A Few of My Favorite Things | August – Saying Goodbye to Summer

Where has August gone? The days are still long but the garden harvest is beginning to dwindle. It won’t be long before my tomato fix must be met with mealy fruits picked from chilled grocery shelves instead of my garden. Summer is beginning its farewells. Soon, monarchs will begin their migrations South. I’m, alas, still not ready to migrate myself South of the border. I miss Mexico. For now, painted ladies and swallowtails eat their fills from backyard peonies, zinnia, and basil blossoms. 

August Eclipse Highland Kansas My Own True North

When I drove back to Kansas two weeks ago, I passed field upon field of cotton crops. Alabama surely was standing high in her cotton. In a couple of months, the pale yellow blooms will burst into the bright white bolls. Yes, Autumn is on her way.

How About That Eclipse?

Were you able to get outside to see the eclipse this month? My stepfather’s sister and husband have a farm in Highland, Kansas. This is noteworthy because their home is – er, was – directly under the path of the Great American Eclipse for totality. It was a gas! Even Edie had solar approved eye wear. About 50 members of the Johnson, and extended, or Johnson by proxy (i.e. me), descended to this tiny farming community in Northeast Kansas. It was awesome in every legitimate dictionary definition of the word.

  August Eclipse Highland Kansas My Own True North

Until clouds moved in the way and blocked visibility of the “diamond ring” effect. I bet that halo was just amazing, though. A phenomenon I had heard of but never witnessed, though, was the effect of the wildlife. As totality neared, birds and insects were humming and busying themselves as if it were dusk. The speed of approaching totality created some sort of frenzy. Birds were diving to their nests.

And then, silence. And darkness.

Sure as scientists promised, day turned into night. And as quickly as totality came upon us, nature’s activities of dawn greeted us with the returning sun.We spent hours idling on two lane country highways to make it back to the capital. Despite missing the halo effect, midday darkness was worth the sacrifice of the day.

After all, what else would I have done? Stayed home to… edit? No thanks. Speaking of edits….

Something I’m Loving….

PhD progress is… happening.

My committee and I are finally starting to come to agreement about what my re-analyzed chapters and conclusions should look like. It’s taken me long enough. I will probably be kicking my own butt later in this year, but I’m hesitant to apply for some of these jobs I find that are appealing because Ph.D. ABD just isn’t the same as PhD. Listing Ph.D. ABD is just a fancy way for saying you quit. Is my opinion… in the academic community, though, ABD isn’t something to broadcast.

If you happen to be struggling with your proposal or draft edits, remember this: the dissertation is a means to an end. The end goal is your Ph.D. The dissertation is a means goal, not your end goal. The dissertation is a way you can prove you are a vetted, successful researcher.

My dissertation, in its approaching final form, is so far from the initial problem statement and hypothesis I created. Choose your battles with your committee. Even though it may not always seem like it, they really do have your success and your best interests in mind. They’ve been down this path, before. You know the subject, best, but they know the process, best.

Patio Jenga

Giant Jenga My Own True North

My summer dabble with woodworking was a narrowly averted disaster. I gave up many freckles and even a slight sunburn, heat exhaustion, and sweated through so many clothes while standing in that blistering August sun cutting, sanding, and staining this giant Jenga game.

The final outcome is something I am so proud of, but I now appreciate the cost people want to charge for a handmade patio Jenga game. I chose three different stains and love the variance in colors.

Giant Jenga My Own True North

Something I’m Listening to…. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and ft. Justin Bieber – Despacito

Oh my goshhhhh…. Yes. Yes! I am all over this song. I can’t even keep count of how many little zoom videos I made with Edie and this song. It makes a great mid afternoon break away from the desk slump.

I know about 70% of the translation to the song when I sing it. The misses in translation on my end now create some empathy and understanding to judgment I passed on a friend I met in Chiapas. I asked my friend why he had “ugly boy” tattooed on his arm. He wailed as if in pain then proceeded to tell me the saddest tale ever about how he and his buddy misheard the lyrics to a Black Keys song. And they are ugly boys, now, not lonely boys.

Something I’m Reading…

How these women are taking up space every day in their lives.

My memory fails me as to where I discovered The Happy Reader. That is a moot point, however, because I am having so much fun with this “bookish” magazine. Bibliophiles, consider yourselves put on notice.

The Happy Reader August 2017 My Own True North

Now that August says “goodbye,” how are you winding down your summer?

XO, Jennifer

August Great American Eclipse My Own True North
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Some Things to Enjoy | HAIM – Want You Back

If the weather hasn’t convinced you, surely the fireworks and festivals this week for Fourth of July heralded summer is in full swing! I appreciate the AC, sweet tea, the juicy peaches, warm watermelons, salads fresh picked from our garden, and songs of crickets and frogs I hear in the woods surrounding the farm at night.

Aah, summer. I love you so much, I even accept the frizz in my moppy hair this time of year. So much so I even accept picking the fleas of Edie as a daily ritual.

Here are some things that inspire and uplift me this week.

want you back

Something I’m Listening to….HAIM – Want You Back

Haim’s single from their new album, Want You Back has been out for two months, now, and it’s on heavy Spotify rotation. Well, alongside songs from Moana and Cigarettes After Sex — it’s been a rough summer of edits and motivation to finish that has waned to nonexistent…. My musical tastes this summer represent the chaos that is my writing frustrations and anxiety on overload.

Cue in some salvation and better-than-a-pineapple-whip delight… HAIM’s new album, Something to Tell You, released yesterday. Definitely, most definitely, check it out! I’m no musician or critic, and won’t pretend to be, but I like it — hello — their harmonies.

The video is LA eye candy, too.

Something I’m Reading…. Darling Magazine

I stopped subscriptions to print magazines when I moved from Phoenix. A newly adopted nomadic lifestyle is not conducive to monthly mailings. Fortunately for me, Darling Magazine maintains a robust online platform. This is a particularly refreshing read for some internal reflection on what labels or definitions you are picking up from external influences and pressures.

Something I’m Loving…. 

Fellow stationary groupies, raise your hands! Currently loving on the locally sourced stationary and excellently curated art, home, and apparels in Lawrence, Kansas. The best town in the heartland.

On an unrelated topic, have you contacted your senator to express your views on the AHCA bill? If you’re unsure how to act to effectively communicate with your senator, Our Revolution has a great page of resources.

Want you back

What is inspiring you this summer? XO, Jennifer

want you back
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Some Things to Enjoy | The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

I know I’ve been quite off the radar and absent. I’m sorry! It seems every time I turn to the news there is more news that drags me down. I’m already in a tender spot of sad feelings with my dissertation frustrations so I find that I get easily overwhelmed with the state of our administration. This week, in particular, has my head spinning. So it’s good for me to consciously see what’s good. And there’s so much good!

I’m back in Alabama and will spend probably a majority of what remains of summer down here. It’s quiet, on the farm, and aside from morning garden duties, I have minimal distractions. My current focus on finishing the final edits and revisions (again, and again) are my big priority. The next one is – to find a job. That is an interesting experiment in frustration and reflection. In time….

Nashville the Gulch

Here are some things that inspire and uplift me this week.

Whatever you are looking ahead to with your long weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful!

Something I’m Listening to…. Lin-Manuel Miranda – The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

Unless you’ve been underneath a rock or exclusively watch Fox & Friends, you might have seen the #HAM4ALL challenge. Borrowing inspiration from the ALS ice bucket challenge, Miranda is asking participants to upload a video of them singing a selection from Hamilton to social media and make a donation to the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, then nominate two friends to do the same.

Hello – challenge accepted! And I have terrible stage fright, and cannot carry a tune, whatsoever (I’m so bad).

I hope you participate, too. It’s fantastic cause and electric campaign.

Something I’m Reading…. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I started a reread of this book last summer then accidentally packed it up and put in storage before finishing. When I was going through some more items to “prune” and get rid of during a yard sale at my folks’ house at the beginning of the month I found it again, dogeared right where I left off. You may remember the delightful movie with Kathy Bates charming us as the mousy middle aged self conscious housewife and Jessica Tandy as Ninny, a quirky resident in a senior assisted living home who inspires Bates’s Evelyn to come into her own.

If you had any enjoyment in the movie, consider visiting your local library and making the book a summer read. It follows three story patterns: present day (1980’s) with Evelyn and Ninny; the fictional newsletter, “The Weems Weekly;” and Ninny’s childhood memories in 1920’s Whistle Stop, Alabama in which the beloved character Idgie will charm you as she did the bees.

If you loved the movie, as I did, I believe you will embrace the novel. There are  themes beautifully and tenderly written in the book that were not translated into the film, particularly the nuance pertaining to Idgie and Ruth’s relationship.

Fried Green Tomatoes

And then you can watch the film again, too! I promise you, before I leave Alabama again, I’ll share with you my recipe for fried green tomatoes. They are truly heavenly and worth the cheat day, and I’m loving having such close access thanks to the abundant garden harvest this summer on the farm.

Something I’m Loving…. 

I drove through Nashville last weekend on my way back to Alabama. Now, Music City… THAT is a fun town! I was quite short on time as I was making the drive from Kansas to Birmingham in a day – a long day. A break in my drive was scheduled so I could spend some time in the Gulch. Don’t be fooled, she’s 100% devil! Oh, Edie….

Nashville the Gulch -

I love planners. For 2017 I had a pretty “millenial pink” planner from Bando, despite not being a millenial – I’m technically not a Gen X, either, having been born in the weird transition years from 1977-1983 that is considered a microgeneration neither fitting in either set. Dawson’s Creek for the win (too young for 21 Jump Street, too old for One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl).

For 2018, I have a jump on my planner, already. I selected this pretty planner from Kate Spade – solely because I love the cover image. If you’re into zodiacs, this is the perfect pick for you.

And, hi, um, can you believe tomorrow is July?! Where has 2017 gone?!

The Gulch in Nashville Mural What Lifts You Up
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Gregg Allman | Remembering Gregg Allman and His Music

I’m the conflicted daughter of a staunch Yankee-minded mother from liberal Massachusetts and an unapologetic, proud, good old boy from deep within central Alabama. My soundtrack of my childhood ranged from Blondie to the entire genre of Southern Rock. Gregg Allman’s voice can resurrect memories of girlhood sticky summer nights chasing fireflies and my itchy, mosquito bitten limbs as quickly as the taste of buttered pecans and peach ice cream.

And, hello, he loved and was married to Cher. Cher!

To fondly remember the raspy drawl and soul filled writings of Gregg Allman, here is a small handful of some of my favorite songs from the Allman Brothers. Now, where are the fireflies?

In Midnight Rider he sang his fugitive alter ego had to run to keep from hiding but oh goodness I love his hook: “But I’m not gonna let them catch me, no; Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider.”

 Well, dangit, he goes and does it again…. Inspiring me to not stay heavy and static. I love the rich imagery of his lyrics and the way in which I can imagine and visualize his scenes. 

Shut. Up! It’s simply not possible for me to sit still when this song comes on the speakers. I feel this one all the way down deep in my belly. Whipping Post is one of those songs when I hear it, and I can influence volume control, I play it frigging loud.

Okay, so this is actually a Percy Sledge song – and let’s be honest – Percy OWNS this song. But, if you haven’t heard the cover by Gregg Allman, it’s worth your listen.

Gregg Allman Quote

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Somewhere on the cusp of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after the longest 15 hour drive of my life, including a hellacious thunderstorm bordered by tornadoes to the south of where I was driving, Edie and I rolled up to the driveway of my folks’ house in the Swedish Meatball. Three weeks into a six – seven week road trip was cut short by my sobering realization I could not maintain the focus I needed on my final round of edits of my dissertation for my committee to approve and allow me to move on to my defense.

As much as I hate having to miss my niece’s first dance recital and one on one time with my best friend, most definitely not something to enjoy, this was a hard, but right, decision to make. I’ll look forward to getting to Connecticut later in the summer, and then maybe the water will even be warm enough for a swim! Amidst some disappointments, there’s still plenty I found this week to be beautiful.

Something to Enjoy

Something I’m Listening to…. Chris Cornell – Sunshower

Thursday’s news absolutely gutted me. As were many others rocked by the revelation of Chris Cornell’s unfortunate and untimely death. I feel like all of my idols are being taken away. I listened to this song – as is a frequent repeat on my playlists. If you’re at all feeling what I am, you’ve likely been hitting the Spotify Audioslave, Soundgarden, and his solo playlists all day. Er, weekend? He’s gone, but I can tribute the heck out of his art.

Something I’m Reading…. Modern Love

My obsession with the New York Times’s Modern Love podcast grew into reading the weekly column on the website. I wait, every week, for the indicator on my podcast app to inform me of the next episode. And I wait, every week, for the NYT site to update the newest digital draft to read. Two Modern Loves in any given week. And, when I’m planning a road trip, I’ll hold off on the podcast so I can binge listen to the stories. 

Something I’m Loving…. 

Feminista Jones‘s Twitter, in particular, her cheeky call out and “to piss a man off today” challenge. I feel hopeful more women are speaking up and calling out behaviors and ideologies that need to change. 

something to enjoy

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful! As for me, I’m enjoying the empty house while my folks are exploring the northeastern sea shore and riding out four straight days of thunderstorms and tornado watches. Welcome to Spring time in Kansas! There’s no place like “home.”

XO,

Jennifer

something to enjoy something to enjoy

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