Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One thing led to another

It started out with a bright idea for a little treat for breakfast this morning as we picked up the moving truck.

Which became lunch.

Which became dinner.

Which became embarrassing.

And, quite frankly, Jacob isn't even home yet, so who knows where it will stop.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here we were, there we are, away we go

Once again, we find ourselves surrounded by our lives - all packed up.

The laundry is done, suitcases are packed and boxes stacked. As I sit here surrounded by it, I'm struck how cluttered a place can be when its entirely packed up.

So, Jacob has made us all proud with his devoted and strong finish to this semester, not to mention this tremendous offer and opportunity for work. I have made us proud by rolling (mostly - only a couple of meltdowns) with the punches to get us all organized, arranged, domiciled and scheduled, with the notable help of two fabulous moms who broke all the "in-" laws to take a road trip through five states and spend a couple of days with their kiddos doing manual labor, aka packing (joys of family!).

Tomorrow we pick up the moving truck again (frequent flier discount anyone?) and head back to Kentucky to start our new era (our eras, in case you haven't noticed, tend to be pretty short, but hey it keeps things interesting), and even though there's so much change and uncertainty and insecurity in a way, I know that we're doing it together. We've changed everything up so many times in the last two years, but Jacob has been my constant, my partner, my gift from God. And for that I'm thankful. I know no matter where we go, how many times we pack, move, change, shift or drift, he'll be there.

It also happens that as we approach this Christmas season, we approach our anniversary, so here's to my husband. A little memory of us when we didn't know what it was like to live in wedded bliss in a dorm room with the bathroom down the hall, to be sick for entire months at a time, to be uncontrollably cold at all hours of the day and night, to learn Arabic only to be stuck attempting French, to revel in the discovery of french fries, to enjoy the security of American fast food in a way never imagined, to live without a toilet seat, to live constantly with sand, in short, to live in adventure - together.

Away we go! Photo by Michelle Young, Endearing Studios (the best photographer ever)

Monday, December 6, 2010

In vagabondary and stability

Our vows didn't actually say anything about vagabondary and, as a bit of a grammarian, I have to admit that it's not a word (vagabondage is, though...), but I have packed and unpacked various amounts and contents of our belongings 10 times in our just-shy-of-two-years marriage. Tonight starts lucky number 11.  Eleven out of at least 14 by the time June rolls around

And that means that right about now, six and two half-boxes in, there's only one box I'm really thinking about: the box of wine on top of the fridge.

But, as much as this task ahead of me is making me feel a little desperate and overwhelmed - and I do - tonight I choose to be thankful: that we have a home and belongings that make our lives comfortable, that I have a wonderful, intelligent husband who excels at his studies and business ventures, that we are blessed beyond all measure in so many things.

Oh, and thankful for some hot chili (mom's recipe)

And thankful for both of our sweet moms, who are headed down to help me pack this week while Jacob works on finals.

Help on packing? Now that's love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peeling Carrots

I still peel carrots the way that Layla - the housekeeper and chef-in-residence in our house in Morocco - taught us. Without a sleek, swift, clean tool to strip off in even curls the outer skins of root vegetables. With just a paring knife, dragging and pressing it at angles to shear off the dermis, leaving cleaner rough edges on the carrots and a layer of orangey-sweet beta-carotine mist on my face and arms.

Layla and lentils (addis) in the villa kitchen in Morocco

Tonight I'm pre-preparing for dinner tomorrow night - a slow-cooked venison roast to serve Jacob and the roommate I displaced, Matthew; and courtesy of the Squires family, who shared of their recent take. It makes me think of our time abroad when we were so alone, but bonded with those around us because of the simple fact of our common lives and locales.

Now, as we look toward home again, I'm thinking of all those we missed and still miss, but who we hopefully will see soon, who we will re-integrate into our schedules and hopefully be marked into theirs.

Layla used to spend one or two evenings a week hosting cooking classes with us at the villa in addition to her regular work days. She shared her talents, comfort cooking and recipes with us and I always remember how she seemed to have a certain joy in the process of preparation and sharing with others. That, I think, is hospitality. Joy in such mundane things that, at their sum, are so much more than mundane because they serve and host others.

And that's why I still think of Layla while I'm peeling carrots.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dead Air

Seeing as I've been blogging since Jacob and I married in December 2008 (nearly two years!), it seems impossible that I could have missed an entire location that we've lived, but here it is November 2010 and I've catalogued our lives through Morocco, Oman and the UAE, Kentucky and Ohio. I've noted our travels through our countries-of-residence as well as France, Italy, Egypt, Jordan...but I've somehow been silent through our stay in the South - Carolina, that is.

And now, our time here draws to a close. We found out recently that we'd be returning home to Lexington almost exactly two years from the time we left to travel the world, and about 6 months earlier than we expected to move at all! Jacob has been offered a wonderful opportunity for work that will bring us home - closer to our family, our friends, our church home, our favorite restaurants, and our respective football teams.

So, a small tribute to our time here with a few favorite photos...and stay tuned. I have a few other bits of news to share over the next couple of weeks.

 My favorite spot in our Cola, SC home
Not actually in SC - but my cousin got married this fall and we were so excited to travel to Nevada for the event
 Also not in SC, but a notable event: the first annual girls trip.
 Now we're talking. Mucho Margaritas in Five Points for Dave's birthday.
 The South Carolina State Fair. This is big time here. Big. Time. We stopped for food first...mmm fair food...
 More fair
 And more fair food.
 Foley Beach during a day in and around Charleston.
 Foley Beach.
 Mums and pumpkins for Halloween.
And the resulting Jack-O-Lanterns. From left to right: Anne, Clinton, Jacob.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trashed, Part Different: The Bachelor Pad Review

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I've already mentioned that me and the girls watch the Bachelor and the Bachelorette - two trashy shows disguised as true love fairy tale stories. These are shows you can watch and laugh at and criticize based mostly on the fact that the end goal seems pretty reputable, admirable and, in the end, what we're all looking for: true love.

But, the Bachelor Pad. Kids, what? OMG, this is like the absolute perfect confluence of social influence that combines all the idea(l)s(?) about reality spurned by the Real World age. We think that somehow any combination of sexylookingpeople poured into one room, devoid of emotion and morals but soaked with enough alcohol is going to come up with a worthy viewing topic? Well, no. But it is darn entertaining.

So, knowing that I and the girls couldn't possibly be as alcohol-soaked or sensually manipulated and frustrated (thank goodness) as those "contestants" on the Bachelor Pad, we set out to view the latest creation of ABC and Chris Harrison.

At this point, all I can say is: Michelle and Juan, peace out. Wine, peace in.

I love my girlfriend times and goofyness. I may have to do some Bachelor Pad updates. In the mean time, here are some quotes:

"I don't want it to be over. It totally lived up to my exploitations...expectations." - Esther

"I mean, if Michelle wanted to stay she shouldn't have locked one of her friends in a bathroom." -Pam

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Palmetto State

My first trip to South Carolina was a wonderfully spontaneous trip with my mom and dad just after Christmas a few years ago. Dad and I, in typical form, were itching to get somewhere - anywhere especially away from the cold. Mom, in typical form, was sweetly grudging in her limited protest and eventual acquiescence.

We hopped in the car and drove and drove, through the beautiful routes of which I've become so fond. Those mid-South to Southern foothill treelined roads full of mist and green smells. We listened to repeats of TV shows on satellite radio and quizzed each other on the holy grail of Sabatino existence: trivia.

I don't remember what all we quizzed on, but one question he asked me that I got which totally threw him was what is the South Carolina state motto?

And now look at me...headed down there for good the next few months. Signing off for a few days while we pack up the truck and move it again...

Friday, July 30, 2010


Moving always entails throwing things out. It's actually one of my favorite things about moving. Throwing things out that I won't have to unpack and which will then never have the chance to eventually clutter up my space (like I need help, come on).

But I was a little disturbed by the volume of condiments (refrigeration required) that had to be disposed today. Salad dressing, barbecue sauce, olives, garlic, more salad dressing (that's a Hardy thing), ketchup (another Hardy thing), lots of things that you just don't offer to other people.

The things I couldn't bear not to spare? Oh, take note because this is a character defining issue: butter, chocolate fudge sauce and Rose's lime.

The gin I will take with us. Along with the wine and bourbon. The beer will have to be consumed this weekend (can't have skunky beer) during our last days of Ohio starring P, J, KOO and two babies.

On another note:
A weekend with two babies.
Anyone want to get their questions out now about when we're having kids? I don't know if you'll want to ask after the weekend (I love the kids, but you know...).

A Parting Shot

Today is Jacob's last day in the offices of Craftsmen Ohio. This is also the last day in our little Akron apartment. I'm packing up today, a task which I put off yesterday so I could indulge in a little practical craft: thank you gifts for the guys who gave Jacob this opportunity and who have become our friends up here. 

The first time we came up here, I stayed in the main house of one of the owners with the ladies while - in a very familiar structure to our Arab times - the boys headed out to the barn in the back to talk shop and drink scotch (well, everything except the scotch). 

So, as I was tossing ideas out in my head about what would be a proper parting shot for these guys, scotch certainly came to mind. Enter the latest stay at Chez Brown. Elisabeth was doing final preps for the Bar (free at last free at last! She's done and we can go on vacation soon!) and I picked up a magazine to entertain myself. It happened to be Garden & Gun (yes, Garden & Gun) and, therein was the perfect gift: whiskey rocks. 

A great buy for entertaining or for the a throwback bud who enjoys a stiff one on the rocks for real
You can get them in sets to pair with your favorite glasses or with glasses. Check them out!

Apparently it's a Scandinavian tradition (pre-dating ice) to set out stones in the cold and then pour whiskey over them so they chilled the drink. It seemed like the perfect office survival kit for these guys - a couple of glasses, coasters, rocks and you have the makings of a tough afternoon. 

Well, a tough afternoon made better. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Now That's Therapy

Remember when we bought the party time? Well, we bought it knowing that there was no AC. We got a good deal and it was fine because I'm not a total AC girl anyhow - my most beloved vehicle was the old jeep I was allowed to drive in hs (it was supposed to be my dad's fun car) which had little climate control at all and which was frequently topless and doorless - the better to blow out my poor dad's speakers. It was also ok because it was like March or April or some month generally considered to still be late winter in Cleveland.

We just figured we'd get the AC fixed sometime closer to the SC move date, which would be after a couple of months and maybe we'd have a bit more cash. Isn't that how it works? If you wait a little longer you always have more money? Haha. No, grasshopper. Well, actually, Jacob worked insanely hard last month and made a bonus and he insisted we repair the AC sometime before we move to the sticky south (it was 103 PLUS humidity and heat index when mom and I were there looking for apartments).

So I made one of my trips down to Lex, a process I think I could now effectively market as a spa treatment for traveling sales people. Want a cleanse in a sauna-like environment but never have to miss a beat on your out of state appointment? Ride with me and by the time you're to the next stop, I promise you'll have sweated out all the toxins in your body plus at least a couple of pounds and you'll only need to refuel with vitamin water because the sheer temperature of your corpus will be too high for you to even consider ingesting something that requires processing.

Between moving and all this hot driving (Hot driving! It's like hot yoga but you can sit on your butt the whole time!), I'm pretty sure I will lose whatever weight I've gained while up here away from a gym and generally doing random consulting work while sitting on my (increasingly flat) butt - can that happen? Does your butt flatten if you sit on it too much? Danger!

Anyway, so I took the car in last week because I already had a dinner scheduled with my old boss and colleagues and it was my mom's bday, so I figured knock it all out at once (actually, I'd already had it fixed and the compressor went out after two days). Two interstate spa-treatment cleanse round trips, two weeks, three compressors, about 84,000 ounces of freon, a non-leak and a lot of frustrated Spanglish conversations, still no AC. It would seem that there is a bad sensor. So, inshallah, next week, when we return (for one golden day) to pick up the moving truck and load all of our stuff, the sensor will be in and installed

This has actually become a bit more critical since we are now down to one car. Oh, I didn't mention that? That's right, Ohio has one other shining offering for those who dare venture to this midwestern mecca: a plethora of poorly-planned construction zones infested with $@!**% drivers, who I happen to believe are also just bad people. People who would refuse to let you in while you're trying to accommodate other drivers in a tight spot, people who would speed up and honk just to emphasize that fact and then after they leave you in the shit, trying to avoid causing a huge pileup on the interstate and subsequently crashing headlong into a median, they drive on, not even bothering to call the police. They leave you (or actually my husband who could have, for all they knew, been seriously injured) with a smashed car that's spun out, with airbags deployed, facing oncoming traffic and don't even bother to call the police.

I would have given away that Honda and the Party Time and my house and my dog and anything else I have for the result of that accident, which was that Jacob was completely fine, praise the Lord, so it's not like this is a true challenge in the game of life. It's just a pain in the neck, but I happen to think that there are enough pains in the neck that happen in life without the help of jackasses and can't we all just get along?

Ha. Hahahahahaha. HHhhhhHHHHaaaaAAAAAAAAAaahhhhhhaaaaaaAAAAAA!

Oh, that was nice. It's so good to have a good laugh, you know?

Now that's therapy.