Sunday, September 26, 2010

Out Petting Horses

So, seeing how our marriage lacked both a honeymoon and a wedding present from me, around August or so I decided to surprise Justin with a trip.  A trip to a bed and breakfast (as I stumblingly tried to explain to the owners, we seem young but we tend to enjoy things that retired people enjoy), it turned out, at the northern most end of the Chesapeake Bay.  It was a roundabout find, sprouted from the seedling of "farm stays," the hot new staycation taking the nation by storm I read about in Redbook (Cosmo for college graduates!).  Apparently Maryland has very few farms available for stay, so I went with Fairwinds Farm, a charming horse farm with all the fixins, including horrendous web design.  Justin had been slightly hesitant, vaguely understanding that I may have "had something planned" that he was less than comfortable not knowing about.  I did all my errands and packed us all up on my furlough day, at the last minute deciding on fruit, hot fudge, and a bottle of sparkling cider in a well-meaning but humorous attempt to make at least part of it a romantic wedding present.  Oops, oh well. 

who knew that sparking cider needed a bottle opener?  not me!

Anyway!  The house overflowed with rustic country charm, and the town's Main Street held equally charming shops and ice cream places.  The property itself was overflowing with animals, most notably, of course, the horse.  I do this thing where I'm really timid and actually pretty afraid of animals until I see someone else pet them, preferably the one who owns them.  I figure I'll trust the animal after someone I trust trusts it.  It's so... transitive!  After I bring myself to approach it, and it doesn't flip out, I'm usually pretty okay.

hello and thank you for not biting me!
We even went on a trail ride!  Not only did I trust my horse (Pete), but I had the best time riding it.  Except when he trotted me into branches.  Justin brought up the rear a good twelve yards behind or so at all times on his lazy, uncooperative horse (Major).  Turns out he prefers his feet on the ground.  He likes petting them better.
hello and i will never ride you again!
There was also Finn, a charmer who fell in and out of love with us.  Having her around thoroughly renewed our pining for an awesome, happy dog.  Especially one who follows produce stand signage.

The place was owned by this couple, Ted, 55 and JoAnn, 53, who each have more energy and ambition than all the Maryland Teacher of the Year contestants combined.  These people run the B&B, host tea parties and birthday parties, board horses and dogs, manage horse shows and give lessons, rent out for weddings, movies (their horses have been in, oh, The Color Purple), and trail rides.  She's written four children's chapter books about girls and horses, oh, and she has an agent to land her roles as extras in movies such as The Sixth Sense and Rocky V.  They both happen to teach at the local community college, and they travel during their "slow months."  They've won bunches of "Best Farm," "Most Beautiful Person," and other town and state awards for excellence in being people.  "They don't let the grass grow under their feet," said our stand-in host, a nice gentleman who's been working for them for six years, who was there to make sure various birthday parties and guests found everything okay while each of the actual hosts was at a different wedding.  And upon hearing all of that, I was floored with awe.  I continue to be floored with awe, but my flooring has taken on different colors in the time I've had to process all this.  I started out with lots of envy, but it also makes me exhausted just listing all those responsibilities.  Then I start getting mad at my preemptive exhaustion.  It's inspiring, of course, but it would be more inspiring with a little more modesty.  "They're living the life they love," our very nice man added.  But in the end, I just remember that there would be pretty much no more time for this:

i would miss this

And that's pretty much where it's at.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Another graph, more musings, the usual

As the football season dawns upon us, I imagine I shall write while half-paying attention.  At least while sharing the same couch.  He'll have the remote and some pop, I'll have a candle and my snuggie, and all shall be well.

Here are the things I have been thinking:
  1. I JUST FOUND OUT THAT DEXTER AND DEB ARE MARRIED IN REAL LIFE!  I spent a while flipping out last night.  How crazy is that!  I am so happy.  Someday I will be as skinny as Deb.
  2. Why I am so sad that the average lady I cannot replicate anything that was done during even a simple haircut and blowdry.  When I leave, I look so awesome.  The next day, I look just like I always do, but with shorter hair.  Sigh.
  3. Speaking of haircuts, I rarely get mine cut.  I did the Hair Cuttery thing for a while, and, let's face it, they're a little ridiculous and no self-respecting adult lady does that.  I'm still far too intimidated even to purchase a Groupon to a fancy salon, so I'm in the middle of the two with a fun but reasonable chain called Bubbles.  But re-enter my inclination towards not spending money: So far I've been there twice.  Six months apart.  Yup, I know my ends were probably ridiculous.  I could have told you my hair was not fun or flouncy or voluminous.  But you know what, it does the trick.  And semiannually I muster up the courage and adulthood to go in and get my hair cut by a professional.  And I love having my hair washed and everything else and overall it's a great experience except when they make me feel like crap for not going earlier.  "How long did you say it's been?  Let's definitely not wait 'a few months' next time.  Have you seen your ends?!"  This makes me :( .  Hairdressers aren't the only ones.  Dentists (who goes to the dentist during college, SERIOUSLY) and priests (confession is, you know, confession) tend to make you feel horrendously guilty for not doing their difficult thing more often or sooner.  It's DIFFICULT, yo.
  4. Sighted: I BUILD.  What do you build!, I wanted to shout out my window.  Also, cause for doubled over, jaw dropped, husband-arm-clutching and pointing ecstatically: ISL&DS.  Now, the D is obviously unnecessary but maybe someone else out there already had ISL&S and this tropics afficionado wanted to express his love in the second most awesome way.  I am so happy about that ampersand.
  5. Speaking of ampersands, I bought an ampersand on Etsy.  This October photo shoot gets more and more adorable, and this husband gets more and more exasperated.  Oops.
  6. This is something I've vaguely always known but recently have not only been reminded but inspired to represent statistically.  Here is a graph for you to demonstrate my mood (x) vs. desire to be hugged (y), where 100 represents an average person's greatest desire to be hugged.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Six-Month Itch

What is it about these moderate seasons of transition that inspire cleaning and organization?  The overhaul at the start of spring is more famous than its younger cousin who usually just gets referred to as "new school supplies."  Also, if spring signals new life, fall correspondingly signals the beginning of death.  But in terms of detox and starting anew, I dare say it goes further than books and rulers; maybe it's the American system, but the start of a new school year is so hopeful.  In theory, kids start the year with a clean slate; in theory, teachers start the year with ambitious organizational plans.  Everyone's excited, eager, well-rested, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Borrowing from this energy, I up and mopped our floors last weekend and got four bags of clothes ready for charity this past weekend (thanks to a mailing for the most convenient charity ever).  I feel revitalized, not to mention my new habits of yoga and, um, art class.  What is it, that coming out of these severe weather seasons, we feel so... ready?  Or at least, ready to get ready?  Wouldn't you imagine that it should be the opposite, that we should really gear ourselves up and freshen all these aspects in preparation for the most extremes of cold and hot, that just as we are about to spend time indoors with central air conditioning and heat, then we should declutter and reorganize?  Maybe it has less to do with the seasons in particular and is just a function of every six months.  Subtract the school year, and it could simply be a semiannual urge to clean up and reinvent?  We do (or, are supposed to) go to the dentist every six months, and no matter the pain, it is always a triumphant moment to celebrate one's responsibility and mature attention to hygiene. 

I can't decide which it is, and I certainly don't know why this hits us all, but I am very glad for its far-reaching effects.  And I can't help but notice the apt phrase, turning over a new leaf, can easily belong to either season.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wrapping up eating in

Friends, let me share with you the much-anticipated results of our restaurant-less August.  At the end of the day (month), we learned more about ourselves and about each other than we did about new recipes.  I am going to be more forgiving of changed minds slash less disappointed, more cheerleader; he is going to be more steadfast in seeing through the things he says.  We are going to meet each other halfway.  Once we straightened out our emotional growth, we crunched the numbers: adding up our respective Food and Dining categories from Mint over the past six months proved that indeed, August featured the lowest total.  Data, however, rarely stops at confirming your hypothesis.  You frequently get some bonus findings that you didn't necessarily set out to demonstrate.  For example, this is our ACTUAL graph of combined totals:

we are extremely silly

Oh my goodness gracious.  Our predictability is astounding and ridiculous.  This graph accurately represents the bipolar swings of eating out four times a week (hey, weekends necessitate a LOT of meals; Money doesn't MATTER, it's there to SPEND; Who cares if you order a $3 Coke, it raises your enjoyment WAY MORE; Go ahead Pam, you know you want that sundae), then sheepishly facing Mint and its EXCEEDED BUDGET wrath (uh, let's, uh, cut back a little; Hey look at that, we're doing a great job of finishing groceries and leftovers; Water, please; Don't you have chocolate covered raisins at home?), then feeling a) triumphant at our willpower to spend less than the previous month and b) entitled to lots of restaurants as a reward.  As you can see, it is a cycle that goes back AT LEAST the last six months.  We are extremely silly.