A Southern Thanksgiving

First-timerOn Wednesday night my two sisters and brother-in-law drove down to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with Ian and I, which was awesome because I haven’t had any of my own family with me on a holiday in about a decade.

We made sure they got a Southern-style Thanksgiving, too—my sister Katie injected her first turkey at Ian’s mom’s house, which Ian then deep-fried (a spectacle in itself, if you’ve never seen a turkey get deep-fried before and wonder why so many people burn their homes down trying it).

Also on the menu were deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole, chickenless dumplings (ok, those were for me) and all the other usual fixings for a filling Thanksgiving meal. And as she’s known to do, Emily made friends with a kitten that wandered into Ian’s mom’s yard and stayed pretty much the entire day.

That evening we met up with Ian’s dad, his dad’s wife and their visiting friend for a family-style Thanksgiving dinner at Maggiano’s, where I was extra-thankful Emily had come along since I helped Ian’s dad drink a couple bottles of wine. Don’t get me wrong: Spending time with Emily is always fun, but having an under-21 sister comes in handy at certain times, if you know what I mean.

Emily makes a new friend in three steps

We celebrated Ian’s birthday on Friday out at Old Chicago, where we had a bit too much tequila and again Emily’s driving-drunk-people-around skills were much appreciated. We continued the party back at our house with a few hours of Rock Band 3, which ended not too long after someone passed out upstairs and another someone puked a few times. I’m not naming names, but it wasn’t me.

They drove back up to Chicago yesterday as Ian and I lay on the couch recovering, which actually is where we are again today, taking it easy before we jump back into work tomorrow after a great holiday.

I don’t get to see my sisters very often, but when I do it’s always some sort of hilarious adventure. This weekend didn’t disappoint. (Oh, and I need to give props to Katie for remembering just about every Easter egg in the first three levels of Adventure Island.)

(More pictures here.)

A Craigslist treasure trove: Six vintage cameras

I’ve wanted an old Brownie box camera for a while now, and was perusing Craigslist when I came upon a listing for six vintage still and movie cameras. For 15 freaking dollars. No Brownie box, but there was a Brownie 8mm and a Brownie Reflex.

I also scored a Polaroid One Step Land Camera, a Kodak Duaflex IV, a Bell and Howell movie camera with a sweet case, and a Sony Mavica (that I’ll probably give away or toss). There were also two boxes of flash bulbs and one flash rig that has to be plugged in to work.

Craigslist transactions can be hit or miss, and I didn’t really want to head out to this person’s house until we emailed back and forth a bit and she told me she was disabled and couldn’t get out. The chance of getting shot was still there, but I wasn’t quite as nervous. Plus, I had Ian go with me for backup.

It was a bit hairy finding the place—it was out in boonies of Bedford County, and she told me I’d need to call when I got close so she could lock up her dog, not usually a sign of safe things to come when heading out to the country. But after driving down a couple of wrong driveways (one of which belonged to the seller’s daughter, who told us she and her mother were going through her grandmother’s estate, which is where the cameras came from) and then finally down a path of gravel sprinkled across a field, we arrived at a double-wide and were greeted by the sound of a cow mooing, geese quacking, a cat meowing, and then a nice, wheelchair-bound older woman.

And the most ferocious dog I have ever come within 100 feet of. I was almost certain it was going to bust its way out of the plastic kennel it was contained within, so we grabbed the cameras, handed over the $15, thanked the woman and booked it back out of there.

In our rush to escape certain death I didn’t even check to make sure all of the cameras were all there, but when we got home I discovered that they were. And for the most part, they appear to be in pretty good condition. I mean, considering the Brownie was manufactured between 1940 and 1942 (!!!) and all.

Oh! And one of the video cameras had a cartridge of finished 8mm film in it!! I’m a little nervous about what might come back, but but I have to develop it. I even found an ad in the local coupon clipper for a service that turns your 8mm film into a DVD, so we’ll see what happens.

I’m calling this as one of the all-time most epic Craigslist finds. At least for me.

Check out the other pics over on my Flickr account as I add them.

Nov. 16 | Ladies, eh?

Let’s count the offenses in this flyer, seen at Nashville State Community College outside of my programming class:

1. LADIES? Really? Nothing says “We take you seriously” like “ladies.” How about for your next flyer you say “gals” or “women folk.”

2. WTF does Flint have to do with technology?

3. “Future ladies”? Is this aimed at babies? Or fetuses? Or maybe females who are in finishing school learning how to be ladies in the future, but they just aren’t quite there yet?

4. How can you expect anyone to take you seriously, flyer-maker, if you were only able to fit four fonts onto this thing? Come on, you can do better.

Maybe instead of naming your group after some shitty town in Michigan where technology, in the form of the auto industry, made its mass exodus years ago, you could have focused your efforts on making a flyer that doesn’t vomit random fonts all over the page and actually explains what your group does and why anyone should attend without marginalizing these future women and their role in technology.

Nov. 13 | Fire tree

Ian and I camped at Henry Horton this weekend, and Saturday was gorgeous. Though a lot of the leaves had already fallen to the ground, there was still plenty of fall color above us, and as we ambled through the trees we frequently found ourselves in pockets of vibrancy.

Because of our previous troubles trying to make a fire out of wood purchased from nearby roadstands, this time we brought our own wood with us—purchased the night before at Food Lion, of all places, but we knew it had been stored indoors and would be dry. And it was. Combined with a huge pile of cut-down tree limbs we discovered not far from our campsite, we had the most badass fire I think we’ve ever had. It raged strong through the evening, even when the rain spat on it a couple of times.

The weather was perfect, if even a couple of degrees warmer than necessary, but cooled off considerably when it started raining in the middle of the night and kept on through the morning. We were pretty cold when we peeled ourselves out of the tent at 7 a.m., but a buffet breakfast at the park inn redeemed any ill will the rain brought in.

And now we’re back home, lounging and football-watching, with the cats chasing each other and the laundry running, and I’m procrastinating on doing my homework like a champion.

You know, a pretty typical Sunday around here.

Something is different

Most years, I dread the space that comes after fall. I embrace October, roll around in its crisp, sunny days and ride the natural high it brings as long as I can, but generally sometime in mid November I start to feel it: This particular sinking sensation that shows up as fall starts to wind down.

Though Thanksgiving and Christmas help mask it, by the time New Year’s is over my soul is in full-on hibernation mode and a lingering sense of sadness has taken up residence in the back of my mind, usually quiet enough but sometimes so overwhelming that no amount of light therapy or alcohol can shut it up.

But this year is different. I am not really sure why, but I find myself looking forward to the first bitterly cold evening when I step out of my car after the long, dark commute and rush into my warm house. I see the long, freezing winter ahead and feel myself welcoming it with visions of sweaters, Slankets and lounging with Ian and cats on the couch instead of eying it with trepidation and an unfounded sense of loneliness.

Maybe after a spring where everything flooded and a summer where life seemed stagnant I am just ready for the elements around me to die out and begin again, anew, next year. This isn’t to say I still won’t find myself in the throngs of melancholy in the dead of winter, but for whatever reason, this year I am not afraid of it.

Making the rounds

Over the past couple of weeks, every single one of our four cats has come down with the same illness: A sneezing, wheezing, eye-swelling sickness. I have had cats my entire life and have never seen an illness spread from one to the next as reliably as this one has.

Poor Evil Twin is sick now :(The first to get it was Link, and he sneezed a couple times a day for maybe three days. Then a few days later Gordo started sneezing, but he was much worse. He sneezed in spurts of five or six at a time, probably every hour of the day. Last weekend I noticed his nose was swollen and he was having a hard time breathing through what sounded like nasal passages filled with snot, so on Monday I took him in to the vet. They decided he had an upper respiratory infection, gave him a shot of antibiotics and a shot of cortisone, and within three days he was much better. He still sneezes once in a while, but he’s nowhere near as pitiful as he was a week ago.

But then, late last week, BK started sneezing. And her eyes became slits. And she acted pretty puny. She seems to have gotten over it without needing veterinary intervention, though.

Evil Twin doesn’t seem like he’s going to be so lucky. He started sneezing on Friday, and has spent the entire weekend either sneezing, wheezing, or trying to open his eyes wide enough to make us feel bad that not only does he have diabetes and asthma, but now he’s contracted the feline bubonic plague. So he’ll probably need some antibiotics to get over this, too. Damn orange cats and their shitty immune systems.

Ah, the fun of having multiple cats.

I am so excited

For the first time in probably more than 10 years, I will be with members of my own, blood-related family on a holiday. My two sisters and brother-in-law are driving down from Chicago to visit for Thanksgiving!

Now, I love that when I was in college my friends took me in on various holidays—especially Ian’s family, who I have been hanging out with on holidays well before he and I were even dating—but there’s just something about having members of my own family with me on a holiday after so many years that is really exciting for me.

I hope they bring their appetite with them, though. Because there ain’t no Thanksgiving like a southern Thanksgiving. And we’ll be having two—one with Ian’s mom and one with his dad—on the same day.

Awesome.

So we had a party this weekend…

Saturday night Ian and I hosted what we called our second annual Halloween party (we’ve thrown, I think, four Halloween parties in this house, but I believe this was the only one that was held consecutively), and it was a blast.

I don’t know why, but every time we host any sort of party I have this complex that nobody is going to show up. But then tons of people do, and it’s an amazing time and people keep asking us to host more. I also realized that our parties never start slowly. With us, it’s a quiet moment before the storm and then BAM, there’s like 30 people in our house and you have to speak loudly to be heard over the din of laughter and people freaking out over the drums on Rock Band.

And so my complexes aside, it was an awesome time—one that I paid for on Sunday, but it was definitely worth it.

I’m already planning the next shindig… I’m thinking a White Elephant party in December, maybe. Can you play Rock Band at those?