25 September 2008

Speaking of Marriage

Nate was going through some old photos the other day and ran across the new ones posted below (I can't figure out how to post photos within a post, so until I do, you'll have to scroll). We took these photos on our honeymoon. We spent our honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies, specifically in the mountains of the Banff and Jasper National Forests (by the way, that's where Benny's middle name comes from - our honeymoon - Benjamin Jasper Brown). The Jasper National Forest was the site of what was supposed to be a five-day, four-night hike. Neither of us had ever been out in the wild that long and we were excited to do it together.

Until we met up with the mosquitos. When we started our hike, we happened upon a nice couple who didn't speak English. We smiled and exchanged whatever pleasantries translated and then the guy started saying "BUG! BUG!" We smiled and waived and went on our merry way. Yes, there are bugs in the wild. Thank you very much man from somewhere else.

It wasn't until we arrived at our campsite (which is another adventure story for another day) that we realized why the foreign man had put so much emphasis on BUG! There were mosquitos everywhere. We wore long-sleeved everything, hats, etc. We couldn't keep our shoes off and had to wear mittens over our hands. We didn't spend much time outside of our tent because my face began to look like pepperoni pizza and then like one big red welt. We figured that the higher we climbed throughout the trip, the less we would have to deal with mosquitos.

Wrong. On our third night we stayed at a campsite that was even worse than the first night. We arrived at the site in the early afternoon, which meant that we had few options: 1) being that we hiked to pass time, and 2) being that we stayed in our tiny two-person tent until the morning. We decided to go with the latter (hey, we'd already been hiking for six hours with 30 pounds on our backs).

We woke up the next morning thinking that once we started on the trail our mosquito woes would be behind us for the day's hike. Wrong. Again. Hordes of mosquitos followed us up a pass. We were covered from head to toe in clothing, but the mosquitos swarmed around our faces. So, we hauled ass up the pass. We were in awful moods and just wanted to get out of the mess. Once we got to the top of the pass, the mosquitos disappeared and our moods lightened. We stopped for a break, removed the packs from our back, and decided to get naked. The pictures are a result of that break.

That day we were supposed to stay at our first campsite again. Once we got there we decided that we would rather hike all the way out than deal with mosquitos for another night. So, we ended up hiking 22 miles out - still with 30 pounds on our backs. What a honeymoon story, eh?

24 September 2008

I Now Pronounce You...

I'm practicing for my big day. My coming out as an ordained minister. That's right. In addition to the many other identities I have, I can now add ordained minister to the list - in fact I did add it to the list, so check it out.

My oldest and dearest friend asked me to perform her marriage ceremony. I was honored. I had heard that anyone performing these duties had to be an ordained minister or a justice of the peace. But, because I didn't REALLY want to become an ordained minister (I don't even believe in organized religion), I sought council with my brother-in-law, who just so happens to be an attorney. Nebraska law, according to his best knowledge, just required a witness for a marriage to be valid. Score. I could be a witness. I could definitely do that.

Fast forward to yesterday. I received an email from "Joseph" with the subject line "Wedding." I don't know anyone named Joseph. Creepy. Oh wait, it's my brother-in-law, Joe. Right. I'm a little slow. Turns out that he followed up on my question (what a good, free lawyer he is!) and a simple witness does not validate a marriage ceremony. Crap.

The ceremony is coming up in mid-October. I had to move fast. I mean, who knows how long it takes to become ordained??? So, I went online and being the frugal shopper that I am (yes, even for something as important as becoming an ordained minister), I searched for "ordained minister free." Up pops the Universal Ministry site. I fill out the requisite information and BAM I can now perform marriage and other functions. In some ways it feels kind of like a sham. I mean, I fill out a form and suddenly I have the "power vested in me."

Not only can I perform marriages, but baptisms, funerals, blessings, etc. as well. My soon-to-be-married friend and I joked that I could found the Church of Sara. And I just might. Anyone willing to send me a few bucks to join? I'm sure I could figure out some scam!

12 September 2008

I Was There...

Sometimes things happen in places where I've been before. Sometimes I'm struck at the gravity of the situation because I was there. I have been looking at photos of Hurricane Ike on the Texas coast and I am reminded of a weekend Nate and I spent in Houston with some friends of ours three years ago. We drove to Houston to watch an Astros baseball game and decided to spend Sunday afternoon at the beach in Galveston.

We had planned the trip long before the ravaging winds and waters of Hurricane Katrina. But, as fate would have it, we stayed at a hotel with Katrina evacuees. It was the weekend after the storm and it was surreal to see people hauling all of their worldly possessions into the hotel in black garbage bags. Here I was, in Houston for vacation and recreation. Here they were, in Houston because their homes were flooded or worse.

So, I hope the people of Galveston and Houston don't have the same experiences as those in New Orleans. I can't help thinking, I was at that restaurant on the beach. I walked past that Victorian home. Here are some photos, if you're so inclined. Have a good weekend.

10 September 2008

Something a Little Lighter

I realize that my posts have been relatively "heavy" lately (home ownership, politics, oil), so I thought I'd post something a little lighter. The majority of my days are spent at 1) the park, 2) rushing to get things done while Benny sleeps, 3) deciding what to feed Benny. We also spend a little time each day scouring YouTube for child-friendly clips. Granted, I also listen to NPR for most of the day and get incensed about the state of the world, but that's another story.

Here's one of our favorites. Kind of brings you back to the simpler, happier things in life. I mean, who doesn't want to sing about signs with Elmo and Chris Brown? The activity is actually quite a treat for me because I don't know who many of the artists are (yes, I'm that out of touch). In fact, today I learned about Feist. She's a fabulous artist from Canada. Check out her song about counting to four. It's incredible - and quite catchy! Turns out that she was in Denver this summer. Drat!

And, for some great, happy news: I was officially admitted into doctoral candidacy today. I've been a "candidate" since I presented my proposal. But today the Graduate College officially accepted my proposal. It's a big day. A big day indeed.

"See the signs, they're everywhere!..."

08 September 2008

If You Do One Thing Today...

Listen to this. Terry Gross (of Fresh Air on NPR) interviews Thomas Friedman about the U.S.'s dependence on oil. You may be thinking, "boring!" Don't. Listen. He will inform you. He will entertain you.

And, if you really want to make things interesting, start a drinking game. Every time he mentions, "Drill, Baby, Drill," take a shot!

Good stuff. Really good stuff!

And, yes. Once I go political, baby, I never go back.

Let's Get Political, Political

I wasn't going to do this. Get political. For those of you who know me well, you know that I have very strong political beliefs. However, because not everyone I know has those same beliefs, I was going to refrain from overtly political posts. I can't resist any more.


Who thought Sarah Palin was a good idea? OK, OK, the religious right thinks she's a good idea. Gun nuts think she's a good idea. Creationists think she's a good idea. Anyone see a theme here?

Frankly, I was insulted by John McCain's choice for his right hand running mate. I never would have voted for John McCain anyway. I disagree with him on many, many points. But, his obvious pandering to a slightly frightening portion of his base is shameful. Never mind his picking someone with virtually no experience. Sorry, Republicans, you can't make the case that Palin has experience. She doesn't. I can't believe anyone would say that proximity to Russia means that someone has foreign policy experience. It's like saying just because I live across the street from a poor family that I have experience with poverty.

I'll stop here because if I go on, I may vomit. And that's not a joke.

I want women to have the same options and chances as men do politically. However, this is not the route we need to take.

06 September 2008


The dissertation is in full swing now. I've been chipping away at it for the past few weeks and I'm happy to report that I will be sending drafts of FOUR chapters to my advisor by the end of the weekend. I must stress that these are certainly drafts, but they are better than nothing. To give you a bit of perspective, the entire dissertation will probably be a total of seven chapters, so I have a working draft of over half the dissertation so far. Not bad. Not bad at all.

But, before I celebrate, I should get to work!

02 September 2008

Happy Home-Buyer Blues

The inspection did not go well. The house had many more problems than we could have anticipated (bad electrical wiring, asbestos-covered duct work, piles of mouse droppings in places we hadn't checked). Nate and I are both relieved that we made the right choice. We are going to reconsider our finances and hit the house market hard next spring.

Bad, but good news. Sorry for all the DRAMA!

01 September 2008

Another Home-Buyer Blues Post

So, I have some bad news. Nate and I are 90 percent sure that we will not be purchasing the house at 1221 Bellaire. Nate went to see the house again on Thursday (yes, we are serial house stalkers) because his dad and brother were in town. He made a list of all the things on the house that need work. It was a LONG, slightly overwhelming list. The more we thought about it, the more we wondered if we would be moving into the house of our dreams or a money pit.

We are going through with the inspection tomorrow and we'll ask for things to be fixed. If the seller decides to fix some big ticket items (upstairs window, which, as it turns out, don't open, and the furnace), we may reconsider our decision. But, we'll probably let the house go :(.

I am very disappointed, but relieved as well. We were getting slightly ahead of ourselves. I don't have a job and won't have a job for at least four months. We would have drained our savings to put down a large enough down payment to make the mortgage payments manageable. The list could go on and on.

More news tomorrow... Probably not of the good variety.