Monday, August 31, 2009

Should be...

I'm sitting at my desk.

I should be doing some of the mountains of homework I was assigned.

(or) I should be writing and working on my novel.

(or) I should be using the caffeine buzz caused by the Java Monster I just drank to inspire me to do something productive.

But I'm reading non-required material. Sigh. I love reading, but I am hopelessly weak-willed when it comes to putting a book down and actually doing something else.

I should be...

well, maybe just another fifty pages...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday's Solace: Change your attitutude about Work

I recently read this passage, and I am deeply impacted by its message:

Colossians 3:17, 22-24
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

[Employees], obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I feel that I've been using this blog, among other venues, to complain about all of the blessings that I've been given. People come up and ask me about law school, and all I can do is complain about the amount of homework I have, or complain about how hard my professors are, or complain about how much I miss seeing my husband since I do homework all Saturday. I just complain, complain, complain.

But I asked to go to law school. In fact I remember the length application process, how much I desired to go to law school. I remember praying to God that He open this door and allow me to go to law school... and now that I'm in? I'm ungrateful and complaining. Now, deep down I'm still thrilled about being a full time student again, about learning new and challenging things, about just being. But I don't show that to the world, I complain.

I don't focus on all the incredible blessings that I've been given. I work full time, yes, but I work at a place that allows me to get a tuition waiver for law school. I have a commute yes, but I don't have to commute between work and school like so many of my classmates. I have to do homework on Saturday, but I've been given the best office ever to look out at my backyard garden and at the gorgeous mountains while I study. School is hard, but if I persevere and excel in my classes, I might have the opportunity to have an enormously successful career to help support my family financially.

So, in my determination to put this into action, I am going to try mightily not to complain about my homework or law school any longer. I will work at it with all of my heart, eager, and excited about the challenges that lay before me.

If you sense any complaining in the future of this blog... point it out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

the perfect husband...

Last weekend, while I struggled through my piles of law school homework... struggling to keep the cases from Civil Procedure in a different area of my head from all the Torts cases I'm reading. While I struggled and studied...

My husband, the Chef, made me an incredible meal.

I love sitting upstairs in our little office smelling all of the wonderful fragrances that float up the stairs to entice me.

Sauteed greens, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, and shrimp and snow pea risotto.

I mean, really, how lucky and blessed am I?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baby Giraffes

On a visit to Salt Lake City for a cousin's wedding, I got the opportunity to visit Utah's Hogle zoo just nine days after the birth of their baby giraffe.

I'm a sucker for babies, no matter what species they are. As I oohed and ahhed over the baby, I was struck by the family dynamic I saw unfolding before me in the giraffe family.

Meet baby Moe and his proud mama Kipenzi.

(I made Moe's name up, but he looks like a Moe to me.)

Mom's looking pretty good since she just had the baby over a week ago, she really lost that baby fat quickly! But I suppose having a baby that weighs 110 pounds and that grows one inch taller every day during the first week would require a lot of nutrition...

Look at mama Kipenzi's face, as she gently pushes her baby away.

"Back off! You just ate kid!"

(maybe my maternal instincts haven't quite kicked in, since this is what I think all mom's think.)
Always a good sport, Baby Moe decides to take a walk around the corral that is his nursery. He's already decided that when he grows up he want's to be a model, and he eagerly plays up to the crowd surrounding the fence, eager to pose and preen.

"Is this is my good side?"
After pacing the runway for a few minutes, letting his admiring fans take pictures and made cooing baby noises at him, Moe decides that maybe his mom was right, and that it is time for a nap.
He can't hold his eyes open, so concentrates hard on arranging his ridiculously long legs so he can lay down without falling face first into the dirt, like that one embarrassing incident I promised him I wouldn't repeat here.
First step, front legs down, braced. Baby butt is high in the air, swinging back and forth as he trys to fold his back legs delicately underneath him.
Moe's not a slow learner, and finally has his legs arranged just so.
Down he plops, and curls his legs underneath him, snuggling down for his nap.
As soon as Baby Moe is down, Mama Kipenzi breathes a huge sigh of relief. Maybe this time she can get some rest as well! Those midnight feedings are taking a toll!

But before mom and baby can snooze, mom's sister, Auntie Kippie stops by for a chat.
While the ladies watch the precious sleeping baby, on the other side of the barn...
Dad's watching ESPN.

Even in the animal kingdom, it seems family roles don't change.

And no matter what, sleeping babies are precious.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hail Storm v Garden = disaster

It's taken almost a month for me to get past the painful loss of my garden. In the middle of July a horrific hailstorm ripped through western Denver. The hail was golf ball sized, and piled up so deep around my house that the next afternoon there were still drifts of hail. I was driving home from the grocery store when the storm hit, and the hail and rain was so thick and violent that I suddenly had zero visiblity, and was forced to drive my car at a snails' pace down the street, praying frantically that I wouldn't hit anything and no one would hit me.

At the intersection just a few houses from my house the storm cleared enough for me to see several feet in front of me. A river of rainwater gushed down the street, piles of hail floating on top like miniture icecaps. It was like seeing the Spring Melt in Alaska on a miniture scale.

As soon as I made it into the house, I realized that we had a problem. Our new little nest doesn't have air conditioning so we leave the windows on the northwest side of the building open for air flow. This storm's winds were so strong that the rain was horizontal, throughly soaking all the rooms with the windows open. We had Lake Erie in the kitchen/dining room. Upstairs in the guest room and the sewing room/office the carpets were soaked and papers and books laying across the room were soggy.

We mopped up the soppy mess. It could be worse, we told ourselves. Just south of us, windows were broken and trees fell into houses.

And then the morning came. I looked out of the window towards my garden...

and oh the horror!

My baby fruit trees were shredded and battered.

My garden looked like someone had tried to force it through an office shredder.

The corn...

The potatoes...

I recently read/heard the following line that seemed to mirror my feelings: "I'm a farmer... we plan and then hope that fate cooperates!"

This year, the weather did not cooperate.

I know this was just a small backyard garden, but it was my garden! I can't imagine being a farmer and watching thousand dollar crops vanish after a violent storm. It makes me appreciate and respect the American farmer more than I did already!

But on the bright side: in the four weeks that passed, my garden has recovered enough to be producing some vegetables and the insurance company decided that we needed a new roof, and is paying to replace it as well as paint two of the four sides of our house! Both the roof and the paint were on our wish list of home improvements, so its convenient a natural disaster is paying for it. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Julie & Julia... and me!

Even though I am up to my eyeballs in law school homework and drowning in the thick case history of torts and civil procedure, I’ve given myself a goal to read “non-required” books. (I actually have a small mountain of books on my “must read bookshelf” but we’re not going to talk about that.)

I’m currently reading My Life in France by Julia Child, and I vow to finish it before watching the Julie &Julia movie that just came out. There’s been an incredible buzz about the movie, and the books the screenplay was adapted from was Julia’s memoir and Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Everyone is jumping on the cooking bandwagon.

The best news is that 48 years after its first publication, Julia’s preeminent cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has just reached the New York Times' Bestsellers List. And My Life in France and Julie & Julia are also seeing incredible sales.

In today’s New York Times article, ‘“Nora Ephron, the film's writer and director, said she had hoped to inspire more cooking. ‘This was a secret dream," Ms. Ephron said, "that the movie would sell a lot of books.’ She added: ‘I'm completely delighted that people are walking out of the multiplex and into the bookstore.’”

People are becoming more interested in food! And buying books about it! Recent tv successes as Top Chef on Bravo and the whole Food Network channel can attest to the fact that people are more interested in tasty food, something more elegant, more refined than Mom’s tuna surprise or Grandma Betty’s mystery casserole. Even my mom, who makes a tuna surprise casserole like no one else has been asking The Chef about recipes like baba ganoush and eggplant parmesan that she can cook on the cattle ranch!

As my husband the Chef constantly says, “Everything is better with Cheese and Swine!” And not to mention butter, butter, and more butter.

As I’ve read Julia Child’s memoir, I have fallen in love with her as I read about her falling in love with French cooking. You have to admire and respect a woman that stood over six feet tall in her nylons, worked for the precursor of the CIA during World War II, and was happily married and equally happy childless when the norm for the late 40’s-50’s was get married young and then stay at home and raise a gaggle of kids.

So I guess I too have jumped on the Julia Child bandwagon. I rushed to check out the cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, from the library as I couldn’t bare to buy the cookbook from the store simply because of the cover design (I mean, REALLY, who puts a picture of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams on the cover of Julia Child’s classic cookbook? I know it’s a movie tie in—but really, it just looks tacky. Hopefully by Christmas they’ll print more of Child’s cookbook sans Meryl).
I read myself to sleep last night, obsessing over Julia’s soufflĂ© recipes.

But you, loyal reader, know that I am not just following the wave of popularity, my Chef and I have been obsessed with food for years, long before Julie Powell wrote her book based on her popular blog. Hmm… maybe some publisher will read my blog and want me to turn it into a book… The Adventures of a Cowgirl in the City maybe?

Before the movie leaves the box offices, hopefully I’ll have finished Julia’s memoir, and tried my hand at making a soufflĂ©.

Or at least a cake, with LOTS of butter.

Reference: Cifford, Stephanie. “After 48 Years, Julia Child has a Big Best Seller, Butter and All.” New York Times. 24 Aug. 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Official

Right, it's official. I am a law student.

Tonight is my first official class in law school.

Last week I spent five days in orientation and "Before Starting law school" classes. Geez, how much orienting can one person take? That was exhausting enough, but then I had to do all of my advance assignments before my classes this week.

Sure, I thought, just a little bit of reading. I breezed through my chapters assigned to me in Lawyering Process.

Easy Peesy.

And then I started my Civil Procedures homework. I read the introduction to the course and book chapter. Not a problem. I understand the terms, the layout of the book, blah, blah, blah. And then I just had to read ten pages of the next chapter. Just ten pages...

And it took me all day on Saturday and three hours on Sunday.

Just ten pages!

I think I understand the cases now, I have written briefs on them and am ready to go. Ready to face my first Socratic Method classroom experience.

I'm ready. (Gulp.) I hope.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rascally Wabbits

I'm turning into Elmer Fudd.

With the new house comes a garden, which I adore more than I ever thought I would. I loved putting in a lawn, tearing up the wreck of a garden, and planting vegetables. I never knew that I'd feel pulled to the earth like that, longing to have dirt under my nails. Anyway, as much as I love the new nest, the new garden, I've inherited a few unwanted freeloaders.

We have rabbits.

And they aren't just rabbits, they're tame rabbits. They taunt me with there obvious disregard of our presence. They are so unconcerned about the humans of the house that many times this summer I've almost tripped over them. The chef and I used to toss pebbles at them, trying to scare them off. But the rabbits knew we didn't really mean them harm. They'd just twitch their noses and ears at us, inwardly laughing at our poor aim, and continue to chew on grass.

In the months that have passed since the rabbits first appeared, I haven't seen them eating anything other than grass and weeds. They haven't been in my vegetable garden yet, as far as I can tell. So for the moment, we're at a tenuous peace.

In fact I've named the three rabbits that live under our garden shed. The big one is Bugs, the middle one (which I think is the momma) is Bunny, and the baby rabbit is Bugsy. I know that there is no way that these three cute rabbits won't reproduce at alarming speeds, but at the moment, its just the three of them. And I can almost accept three rabbits.

After all, they are kind of cute? Aren't they?

Well, for wascally wabbits, that is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reading: Chosen by a Horse

During the Publishing Institute, one of our lecturers was Nan Satter, a freelance editor who worked with Susan Richards on her first book, Chosen By a Horse. Nan gave such a passionate overview of the book itself and of the process the author had to go through in order to write and get the book published, that I had to check the book out from the library.

The tag line on the cover of the book tells it all: "How a broken horse fixed a broken heart."

Richards wrote the memoir in memory of a beloved horse, Lay Me Down. Her friend had talked Richard into adopting a horse rescued from an abusive owner. When she arrived to pick up the horse, she found a corral full of skinny and sick horses, covered with mud and terrified of people. While she tried to corner one horse, another mare named Lay Me Down and her foal simply walked out of the herd and into her horse trailer—effectively choosing her. While Richards doctored the horse back to health, she was amazed by the loving and gentle nature of the mare, despite the abuse and traumas she’d faced. Slowly Richards fell in love with mare and learned lessons for her own life to let down the walls she’d built around her heart and love people again, as Lay Me Down loved her.

This is definitely a must read for any horse lover, but more than that, this book has a great message for people dealing with grief, trauma, and loss. I cried, I’ll admit it, and desperate long to drive to my parent’s ranch to give my horses a long pet and a hug.

Have you read this book? If not, you should! Chosen by a Horse, a memoir by Susan Richards.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just a normal Thursday night...

The Chef and I had guests over for dinner last Thursday. I was busy with classes, and didn’t want to worry about cooking for friends, so I turned the whole thing over to my husband. The Chef had the day off, and instead of spending the day on the couch watching tv and taking naps like I would if I had the day off in the middle of the week, he cooked to his little heart’s desire.

I walked into the house and was hit with a wave of rich, complex scents. I love my husband. He’s the best, ever. Here was the menu:

First Course: Pureed Broccoli Soup

Second Course: Cucumber "Pasta" Beet Salad with a White Wine vinagrette

Third Course: Pan Fried Gnocci with Snow Peas and Garlic and White Truffle Oil

Intermezzo: Melon Sorbet

Fourth Course: Pan Seared Pork Chop and Rhubarb Sauce with Lapchong Stuffed Green Chard and Bacon Poached Turnips

Dessert: Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Sauce

I love my husband. He's the best ever. And I can't wait until the next Thursday night dinner!

Monday, August 3, 2009

For the past three weeks, I’ve been attending a class at the U, a Publishing Institute that focuses on the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Many of the students attending the PI just graduated from various undergraduate programs and were now eager to get into the job market. On the first day, I felt the room was ripe with tension, almost all 95 students fraught with nerves as they all hoped to graduate the class with job in hand.

Throughout the class, we’ve met industry bigwigs, publishing vice-presidents, editors, agents, authors, and sales and marketing gurus. The thing I’ve learned overall? I would rather be the author in the publishing industry rather than the acquisitions editor or internet marketer.

I don’t know what I was expecting, perhaps the voice of God coming down from heaven to tell me that I was destined to be an X in publishing, and that the rest of my life would make perfect sense. Now today, as I enter my fourth and final week, I realize that I know only a little bit more about my future plans than I did the first day of class. I know a lot more about the industry than I did when I started, but I still don’t have a clear picture of what I want to do when I grow up.

Slightly depressing.

Why can’t I find a job where I can work from home, get great health insurance, and be able to set my own schedule? This perfect job would allow me to be creative, to write, and earn enough money that the Chef and I could afford a larger plot of land so we could raise horses and kids and not be in the middle of suburbia.

Since that dream job doesn’t look like its going to happen any time soon, I’m still searching for the perfect career path. Publishing is interesting, but to really go for it I’d have to relocate to New York City. I'm imagining the Pace Picante commercial where all the cowboys yell at the same time, “New York City?!?!” While this Cowgirl is happy in this smaller city, I don’t think we could handle New York.

So what’s next on my life plan?

Well, orientation for law school starts next week. That’s right. In one week, I’ll be officially a One L—a first year law student. Gulp.

Big Gulp.


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