November 25, 2014

the plan grew.

and then it kept growing and kept growing and then it grew some more.

drumroll, please.

i've mentioned hiking the mountains-to-sea trail a couple of times.  that's still how my adventure will start - two and a half months or so with bix on the trails.  some introspective time.  some beef my legs up time.  some do something every day that scares you time.

when that's done, i'd like to be a wwoofer.  a wwoofer in greece on an olive tree farm that allows my little woofer (bixby, get it?), preferably one by the sea... to be perfectly honest, 50% of the reason i want to go to greece is lena kaligaris #sorrynotsorry.

when my olive-picking months are over, i'll take a flight over to spain to be an au pair for a sweet little spanish family that will feed me empanadas and trade my language for theirs so in the end, we'll all be a little bit better at communicating.

it'll help me prep for - ready? - a semester of teaching english in ecuador.  bam!  whoa!  this is a global type thing, and i can't ignore south america.  because guatemala was so wonderful when i went, and i want to explore more of what's below the united states.  because spanish is such a beautiful language.  because getting to play around with english and kids at the same time would be so much fun.  because ecuador!

final leg of the journey would be working on a sailboat in maine.  you say sail and i say how fast - but really, there are very few things (if any at all) i love as much as sailing.  my friend worked on this boat, and he said it was one of the hardest things he's done, and i'm sure that would be true for me too, but i'm also sure it would be one of the best.

so that's the plan.  one year of crazy adventure, leaving me probably broke and sunburnt but also hopefully happier and wiser and with a little more direction.  i've talked to this guy who's hiked the MST five times, plus the friend who worked on the boat is also currently wwoofing in ireland so i had two things to pester him with questions about, and i'm messaging with another friend about spain, and i got the ecuador idea from a girl i went on an alternative spring break with and she's assured me that it was great.  i've calculated the flight costs and mapped out the dates and sent in the first application for the au pair program (and they've contacted me back!), which makes all these things less abstract ideas and more actual possibilities.  and i like actual possibilities. 

November 24, 2014

other photos from this weekend

saturday was 100% gorgeous, so i took bix down to duke forest.  shady parts of the creek were covered in ice, but he went in after the sticks i threw for him anyways.  i found a mossy rock and sat down, fully intending to make a decent dent in a storm of swords but i only made it through a chapter before i realized i absolutely needed to take a nap right then.  so we packed up and headed out and took the loveliest nap.

PLUS i managed to dedicate a solid few hours to the pottery studio.  one of the mugs lost its handle, and a good chunk of its side too, but i put a couple things on the shelf to be bisque fired so overall i'd say it was a productive afternoon.

not pictured: pittsboro dinner with dad, episodes of chopped with mike (and zeldie!), big hero 6 with jessi, which was freaking adorable.

also this:
which is something i think people forget a lot?  gloria is so often portrayed as the bimbo that it's easy to forget she's not speaking in her native language, and we would sound at least as dumb trying to speak in a foreign language.  perspective, etc.  i'm glad the show finally addressed this because we really don't know how smart she is in spanish.  so, thanks modern family.

friday night: the outtakes

we start out normal enough...
and then we end here.  i don't know what my pose is either, sorry.

at least now i can say i've been to a semi-formal!  get there in time for the pizza cause the cookies are terrible.

November 21, 2014

capsule assessment

totally unrelated to wardrobe choices, but i think of this every time i hear/say the word assessment.  could ya learn to love me?  no, old gregg, i couldn't.

moving on.

so i heard about this whole wardrobe capsule thing and then i researched it and planned it and put it into action and then realized it wasn't super relevant to my life.  yes, i hid a bunch of my clothes so technically i'm following my rules, but i'm just not really fashionable.  i appreciate cute clothes and i like when i put those clothes together and get a cute outfit, but i'm not going to put any kind of effort into how i look when i'm going to the dog park.  and i do a lot of activities with required types of clothing (think tights and a leotard, or running shorts, or a tshirt that can get covered in clay - nothing i would put in my capsule but everything i actually wear), and i'm not inclined to put on a capsule outfit when i'm done if i'm not planning on doing anything else that evening. so the times i actually use my capsule clothes are few and far between because i'm more inclined to throw on sweatpants and a tshirt when i'm just hanging out.

all that is to say, the capsule idea is way cool, but my lifestyle is more about a wardrobe that prioritizes comfortable/practical over polished.  i just didn't want to make the first post and not follow it up with any kind of second post and have everyone think i'm a quitter.

mostly i just wanted an excuse to put old gregg on my blog.

November 20, 2014

motown & cleaning (cleaning & motown)

few things bring me back to college like putting on a motown pandora station and cleaning the house.  when all of us were home at the same time and we got the urge, we'd dance around and scrub the kitchen floors and put our clothes away and it felt more like a party than a chore.  when we were done the house would be clean and then we'd probably watch golden girls and eat cookie dough straight from the tub.  fact: you are 75% more productive when "ain't no mountain high enough" is playing.

bixby is significantly less helpful when it comes to cleaning because he follows me around and tries to bite the broom and hides from the vacuum cleaner, but then i found him like this, exhausted from all his hard work, and my heart just melted.

is he the cutest or what??

November 19, 2014

bix LOVES to be chased.  loves loves loves it.  i don't know why that is, what in a dog's instincts would cause him to want to be the prey rather than the predator, but whatever it is, he's got it.  this is him going slow - he can really pick up the pace when he wants to - and it's all fun and games until jelly nips his tail at the very end.  silly dog.

November 17, 2014

and i didn't even care that my hair was disgusting

this weekend was the busiest, so fun, but something almost every second kind of fun.  sarah and aileen and a couple of their friends and i went to a contra dance, and it was guy heavy, so i wound up dancing every single one with a lot of really good dancers and it was so so good.  i hadn't been in forever and sometimes, i don't know, i get all funny feeling about it.  i'll be there and i'll be two dances in and someone will dance a little too close or step on my foot or swing me poorly and the whole thing makes me feel nauseous about dancing and i have to go because it doesn't get better.  but that didn't happen at all - i was so pleased with the dances and the partners i had and sarah was SUCH a trooper and stayed the whole time, even though it was her first time, it was really a great night.

saturday morning bix and i got up and it was cold cold cold, so i bundled way up and we hit the dog park.  there were just two or three other dogs when we got there, but as it got warmer, more people came and bixby had a wonderful time.  we stayed for probably an hour and a half, so he was good and tired when i left to play paintball (say what?).  so for sarah's birthday (stencer) we went to frankie's fun park and played laser tag and other sarah (swerner) had a blast and kicked ass and shortly after found a living social deal for paintball and asked if we wanted to go, and having very little idea of what we were getting ourselves into, stencer and i said "sure!" and then as we learned more and more about paintball got more and more terrified.  but we put our game faces on and drove out to the middle of nowhere and walked past all the scary looking guys decked out in camo and got our guns and masks and played paintball.  well, swerner played paintball.  stencer and i did a lot of hiding behind things and laughing at how ridiculous we looked and hanging out at the checkpoint for a good long while whenever we got hit.  in the end, we gave our leftover bullets to some guys that we'd chatted with before the games, and they were all really sweet and they flirted with us and one of them might join stencer's volleyball team and one guessed our names right on the first try and one was wearing neon green and purple leggings under his red fleece pants.  and then we left and got margaritas and queso and all was right with the world.
rough & tough paintball faces - swerner did not get the memo.  also our initials spell ASS.
we had to kind of hurry the margs & queso bit because stencer and i were going to a concert at cat's cradle.  scythian - who i had heard at shakori and she had heard at merlefest - is a folk rock kind of band, they played a lot of irish music but then some scottish and some ukranian and they brought the opening band up to play their west african drums with scythian's fiddles and accordion.  the danciest music, we spent the majority of the concert jumping and clapping and grinning and trying not to spill our cider.  i adore live music, i will go to about any show, and this was one of those that i'd been looking forward to for a while and knew i'd have a wonderful time but i got there and squirmed up closer to the front row and remembered that i actually didn't know any of their songs.  but they played "cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue" so i sang along with that and they encouraged audience participation like nobody's business so the guitarist would have us do backup oooohs or the fiddler would get us to echo their lyrics, so i never felt like a worse audience member for not knowing every (any) song.

sunday was meet up with people day.  i had coffee twice (and by "had coffee" i actually mean i hate coffee, so i got chai in the morning and hot chocolate at night, it's funny how getting coffee just means going to a coffee shop and ordering whatever the heck you want) plus mina's because it's a sweet little place and nothing ever stays there and i want mina's to stay and insomnia cookies because yum.  and i made it out to open studio and threw a vase, not a very great vase but it's a vase, and trimmed a couple things.  i went to trader joe's to get a couple things (read: cheese.  i went to trader joe's to get cheese because ain't nobody does cheese like trader joe's does cheese.) and when i was leaving, i saw this old man with an old seeing eye dog at a crosswalk.  the dog looked at me and looked the other way and then very very carefully took its owner across the road.  the intersection is more diamond shaped than square, so the dog didn't quite do it right - he went sort of out of the way and the two of them had to loop back but he was being so careful and so sweet and caring and trying SO HARD to do it right even though he didn't that i got all teary and had to give bixby an extra snuggle when i got home.  dogs!  nobody's got hearts as good as dogs.

and that, friends, is more than anyone ever needed to know about my weekend.

November 12, 2014

the best, most beautiful bowl i ever did throw

the first pottery class i took was to get involved in the community, to have something to do on wednesday nights, to maybe make friends.

the second pottery class i took was because lisa wanted to take one too and because all the stuff i'd thrown in the first class was lumpy and off center but had gotten better over the seven weeks so i thought maybe i had potential.

the third pottery class, the one i'm in now, was because actually i really enjoy pottery - i like that there are so many different steps so if you're bored with throwing you can trim and if you're bored with trimming you can glaze, i like that you start with something that looks an awful lot like mud and wind up with something you made, i like how the clay feels, i like that it's an art form that is functional (sometimes) in addition to being aesthetically pleasing (eh, working on it).  i like the random people that wheelthrowing attracts.

i'm the kind of person who learns how to do things too many times.  i took the beginners skiing class three times until my friends decided that seriously anna we don't need to do this anymore.  so being the only one in the class with experience works for me.  i mean, paul has already surpassed me in cylinder making, but he's some kind of weird prodigy apparently so whatever.  because the group is almost entirely beginners (i mean, i'm a beginner too if we're being honest, but i'm talking people that have zero experience), the teacher still takes twenty or so minutes at the beginning of class to go over the basics.  watch me throw a cylinder.  watch me do it again.  here is one way to center, here is one way to open, here are others.  it's slow and deliberate and i appreciate completely.  and then he sets us free and we hunch over our wheels with our glorified mud and try to turn it into vessels that don't crumple in our clumsy fingers.

i threw a couple meh cylinders that i'll turn into coffee mugs and give away for christmas probably, and then i was out of my first layer of clay so i cut some bigger pieces and thought i might throw a bowl.  it's similar to making a cylinder, except instead of making a volcano shape, you collar the sides up straight and then veerrrryyyy carefullllyyyyy pull the sides out and up and out and up until the bowl is the shape and thickness you want.  i've made a bunch of bowls, and actually found them to be the most useful things i'd thrown, probably because 90% of the foods i eat are either pasta or beans and rice, but the problem with clay is that it shrinks.  it shrinks 10-15% according to james, so if you throw a bowl and say "oh this will be great for salad" it will probably be great for like, some baby carrots.  the first several things i made were salsa bowls that quickly turned into ketchup dishes.

BUT!!  last night, i took my lump of clay and threw it on the wheel and centered it and opened it and compressed the floor and collared it and started pulling and each pull worked the way i wanted it to until i had a lovely lovely big bowl with nice thin sides and a pretty shape.  and then we had to figure out how to get it off the wheel because i hadn't used a bat but we got it eventually and i took pictures of it in case something goes wrong during one of the next steps because i made a real live big beautiful bowl.


November 11, 2014

my favorite version of bixby is the sleepy puppy version.  i love him when he's really excited about something, i love him when he runs over to me at the dog park just to check in, i love him when we walk and he stays by my side and sits at all the crosswalks, but when he's snuggled up on my bed and just wants to cuddle, that's the bixby i love best.

November 10, 2014

because what kind of weekend would it be if i didn't get a blurry picture of me and kaitlin out of it?
(bonus predictable points: random guy cheesing with us & hat that doesn't belong to me)

November 8, 2014

falls lake hike

today was a nine-mile out and back hike on the mountains to sea trail to see some haunted houses.  there were fourteen of us and i didn't know a soul when we started walking, but everyone was so sweet and talkative and it was such a good time of bonding in nature.  the woods were so beautiful, i always like being outdoors but something about these particular woods was extra special.  the sunshine and the leaves and the way everything dappled and the air was so crisp.  and i got to think about being on the trail next summer, hiking it for real for real, with a pack on my back and bixby's leash in my hand, hiking that section with a friend maybe since it'll be so close to home, that one four and a half mile bit of the mst.  it felt solidified and tangible and 100% yes, go, do, this is the time in your life when you adventure, and by golly i'm going to do it.

kisses from derpville :)

November 6, 2014

chaco chacos!

six years too late, i finally caved and bought my very first pair of chacos.  ordered them actually, they'll be on their two-day shipping way shortly, because none of the chacos i saw anywhere were as beautiful as these:

shoutout to caleb, the cute rei sales dude with green pants who sang the hefty hefty hefty hefty song unprompted and patiently adjusted three pairs of chacos for me, knowing full well i wasn't going to buy any there.  i wanted unaweeps, and they only sold yampas, and unaweeps are the things to buy for heavy duty hiking.  or at least, as heavy duty as you can get in sandals.  and i'm going to need heavy duty if i'm going to be hiking the mountain to sea trail in july.  and i'm going to be hiking it - at least parts of it - in my bright. pink. and blue. chacos.  eeeep!

November 5, 2014


i just fell asleep at 6:30 and didn't wake up until 9 and it feels like morning even though i'm cooking dinner right now.

bixby attacked a dog at the dog park on sunday, and i haven't felt like i could fully trust him since.  nothing reminds you that your dog is in fact an animal with all the instincts and social structures and emotions that implies like seeing him pin another dog to the ground and going at its throat like he means it.  i don't know what started it exactly, i thought he was friends with that bulldog, but we've been going to the other dog park since, just in case, with no repeat - or even similar - offenses.  having a dog is a lot harder than i anticipated, it's so much more than feeding them and making the time to ensure they're exercised.  i feel like i have to constantly train him, constantly make sure i'm not enforcing any bad behaviors.  you can't tell a dog "i'm letting you pull on the leash right now because i'm in a hurry, but please don't do it later."  you have to slow down and go through the motions of teaching them not to pull, unless you want them to do it again on the next walk.  and now that he's figured out he can get to the counters, even less stuff is safe.  he's ruined very few things, but i'll constantly find things he's moved to the floor - the remote, my socks, receipts.  yesterday i came home and the box set of game of throne season 2 dvds was on the floor, and little pieces of plastic from the case were splintered across the rug.  none of the dvds are ruined, but i borrowed the set from a dog park friend, and now i'll have to replace the whole thing, because i can't give it back to him all chewed.

i wanted to win the costume contest, but when i did i felt guilty about it, like i didn't deserve it.  i still feel that way, i don't know, i worked hard on my costume, but lots of people looked better than me.  the contest made the whole thing less fun.  we're in full holiday season swing now, i guess, but i'm feeling kind of grinchy about it.  i'm looking forward to thanksgiving, obviously, since i'll be in miami, but that feels like the opposite of thanksgiving to me - trading out my wool socks and hoodies for summery dresses and shorts.  even though it's been years since we've gone to the hersheys' for thanksgiving, that's how i'll always think it should be.  snacking on veggie platters and grapes and cheese all day while we play with aurora and the night ends with all of us singing "waltzing with bears" and "willin'" and we listen to captain kangaroo's christmas on the ride home (oh, mr. green jeans).  and christmas is a big question mark, as usual, i adore the holiday season, but christmas day itself stresses me out like no one's business.  we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, i guess.

pottery class started up yesterday, and i love it, again.  the first class is always too much talk and not enough do, but that's how the first class has to be.  i'm the only non-beginner, which automatically makes me the best in the class (heyo!) but it's funny, everyone else successfully threw pots way better than anything i made in the beginning.  speaking of christmas, the plan is to make a whole bunch of bowls and mugs and stuff and just give them to people, so basically the cost of all the presents i give is the cost of the class.  or something.  as long as i don't get attached to everything i make.  the teacher is really cool, i've had a different one each time, and honestly i think if this were my first class, he would drive me nuts but for a mixed levels class he's great.  very laissez-faire, i'm going to show you how to do it and then set you free with the wheels the clay and your own two hands.  i threw two cylinders, the first was decent, the second went to crap at the top and now it's just a lot shorter than i'd intended.  we'll see what they become.  i'm mostly excited to work on the decoration this time - i know my throwing still needs a lot of work, but some of the things i made last class i was perfectly happy with, except i wish i knew how the glazes interacted with each other better, and how to really use slip, and how to make designs in the clay to make it look like mine.  

i don't know, i've felt like i've been treading water lately.  i don't know where i'll be a year from now, i don't know where i want to be a year from now, i have this dog and this house and this life and it's working and i'm happy but i'm not necessarily content, you know?  i'm taking pottery, i'm prepping for the holidays.  and it's great, it's my life and it's great, but pretty soon i want something bigger.  something to make me feel small and brave and worthwhile.

that's all for now.

November 3, 2014

on heat

i've never had to account for having a gas heater before, so i didn't do anything about getting the gas turned on until yesterday, when my thermostat read approximately 52 and i was wearing my leopard onesie with the feet AND a gigantic sweatshirt.  since it was sunday, they couldn't send anyone out, so i had to settle for taking an incredibly hot shower (my hands felt like they do when you play in the snow too long and then go inside and wash them and the water hurts) and enthusiastically cleaning the whole house and getting into bed with my sherpa blanket on top of my comforter and bixby curled up next to me for body warmth.  but the furnace guy came out today and turned everything on and waved a magazine at the smoke alarm when it started beeping and made fun of me because it was warmer outside than it was inside but none of that matters because my house is going to be cozy warm for the rest of this awful cold season.

adulting is tricky business, guys.  get your heat turned on before november.

November 2, 2014

goodbyyyyyye october, helloooooo november

this weekend!  this weekend was as near perfect as things can pretty much get.  opening with halloween was wonderful, obviously, it's my favorite holiday, and we got to dress up in costume at work which was the bee's knees.  the sarahs had a party, and of course i went (with bix as batdog!), but i drove home early so i could head out to franklin street.  it was kind of a piecey evening, i was by myself for a while, until i met up with kaitlin and her sister, and then we found neighbor joe and his friends, then we went to a frat house, which wasn't my favorite thing, so i left and met up with mike and co at topo, and when the bars closed i walked back to the neighbors house and we got some good kitchen floor time in.

the really nice thing about going out on friday night is that somehow it makes the rest of the weekend seem so much longer, so all saturday i thought it was sunday, and the feeling every time i realized it wasn't was the best.  bixby and i went to duke forest (for real this time) and he LOVED it.  we made a pit stop at phydeaux to get a retractable leash, and thank goodness, because he was a million times easier to handle when he could explore a little more.  and he went in the water and acted like an enormous goof, freaking out about being so dang happy.  i felt like a lunatic because i was laughing so much at him in the middle of the woods by myself, but he would run! in the water and run! back out and do his bowowowow bark and then he'd dig! and run! in the water some more.

afterwards i drove back out to raleigh to have some quality netflix time with sarah (and other sarah briefly too).  we watched anastasia (it's weirder than you remember) and hart of dixie (so bad, but in that guilty pleasure kind of way) and ordered papa john's and ate popsicles and talked about boys and all the other stuff you're supposed to do on a lazy saturday night on the couch with your bestie.  it was fantastic.

and now it's actually sunday, and i do have work tomorrow, but the good news is that it's daylight savings time so the hour that's making me so sleepy at 8:13 will trick me into thinking it's 7:40 when i wake up tomorrow.  i'm about to end the weekend by snuggling up in my bed with a storm of swords or possibly brooklyn nine-nine and that sweet puppy dog.  adieu, all.