12/02/2013

well, that was fun

My facebook post this morning:

Well. Despite a surgery in the middle of things, we did our best for Fall: We carved pumpkins, roasted seeds, wore our giant afro wigs (several times). I watched my "fall movies" and listened to lots of bluegrass, folk, and jazz. I constructed a lopsided fall wreath for the door and made my first pumpkin spice mousse pie. We found a leaf bigger than my head and ran through piles of them at the park. The burnt orange throw blanket, mugs, and scarf all got a good workout. We ate our way through three Thanksgiving dinners and most of our Giant Pile of Gourds... Not too shabby. I think we can safely pack last season in. Now - Advent and Christmas.

I drove home under bare branches this morning, most of Autumn's Glory fallen into the gutters and back alleys. Christmas inflatables slump on suburban lawns, awaiting their owner's return from work. (Deflated Christmas inflatables always look so sad to me.) Despite the bare trees and dejected Santas and Snoopys all over the neighborhoods, I am glad for the changing season. We enjoyed this last one thoroughly, and I'm ready to trade in my pumpkins for poinsettias.

Yesterday morning I cleared the sideboard and mantle to make way for our Advent decor. Today I'll wash the Fall tablecloths and we will do the Swapping of the Bins. Autumn goes back to the garage and Advent/Christmas comes inside. I've got a couple days to deck our halls a bit before our first holiday gathering.

So far, I feel peaceful, cheerful, and content. My goal is to maintain this feeling throughout the season. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. (Isn't that always the answer?) People - not stuff. Or, more to the point for me: People - not perfect. In MM's words, keep the good parts; get rid of the stressful parts.

Keeping Advent is tricky for us. We work hard to balance the traditions and expectations of our community with our desire to enter into the quiet, anticipatory restraint of Advent. We have to carve out space for quiet in the midst of parties and concerts and seasonal hooplah. Yesterday, we carved out space by blowing off our Sunday chores to spend the afternoon reading, writing, and watching movies. Good call.

So, here's to the changing of seasons. Here's hoping you have enough Irish for your coffee and Swedish for your pancakes and that we all find a bit of peace and beauty this month.

11/22/2013

fake friday fave five - gettin' schmidt-y with it edition

Well. I haven't done one of these in awhile, so I thought I'd bust out a list of this weeks faves.

New Girl* - Oh, we are enjoying this show. Funny! Quirky. Sweet. Like Friends,  but with an indie whimsicalness that we find charming. A lot of the bloggers I read were talking about this show the last two seasons, but as usual, I waited til a significant chunk were on Netflix before dipping my toe in. I never know if MM will like the media I find, but he digs it. And Schmidt makes my husband laugh out loud. "Judiasm, son!" "Represent. What??" (I personally crack up at "Parkour!" at all his very specific descriptions of his clothes "My driving loafers!" "My Irish Walking Cape" "My 'mono" (Short for kimono.)) Oh, Schmidt! He's kind of the Ross of this show. I anticipate a Leather Pants in the Bathroom scene any time now.

Rob Bell's current primer on "What is the Bible?" - He was on Oprah's Sunday morning show a few weeks ago and got tons of new followers on twitter/tumblr, etc. most of whom are either not Christians at all, or have only a cursory knowledge of Christianity, or a generic evangelical youth group education about the Bible. So he's in youth pastor mode, introducing people to the Bible. He's touching on a host of topics that are confusing and offensive or scary to people (What kind of God commands genocide???) and on ones that make non-believers scratch their heads (Seriously, guys? Six literal days?) He's talking about all the same stuff that academics like Scott McKnight, NT Wright, Pete Enns, and Christian Smith write about in their books, but in a very easy to follow/relate to style for newbs. A fun, interesting read (when he's not trying too hard to be cool/funny. Still, though, much more approachable for non-academics.)

The Fall-y-ness of Fall - I am in love. This week blustery winds swept through town and stole all the leaves from the trees. Great drifts of them pile up around buildings and bushes and curbs. We drove past a school yard earlier this week so covered in blowing leaves that it looked like ocean waves rolling and undulating across the grass. So cool! Yesterday I drove down a street behind a work truck and felt like I was water-skiing in a wake of leaves. Even cooler! Our yard is covered in tiny leaves, but this morning I found a giant sycamore leaf (bigger than my head!) in our garden. And that's just the leaves. So much fall goodness. Though, we're doing our level best at eating them, the sideboard is still filled with gourds. And until I can make it to IKEA to stock up, the fake candles flicker. We're gulping down spiced cider and pumpkin spice rooibos; and earlier this week I had a Butterbeer Latte at Starbucks. I'm wearing sweaters and boots and scarves and hats. And knitting! Yippee!!! (Fall.)

Pomegranates - Or, rather, my new way of extracting seeds. Man. I thought the Under the Water method was cool. It has nothing on this Whack the Pomegranate technique. Also, the video is fun. This guy is just really excited about getting to pomegranate seeds quickly.

Brined Pork Chops - What a difference! I'm making these for dinner tonight (with squash! and brussel sprouts! yay Fall!) and just put them in the brine.

* DISCLAIMER: These are 20's/30's young adults who party, have lots of sex, and get drunk on a regular basis, and a lot of the humor uses those things as a base. If that sort of thing is rough on your sensibilities, be forewarned and be careful.

11/13/2013

miraculous recovery

Well, my recovery comes right along. I get frustrated when I can't do things like put on a long-sleeved T-shirt or put my hair in a ponytail, or, you know, lift things. But when I consider that last month at this time I was bandaged, medicated, and stuck in a recliner 20 hours a day, I can't complain.

We originally thought I'd be in that state even today, and then facing months of painful physical therapy to get my shoulder moving again. Instead, I'm living most of my normal life. Saturday I drove myself to brunch. Yesterday I went to Costco. Today I'm cooking up freezer meals (and snickerdoodles!).

We thought I would miss out on my favorite season, but I've been able to drink deep the gold, copper, and scarlet of these beautiful days. It feels like a miracle. I think it is.

Two more:

A little over a year ago I could barely hold a pen from all the pain in my hands; if I even brushed them against something soft pain shot through me. I thought for sure I had arthritis and this was the beginning of a painful 40 years. Last week I hauled out my books on chords and scales and started to practice the piano, pain-free. I open jars and bags and boxes without much trouble. And I can hold hands with MM without pain.

After a few lonely, lost years wandering in the Post-Evangelical Wilderness, MM and I returned home from coffee hour at church this past Sunday with dinner plans, lunch plans, game night plans, an upcoming pot-luck assignment, an advent wreath-making signup, and an invite to join the choir for the Christmas season.* And this was after our second Rousing Bible Study and a sermon that made us Amen (quietly) several times and feel like clapping at the end. We didn't, but still. Who knew!

I want to capture these miracle moments so I don't forget them. Sometimes in life, there are Typhoons. Devastation happens, and we can't do anything about it. But sometimes your hands heal and you find new friends and you get to enjoy a beautiful autumn outside instead of through the window of a recovery room.

As our new buddies say at the end of the service each week: Thanks be to God. Allelujah! Allelujah!

* We also learned the difference between a vicar and a rector. (Vicars are in charge of "missions" aka church plants that aren't self-sustaining yet. Rectors are in charge of an actual parish church that is self-sustaining.) And I confirmed the purpose of the Tiny Golden Door (holds extra plates/bottles of consecrated communion elements.) But I have yet to discover the actual name of what I secretly refer to as The Birdhouse of the Lord. Oh, if only these Episcopalians knew!