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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, Monday (plus a GIANT turtle!)

Ecclesiastes 12:12 "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."

Monday, Monday...
Can't trust that day...
Monday, Monday...
Sometimes it just turns out that way...

Today was not the best day. Mostly because I can't believe it's Monday AGAIN.

Yesterday I had my in-laws over for dinner, so basically all I did was church in the a.m., a shopping trip, cooking and baking, and then entertaining the fam from 5-9 p.m. We had a lot of fun (burgers and cherry pie and my cats meeting their "cousin" dog for the first time), but it was also draining in that hard-to-define way. Eh, maybe I'm just greedy and jealous of my friends who aren't working full-time right now.

Well, the whole weekend went by in a FLASH, what felt like about 45 minutes, not two days. Saturday I went on an amazing hike with my uncle, cousin, and his girlfriend through the river at Kankakee State Park in (you guessed it) Kankakee. We saw huge fish swimming not 3 feet from our legs (sketchy but fun), mostly carp and trout, and one pointy-snouted gar. Oh yeah, and one baby crawdad my cousin caught with a bravery born of years catching them in much shallower waters at Waterfall Glen (our original river-hike stomping ground).

So we hiked up and down the riverside. I definitely had a resurgence of acrophobia whilst climbing up the steeper slopes. Don't look down!! But it was better once we were down in the water, where we sloshed/waded through the river upstream to the waterfall. We (wisely) left our cell phones in the car, but my cousin brought his waterproof camera along, and we took this great shot of us by the waterfall. Sadly, the photographic evidence has not made its way to me yet, so you'll have to wait for proof of my river expedition.

Today was a sad day, as my cousin (yeah, the same one) left for his summer job/mission work in Tennessee. "It's ok," I told my grandma. "Look at the map. He's only 3 1/2 inches away." But that observation didn't convince either of us that it would be any easier to live the next three months without him. Even though we'll probably drive down to visit him, and he'll likely have internet access... I'm just a sap when it comes to good-byes. I'm not gonna lie. I bawled like a baby last night (ok, fine, and today on the way back to work after saying good-bye). I'm gonna miss that kid.

In happier news, my uncle found and rescued a giant turtle on the side of the road last week. He's an African species (we think), and he's HUGE. We haven't weighed him yet, but he's gotta be about 60 pounds at least. This ain't no snapping turtle, kids.

I affectionately referred to him as the Galapagos turtle at first. My cousins wanted to name him Hot Pockets, but really, is it ever a good idea to name an animal after food? Let alone something microwaveable? Yeah, I didn't think so. So then, as a child of the 80s, I felt it my duty to christen him Michelangelo.

We're currently calling around local zoos looking for someone to take him in full-time. I'd love to keep him as a pet (how often do you get to adopt a rescue turtle?), but our space is limited. Also, I'm not sure the cats would love him.

Back to the original reason for this post.... other than to regain my sanity after working, um, 11 hours today.

Most of the time I love my job. Working for a publisher is awesome in so many ways, but this year our busy season (aka "SPRING") seems to have taken a cue from the Energizer bunny. It just keeps dragging on and on... and on.

The reward, of course, will be (overtime pay and) many lovely new books this fall! Including the one that we started last week and which will be ready to buy in printed form, when? JULY. That's pretty quick, you say. Um no. That's RIDICULOUSLY CRAZY IMPOSSIBLY FAST. Normal book schedule, from raw manuscript to printed book on the shelf, is 9 months. This one? Just about 6 weeks. Hi, insanity? Yeah, it's me again. Bust open the diet Pepsi. I'm comin' over and we're gonna work like banshees until this project is done on Friday. Yeah... It's gonna be a long week....

Monday, May 16, 2011

School's Out for Summer! (plus softball, pies, and Jesus on taxes)

So, weekly recap. It's now Monday (again... BLEH), but this past week has been pretty full, in a good/normal way.

The big news: My hubby passed his final exam and got a B overall in the class! This means:
1. We get reimbursed for tuition. Woot!
2. He gets to take the state test and be officially certified for his job.
3. We get Monday and Wednesday evenings (and weekends) back, which had previously been devoured by class time and endless studying. Yay!

School's out for summer, baby! FOREVER, actually, since I don't think he needs to take any more classes for work. [enormous sigh of relief] What will we do with all our newfound free time? Details below!

Somewhere around Wednesday I realized I haven't had a vacation since my honeymoon last July! Part of that was due to the aforementioned class, but seriously, it's time to get out of town. Plans are in the works.

Thursday night, we arrived at the softball diamond in lovely 90 degree weather (seriously, I LOVE the heat! Outside, not on the basketball court. Go Bulls!). Several hours later, we had won our third straight church softball game, which puts us at 3 wins, 0 losses. And even though the first win was a forfeit by the other team, we'll take it. My cousin is on the team this year. He's been begging to play for about the last 3-4 seasons, so my husband (aka Coach) thought he was finally old/big enough to compete with the rest of the guys. Turns out, the timing was perfect. We've been short on players thus far, and he's been a huge help. He's a natural third baseman. Quick hands, strong arm, solid presence on the field. I'm pretty proud of the kid.

Saturday was a cleaning day. Tis spring, after all. I vacuumed the whole house, did laundry, organized the spare room, went to Menard's (second time in two days) w/hubby to take advantage of their made in USA sale, and still squeezed in time to make a cherry pie w/homemade crust and a chocolate pudding/cool whip pie before dinner with the fam. Score.

Related to those pies, now that summer is almost upon us, I'm hoping to combat a recent trend: me getting fat. If you haven't noticed, thank you for being unobservant. If you have noticed and just haven't said anything like "Dude, you're lookin' a little chunky there in the gut," thank you for your lack of candor. I'm going to try a lack-of-weight-gain strategy this week that I like to call "an apple a day keeps the pant-shrinking fairy away." Updates to come, if they're not horribly depressing.

Sunday's sermon was on Jesus' take on paying taxes. Cliff notes version: He wants you to pay them. I was reminded of an uncle of mine who refused to pay his income taxes for like 20 years. (He claimed it was unconstitutional.) Uncle Sam eventually nailed him with back taxes and fees to the tune of probably twice what he would have paid originally. Moral of the story? Jesus is smart. Thou shalt pay thy taxes. Whether to Caesar or Uncle Sam.

That's all, folks!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Food and Memories

Psalm 143:5
"I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done."
Today was book group at work. (Who else but an editorial dept would form such a group at the office? Because we didn't get enough reading done at our desks... Not that reading for fun and reading for work are anything alike. Anyone who says so is lying. And is definitely not an editor.)

So like I said, it was book group day, which means it was my chance to pretend I was a college student once again, soaking up the luscious atmosphere of literary group discussion. We read selections from Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and G. K. Chesterton's The Autobiography of (you guessed it) G. K. Chesterton. Both centered around the memory and how our remembering memories actually changes them in our minds... and changes us.

Among the (many personal and philosophical) points discussed was this question: Do our earliest memories say something about us, or are they more or less random? If they are meaningful, does that mean we tend to remember something that strikes a chord in our young souls, something that will represent a grand theme in our lives? Or does the early memory itself become the standard, the litmus test against which we measure the authenticity of all future memories? Ok, so we didn't ask all those questions. I fleshed them out a little (or a lot) in my mind. But I don't feel any closer to an answer. Maybe there isn't one.

As I write this, I'm eating a dinner of scrambled eggs with butter and a baked potato, soon to be drowned in sour cream, chives, and more butter. Both are washed down the hatch with a crisp Diet Pepsi. Why does that matter? Because each of these items is linked to a specific memory (or series of memories) from my childhood.

My grandma used to make me scrambled eggs with butter for breakfast. Especially in the summer, though I don't know why. I had forgotten about that until recently, but I swear there is no way to duplicate the smooth, steaming taste of eggs that have been cooked in a thin sheen of saturated fat and salted to perfection.

Baked potatoes were another standard for my mom and me. Usually accompanied by peas or green beans, nuked from their frozen state into a hot, green volcano erupting next to my noodles or whatever else we were having in our cozy, two-gal household (at least while it lasted).

And the Diet Pepsi... Look I know there are strong feelings in both camps. Coke vs. Pepsi has been known to break up marriages in my family. (Just kidding! Maybe...) Anyway, at this point, I don't even drink it because I like it. I drink it out of habit, you might even say out of allegiance. Fealty from a soda can? Indeed. I've heard of tribal loyalties based on less.

In conclusion, I have a lot of work to do answering those hefty memory questions I posed earlier. But all in due time. Right now, back to dinner. Before my eggs get cold.