O Angelina

A Girl and Her Dog: Living, Loving, & Enjoying the Little Things

George Saunders--Be A Dog for 15 Minutes Each Day

Charlotte, Events, From My Writing Desk, Living Well, Reading, WritingAngelina OberdanComment
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I know, we can all agree that George Saunders is THE MAN. In fact, his book, Lincoln in the Bardo, just won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

While I know this is an esteemed award, there are two things George Saunders has done that I count as cooler: 

  1. He read as the Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Speaker at CPCC's Sensoria (I'm obviously biased because I'm the co-chair of the committee who brought him.) 

  2. He went to Italy to Hear his own work--about Lincoln sitting in the tomb of his son--being performed in Italian while sitting in a tomb in Milan (so meta and So Italy)

What do the kids say now? #squadgoals

Because of his insistent presence on my Facebook NewsFeed, I've been thinking about Saunders and his work lately. And, thus, I turned back to my notes from his lectures and readings in Charlotte.  


Therein, I found obvious wisdom, which is the sort we already know, but of which we need someone to remind us. And we need someone like George Saunders reminding us if we're actually going to listen. 

Please know that these are not exact quotes, but scribbles from my notes, which were obviously accompanied by doodles.

1.     What are your actual habits? Accept them. 

Good God, no! I am always trying to improve my habits. But fine, Saunders, I hear you.

2.     Watch yourself without judgement.

3.     Game yourself. 

This one might need a little explaining. I think Saunders was talking about how we have this need to "win the game." We shouldn't try to play ourselves or cheat ourselves, but we--our lives, ourselves, our souls--should be the game we set out to win. Win at being you. Game yourself. 

4.     No one can guarantee that you’re going to succeed as an artist, but it’s up to you to give yourself that chance. 

5.    Obstructions are what we are. Acknowledge them. They might be your strength.

6.     Take 15 minutes a day to be like a dog. Catch one scent in your mind and follow it.

And that's what I've done. Right here. Right now. I've followed my nose for 15 minutes to share my thoughts with you. 

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Japanese Camellia: A Lesson In Quitting

Charlotte, Gardening, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment
Camellia Japonica

Camellia Japonica

Last week was a week of quitting. 

I quit drinking early last week so that I could try Methotrexate for my RA. By midweek, I was ready to quick blogging entirely (archive this shit and take it off of my to-do list). By Thursday, I coined the phrase, "I have done enough," after deciding I was sick of waking up every morning and claiming that I would "do better"/"do more" today, like yesterday wasn't enough. Saturday, I was ready to rip out the seams of our ottoman and recover it. Yesterday I quit during our long run. 

At the end of September, my therapist told me I was doing an excellent job of setting boundaries. Not two weeks later, my best friend was reminding me to breathe, not to quit anything before bed.  

Somewhere in the quitting, I told Dan that I was going to cut down the Boxwood in the backyard. We know little about landscaping; we're making it up as we go along. Years ago, someone landscaped our backyard, but no one tended it. We've spent (almost) two years trying to figure it out. I wanted to rip out the Boxwood; it was in the way of my imagined festoon lighting. 

I was telling Dan my grand plan (grand, cheap, and semipermanent) for the fire pit that we don't have and the two strings of festoon lighting I bought on sale. "I'll just dig this guy up," I said, pointing to the Boxwood. 

Our Boxwood had never heeded to shaping as Boxwoods are supposed it. It always seemed a little too tall. I threatened to bonsai it, and then to pull it up. I mean, there was a roundish-square-shaped evergreen bush that didn't go with anything else in our backyard. 

When I pointed to the Boxwood, I thought a storm had blown a fake flower onto it. The flower wasn't a fake. Our Boxwood was not a Boxwood. 

There was one single Camellia bloom and buds everywhere. It is a Japanese Camellia. 


Chinese Latern Festival

Charlotte, Living Well, ThankfulAngelina OberdanComment

I grew up going to the annual Japanese festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and seeing the lanterns there. They were the stuff of dreams; I imagined the fairies of my story books playing in the garden, and geisha dancing in the glowing lights. 

The touring Chinese Lantern Festival, currently at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is just as awe-inspiring. The light filled animals, their bright colors, stirs even the imaginations of adults. This not just for kids. 

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These elephants--which create an elephant fountain of sorts--were made out of tea sets, saucers and plates strung together, none of the elephants exactly the same. 

These elephants--which create an elephant fountain of sorts--were made out of tea sets, saucers and plates strung together, none of the elephants exactly the same. 

Some of the lanterns even moved like the dragonfly below. 

There was even a moving T-Rex, but Dan and I were to busy being silly while our neighbors took pics for me to record it. 

Ah, a former Philmont ranger in his natural habitat! Hope he secured his bear bag.

Ah, a former Philmont ranger in his natural habitat! Hope he secured his bear bag.

In the collage below are some of my favorites: cranes that can see into your soul, a festooned butterfly, alligators that remind me of Louisiana, a fox pup, and a kaliedoscopic water bird in a fountain of lotus. 

This is actually the first lantern as you walk into the garden. We walked the garden twice, once while it was light and once in the dark 

This is actually the first lantern as you walk into the garden. We walked the garden twice, once while it was light and once in the dark 

While, clearly, you don't have to be a professional photographer to take some good snaps, once it gets dark put your phone away and just be. 

(Also, I'm apparently obsessed with lantern festivals; I'm headed to Las Noches de las Luminaries in Phoneix in December.)

Denver: Last Post About My Summer 2017 Adventures

Angelina OberdanComment

Really, the best part of visiting my dad, Keith, in Denver at the end of the summer was that I got back on track with all running, swimming, and biking that I love doing. 

And, as some of you know, I'm on another interesting adventure, so I wanted to make sure I got this one posted first.

Denver is the only city other than Charlotte that I'd consider living in because it's quirky and gorgeous and has even more green space(There are a larger predatory animals in Denver, which freaks me out; I do not want to have to worry about mountain lions.) 

Let's be real. Since I was diagnosed with RA--or really, since before I was diagnosed and my hands were swollen and I was exhausted--, I haven't been working out as much. And I love working out. I kept swimming, because it's the only thing that doesn't have too many bone-related risks. However, the summer pool schedule is wonky, and I wasn't making as many practices as I wanted. I started running again in May, but was really scared and slow. After all, RA usually effects hands and feet. It's not in my feet yet, so I had to get over it. I love running too much. I also had to get over not being as fast as I used to be. And I hadn't been on my bike since sometime last fall. While biking is good for RA because it's low impact, I was scared the pressure on my wrists would make my fingers swell and I wouldn't be able to brake or even steer. 

So our first mission in Colorado was to get me some confidence in running and biking. I was super slow running, but my dad was pretty nice about it.

And biking was actually fine, although I'm going to get my bike refitted before I hop back on it for a long ride. We also got to see some Bighorn Sheep! 

We didn't just work out, of course. We also drove up the beautiful mountains to the Breckinridge Wine Festival, where we also grabbed some heavenly Mountain Top Cookies. I did not hold back even though they aren't gluten free. 

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We also hit the Renaissance Festival. I've never been to one, and the costumes we saw were totally worth it! Plus I got Keith and Nancy to wear those hats! 

While I didn't take pictures, all of my favorite breakfast places are in Denver, too! 

There was also some napping, an Arctic fox on the wing of my airplane, and my mom happened to be in town for work, so we met for a glass (or two) of wine. 

I did have the most fun swimming in Chatfield Gravel Pond with Keith! 

I gained a ton of confidence back about what my body can do, and spending time with Keith is always good for my soul. Already planning my next trip.... But hopefully he'll come out to Charlotte soon (wink, wink- Keith are you reading this?)