Archive for the ‘Denton’ Category


Sweet note on the dry erase board in the office this week

We are finally working from home. The students no longer are answering the telephone. We are having our first Zoom meeting tomorrow morning to check in. Denton’s stay-at-home order kicks in tomorrow night. I have plenty to do here to keep me busy, as my apartment looks like a tornado hit it (yes, ’tis the season, but in this case, just a simile) and thus is in desperate need of some attention.

Also I have books. Hundreds of books.

But I also need a little structure to maintain even a little bit of a sense of well-being. I can’t be alone in my house for weeks (months?) on end with no structure.

My goal checklist that I’ve been using this year to track the progress of my resolutions has thus far been extremely helpful for helping remain calm(ish). Every day I’m home all day, I make sure I’m:

  • drinking enough water
  • practicing Spanish, either through the Duolingo app or by reading a book in Spanish while keeping the dictionary close
  • dancing, whether for just a 10-minute break or a Zumba video or an online dance class (the tap classes Chloe Arnold is hosting through Instagram? Very cathartic. Highly recommend.)
  • exercising with Pilates on demand or with something that helps me stretch/strengthen
  • playing the keyboard (currently brushing up on some theory)
  • doing at least one thing to rest or pamper myself (e.g., relaxing foot soak, face mask, nap, etc.)
  • working on a crafty/creative project (e.g., knitting, poetry, coloring, etc.)
  • picking a different small area of the apartment to clean each day
  • taking a walk (weather permitting)
  • finishing the daily to-do list (e.g., keeping up with bills, checking in with friends, etc.)

I’m also taking the free Yale course, “The Science of Well-Being”. I’m just in the introduction, but I can already tell I’m going to like it.

I knew this weekend that I needed to go ahead and put these things in place now. I had a whole weekend at home. Normally, this would delight me. A whole free weekend? Paradise. But I spent a lot of the time overwhelmed and anxious and terribly lonely, despite the fact that I had a lot of interaction online. I thought when this started that this experience would be a good test of whether or not I could really work from home, but I may need reminders that this is a whole other animal. It’s not going to give me an accurate picture of what working from home would really be like.

What adjustments are you making to make this phase of life work?

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It’s the International Day of Happiness. This week has been w.e.i.r.d., to say the least. I’ve had a few panic attacks, and I’m still at work as we try to accommodate students who have nowhere else to go and figure out what in the world we’re going to do next (I would welcome faster decisions here…I’m just sayin’.). But there’s also been so many opportunities for joy. Just in my little corner of humanity, there is so much goodness. There are also so many fun things online. Here’s a list for times when you’re feeling more anxious than happy or just want something hopeful.

  1. Italians singing from their balconies.
  2. Lots of love happening on the ‘gram. Nikki Mayeaux is posting a daily creative prompt called Poem Passwords. The pictures on #seeninquarantine are spectacular. Between her early start for April Love and purrs from her sweet cat, Susannah Conway is soothing my soul. Julia Turshen is posting daily foodie prompts. I love this list from worn_ware of people offering yoga, meditations, etc.
  3. Tessera Arts Collective in Philadelphia closed the gallery for now, but they are still on for installing a street art campaign throughout the city this Sunday.
  4. Local businesses that can’t afford to shut down completely are making the best of it with delivery and curbside pickup. The Dentonite is keeping a running list. I love watching local business owners figure out how to take care of their employees by offering alternate earning opportunities and giving devoted patrons the ability to still tip their baristas/servers (*cough* support Golden Boy *cough*). Also…Golden Boy has key lime and coconut pie right now, which are in my top three favorite pies (blueberry is the third, if you’re wondering).
  5. Aid Network Denton and the city of Lake Dallas are keeping up a list of ways to get help or get involved if you can give help.
  6. Nature is delightful. The canals are clear and the swans are back in Venice. And penguins at the Shedd Aquarium enjoy a tour of the zoo.
  7. Since you can’t go in person, many field trip locations and entertainment venues are coming to you. You may also be able to watch the stage production of your favorite musical online. The Metropolitan Opera is streaming. Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted himself playing “All I Ask of You”, and Lin Manuel Miranda responded with his performance of “Everything’s Alright”. Yale is offering their course on The Science of Well-Being for free (audit only).
  8. For artists whose income is impacted by all the cancellations, here’s a list of places that may be able to offer support.
  9. Books resources! I didn’t know how much I needed Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog in my life until this week. In fact, many children’s authors are reading their books online this week. And one that made me salivate – download from a selection of over 300,000 books for free from the New York Public Library through their reader app!!!
  10. Debbie Allen is teaching online dance classes! So is Chloe Arnold!
  11. Joy the Baker is just a delight. As usual.
  12. People are putting their Christmas lights back up to spread joy.
  13. All the Julia Child is streaming!!
  14. What am I doing this weekend? I’m so glad you asked! 24in48’s Social Distancing Readathon!

I’m sure there’s more. What are your favorite things people are doing right now?


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Both jobs are super busy and all I want out of life is to be sitting at the table in this picture drinking this delicious thing (Harvest House’s cold brew with a shot of vanilla bourbon – DO IT), but that will have to wait until at least the end of next week or maybe September.


But I’m taking a little break this afternoon because I love music and poetry and I have lovely musical and poetic things to share with you.

  1. Visceral Trio (one of whom is our former organist Henry who left to tour with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in May) released their debut EP today. You can listen to samples and buy it here.
  2. My social media feeds are stocked full of Aretha Franklin performances, and this is my favorite video I saw this week.
  3. “Poetry is a way of being in the world that wasn’t made for us.” Ten poets to check out. I especially love Ellen McGrath Smith.
  4. Oh gosh. This amazing picture.
  5. And this isn’t about music or poetry, but I can imagine sipping some of Joy the Baker’s lemonade concoctions while listening/reading. Except that charcoal nonsense. Or the cold brew. That sounds like a terrible thing to do to both coffee and lemonade.

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When all else fails, raid the recycling bin.

January was intense. A lot has happened in our world and to my friends this month. While I have been active and keeping informed, I’ve also enjoyed some downtime.


This month, I finished up some books I had started and read another book by someone who is becoming one of my favorite authors.

I enjoyed The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Cron and Stabile). That is, I enjoyed it after reading the part about Ones, which I am now 97% certain I am. I can’t really call my experience through that chapter “enjoyment,” but it was helpful.

My favorite book I’ve read this month is Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. I have a whole separate post planned about this book, but for now I want to talk about this author. I love his characters and how he develops them. I need to buy all of his books and study them with fervor. I want to write characters that well.


This is Us. I am firmly seated on this bandwagon. Stupid awesome show. It makes me cry and cry. I love  them all, but Randall is my favorite. Also, I am happy to see Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley throwing off shirts again. I support this.

I’ve also been on a superhero kick (I mean…even more than usual). So clearly I am rewatching/binge-watching Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Smallville. For some reason, I see the need for heroes these days. And by heroes, I do mean Cat Grant, Iris West, and Felicity Smoak.


I had…fun? That’s not exactly it. I had moderate anxiety and the tiniest of panic attacks graciously buffered by camaraderie and humor and overwhelming kindness and the joy of seeing both old and new friends at the Women’s Rally/March in Denton. I enjoyed lunch and dinner with friends to talk about it, and my hope was given a little boost by those conversations.

My parents visited last weekend. We ate a lot, and my mom and I watched romantic comedies, and before they went home, my friend Margarett brought them a puppy to take with them. His name is Butch, and he is corgi/shepherd, and he has got that whole puppy eyes thing down. I’m sure there will be pictures aplenty in the months and years to come.

I’ve taken up my seasonal knitting habit again. It’s so calming. This year, I’m obsessed with blankets. If you visit, I might try to pawn one off on you. Many of them will be going to supplement the United Methodist Church’s donations to homeless shelters, because how many blankets do I really need? I am currently working on one in blues and grays that will act as a bedspread:



I totally skipped my January newsletter this month, but I had something to share at my Mastermind group, so there’s that. I am working on about four very different projects. I think I can finally admit that having several projects going at once is the key to my sticking with a writing schedule and ever getting anything done. I am exhausted, exhilarated, and happy.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – hop over, read what others are into, and share your own post!

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September is always such a tease. It gives us a few cool days. A friend whose birthday is in the middle of the month says that Jesus always makes the weather nice for her special day, and I’m inclined to believe her. It always manages to make its way back up to the 90s at some point during the month, though. I could do without that.

Looking forward seemed to be the theme of this month. I am about to start October Unprocessed and 31 Days of Movement, so I have been collecting recipes and ideas for exercise that fits into a busy lifestyle. So I have stacks and stacks of cookbooks and get-your-life-together books all around the apartment.

September was full of friends and food. The DFW Story Feast had fondue night. There is a particularly telling picture of me where I am not at all looking at the camera but rather am focused on the smothered piece of bread at the end of my fork. I do love cheese. We meant to art journal that night, but…cheese.

I tried Hypnotic Donuts and Cultivar Coffee for the first time.  They have branched out from Dallas and made their way up to Denton, and I’m so glad that they did. Sonja and I each had a donut and then went back for poutine and a chicken biscuit. And it took me the entire time I was there to realize where I had seen this couch before:

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My grandmother had this exact same couch. If you look closely, you can see the pictures of the pheasants. This made me feel oddly at home. It seemed fitting that I should be eating biscuits and drinking really strong coffee near this couch.

That’s right.  Getting all my bad habits out of the way before I start an October of eating and doing things that are good for me.

Other than cookbooks, I have only read two books, but I enjoyed them both. Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire was a quick read and a nice (albeit very predictable) conclusion to the series. But Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair was my favorite. I feel bad for it, being my favorite in a slow reading month. It’s not hard to be the better of two. But even if I’d read twenty books this month, it probably would still have been my favorite. It was clever cornucopia of literary references, and it made me want to read everything mentioned.

As far as music goes, I have had either Rude or All About That Bass stuck in my head all month. I only find one of them tolerable. It’s been tedious. I would like to say that this is teaching me patience, but I’m pretty sure it’s just fueling my rage.

Micah and Raven both had birthdays this month.  They’re getting so big, and I see them so rarely. I might have to make a dash to Fort Worth in October to visit.

So that’s my September. What was your September like?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – join us!

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July is pigtail weather. July is also finding-things-to-do-indoors weather.

What I did:

For July 4th, I made Sloppy Joes (Mom’s recipe that is basically meat, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish – also good on lentils but drain the relish first to avoid soupiness), Caprese Salad bites (although mine didn’t look that pretty…in fact, they were mostly assemble-yourself bites), and White Sangria (after comparing several recipes, I just dumped peach nectar, vanilla vodka, brandied peaches – aside: delicious – and Moscato in a pitcher) and made everyone come to me.  Then I watched the fireworks from my couch.  Happy.

The DFW Story Sisters came to Denton this month.  So naturally, we hit the square.  We started at Jupiter House, wandered through Recycled Books and SCRAP, and followed dinner at Abbey Inn up with ice cream.

Michelle, Steve, and Savvy came to visit the next weekend.  They brought over Mr. Chopsticks for lunch, and then we spent the afternoon on the square collecting leaves, looking at books and candy, having a little dance party, eating ice cream at Beth Marie’s, and having dinner at LSA. 


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Her fannish glee in mid-squee.  We swear she picked Smallville up all on her own with no coaching. I love this little face!

Supper Club hit Wine Squared again this month.  I think we’re in love.

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What I read:

I again spent the month looking over cookbooks.  I’m going to stop pretending this is a seasonal thing. Cookbooks are my jam.  Ohhh…jam cookbook! *plots*

Moving on…

My two favorite recommendations:

 – Joy the Baker. If it were possible to make love to a cookbook…

And apparently, others have felt the same.  About every ten pages or so of the library’s copy, I would find crumbs or flour dust between the pages.  On the one hand, I totally understand.  These recipes demand immediate baking.  On the other hand, come on, people!  Library books are communal books!  All the more reason to buy my own copy, I guess.

Everything I have tried so far is glorious, but I especially recommend the vegan pumpkin walnut bread and the banana rum cake with brown butter frosting.  Or the goat cheese-pepper-cocoa truffles.  Or the coconut macaroon ice cream. Oh, I can’t choose.  Just buy it and make it all.

– The Runner’s World Cookbook. Part of me thinks, “Most of this information is on the Internet somewhere.  I could just look there for free.” I can’t bring myself to settle for that, though, when all of it is right here, neatly organized into one beautiful book. 

Reasons I will be buying this book:
1. The charts and lists. It gives a easy comparison guide for different grains, fats, and proteins. 
2. A basic whole grain pancake recipe, followed by two pages of batter and topping variations – most of which I would have never thought of on my own, and I experiment a lot. I can’t wait to try the Speakeasy Special and the Sweet Southerner pancakes.
3. Chicken Not Pie. As a loather of chicken pot pie, I appreciate a recipe that takes everything I would like about it and leaves out the rest.
4. Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto. This is an example of my favorite thing about this book – they took food I love and made in a slightly different way to make it new and interesting.

To watch:

This is a short list.  I’m making my way through Boston Legal.  It’s hilarious. I recommend it, if for no other reason than to see William Shatner and James Spader in flamingo costumes.

My favorite things people did on the Internet:

  1. Luke Harms tells married men how to act around women.
  2. Beth Morey takes on sex and marriage.
  3. Robin Korth became my hero. 
  4. Confused Cats Against Feminism.  Because they’re cats.
  5. I joined Equal Exchange’s Red Cherry Challenge – will you?
  6. All the #FaithFeminisms – but especially this one by Abi Bechtel.
  7. Reason #482 to love The Bloggess.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – come on over and tell us what you’re into!

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The word “we” makes me anxious.

My gut reaction to “we” is to feel left out. I’ve been part of that magical twosome, whether romantic or otherwise, that gives me a rant-listener, a breakfast partner, a perpetual plus-one, and a person who will call me out when I’m siding with the melodrama in my head. I also know what it’s like to go from “we” to “just me…again.”  It’s not pretty, even when it’s for a good reason or for the best. That transition makes me want to make friends with more of these:

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But then I breathe and look across the table.

And there’s Marvia and Alison and Kati Rose and Miah.

There’s always a new “we,” and if I don’t remember to say that, I am only telling half the story. God always gives me a new “we.”

I am a textbook introvert.  Read any list on how to approach those who need solitude to recharge their energy, and you’re pretty much reading a manual on how to get along with me. But I also have a pesky characteristic called connectedness.  I see patterns in everything, and I see how they work together. Give me a minute, and I can tell you how everyone’s actions affect everyone else. This can make me annoying at parties (or at work…or to the unfortunate soul sitting next to me on the bus when I first read the article that is going to piss me off that day…). I was once given an actual soapbox as a gift – partially as a nod to my fondness for standing upon them and partially as a jab at my physical shortness (to which I replied, “I don’t need height – I have minions.”). Connectedness is inherently communal.  So while community may not exactly energize me, it does seem to be a habitual, necessary occurrence in my life.

I have a lot of “we’s” –

  1. Online writer communities – I can never get away with not writing, not with Story Sessions and Andilit on the prowl.
  2. Supper Club – Bonded by our love of food, reading, and TV, this is a group who is not afraid to hear what I really think and is not afraid to tell me what they really think.
  3. Christ the Servant Lutheran Church – I’m new to them, so we’re still figuring each other out.  But they couldn’t be kinder or more welcoming, and I am learning a lot.  It’s nice to find a place where I feel both safe and challenged. Also, they let me be on their outreach team.  My first task? Taking inventory of our current coffee supplies and figuring out a budget for us to move toward being more intentional with fair trade purchases. And when I said no to working with the children (I love many specific children individually, but in packs or running about in public, they kinda freak me out. I blame working daycare.), they listened.  The first time. I’m so happy.
  4.  Various friends I met through Christ Fellowship and The-Church-Formerly-Known-As-Normal-Street (after all this time, I still don’t know the current name of the group.  Wow.) – Even though I am no longer meeting with them on Sundays, these are still the people I would call in an emergency. When I think of my very best friends, in Denton and beyond, I can trace almost all of them back to one (or both – love you, Steph) of these groups.
  5. Maggie and Michelle – They get their own space. They are often my first sounding board and my first readers. If you looked at the text messages on my phone, you would see that over half the total messages I send are to one or both of them. If I ever become obnoxiously wealthy, the first thing I’m going to do is pay off my student loan.  The second thing I’m going to do is buy each of them a house and hire Maggie as my personal assistant and Michelle as my social media coordinator so that they can move back to Denton. So, start making plans, you two.
  6. My family – This is the part where I get weepy with gratitude.  My family is my greatest support. My family is the reason I can’t say mean things about Republicans in general (even though the loud, extreme ones in the media really have it coming).  My conservative parents, sister, and brother-in-law are the most generous, most helpful, most supportive, most responsible, kindest, bravest, funniest, and just all around BEST people I know. I am who I am because of them, and I will be who I’m becoming because of them. I am lucky, lucky, lucky.

I might not have a plus-one right now, but that’s okay.  Because I have a plus-twenty.

I have the community I need.

Who’s your “we?” I’m linking up with Marvia’s Real Talk Tuesday – join us!

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