Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Borshwa 'Rampa!

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I've had a post bragging on the awesomeness of my grandpa in the queue for a while now, never finding the right way to open it up. Yesterday afternoon, my grandpa passed away after a long battle with heart disease at the age of 73, and this feels like an appropriate time to write down my favorite memories of him.

The whole grief process is fortunately pretty new to me. I have lived such a happy, love filled life with very little loss. I realize that my grandpa is no longer hurting and that I should be happy for him, but logic does not seem to soothe my spirit. At this point, the grief is just sitting on my chest, emptying my stomach, and immobilizing my body. I miss him and have my fair share of "what ifs". On one hand, I wish so badly the sadness would pass, but on the other hand, I am afraid that the memories will fade with the tears. Hopefully, the list below will expand rather than diminish with time. Hopefully, writing down happy times will prove cathartic. Hopefully, reading this will encourage you and me to make the most of our time on earth. Hopefully, I can be half as good of a person as my grandpa was.

In no particular order, things I never want to forget:
  • How my sister used to attempt a French farewell of "Au revoir, Grandpa!" but it came out "Borshwa, 'Rampa!" and he never corrected her or cared.
  • How he would drive my sister and I through McDonald's for "white" and "pink" shakes, respectively.
  • How he called ice cream sandwiches "granola bars".
  • How he read to my mother's first grade class every Friday...and how he loved kids in general.
  • How he dressed up as Santa every Christmas that he could.
  • How he ached for those in need to the point of gullibility. I remember one instance of him giving $20 to a man begging for gas money despite my grandmother's protests.
  • How he would sing "You Are my Sunshine" as I held his hands, walked my feet up his body, and flipped over.
  • How he always had a camera around his neck.
  • How fast he dropped his beloved camera to the sand when I was ripped out to sea by an undercurrent at the age of 8.
  • How we would go down the "roller coaster" in his car (C Hill in Carlsbad, NM).
  • How he had two mugs of hot chocolate waiting every morning for my sister and I on our way to high school.
  • How he made a spaghetti feast for our midnight snacks (really 9:00) during sleepovers at his house.
  • How we stayed every Friday night with him and my grandmother growing up.
  • How he would tell lame jokes and everyone would laugh anyway.
  • How he argued to open presents on Christmas Day every year, despite the family tradition being Christmas Eve.
  • How he would do something ornery and sip a glass of water while hearing about it from my grandmother.
  • How he built me a pink treehouse in his back yard.
  • How he would bring Arby's jalapeƱo poppers to me as a snack before my orthodontist appointments (I have no clue how this started or was seen as a good idea. Lol).
  • How he'd call me "just to hear [my] voice".
  • How he could palm a basketball and spin it on his finger indefinitely.
  • How he tried to sound like Donald Duck.
  • How we'd listen to his Elvis, Glen Campbell, and Ray Steven's tapes.
  • How he let me drive his mint green truck, which I believe was bought from the Arkansas Dept. of Forestry, down the alley when I was a kid.
  • How he cried at one of my wedding dress fittings.
  • How I could yell his name in the lobby of his work and see his head peak over the bannister a few floors up.
  • How he'd repeat the same few observations on traffic or weather or whatever while driving through town. They became recurring jokes between my sister, dad, and I.
  • How he'd tell us "legends" as bed time stories on those Friday night sleepovers.
  • How he could strike up a conversation with anyone.
  • How he would stifle every. single. sneeze.
  • How he loved Westerns.
  • How sentimental he was.
  • How he'd mix all his food on his plate.
  • How he neatly stacked all his trash at restaurants...namely the half and half containers after Saturday morning breakfast at Cracker Barrel.
  • How he'd draw Bugs Bunny on every card to me.
  • How chest boastingly proud he was of every little accomplishment in my life.

Even now, with selfish tears warming my cheeks, I have such a smile plastered across my face. My grandpa was a great man who brought so much unconditional love and happiness into my life and countless others. I know it is typical to speak hyperbolically after the passing of a loved one, but this comes with no exaggeration at all. My grandpa was the most selfless, kind, honorable, trusting, loving man I have ever known. Both he and my grandmother made it their life mission to prove to my sister and I how precious we are in their world. I am forever grateful for the special time I was granted with him.

The few pictures of him I have stored on my hard drive manage to capture a fraction of his spirit. You can't help but smile with him.


I'll love and miss you forever, 'Rampa. Borshwa!



Monday, January 13, 2014

Fourteen resolutions for 2014

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After more than a three month hiatus, I figure it is about time to get back on the old horse that is blogging. What better way to start the new year than with a list of goals?

Usually, I'm not one for resolutions, but having a set of goals with a defined attack plan seems doable. Let's dive in.

1.  Go Green(er)

Last year, I made and completed an un-blogged goal of greening up the chemicals in our home (cleaning supplies, toiletries, and food). This whole effort probably deserves a post of its own, but here is the gist.

Cancer runs in Mr. Hog's and my families. As chemists, we get exposed to an abnormally large amount of potentially hazardous chemicals. While I am not sure if reducing the chemicals in our little apartment will actually benefit us, it is worth a shot because it really doesn't take any extra effort. So, I replaced our household items with a lot of Seventh Generation, Yes To Brand, Burt's Bees, Mrs. Meyers, etc. as they ran out over the course of the year.

This year, I'm going from mint to kelley green by implementing a recycling scheme in our kitchen. It is probably bad that I've been too lazy to start this yet, but my main excuse is that our apartments do not offer recycling pick-up...meaning we have to DELIVER it OURSELVES weekly to a recycling center...that is an entire BLOCK away from where we live. I mean, I can't even. I'm such a martyr. You're welcome Earth.

2.  Do Work

I'm going to really buckle down in lab and set my sights on being done with research by December. Hold me to this, and pray my new advisor cooperates.

3.  Save Moolah

This is another continuation of something that went well last year. Mr. Hog and I are cheap. We are logical. Saving money is pretty easy, and it makes us happy. For those of you wanting to do the same, Mint.com worked for us.

4.  Keep Reading

Yet another continuation goal. We are rocking the library cards.

5.  Extend Grace

This is something inspired by Mr. Hog. He is always so quick to give people the benefit of the doubt that it amazes me. Watching him handle incapable drivers, undesirable situations, and annoying people with grace has been like holding up a mirror to the ugly attitudes that lie within me. I want to unclench my jaw, silence the mean thoughts, and be a nicer person by putting myself in someone else's shoes. While I don't have a child, someone shared this blog post by Jen Hatmaker that resounds with me and feels pertinent to this issue.

6.  Blog More

I've fallen off this wagon hard, but I really do like looking back at this journal. I had a few minor successes with Pinterest, and this turned into a numbers game for me. Suddenly, all I thought about were page views, and the joy of documenting my life was lost. No more. Maybe even for a while, I won't post anything blog related on any social media.

7.  Organize

A clean home is a happy home. A newlywed's home is a place for a crazy amount of stuff, so I'd like to designate spots for said stuff. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

8.  Donate

Part of organizing will be getting rid of a lot of stuff through donations. On top of that, I would love to start donating to meaningful charities a little more, be it with my time or finances.

9.  Shop Local

I'd like to support local businesses and the local economy a little more this year. Fayetteville has some awesome stores that deserve it.

10.  Watch Less

Watching TV is a hobby/date night for Mr. Hog and I. We love it. In reality, I watch too much, though. There are so many shows that I just watch because they are there, not because I enjoy them. I'm looking at you American Idol.

11.  Procrastinate Less

I'll tell you why later.

12.  Get Out More

I'm a homebody. I could watch TV on the couch constantly and never get restless, but that isn't good for me. Here's to more walks around the park and frisbee dates and farmer's markets.

13.  Maintain Friendships

Yet another shortcoming on my part. It is so easy to shoot a text or email to long distance friends, but I fail and fail again. It is too easy to swing by a coffee shop once a week and chat with close distance friends, but I fail and fail again. To be fair to myself, all of my friends slack too. We suck, and we bond because we suck. Hopefully, I can put in just a little more time and effort. I love my girls and want more of them in my life.

14.  Travel

Road trips are the best, and they are cheap. Seeing the nation is something I really like. Just as the AT&T kid says, "We want more. We want more. Like, you really like it, you want more." Right. I follow you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cirque du Circle City

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Mr. Hog, Penny, and I spent the second week of September in Indianapolis for an American Chemical Society conference. It was Penny's first vacation and everybody's first venture into Indiana. Woot. We even cashed in one of our PetSmart puppy coupons to treat little Penner to her first grooming session. She is the cutest.

We drove up Saturday with a carefully choreographed rest stop plan in hand for the pup. It turns out she slept the entire way, forcing us to wake her up for potty breaks and food (and pictures....whoops). The drive was incredibly easy and fast despite the hour loss in time zones.

One picture every hour.

Our hotel was beautiful! We stayed at the Alexander, which is a boutique hotel located in downtown Indy. A lot of art is featured in the lobby, halls, and rooms. While I wasn't a fan of relaxing on our plush California king below a snapshot of impoverished children, most of the art was really cool. The lobby featured a display of old vinyl records formed into birds (Anthem, 2012 by Paul Villinski). The staff was absolutely incredible as well. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this hotel. Our favorite features, however, were the dog-friendliness and proximity to attractions.

Poorly photographed art. Check out the website for The Alexander to see its true beauty.

This was our do not disturb sign. For real. I giggled like a 12 year old when we left this on the door so housekeeping wouldn't disturb Penn.

On Sunday, we went to my first ever NFL game and saw the Colts take on the Raiders. Darren McFadden, a former U of A player, started as running back for the Raiders, so it was cool to relive my undergraduate experience of cheering for him. Unluckily for us, Indianapolis was super hot all week. Luckily for us, Lucas Oil Stadium had its roof closed and air conditioner cranked to make the game quite pleasant (even if McFadden lost).

Our seats were in the second row of the upper deck...not the best, but surprisingly better than I thought they would be. I loved seeing the downtown skyline lurking outside the stadium.

On Monday, we checked out the ACS conference and expo at the Indianapolis Convention Center. The place is absolutely huge, so more time than I care to admit was spent locating where we had to be later in the week. That night, I presented a poster on my research at the Sci-Mix. I did some networking with a lot of cool people from both academia and industry and caught up with some old lab mates who happened to be attending the conference as well.

I smile like a goon in posed shots, so here is a candid moment for your enjoyment.

Tuesday was more of the same. That night, Food Network's Alton Brown gave a lecture for C & EN. It was awesome for a super fan like myself. Even Mr. Hog was laughing and enjoying himself. Alton covered ten myths surrounding food handling and then converted a water cooler and fire extinguisher into a blast chiller for fruit. It was highly entertaining. After his presentation, we were instructed to check under our seats for prizes. Wouldn't you know, I had a blue ticket taped to the underside of my chair awarding me a meet and greet experience with the chef. The door bouncer ladies took pity on poor Mr. Hog and allowed him to come in with me (and the other 100 or so winners), so he didn't have to trek back to the hotel solo.

I gave my poster again in an organic session on Wednesday. At this presentation, they scheduled a band, The Born Again Floozies, to begin playing for the last 30 minutes of the thing. It made it nearly impossible to talk chemistry, but I wasn't complaining. We enjoyed listening to and watching them for the hour or so after the presentations. I can safely say this is the first time for me to experience a tap dancing rock band.

We headed home later on Thursday than we originally intended due to a souvenir hunt, a last minute stop at Shapiro's, and a missing credit card mini-fiasco. Everything worked out, though, and it was smooth sailing from then on. Somehow, we narrowly avoided St. Louis rush hours on the way there and back. I'll count our blessings.

Indianapolis really surprised me in a good way. Before the trip, it was just a smoggy, gloomy city in my mind. Now, I realize it is pretty clean and features some beautiful attractions right in downtown. This is another city that Mr. Hog and I drove away from feeling like could be home one day (despite the fact that we witnessed almost one wreck per day)...especially with pharmaceutical powerhouse Eli Lilly headquartered there. Hooray chemistry.

P.S. This is my first post since the blog has turned one year old. I'd like to give a big thank you to the friends, family, and random Pinteresters who have kept this thing alive. All three of you readers mean the world to me. :)