3/30/2012

fake friday fave five - everything is amazing

Five of my favorite things this week:

New routine. Been up and exercising earlier and earlier. And after MM heads off to work, I walk to a coffee shop, work on studying and writing for a few hours, walk back, and then do chores and other projects. I have come to really need those morning stretches. I have missed walks, so it's nice to get out again. I have missed nature, so I drink in the green grass and spring blossoms in giant gulps. I love being at the coffee shop because I am sure to get many hours with no Internet distracting me from work. I am a weak-willed creature, and am flat out more productive when I don't have to rely on my own strength to stay away.

Cinnamon toast. I don't get it often, but man, I love that stuff. We'.ve been off desserts, and don't do much in the way of sodas/juice. We allow ourselves fresh fruit and jam/honey on our bread, and the occasional cinnamon toast. Woah, nelly. It's the little things.

The giraffe I see on my way to and from the coffee shop. I know! How freakin' cool is it that I get to see an actual giraffe every day. I mean, maybe its no big deal to you, but for someone who has spent much of her life in suburbia, I just get a kick out of exotic wildlife encounters. And I love giraffes. I think they are my favorite. Like CK Louis says, "Everything is amazing." It is. I hope I never take it for granted. And look how cute!




The tree I see on the way to and from the coffee shop. Beautiful.



The morning I snapped this picture on my phone, the breeze picked up and bathed me in a cascade of petals. A million pink kisses. Delightful. This morning, the sun came out and sparkled like diamonds in the dewy grass beneath the tree. It almost makes me cry with its beauty. I stand there, bundled up against random spring rains, probably looking like a homeless person as I mumble: thankyouthankyouthankyou...

The poem MM wrote for me. He blows me away. Everyday. I can't believe I am so blessed.

Happy Friday.

3/29/2012

thursdaybook - starbucks and stuff

For today I am,

Seeing... Right now, soft morning sunlight on warm wooden tables and a floor that needs sweeping. Sunlit smudges on glass walls. Green umbrellas as yet empty bistro tables. And the familiar Melusine welcoming sleepy patrons with the promise of blessed caffeine... 

I have a soft spot in my heart for Starbucks. Think how much has happened at Starbuckses over the years. First dates, breakups, post-breakup talks with friends, wedding planning sessions, baby showers... job interviews, client meetings, job searches, startup launches,  projects planned and debriefed, books written, ideas hatched... bible studies, prayer meetings, AA sponsor meetings, volunteer meetings... tests studied for, papers written, study group sessions... think of all that has been learned, studied, written, discussed, and argued about at Starbucks.

I love that.

Hearing... The hiss and whir of coffee grinders, espresso steamers, blenders... that starbucksy mix of jazz, country, indie, and old-timey music. Feist is singing at the moment. Zoey Daschnal a moment ago... the baristas hollering out orders and greeting customers... snatches of conversation. A couple of business meetings. A couple of tables filled with Girl Talk, and another with guys laughing. Some coworkers complaining. A new couple having their own Summer on Naboo Gush-fest... the brain buzz of all the students staring at books or laptops...

Tasting... Half-caf. Totoally cheating this week.

Working... On that stuff I wrote about last time. A bit of studying, some journaling, some blogging, and work on the various writing projects.

Reading... Wooo! Reading, reading, reading!
Nightstand: The Unicorn Variable - a bunch of Sci Fi short stories compliments of MM. They are good. And weird. Like Sci Fi often is, IMO.
Bathroom: Salt - halfway done!
Mornings: In the Heart of the Word - actually, I haven't read this for awhile. My routines are all changed around, so I've set it aside for now. But it's a sweet little collection of Mother Theresa's writing. I'm sure I'll pick it up again.
Mondays with MM: Changes that Heal
Sundays with MM: Hearing God
Funtimes with MM: Anne of Windy Poplars - MM says it should be called Anne in the Most Dysfunctional Town Ever. He's right. This is a collection of stories where Anne deals with a bunch of people with major boundary problems. (Changes that Heal is definitely informing our experience of the quirky folks that Anne  interacts with.) But it is still a fun book, and Anne is still charming, and we laugh out loud often.

Learning... Having fun with The Story of Philosophy. I remember next to nothing about what I read in high school, and I didn't take any Philosophy courses in college. Its coming back slowly. (I think the other students' brain buzz helps.) A couple quotes I tweeted:

Wisdom is not wise if it scares away merriment... A sense of humor bears near kinship to philosophy; each is the soul of the other

Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt--particularly to doubt one's cherished beliefs, one's dogmas, and one's axioms.

Am also enjoying my TED talks. Nancy Duartes on what makes a good presentation is great for this former techwriter. And I love Ken Robinson's talks on Education. Yesterday I saw Ze Frank talk about how he uses technology to bring people together in silly collaborative art projects, which end up giving people a place to "Feel and be felt." Healing comes from that. Connection.

(I have to interrupt to tell you about the lady outside rocking the awesome fro. I wish I could have a fro. My curls are kind of a mess these days. I'm trying all sorts of shampoo, conditioner, product combos, but mostly end up wearing a lot of hats. A fro is like the ultimate, "Hey, I'm me, people, and I'm fabulous!" hairstyle. Love it.)

Creating... I don't know if I'll have time for that today, but might take some knitting with me to my Coffee Talk tonight. I haven't been good about working on that.

Dreaming... MM and I are working hard on our health and finance goals with a view to a Grand Adventure. Dreaming about the Grand Adventure helps on days when we weary of discipline and responsibility and "meager" rations.* And we are also starting to dream about our 2nd careers. Can we make a living doing things we are passionate about? What would that look like? Dreaming about this helps on days when the daily grind seems endless.

Pondering... Sabbath. I spend almost every waking moment in problem-solving mode. Money, health, house, time, career, healing, relationships... The constant figuring it all out wearies me, and I crave rest. But too often I choose distraction instead of true rest. Its easier to hang out on Twitter than it is to sit quietly with my journal - or better yet, nothing but me and the stillness. Thinking a lot about what true rest means for me in this season.

Thankful for... MM (who stopped by the coffee shop between meetings just to hug me! :D)... the dew-spangled grass in the park this morning... forbidden mid-week coffee... my little laptop... spring flowers of all sorts (tulips especially this week, and giant red poppies)... jazz music... ground ginger... Two Buck Chuck... my red Chucks... the jar of daffodils on the dining room table, just opening (sermon in a jar, for sure)... Gilmore Girls Season 2 DVDs... lots of things crossed off on the To Do List... Three more debts paid off... 30 situps (Booyah!)...

* We are well aware that ours are first world problems. We aren't living in poverty or deprivation by any means. We have a full fridge, a full tank, and a three-bedroom house. We can't go out or travel or buy stuff right now, but we throw lots of parties for people. It's not like we're eating beans and top ramen. (Except for treats. MM loooooves top ramen.)

3/27/2012

hoist the main!

It has seemed to me that each year one should pause to take stock of himself, to ask: Where am I going? What am I becoming? What do I wish to do and become? Most people whom I encountered were without purpose, people who had given themselves no goal. The first goal need not be the final one, for a sailing ship sails first by one wind, then another. The point is that it is always going somewhere, proceeding toward a final destination.  ~ Mathurin Kerbouchard*


~ ~ ~

God can't steer a ship that isn't moving. ~ Some Inspirational Christian

~ ~ ~

I'm changing careers.

I think.

I mean, it's not that I won't ever do what I did before, its just that I will never do it in the same way. The work itself can be fun and creative, but I keep ending up in dysfunctional work environments that I am powerless to change.

And there are other things I'd rather do.

I think.

It's been a long time since I've had the freedom to even imagine a different life, and I'm out of practice. Out of touch with my passions. So, I'm not exactly sure what the next thing is. And while I love being on sabbatical, and having this opportunity to rest and heal, I've been going a bit stir crazy, trying to figure out what to do next.

My poor husband, every two weeks I tell him, "I need to get a job." (Last time I'd cooked up a scheme to go work in a garden nursery. Even though I know next to nothing about plants. Before that, I was going to be a receptionist. Or work at a bakery. Which. Um, hello. I can barely get out of bed at 7 am, let alone 4:30!)

So, instead of going crazy, or getting a random job, I'm going to just do stuff with my brain, and pray that things will click into place, eventually.

I'm helping MM with a couple technical writing projects. I'm working on three of my own non-blog writing projects. I'm setting aside time to practice music and art (drawing, specifically). And I've started my Anti-Applesauce Coursework in Philosophy and Geography. More stuff is on deck, but I gotta ease into this.

Hopefully, these will get my ship moving again, and we'll see what comes of it.

* Heh. Heh. I love that I can use Kerbouchard for an inspirational quote. I'm going to try to find more of them. Prepare.

3/26/2012

life is what happens

It ended, as all good St. Patrick's Day parties do, with poetry and tears. Around midnight, a couple friends gathered round the table, sipping the last of the Bushmills while MM and P traded poems and stories they'd written. The perfect ending to a day filled with music, laughter, and Guinness.

MM and I spent a happy morning chopping, sauteing, and steaming up the kitchen with cooking and kisses. Celtic music flowed from Pandora, and we danced as much as we cooked. And I couldn't stop grinning at my handsome husband. Every ten minutes I'd holler, "Thank you for doing this!" I've always wanted St. Patrick's Days like this.

That afternoon, the Pink House slowly filled with friends and laughter. The kids played Candyland and did puzzles. Musicians played. People danced. MM finally perfected his double-fisted (Bushmills in one hand, Guinness in the other) Irish Jig. People stuffed themselves with corned beef and cabbage and Guinness stew. Perfect. Day.

~ ~ ~

This Saturday had a similar feel. We'd scheduled a work day for the back yard and a gringolada party with my in-laws. The weathermen all said rain, so we cancelled the work part. But since I'd already bought all the enchilada supplies, we had everyone come for dinner anyway.

MM and I had a blast with his parents all afternoon. He and Dad were the prep cooks, chopping, dicing, peeling, grating. Quite an operation! Mom was sous chef, which involved a lot of stirring. And I got to be the Iron Chef, er, head chef, since I was teaching her how to make my enchiladas. I had a great time stomping around and berating everyone while they cowered in terror.

Or, we all just laughed and talked and worked together to build 27 enchiladas and a Big Salad. And MM did all the dishes. Several times. Bless him.

We finished just in time for the gang to arrive at 6pm. We had another evening of stuffing our faces, talking, and laughing. (No jigs this time, although MM did demonstrate his technique.)

The 'rents headed home around 9:30 or so, and the rest of us drank port, ate chocolate, and played Uno til Midnight or so.

~ ~ ~

This month, in addition to these events, we had two gatherings for MM's birthday, and hosted my nephew twice, all with fun food and good people, and late nights and lots of talking...

I'm an introvert, and people wear me out. After people interaction, I need time to recover. Quiet. Books. Journal. Blog. Naps. Long, slow period films, or documentaries about the migration of birds. Lots of time staring at grass. Candles. Soft jazz music. I need time to synthesize and process all the stimulus I've absorbed. All the thoughts and emotions that whoosh and swirl must be untangled, sorted, examined, and put away somewhere in my soul. A good party can take a couple of days out of me.

But, oh, how happy it makes me to see my house full of people connecting and getting nurtured in some way. Bodies, minds, hearts, spirits all finding a place to rest or learn or create or heal. I love to look over the room to see people throw their heads back in a hearty guffaw, cheer a victory, applaud a performance, wipe away tears, raise a toast, dance, play games, solve puzzles and read books to little kids, and gather in corners for quiet conversation. (One couple even got busted making out in our kitchen. Heh heh. Love it!)

Whether it's the rip-roarin', jig-dancin', uno-playin', makin'-out-in-the-kitchen kind or the quiet, stare out the window, snuggly-on-the-couch-with-MM kind - LIFE happens in this house. And it is good.

3/22/2012

thursdaybook - i know how to spell tasting

For today I am,

Seeing... My cozy, (mostly) clean living room. My kitchen scares me. How can only two people make this many dishes? The giant laundry piles creep creep creep down the hallway, threatening to devour me if I get too close. Likewise the piles of paperwork in the office. But here, if I ignore the dust bunnies, I have pale, spring light streaming through the windows. I have a candle, a cup of Irish tea, a bouquet of flowers, and tiny pot of shamrocks to cheer.

Hearing... Birds tweetering away... the freeway... a neighbor operating some kind of power tool - which is the Official Sound of Saturday Afternoon, so it seems misplaced on a Thursday morning.

Tasting... (All these weeks and I've misspelled the title for this section. Lame.) Anyway. I'm tasting the aforementioned Irish tea at present. Earlier, we had breakfast burritos and breakfast smoothies. Later, I'll finish up the soup from last week and have some grapes.

Working... Well, I can't stay on the couch forever. Eventually I'll have to face the piles. I'm also working out a studying/writing schedule, so that I can be a bit more disciplined about doing all that stuff. House work, office work, school work, writing work... Hi ho hi ho. :)

Reading... Finished The Walking Drum. And honestly, by the end of it, I was hoping for sequels. Alas, Mr L'Amour passed before writing more adventures for Kerbouchard. It's not fabulous writing. The hero is a Mary Sue, and the plot's completely unrealistic. But I still think this would be a fun way to introduce someone to the study of Central Asian cultures during the 12th century. I certainly plan on checking out some history texts and reading some of the writers the character mentions. MM has a book on the Assassins of Alamut, which I will take up as soon as I finish Salt. Speaking of Which:

Nightstand: Salt
Bathroom: Salt (double-time!)
Mornings: In the Heart of the World
Mondays with MM: Changes that Heal (making good progress on this one too. Great conversation-starter for us, and a fabulous spring-board for knowing ourselves and each other better)
Sundays with MM: Hearing God (just realized we forgot to read this week, cuz we were watching the Star Wars movies. :D Totally have the Imperial March in my head now. And MM and I keep exaggeratedly acting out the cheezy Summer on Naboo scenes. (Barf.))
Funtimes with MM: Anne of Windy Poplars

Learning... For my first little sessions of "school," I'm watching a Ted talk and reading from MM's book The Story of Philosophy each day. I'll add stuff as I go, but this is a fun start. Khan Academy has a lot of great stuff.

Creating... I am making a small banana bread, and I hope to do some sewing. Time to start building up our cloth napkin collection.

Dreaming... I'm slowly coming out of hibernation mode. As the world wakes up with spring, I'm waking up too. I want to exercise and organize and work on things. I want to plant flowers in the front of our house and finally reduce the 20 boxes in the garage to, like, five. I can see what I want our bedroom to look like, our office, our guest room... I can see what I want the patio to look like. I have ideas for parties and gatherings. I have dreams of trips I want to take. Hikes I want to go on. It's all swirling a bit in there, and I can feel some lists and declarations coming. I want to learn, grow, adventure, dare, and breathe deep, gulping breaths again. Yep. Waking up from hibernation.

Pondering... Thinking lots these days about boundaries, both internal and external. Being structured and strong within myself and in relationship to other people. Some relationships that I've had a long time are changing. Possibly ending. That hurts. And its unfamiliar. I am one of those who will hold on to the shreds of something long after its time has passed. Learning not to do that anymore. New life. New life. That's what this season is about. Release. Receive. Strength. Beauty. New life.

Thankful for... Dishes to scrub. Laundry to sort, wash, and fold. And even iron. (That's when I watch my junky TV show of the moment, Greek.) Paperwork and emails to process. Finances to manage. Events to schedule. Packages to mail. Meals to cook. Exercises to do. Books to read. Words to write. Fabric to sew. Art to create. Things to learn. MM to love... This is good. All good.

3/16/2012

fake friday fave five - not really

I thought of doing a fave five post today, but meh. And MM wants me to write a picaken post, but that requires downloading all my pictures off my phone, which I don't want to do today, cuz MM has the day off, and I just want to hang out with him and not muck about with photos. So instead, you get some random. (Yay!)

~ ~ ~

Well, and one picture of the Picaken, which turned out awesome! Yay!


And my Sweetie felt loved, which was the whole point of it all. He is WORTH all the Freaking Out, whether it's:

"OMG! OMG! This guy wants to date me and I said I wasn't going to date anyone, and he said he was cool with that, but clearly he wants to date me, and I don't think this is a good time, but he's kind of blowing my mind, and maybe he's The One, and..." (NOTE: He's TOTALLY The One.)

-or-

"OMG! OMG! I'm married, and we're different, and what if it was too soon and we're not ready and now we have to figure out the next 50 years together and I'm kind of a mess and don't know how to be loved or even be a person right now and how the heck do I do this, but he's so wonderful and his love is kind of blowing my mind, and I KNOW that he's The One, but wow, this new life is different, and..." (NOTE: His love IS mind-blowing, and I LOVE being a family with him!)

-or-

"OMG! OMG! Key lime pie is his favorite, and I've never made one, and I haven't separated eggs in over 20 years, and how the heck do you use spring form pans, and I just always have problems with buttercream frosting, and what if it all explodes or tastes like feet, or..." (NOTE: It did not taste like feet, nothing exploded, and now I know how to make my husband's favorite pie.)

But last night he smiled and hugged me, and thanked me for making the effort, and told me that he felt loved, and Oh, how I want this wonderful, mind-blowing man to feel loved and worth it. So so worth it.

~ ~ ~

Yes, that's a Star Wars fabric under the cake. For the family party, we had a Star Wars theme. MM's sister made cupcakes with Star Wars papers and picks. I made a banner, my favorite panel of which is a drawing of Vader's mask and the words, "Whose your Daddy?" :)

~ ~ ~

I'm still thinking through my "syllabus" for my Sabbatical Anti-Applesauce Study Campaign, and more and more I think one component needs to be poetry. Confession: I'm not really into it. Which is weird, considering. I love books and words and poetic writing and literature and writing, etc. etc. I was an English Major, so I read plenty of poetry in my school career, but never much for pleasure, and I think that needs to change.

Poetry is good for me. I will be a better writer, thinker, feeler, and person if I read poetry. I really will. That's what poetry is for.

But right now, poetry is in the same class as, like, statistics - a thing that would be good to study. When I have free time, I don't think, "Oh! I want to read some poetry!" Instead I think, "Oh, I want to watch an episode of Greek!" I know that my soul would be probably be more edified by the poetry, but that's not my first choice.

Conversely, MM loves the stuff. Just this morning he wrote a poem, based on the same evening that inspired my periwinkle post. Easy peasy. I think I've written two poems in my life worth saving, and one of them was for a class in high school.

But a lot of my favorite writers read poetry and/or write it themselves. It changes the way you use words. Every word counts in a poem, and it should count as much in anything we write. Or say. So - poetry will definitely be part of my Course Schedule.

~ ~ ~

I also think - philosophy and geography (which in my mind includes history/current events of the places studied). And I really do want to get back into Shakespeare somehow. MM and I'd talked about doing that last summer, but got too busy with other stuff. Maybe this year.

We could do one play for each of the summer months, and follow the Mental Multivitamin approach to Bardolatry, which goes something like this:
~  Read an abridgement, so you have an idea of what's going on.
~  See the play, hopefully a quality performance. Lucky Duck, she lives in a place with a Shakespearean theater company. We have to travel for ours, and our travel budget is zero dollars, right now, but we can find something. Plus, Summer Shakespeare Festivals are just fun.
~  Read the unabridged play while listening to a quality audio performance, because while we can muddle through the material adequately, that can't hold a candle to listening to Ian McKellan or Ben Kingsley do this stuff.

~ ~ ~

OK, enough blathering from me. Have a good weekend, folks.

3/15/2012

thursdaybook - picaken

For today I am,

Seeing... The breakfast dishes on one side of the table and ingredients for several birthday treats for MM on the other... Clean dishes in the strainer, ready to be put away... gross lineoleum more than ready to be cleaned... And outside, blessed gray skies filled with rain rain rain!

Hearing... The freeway... A million birds in the tree canopy... The neighbor's baby squalling anger at having to be bucked into a car seat... The tick of our kitchen clock, which never seems to be on time... tires spattering through the rain on our street...

Tasteing... Irish breakfast tea. We're hosting some folks for St. Patty's dinner, and decided to serve tea with dessert instead of coffee. Got a box with, like, 84 bags of the stuff. Yowza!

Working... On housework and a little birthday fun for MM. He didn't want a party, but I can't just do nothing. So his buddies are coming over tonight for snacks and dessert. Gotta prep the house and the food, and its stuff I either haven't made before, or don't make often, so I want lots of time to fiddle with it.

Reading... Same as two days ago:
Nightstand: The Walking Drum (almost done)
Bathroom: Salt (making good progress!)
Mornings: In the Heart of the World
Mondays with MM: Changes that Heal
Sundays with MM: Hearing God
Funtimes with MM: Anne of Windy Poplars

Learning... How to make a picaken. Well, actually, learning how to do three things: 1) Make a key lime pie - I've never done one before. 2) Use a springform cake pan - I've never used one before. 3) Make a picaken. Waaaaaah! Scary! Three new things in one dessert. TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!

But - "Life is either daring adventure or nothing."

Creating... Picaken! (And I'm making sliders and baked mac and cheese for MM's birthday dinner. Woohoo!)

Dreaming... Of the future. MM and I have been starting some long-range dreaming. It's exciting to think that our lives could look completely different in a few years. Its all still new, but we're praying and talking and dreaming and hoping. Feels good.

Pondering... My soul is healing and growing in leaps and bounds these days. I'm saying goodbye to a lot of old burdens and pains and ways and broken relationships. It feels good, but takes a lot of pondering. Its like I'm unpacking old, dusty boxes, examining the contents to see if keeping it will be of any value, and if not, out it goes. If it stays, I have to figure out where it will reside in the house of my soul. What is its purpose? How will this bless and create life and goodness?

Thankful for... MM! The world is so many million times more wonderful because he's in it. I sometimes steal Paul Child's toast to Julia. "You are the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life. I love you, Darling Boy."

3/14/2012

sustained

From the Morning Office:

You are my hope, O Lord GOD, my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother's womb you have been my strength;
my praise shall be always of you.
~ Psalm 71:5-6

It is another season of release/receive. And leaning into new strength.

3/12/2012

TZATZIKI!

I've been writing in the mornings. A few bits and bobs that may turn into something substantial down the road. Today's writing feels like a flop to me, but I did it anyway. I'm going to just apply the Butt In Chair technique for now. We'll see. MM is all excited. And some days I am too. Not today, but that's ok.

Writing is hard, and while I think I'm ok, I'm not awesome. And it's hard not to compare my stuff with what I read on other blogs or books or articles. Lord-have-mercy, there are some a-mazing writers out there! Oh jeeze. What can I possibly say that could be of any value. Everything has already been said. Much better than I can say it.

But in the end, that's not why we write. We write because we must. And that's all there is to it. If we did not write, we would explode or go crazy or worse, loose our minds.

So. BUTT IN CHAIR!

~ ~ ~

I am getting back into the swing of reading. MM and I have all those read alouds, which helps. (Just finished Touch the Devil, another Liam Devlin tale. Good, but not nearly as emotionally engaging for me as The Eagle Has Landed. This one felt more like simple, straight up action. Still, a fun tale with a few really good twists!) I'm reading more books for longer stints and retaining the thread better. Not up to my usual level, but happy to know my brain has not, in fact, turned to applesauce during this sabbatical. Currently:
Nightstand: The Walking Drum (almost done)
Bathroom: Salt (making good progress!)
Mornings: In the Heart of the World
Mondays with MM: Changes that Heal
Sundays with MM: Hearing God
Funtimes with MM: Anne of Windy Poplars

~ ~ ~

After breakfast Saturday morning, when it was time for us to read through the morning prayers in The Divine Hours, MM said, "Roll on over here." So I did. I rolled out of my chair, across the kitchen floor, over to his seat. He stared at me in wonder and amusement and didn't quite know how to respond. Laughing, he finally said, "I LOVE YOU!" :D It felt good to make him laugh.

He also laughed that night when we watched The Office episode where Pam is trying to get everyone to share their resolutions. Creed's is to do "one perfect cartwheel." At the end of the show, we see Michael helping to teach Creed how to do this, despite Creed's fear. After some coaching, Creed executes possibly the worst  cartwheel in all of history. He leaps up, delighted, smiling wide, "I did it! One perfect cartwheel! I'm done for the whole year, now!" For some reason, Creed's big, happy smile and glee over his terrible cartwheel, tickled my husband's funny bone. He cracked up. So fun to watch him lose it like that. (My new resolution is to find more ways for MM to laugh that hard.)

~ ~ ~

I'm quite charmed by the mason jar of Surprise Daffodils I put on the back of the toilet Friday evening. These new garden surprises are creamy with a bright orange trumpet - and just a hint of fragrance. The same as the one lone flower in the front beds. There's something so cheerful about a simple garden bouquet in a jam jar. Old-timey. Homey. Wholesome. And there's something so peaceful about cut flowers in the bathroom.

~ ~ ~

I have a gift subscription to Martha Stewart Living. Not my favorite magazine, but I've gotten some fun crafts and yummy food ideas from her over the years. My celebrated "Martha's Kick Ass Meatloaf" is an adaptation of her recipe. (I don't eat veal.) Is it just me, or did they just kind of phone in the Easter one? The articles don't have much actual information, and seems more like various versions of, "See how rich people throw cool parties?" Meh. At some point, haven't all the crafts been done? Are there truly 101 new organizational tips? Haven't we figured all that stuff out, yet? It's like Cosmo and all those sex "secrets" that are just the same lame stuff they always have. (When I go get my nails done in a salon (maybe 3 times a year), I read Cosmo and People just to see what I'm missing.) (Not much.) Anyway. It just seems like endless repeats and fluff to stretch the articles. Nice pictures, though. (Oh, and Martha has curled hair in one of them. Wow! She's had the same hairstyle for 20 years, this is edgy!)

~ ~ ~

I've been on a gyros kick lately. (And by kick, I mean twice in the last month.) Mostly so I can eat tzatziki. LOVE that stuff! I make it a bit too garlicky. ut I don't care. Last night I also made a Mostly Greek Salad (no Feta) and an improvised zucchini and bell pepper bake, which reminded me of stuff we ate in Meteora a few years ago. Yum. I don't know why I don't make this stuff more often. I just forget about it. Which is lame, because - TZATZIKI! (If we get a pet, that would be a good name, yes? Zeke for short.)

~ ~ ~

I have blathered long enough. Rock this week, people.

3/08/2012

perriwinkle

"Come sit on the porch with me," he said.

I blustered a bit about time and chores and how dinner will be late again... But in the end, I sliced the baguette and the cheddar, and he poured the wine, and we sat sipping and talking, and letting the cares of the day slip into the gloaming. Last night didn't boast a glamorous sunset. No scarlet or firey orange clouds. The sun just slid slow and steady past the horizon, and the sky shimmered like a pearl. Pale grey and pink at the edge of the earth and fading into dove grey and finally periwinkle above us.

We stared at this shimmering sky through the black lace silhouette of leafless branches. Flight after flight of birds flew Northwest in waves. Magical. Even the crows made us gasp with their sharp, stark beauty against that periwinkle pearl of an evening sky. Venus, followed shortly by Jupiter, sparkled - truly like diamonds - winking through that lovely black lace.


And that blend of pain and peace that comes in these kind of moments. How beautiful it all is. Pearls and diamonds and crows in flight. Black lace against a shimmering periwinkle. A spring breeze that carries the fragrance of a million blossoms. Stillness. "Be still oh my soul..."

I sat and sipped and ceased the striving of my tired mind. My weary heart. I listened. Breathe. Be Loved. Be at rest. Here. Now. Just be.

3/05/2012

scenes from a weekend - gringoladas

Friday
My Fabulous Mom-in-law fell under the weather on Friday, so we had to cancel our Gringolada Making Party. Well, MM and I made the food, but we didn't get to eat with his folks. We made 20 enchiladas. A tray for us, a tray for his folks, and a tray to take to my mom's birthday party.

We ate our tray that night while we drank Trader Joes wine and watched The Office. That's been my TV offering for the Cultural Exchange. MM's has been the Original Star Trek and the Venture Brothers. He had a rough time getting used to Michael Scott and the gang, what with all the awkward and socially awful, but they grow on ya. Next, I will make him watch Downton Abbey.

Saturday
We took lunch and presents to my mom, who turned 84 this week. She's a leap year baby, so the family took her out for beers and bingo now that she's officially 21. She opted for root beer, but had a blast playing nickle slots with an assortment of her grandkids. Too cute.

We live far away, and couldn't make it up mid week for festivities, so we brought a birthday party with us on the weekend. This is our new "protocol". Up and back in one day. Bring the midday meal. Clean up after the meal. Bring presents. Leave before dinner. Mom felt loved and looked all sparkly and lively. Good trip. Peaceful.

Sunday
MM and I have been doing Morning and Vespers prayers out of Divine Hours for Lent. Yesterday during Morning prayer, he made me laugh so hard, I snorted. LOUD. It was awesome.

We rested up from the previous days travels. After our usual Sunday morning stuff, we spent the whole afternoon at the park, reading, talking, and soaking up sunshine while we could.

Also, yesterday, we enjoyed being Protestants during Lent, and got frozen yogurts with all the fixings. I go for simple combos. Yesterday I had vanilla/chocolate swirl, topped with hot cherry topping and brownies. (Amen.) My husband had: vanilla/chocolate swirl with butterscotch, fudge, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, hard hat, and colored sprinkles. The hard hat turned into a hard, sprinkle-covered donut of chocolate, so he felt like he got two desserts in one.

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So - nothing glamorous. Just peaceful and yummy and unproductive. Amen. (SNORT!)

3/02/2012

fake friday fave five - lookin' like a latte, baby

It's been awhile since I've done this meme. Here are my five favorite things from this week.

Rain. Oh, we need this rain. Need it! And it snowed in the mountains and hills, which is awesome. Not only because we need the water, but also because MM and I need to snowshoe. We love snowshoeing, and have only gone once since we've known each other, which is a travesty.

Some friends of ours are looking for shoes for MM, (we didn't buy any this year b/c the weather was so lame and I'd given up hope of a trip) and we're trying to throw together an impromptu outing for next weekend. Yay!

Sunshine. As excited as I am about the rain and snow, I'm also enjoying the spring sunshine. I especially love the sunshine that comes in through the bedroom window. If I've got writing to do, I grab myself and scootch myself around the floor to follow the sun's path and soak in those rays. Delicious.

And the blossoms all over town look stunning when the sunshine filters through them. Giant puffballs of pink and white everywhere. All shades. My friend said last night that this was the perfect time for Doctor Seuss to have been born, because everything looks Seussian (Seussical?) in the spring.

Care.
The last few weeks I've been extra tenderhearted and fragile as I work on healing some old hurts in my heart. That's hard work and wears me out. That, coupled with running errands during the one month of the year that I have allergies, meant I was TIRED on Wednesday evening. And weary.

I was thankful that MM just took over. He made dinner, cleaned up, made lunch, and prepped breakfast for the next day. He even came in to sit with me and rub my feet for a bit. I laid on the couch and rested and vegged and painted my nails and watched my latest brainless TV show.

I needed that. Both the rest and the care-taking. I'm so thankful to have a home and a family and a safe place in MM. <3

Fifteen! MM says I need to tell you all that in my situp test this morning I did 15 in a row. I could have probably done more, but I quit while I was ahead. This means that if I wanted to, I could start Week 1 for "Sorta Wimpy" instead of "Wimpy" - but because I'm not hardcore, I'm going to start at "Wimpy" anyways, just to be safe. I'm trying to do all this without re-injuring my back, so slow and steady is my plan. But, yay! 15 whole situps. Well, crunches. Still, though. Yay.

So that means that Week 1 is supposed to look like this:
Sunday (with 60 second rests in between) - 3  4  3  3  5
Tuesday (same) 5  6  3  5  6
Thursday (same) 6  7  6  6  8

I don't know, that seems like kind of a lot. :S  But I will try. And also, the intervals seem weird, but what do I know. And finally, this means I need to think up stuff to do on M/W/F.

Outfit. This is kind of lame, but I have a favorite outfit these days, and I wore it yesterday. Cargo pants, red long-sleeved shirt, thick Beigy-Oatmeal cable knit sweater, converse. Its warm. Its cute. Its casual. I wore it out last night with my brown and orange and cream plaid cadet cap and my husbands orange scarf. I even remembered to put on earrings.

More and more I just don't give a rip about what's fashionable. I just want to be comfortable and feel good. I love textiles and linens - fabric, yarn, string, paper - love it! I like warmth and texture, and have lamented the last few years when everything seemed to be polyester knits the colors of gangrene, bruises and mold. Who decided that we need to dress like zombies? Blegh. Anyway - this outfit is warm and textured and looks more like a latte than the undead.

So there you have it. Happy Friday, all.

3/01/2012

homemade soup, honey badgers, and oh la la

It's snowing in the mountains (yay!) today, and cold cold cold here in the valley. Grey and foggy with intermittent rain (double yay!), it is a day for candles and tea and sweaters and sticking close to Little Blackie the Space Heater. (Oh the filing I shall do!) And soup for dinner.

I don't usually make soup from a recipe. I usually scavenge around for interesting things and dump them in a pot and hope for the best. Today's random compilation:
Homemade chicken broth
Onion
Garlic
Celery
Carrot
Broccoli
Peas
Green beans
Kale
Mushroom
Sausage
Salt, pepper, and spices

Now, imagine eating that with a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich on wheat bread. Mmmm hmmm. You want to come on 'a my house for dinner don't you? Sorry. Thursdays are crazy town here, so we kind of eat and run. Maybe next time.

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Speaking of dinner, my in-laws are coming tomorrow night to make enchiladas with us. Or rather, as I like to call them, gringoladas. Looking forward to a tasty and fun evening!

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This morning, while finishing my oatmeal, I saw a GIANT raccoon scramble over the fence into our back yard. This sucker was freakin' huge. HUGE!!! What the...? In broad daylight.

We survived Skunk-a-palooza last month (skunk mating season, yay!). And, of course, armies of squirrels have the run of the neighborhood. But raccoons? Mmmmm I don't wanna mess with those guys. I've seen Elf too many times.

The sad thing is that I can see new daffodils out in the garden that want me to pick them and bring them indoors with the tea and the soup and the candles. But I don't want to get charged by some freaky raccoon. Next thing to a honey badger. Maybe I should bring along one of my husband's swords...

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Nightstand book (F): Enjoying, The Walking Drum. It truly is "a ripping good yarn." I'm not even halfway through and this 17-year old guy has:
 - Seen his ancient family home razed, his mother murdered, and all their stuff stolen
 - Been a galley slave on a ship
 - Taken over the ship and basically became a pirate
 - Been a celebrated scholar, geographer, and translator in Cordoba
 - During which time he's learned 5 languages (now he's working on Persian) and studied medicine, philosophy, law, history, etc. etc.
 - This is all aided by the fact that he's part Druid (on his mother's side) so he has been trained in memory to the point of having a photographic one. handy.
 - Fallen in love 5 times - during daring rescues of damsels in distress (a princess, a shepherd's daughter, a spy...) and had a few non-committed escapades on the side (my, my!)
 - Been thrown into prison, and escaped by scaling down a bare rock cliff hundreds of feet high
 - Made friends with the intellectual elite of Spain, a collection of thieves and acrobats, and John of Seville
 - Made enemies of the son of a Visigoth and a Moorish Prince
 - And, most recently, taken up with a caravan of Merchants traveling through his homeland, as one of their swordsmen.
 - Aside from being terribly clever and skilled at everything (rock climbing, sword fighting, sailing, acrobatics), he's apparently super handsome with a marvelous physique. #heyladies.

:) Ripping good yarn, indeed!