” when they mean they’re 25-45. I’m assuming this is part of the college town mentality cuz, yikes! That is not old. My birthday is March 20 and it was a Freaky Friday this year: total solar eclipse and super moon. I didn’t get to witness the cosmic awesomeness but it seemed like a good omen for the decade ahead. :) I guess that’s it for the rambling. I hope to document more of the good stuff later.

Return to the Emerald City

So right now, I’m going through a mild burnout. Family stuff, lingering homesickness, general fatigue from those 28-day work stretches. Last night, Sarah’s mom passed away- she was a tremendously kind woman and it’s a big loss. I dunno. I’m not facing an immediate crisis but I’ve been feeling low and nostalgic. It made me feel a little better to go through photos from our trip to Seattle this past October. Oh man. It was so, so good to see friends and familiar places!

Archie McPhee is eternally the greatest gift shop on earth. Kristy hanging out by a bathtub of tentacles. Nate and Mike shaking giant, lobster claw hands. Dean lookin’ adorable with a giant ear (and those anatomical models)! Dean and I took a squirrel-head photostrip because TRUE LOVE.

The dinosaur garden by the Fanta office! I used to walk here a lot on lunch breaks. It’s someone’s front yard and they switch it up fairly regularly so you never know when a new figurine will pop up or the big T-Rex head will be eye-level with you in one of the hedges.

I’m so glad I got to visit the office when I did since Ted ended up moving to Arizona a couple months afterwards. Now he’s a Phoenician and I’m an Athenian but on this day- we were all part of the old basement crew. Upstairs, I ran into Jacq’s beautiful, one-eyed dog, Wanda. I miss her quiet snores.

Seeing my old co-workers and boss was GREAT and then I got to meet Simon Hanselmann in drag. I’d just read Megahex before the trip. After that, bussed downtown to meet back up with Dean and got some tourist photos of the KEXP wall.

Larry! Is any trip to Seattle complete without seeing this guy?! I really don’t think so. We hung out with him as long as he’d have us at the Georgetown store. Later, we met up with Ian and Annelie at Smarty Pants for dinner. It was our first time seeing those two since they moved back from Austin.

Mmmmm. The color and grandeur of the Pike Place Market gum wall. Dean and I had coffee and treats by the water (the Cinnamon Works snickerdoodles I’d been dreaming of!) then went to Frank’s to say ‘hello’ to Chaz. James and I (and sometimes Kristy) got our produce from Chaz almost every week ‘cuz he’s the best.

Six months in the beer paradise of Athens and I still haven’t found anything I enjoy as much as Mac and Jack’s which I enjoyed at The Five Point Cafe with Nate, Kristy, and Dave. This was around the time Tom Morello was mad about not getting a VIP room there. ‘Eggs Against the Machine’ brah. To the right: ever-changing wheatpastes on the market walls.

Nate’s still in the International District but now he’s got an even cooler apartment than he’d had before. The two of us met up with Eric and had ramen on his patio. Sooooo good! Post lunch, we went to Daiso which I didn’t realize wasn’t a nationwide chain before moving away. :( Japanese Dollar Store, how I miss you! I got a sack’s worth of kawaii and engrish goodies. Best purchase: cat mug with cat face lid to keep my tea warm.

The blood red hall at the downtown library. Still love the sci-fi Koolhaas design.

And here’s the reason we made this trip- to see Gavin and Rachel get hitched! They are a lovely couple and we are so happy for them! They were married by librarian superstar Nancy Pearl. Dave Chappelle passed through the bar and gave them their first toast. We goof-danced on the dance floor- Annelie and Mike B. killed it.

Kristy, my Halloween soulmate, put us up for the long weekend. Seattle is rapidly changing and you can see a lot of those changes from Kristy’s ‘hood (South Lake Union- ride the S.L.U.T.!) up through Capitol Hill. In the short frame of time we’d been away, more old businesses had closed while new, expensive condos had sprung up. But THANK GOD my favorite landmarks are still standing. Hope our next trip is longer than a couple days!

Sweets ‘n’ Treats

I’m trying to make a new dessert each month so for January, I made mini pumpkin spice donuts following a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh She Glows. These little guys have a lovely flavor and I like the crunch of the topping. Next time, I’m thinking they’d be good with a boozy, pecan glaze.
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A Few More January Treats:
january• We love Matilda so much! Her chirpy noises and playfulness are the cutest and the expressions she makes when she’s curious just kill me. Gah! Too adorable!
• One of the best work emails I have ever received: “My lovely wife Beth’s extremely nice parents used to dress up as clowns… They’re in their 80s now and no longer wearing the clown costumes. Would you and your husband like to have them? Because I think with minor modifications, they could be scary clown costumes.” I never knew I wanted clown costumes and Eva Gabor wigs but a thousand times YES, Eddie. What an odd and wonderful gift.
• James moved down to Athens and having him as our roommate again is GREAT. This morning we went to Hi-Lo for brunch. I hope it’s the first of many Scrabble brunches. Our new friends are awesome too- we had a lot of fun knitting, drinking and action-movie watching with Jen and Jeffrey. :)

I’m working a lot this month so my scattered free time should be quiet but (I hope) productive. Dean and I are house hunting (so fun!). James, Dave and I are drawing tiny stories for April. Gotta be an adult and get stuff done!

Tybee Island

After walking around Savannah, my mom and I retired to a hotel on Tybee Island. The next morning, it was extra chilly so we were only on the beach for a few minutes. Still beautiful in the off season but- hooooo woah. Watery eyes and red cheeks from that windy rain!

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