Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Mom and Sis Visit

My mom and sister came out to visit me this past weekend. They have both been to Denton before, but not since I bought a home. They arrived Friday morning at Love Airport, and we promptly hopped on the freeway and headed for San Antonio. We stayed on the Riverwalk and went to the Hard Rock Cafe, toured the Alamo, took a river boat tour, experienced the Cathedral light show, and sweated in the awful heat and humidity. The highlight, for me, was being greeted by the Alamo cat, Bella, while in the gift shop.

We left Saturday afternoon to see Austin and the bats, which Em and I didn't get to see last year because it was too late in the season. First, though, we stopped at Buc-ees, because it's a Texas thing. We had some good pizza at Home Slice on South Congress, then waited for the bats to come out of the bridge. The bats didn't come out until it was rather dark, and they didn't come out in a swarm, which meant that they were kind of hard to see. It was cool, but not what I had imagined. We made it home very late (I was kept awake by jamming to Hamilton).

On Sunday, we took a trip to Ikea so I could buy some furniture. I needed help with this anyway, so I decided to wait until they were here and force them to help me. They were also forced to help me assemble the couch. Nothing brings people together like putting together Ikea furniture.

We had a nice time. It's nice to have family visit and show them the great state of Texas.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kickball: Season Three

A couple nights ago was the first kickball game of the new season. We had a few players depart this season which meant a shake-up in some field assignments. I say assignments like there is a coach and all that. There's not.  And the team generally decides collectively who goes where. Obviously I'm usually in the outfield because the infield takes much more skill. Also, when I started playing all the positions were pretty much set.

This season, though, I'm the catcher. And I love it. It doesn't require much more skill than standing out in the outfield (this is a recreational kickball in Denton, not the MLB despite what some teams think) but I like it so much more. I'm more aware of what's going on in the game as the catcher. And since I'm standing next to the umpire I always know what inning we're in and what the score is. It's awesome.

My mom played on a softball league with her work when we lived in Pocatello. I used to love to go to her games and watch all the radio disc jockeys play. My mom was the catcher. I'm following in my mom's footsteps.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Presenting to Kids

As part of my job I go to the local elementary schools and do safety presentations on biking and walking. I'm not at all educated in being an educator. Last year, when I started doing the presentations at the request of my boss, I asked a lady in my bunco group what I should do. She was a fourth grade teacher so I knew she'd have good suggestions.

And she did. I've been using her suggestions ever since. I am deeply indebted to her.

This week was my first presentations of the new school year. I gave presentations to every grade over two days at one elementary school. It was slightly exhausting. But fun. Mainly because kids can be really cute. Kids don't really know the difference between asking a question and providing a story about their older brother/sister who has a bike. One kid told me all about his sister who is a cheerleader. Which lead us into a conversation about the Olympics and the awesomeness of Phelps, Bolt and Ledecky.

Kids also are not shy about physical touch. Numerous kids gave me hugs afterward. Which is incredibly sweet. My boss's boss's daughter was one of the students I presented to; she gave me two hugs the first day and then another one when she saw me as she was walking to her next class.

Kids are also not shy about picking their noses in public. At all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Biscuit the Escape Artist

Biscuit is an indoor cat. It was really by default, since when I got her I didn't have a backyard. When I moved to Denton, she became a balcony cat. She really loved that balcony. I loved that she was able to "get outside" but wasn't in any fear of running away/getting lost/getting hit by a car.

My place now is on a busy street with a huge, fenced backyard. I kept thinking that I'd let Biscuit become, at the very least, a backyard cat. She started showing some interest in the outside when I'd open the door to leave or take the garbage out. Last week she actually went out the side door for a brief moment when I had it open. She scurried back indoors pretty quickly, but I knew that I couldn't be unprepared.

So I bought her a collar engraved with her name, my name and my phone number. And later that day I took her out to the backyard. At first she stayed on the bricks, just sniffing around. She finally got brave and ventured out to different placed in the backyard. She ended up in the corner with a bunch of trees and shrubs. I was concerned she'd never come back in. Or worse, there would be an opening in the fence somewhere and she'd crawl under, being curious and all, and she'd be lost forever. I finally captured her after luring her with wet cat food.

I took the collar off because it seemed unnecessary to wear when she was indoors.

This evening she escaped out the front door in a daring move. She was showing interest when I opened the door to fix some flowers on my door wreath. Seeing that interest, I shut the door and stood outside as I fixed the flowers. When I opened the door to go back in she darted out!

She stayed close to the side of the house, and proved difficult to catch. She must have been running on adrenaline and the excitement of being outside. I was racked with fear that she'd run faster than I could keep up with her and she'd dart out to the street and get hit or be lost forever as she didn't have her collar on.

I herded over towards the front door and she scurried in on her own. I quickly closed the door behind us and promptly put her collar on. Which she will now wear all the time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Official End of Summer Movie Season: The Light Between Oceans

Facebook reminded me that on this day in 2011 I saw the movie "The Debt." Back then, I wrote about how one knows it's the end of summer based on what kind of movies are released. Here's what I said:
"Summer is always heralded in by big-budget, flashy tent-pole pictures usually involving a superhero or some sort of number in the title signifying it's a sequel of something that was popular two summers ago. Basically anything a teenage boy would like to see.
But then we get to the end, where a lot of the smaller films that aren't quite summer movies (read: there's no superheroes or animation) get unloaded. Films like The Help, One Day, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Generally they're based on books. It's a very fine line between when those end and the fall movies start, but I think the distinction this year is made by the film The Debt."

Today I had the same experience when I went to see "The Light Between Oceans." It's not a splashy remake or sequel or addition to an ever-growing cinematic universe. There are no tie-ins with fast-food chains, car brands, or insurance companies (seriously, did you see the Progressive Insurance commercials linked to Ghostbusters?!). It's a character-driven film adapted from a novel. 

The movie stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as Tom and Isabel, a couple who are light house caretaker and mistress on a remote island in Australia. He is a veteran of The Great War and enjoys the solitude; she is a force of nature who brings him joy and peace (that may sound cliche, but the way it is portrayed it seems anything but). When they suffer two miscarriages, it seems like a blessing from above when a small boat drifts ashore one day with a dead man and live baby girl in it. 

The movie went in directions I wasn't expecting, so it all unfolded as a pleasant surprise (I have not read the book...yet). It was breathtakingly beautiful, from the costumes to the sets to the scenery to the music (Alexandre Desplat has been nominated for Best Score 7 times in the last ten years). The powerhouse performances from the three main leads brings it all together to create a moving and fantastic story of love and forgiveness. 

Folks, I would see Michael Fassbender in nearly anything since he won me over as Mr. Rochester in a film adaptation of my favorite novel, Jane Eyre. And Rachel Weisz is an actress who is always giving wonderful performances even in mediocre films (or extremely strange ones like The Lobster). 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nine Years Post the City

Once again the calendar says September 1, which is the day I arrived in New York City nine years ago. Because I am sentimental and extremely nostalgic, I always note this day and think about the adventure that was arriving in New York City. I started my blog in New York, and I've surprisingly kept it up pretty well since then. Check out the previous years' posts on New York Anniversary Day if you're super interested in the emotional state of past Julies.

2009 - Two years after arriving and my first back in SLC
2011 - Four years after leaving, my first year of grad school
2012 - Five years, and my last semester of grad school
2013 - Six years later and living in Topeka
2015 - Eight years after leaving and living in Denton

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's Been Awhile

Two months, actually, since I last had a blog post. You see, my laptop had the "blue screen of death" a little over a year ago. When I asked friends on Facebook for tips on new laptops, my friend Doug offered to let me use his until I bought a new one.

I borrowed it for over a year.

Then Doug wanted it back because he was having a garage sale and wanted to sell the laptop (I had already told him I would pass on his because I wanted something new; lame considering I used it FOR A YEAR! So I gave it back to him.

And didn't buy a laptop. You see, I had just bought a home and was in the throws of packing and all that. Did you know it's expensive to move? The rental truck and the hook-up fees for new services and all the new items I needed (and still need) for a bigger space. So the laptop just went on the backburner.

I missed blogging. But I also missed looking at a big screen for some of my tasks - checking routes on Google Maps, checking my budget, researching items, etc. My phone can get me by on most everything, but sometimes that big screen is nice.

So today I did it. I had asked around and decided that a Chromebook would be just the thing for me - I'm not a student anymore so I don't need my computer for writing papers/making presentations/making spreadsheets; I'm not a gamer; and I can watch Netflix and Amazon Prime on my t.v. I just need something fairly simply.

All this to say that I am now back in the blogging world. Most everyone who reads my blog is also friends with me on Facebook, so y'all know what's basically going on in my life. However, I like my blog as a place where I can go more in depth (especially with movie reviews! I have a lot to say about this summer!).

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