Friday, May 29, 2015


I always get these emails about events being planned by the alumni association, and I usually just ignore them. I still work at the institution that made me a Master, and although I am beyond appreciative of the benefit that affords me and my family members the incredible opportunity to earn degrees that would otherwise be financially unattainable, it's still work, thus somewhat less appealing than your alumni association's events might be.

A recent event caught my eye, though. It is something that's been on my radar lately, that I've been wanting to do. You've seen the photos in your timeline, I'm sure. Wine and Painting! Friends with flushed cheeks and big smiles holding up an array of similar yet diverse canvases depicting a common image. I've seen them on the coupon circuit and I've been intrigued. My lovely cousin Pam actually runs these classes back in the Boston area, and if I could be there I so would be.

When I saw the invitation to join my alumni association for a night of wine and painting, I felt compelled. I passed the flier around at work and ended up with 3 of my colleagues on Wednesday night, gathered in the beautiful Alumni center to make our best attempt at replicating the instructor's original rendering of a very familiar sight:
The Immaculata
It seemed entirely do-able. Look at those straight lines, forgiving curves, impressionist landscape. It was perfect!

We arrived at the crack of 6pm and chose our stations, then got busy mentally and artistically preparing  inhaling the wine and the snacks.

It's like a blank canvas!
I should have taken photos at every step, but you guys I was so nervous! That blank canvas was terrifying to me. I don't think I've ever actually put paint to cloth, and I was very afraid of messing up and creating hideousness. We started by using those primary colors to create sky blue, then when we liked our hue we were directed to make a horizontal blue line right across that pristine sea of white. Gack!

I did it. Then we made green and a lower horizon, and learned how to create texture in the grass and whatnot. By thetime I thought to document my progress, we had the beginnings of a building and a tower!

pay no attention to the trippy swirls in the sky, for they are not real

have you ever seen such a graphic display of burgeoning confidence?

Then came the fun part,the TREE!  I love my tree. But the arches were terrifying, even when we turned our canvases sideways to make the developing curves more natural.

  I was having fun, though! That tree had me all fired up.

I'm not sure this was going well at all. I used up all of my paints and had to ask for a fresh palette.
My alumni center leans toward the spectacular side of architecture. Where's waldo?

The event was scheduled to end at 8pm, but we spent so much time on the grass and sky so that the details were somewhat rushed as darkness fell. It was so much fun, though! My kids were quite impressed with my kindergarten level artistic abilities, and I think a family guided painting experience is in our near future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Namaste, bitches

Well, lookie here.

Look what arrived this very weekend. Just in time for my birthday.

Happy birthday to me ;)

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Kiss

I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of the wedding photos. Let's look at some more, shall we?

I can't get enough of the bride . . .

. . . or her son . . .

. . . or her daughters . . .

. . . both of them.

I can't get enough of the moms . . .

. . . have I mentioned these two? . . .

. . . and, well, who can get enough of these two?

I can't get enough of these two.

Did you want to see how our day began?

It began in Julie's Westy . . .

. . . in the back alleys of Asheville . . .

. . . with the A-Bags . . .

. . . who are known for lowering the bar.

I like to call this one, "Wait here, Dylan; I'll figure out where to stash the leaf blower."

And then we came upon this:

. . . and that's when all the magic started.

And, oh, the magic.

Holt Magic . . .

. . . and Kennedy Magic . . .

. . . and general Love-Fest Magic.

Later there was drinking and dancing and eating and general carousing:

. . . and more drinking . . .

. . . and more dancing . . .

. . . and more A-bags . . .

. . . and pretty girls everywhere.

But let's face it. It was all about Julie and John. Those two gorgeous, beautiful, fabulous, blissed-out lovebirds:

Pure magic.

Friday, May 22, 2015


I'm just going to start at the beginning, y'all (aside: I've been to the south. I'm southern now). Because that's how your Uncle Merv rolls. 

The Beginning

This so perfectly captures everything about my travel companions.

As does this

but look! both reading books for pleasure. yay.

We did not exactly have good travel mojo on this trip, but then again... we never do. The flight was early, like dark out o'clock alarm. Our uber driver showed up in a prius and we shoved our suitcases and selves in like sardines. We breezed through security then went to procure bevs and snacks and sustenance/bullshit. I had two starbucks gift cards so allowed everyone to order ridiculous things topped with whipped cream, then was informed that the gift card reader wasn't working. $30. Sigh. Bill and I consoled ourselves with a morning cocktail while the kids perused the newstand with my credit card. $40. Sigh. It was vacation, though! Julie's wedding! Yay!

That first leg went by pretty quickly. We had a connection in Atlanta and as soon as the wheels touched down and I turned on my phone, I learned that our flight to Asheville was delayed. This messed everything up, as we had tried valiantly to coordinate airport pick up runs before the evening's activities. We killed the time in this hellhole

I hate everything about this place, except their mango habenero sauce.

 Soonish enough, we finally arrived, and found so very many of our favorite peeps gathered together.

photo credit: Mr. Uncle Schlekah

The gathering was at the house mom and my family were sharing, a beautiful and oddly remodeled place that was absolutely perfect for all of us. The pizza party was out in the backyard, and that night was the only time whatsoever that we spent back there. We had a little fire and a lot of smoke, a lot of pizza and wine, and a million laughs.

The next morning, we enjoyed coffee on the porch

View from my chair

other view from my chair

I loved that porch, I wish I was having coffee out there right now. I spent lots of time out there, it was
the in between spot for everything. It was great to watch everyone come and go, drop things off or pick them up, and perpetually strategize our next move and how we'd make it happen. It was also the perfect spot to sit and wait for the fire trucks.


Hahahahahaha! I went a little out of order there. There was lots of stuff that took place between Friday morning coffee and Sunday night firemen. But we were talking about the porch, so. Here's the story:

It was our last night, and after a long day of post wedding celebration mom and I were lamenting about all of the uneaten groceries she had bought for the house. There was a whole dozen eggs! I had the brilliant idea to boil those suckers, because my people love hard boiled eggs and they are infinitely more portable than the raw variety. I looked for a pan and settled on a shallow sauce pan that had a weirdly wobbly handle. I noticed this and thought: "huh." Then I filled it up with eggs and water and set it to boil.

I make perfect hard boiled eggs, you know. Choose a pan that perfectly fits the number of eggs you're boiling, cover them by an inch or so with water. Bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, cover the pan and remove from heat. Set the timer for 11 minutes, then transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. You're welcome.

I followed all of these steps, and when the 11 minute timer went off I walked in from the porch to complete the final step. I picked up the pan and you know exactly what happened. The wobbly handle did not hold the contents of the pan, and the boiling water splashed all over me and all over the floor and all over the perfectly hard boiled eggs that were now all over the room and, most importantly, all over the stovetop of the gas range.

Annoying? Yes. Painful? Yes. Stupid? Oh yes. Tragic? NO! It's only eggs. It's only water.

The thing is, though, that gas ranges apparently get very angry when their sparky little igniter things are drowned. It took us a few minutes of damage control to realize that the incessant clicking would not cease. All four burners were firing like maddogs, trying to do their only job in this world and ignite some gas to make a flame. The googles offered two suggestions: dry them out thoroughly or unplug the oven. We got out the hairdryer and I blew dry with all of my dumb might, but clickclick click click clickccckcickcckck. I pulled the over out from the wall and unplugged it. Ahhhhhhhh. We tried to keep drying and plugging back in a few times to no avail. Then we smelled gas.

We didn't want a big deal or anything, mom was trying to figure out how to call the gas company or something but we just did not have the information we needed to get the problem fixed, so mom called 9-1-1. She sweetly explained what was going on and said she was sure it was fine but we just need to be sure, please don't make a big huge deal or anything. They told us to wait outside and they'd come check it out. So we retired to the porch.

I'm so glad they didn't make a big deal

Bill had turned off the gas as soon as we smelled it, so when the firefighters emerged from their 3 rigs (including a ladder truck) there wasn't much for them to do, but they did take readings of the air and assured us that there was no gas leak detected. They wanted to check the basement but we agreed to disagree on whether or not to chop the door down with an axe.

The next morning was May 18, and as we were packing up to leave, I remembered that some of the googles had said that it sometimes takes a long time for the clicky things to truly dry out, so we tried plugging it back in, and it worked. Thanks Dad.

Uncle Merv started with bookends this time! What fun. So much more to come...

Monday, May 18, 2015

It was beautiful.

It was really just so stunningly beautiful. Here's a tiny taste of the beauty, of all that beauty and all that love.

Erin was beautiful.

And Colleen was beautiful.

They were both utterly beautiful.

Julie and Joe were beautiful.

And Julie and John were beautiful.

 Julie's dress was outrageously beautiful.

It was the most beautiful lovefest ever:

My beautiful sister and my beautiful new brother. It was beautiful. We love you. Now get out there and do the Kelley thing.