Wednesday, September 14, 2011


A week and a half ago, Neil and I welcomed a new member to our little Bloomington family.

I received an email from the SLIS listserv about a cat that needed a home during Labor Day weekend. A current library student named Mary wrote that she had found a stray cat (which she subsequently named Francine) in July outside her apartment building. Francine was very underfed, matted with dirt and ended up having a respiratory infection. Mary took Francine in, got her up to date on her shots, and nursed her back to health. She also had a dog and two other cats, so she wasn't able to permanently provide a home for Francine--this leads us to the listserv email, which, incidentally, came the very day that I had finally convinced Neil to go to the animal shelter to look into getting a kitten. No joke, the timing was just that spot-on. I emailed Mary back right away and told her we were interested in coming to see if Francine would be a good fit for us.

The next day, Sunday, we ran some errands then went to Mary's apartment complex. Francine lounged on the couch, punctuated by briefs jaunts peering out at us from underneath a small trampoline in Mary's living room. She wasn't unfriendly or averse to our attention, but neither was she overly affectionate. After spending some time with her, Neil and I weren't sure--it's impossible to tell if an animal is the best fit for you after limited time with him/her while you are a complete stranger. However, Mary convinced us that once Ms. F got used to her, she was very loving. Neil and I wanted a cuddle cat, an animal that would want to be around us rather than hiding, so this was good news. It was easy to intuit that she would open up to us after having some time to adjust.

Neil and I decided that Francine was sweet, looked healthy, and we knew many of her tendencies--much more information than we would have if we adopted her from a shelter, where an employee or volunteer wouldn't know the cats' personal characteristics. We decided on a firm yes, that Francine would be one of us, and we took her home! I could tell Mary was sad to see her go, but now we are facebook friends so she can keep up with the adventures of Francine because of the preposterous amount of pictures I take. Francine is the perfect cat for us: playful, loving, incredibly cute AND she is by no means camera shy!

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to her the best way I know how: via a glut of photos spanning from her car ride home to this afternoon, when she sneaked onto the windowsill as it rained outside.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Our Bloomington apartment has rapidly become home for Neil and me. The summer months we spent in a house that (while full of awesome people) was the home of bugs, bats, and mice has primed us for our state of bliss, although I think we'd have loved it no matter what. This apartment has been the top reason for our smooth transition to Indiana. Our stuff (well, let's be honest, 95% is mine) seems natural in this space, the random collections and colors and patterns. Neil gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted, and oh boy, I have. For the first few days here we worked tirelessly to locate, unpack, rearrange, you name it. We've now settled into a state of maintenance, simply making slight adjustments to the main area. Meanwhile, the bedroom and practicing/meditation/sewing room are still in flux. I'll give you a virtual tour of what I've done with the living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Our living room/kitchen area is all open, which makes it feel spacious for just the two of us.

The floor-to-ceiling built in bookshelves were a big selling point for the place, and as you can see we haven't even managed to fill it. I pared down my books for the move, forgetting just how massive the bookcase was. Oops. I guess this just means room for more acquisitions!

My beloved yellow chair provides a pop of color to the room. I finished binding the quilt on the right shortly after we moved in and the quilt on the left was a housewarming gift from my supremely talented mother.

This is a photo I took last week during the picture hanging phase of our move. I think Neil looks particularly cute--certainly more lovable than when he is walking around complaining and leaving the seat up! This photo also helps convey the hypnotizing power these comfy couches have to lure grad students to sleep...

The living room. As I put together this blog post I realized I didn't have a photo from this angle, so I had to march from my perch on the couch and take one. (Neil is preparing for an upcoming talented guitarist boyfriend already nabbed one!)

We have our own space to cook! We have a dishwasher! Life deserves exclamation points these days!

 Fell for this shower curtain at Target and luckily it goes with my flea market find owl embroidery :)

Those are the big views, but if you know me at all you know I like the little details, the knickknacks, the tchotchkes...

Books, fabric, sewing paraphernalia, glasses--the odds and ends of a lovely life. Is it completely transparent that I am hoping to lure some Wisconsin visitors to Bloomington?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

the move to bloomington

As I type this, I am sitting on the couch in my living room in Bloomington, Indiana.

It still seems strange to write that, but it's true: I'm no longer in Wisconsin.

My family tackled the move caravan style: my dad drove the U-Haul, my mother drove her car with Whitney, and I drove my car with Conner. We left Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM from Sun Prairie and followed Neil's mom Barb down to Rockford, where we picked up a dresser for Neil that belonged to his grandparents. The sky began to look increasingly foreboding as we stopped at a nearby McDonald's for breakfast.

Sure enough, we were hit by torrential downpour with about 6 hours left in our journey. There was no way it was going to blow over, so we continued on. I drove directly behind the U-Haul, which helped guide me due to how large and well-marked it was. If I had been following an average car I'm not sure what I would've done.

After a few more hours of driving in the same conditions, my dad pulled off the road onto the shoulder of an exit. Our caravan followed. Conner and I had no idea what was going on.

 I spoke on the phone with my mom, who told me that the service light was flashing in the U-Haul so my dad was on the phone with the company. I had no idea where we were location-wise.

After a few minutes, I spoke again to my parents. Apparently the U-Haul folks told them that the U-Haul just needed to be serviced when we got to Bloomington. With some trepidation, we continued on.

After about 45 minutes, we outpaced the storm. I could practically feel the collective relief on the highway. We drove in the new peaceful conditions for a short while before the caravan took an exit to Champaign, Illinois. We pulled into a gas station so I assumed we were just stopping to fuel up and eat at the attached Jimmy John's. However, as my dad paced around the U-Haul talking on his cell phone, I grew concerned that this wasn't the case.

The rest of us went in to use the bathrooms and eat while we waited for news. We were there for about 15 minutes before my dad, visibly aggravated, came inside. He relayed to us as he ate a sub that there was something off about the way the truck was driving and that it wouldn't recognize gasoline.

As he spoke I glanced back out the window. Whereas before the sky was a light gray and overcast, not sunny but not stormy, now dark clouds were rolling in and the wind was picking up. Stray plastic bags flew past, women's hair whipped across their faces and flexibly-limbed trees bent and swayed. Suddenly our unhurried lunch became supercharged with the realization that the storm we had just evaded was back and more fearsome than before.

We went outside as the rain started picking up. My family ran across the parking lot with some of my miscellaneous belongings that had been in my mom's backseat and threw them in my car's backseat. My dad told me to drive to Bloomington while they waited so that we could still sign the paperwork in time to move in that evening. I felt terrible leaving them in the thick of the brewing storm, but knew we had to get to Bloomington.

So to continue our journey I relied on my GPS and Conner acted as my co-pilot. It took a lot of deep breathing to not lose my mind as semis sped past us on the rainslicked roads, but I survived. By the time we reached Terra Haute the rain had again abated and the drive was as easy as a drive through awful (Indiana roads are a real treat) and unfamiliar roads could be. Neil was already in Bloomington to take music placement tests so we met up with him. We arrived at Neil's and my new living arrangement at 4:15 PM, signed the paperwork, and were given the keys.

We now had an empty apartment to ourselves.

We moved all the random objects stuffed into my backseat and trunk into the apartment.

The contents of Neil's backseat came in too.

 I almost strangled Neil about oh, I don't know, a thousand times before my parents and Whitney arrived. Then I almost strangled him another thousand off-camera.

After getting the U-Haul checked out in Champaign it was apparently okay to drive--the experts suspected issues stemmed from water leaking into the gas tank. They made it to Bloomington around 7 PM and the boys (minus Neil, who needed to go to a music gathering) carried the heavy stuff upstairs. I also broke a very serious sweat lugging boxes up these steps.

We piled a lot of our junk into the second bedroom, what would soon be the Neil practicing and meditation room/Bri sewing room.

We crafted a cardboard path to minimize dirt on our new carpet.

We ordered Mother Bear's Pizza, a Bloomington legend not only for its cleavage-y mascot but also for the deliciousness of its pizza. O-M-G. The praise is well-deserved.

My family slept over. We all collapsed into a deep sleep.

The next day, we ate doughnuts on the floor. My family left at 1 PM to make the seven hour drive back, but not before taking this picture of MN and me, exhausted but content.

By now we've been here for five days and the apartment looks incredible. I know I'm a bit of a tease, but I won't be showing any other photos today. You'll have to return to this blog tomorrow, the next day, and so on and so forth :) I have internet access now, 3 jobs at IU (!), new classes and crafty projects to write about, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the blogging groove. Just an FYI--I took August off for weekly features, but they will return in September.
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