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.


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.


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!


first post-surgery post: gloriously fall

Well. Hello. It's been awhile. Again. I know, I know. This summer I had a job. And then I had surgery, and I'm just now feeling like I can type a bit each day. It's gloriously fall, which brings out the (terrible) poet in me. The light, the leaves, the air filled with spices and woodsmoke... I can't help myself. So, here I am again reveling in autumn's liturgy.

The cinnamon broom on my hearth and the vanilla candle on the mantle made me hungry for something fall-y to eat. So I'm roasting pumpkins and getting ready to make puree and then cookies. That oughta do the trick, yes?

Tonight, after tacos and Bible study, we aim to carve our jack o' lanterns and watch Zombieland. Well, really MM will do the carving. I will probably just draw a face and scoop guts out with my good hand. And eat cookies.

A quiet evening this time. Not like the raucous pumpkin carving parties of the past few years. But this feels exactly right. Me. My man. Pumpkins. Zombies. (And cookies.)


killer old people

My head is full of church stuff, lately, so I'm going to write a few things I'm enjoying about this little church we've been attending. First up: old people.

One of the key things MM and I are looking for in a church is an age mix. We think that people are healthiest when they get to mingle with a variety of people older and younger than them. We've been to too many churches where we were the oldest people there. Someday that will be legitimately true, but for now, we want to be in the middle, where we belong.

The pastor of one of the churches we'd visited earlier in the year told us about how their church's old people were, "killer," which was great news to us. Well, They may be, but none of them ever spoke to my husband and I in the 3 months we attended. And if we tried to talk to them, we got polite, but short replies and no engagement. Meanwhile, this current church is filled with warm, friendly old people who always make a point to engage with us. We are loving it.

George and Gladys welcomed us straight off our first day, and last week, we chatted like old friends about how Gladys had the same surgery as me 3 times, and shared book recommendations, and talked about recent vacations. We're pals now. We get the two handed hand clasp during the passing of the peace.

Katherine, an arthritic cellist who always dresses in hot pink, exclaimed when she met us that with names like ours, we should be an ice skating team, or some kind of secret rock band. She then spent several Sundays introducing us as members of a secret rock band whenever she got the chance. We had great fun gifting her a copy of my husbands instrumental rock album. She reported that she liked it very much, and had written us a thank you note, but misplaced it, and didn't have our address anyway, but she did, just like it so very much.

Several of the older ladies dress so classy for church. Very put together. They nibble on their cookies and sip tea and gossip a bit and arch their eyebrows meaningfully during coffee hour. They also gather often on the side of the sanctuary with people who have gone up for prayer. I see them looking each person in the eye with concern, rub their arm or back, pray fervently, and hug them at the end. These women have been here for decades and seen each other through all kinds of trials and blessings and losses.  And still managed to keep their hair styled, lipstick fresh, and accessories coordinated.

Two weeks ago we shared a table with a darling woman named Delphinia. That's all I really have to say, isn't it? She comes from the era when girls were named for flowers and trees and virtues. She is as pretty as her name, though she prefers to be called Deedee. (I would pay cash money to see her wedding photos. I bet she was a lovely bride.)

One woman, who we sat with this last week, I can't remember her name, but oh! She's fabulous. She's tiny. And she has a fun sense of humor, sparkly eyes, and the sweetest voice. (Well, speaking voice. MM and I secretly think she is the, um, "stand out" choir member. Ahem.) She often does one of the scripture readings. Lately, we've been going through Jeremiah. Dude. So awesome. She hollers and shouts all fiery and stern, speeding through the lines without stopping for breath. I half expect her to pound the lectern. She doesn't, but man you can tell she's feelin' it. Then when she's finished, she folds up her book and sweetly murmurs, "The word of the Lord." I want to hug her. Or fist bump her. Or both.

There aren't many women of color at this church, but there are two older ladies with big laughs and even bigger hair, and I can't wait to sit with them someday. They tell stories and cut up, often with little kids fresh from Sunday School. They are on the prayer team (ministry? team seems too low church for this bunch...) too. This past week, as we tried to enter the fellowship hall for coffee, they herded us outside, "No, no. There's a picnic today. You go get your food outside, now." Cannot wait to meet them.

There are several older men too. One who wears bow ties. And not ironically, like the little Hipster kids do. His bow ties are legit.

Several old women struggle with arthritis and osteoporosis. One is bent practically in half. Each week my heart catches with a mixture of beauty and pain as I watch her walk to the rail to take communion. In this church, they let little kids go first with their Sunday School teachers and parents. Next up are a pack of old ladies who sit in the first couple rows, so they have less far to walk. This woman is bent so that her head is the same height as the children. She smiles at them and they at her as they all make their way to the front. The kids wriggle and jump up and down, excited to take communion. She kneels sooooo slowly next to them. The priests have to bend way over to warmly smile into all their eyes and offer Christ's very Self to fill them, young and old, with hope and love and life. It takes her a while to stand and get back to her seat. I'm always thankful when Bow Tie Man offers her an arm, though she often doesn't take it. She's tough. (Or maybe she has a 40-year grudge against him and refuses to bury the hatchet. Who knows?)

Yep. Killer Old People. Just one of the things I'm enjoying about this little church.


tuesdaybook - Ektorp! edition

For today I am,

Seeing... A bouquet of red roses. Deep red, and turning black as they age. They look velvety and rich.... Bookshelves full to bursting in the yoga/dance/TV room that we've transformed into "The Library" and later this week will transform again into "The Guest Room" when we host some sword friends from Australia.

Hearing... The washing machine churning away at the couch slipcovers. Yay Ektorp! Just in case the sword friends prefer to sleep on the sofabed instead of the blow up mattress... The soft thrum of the overhead fan in the hallway. It has been most hot and un-fall-like here, and we would expire without our fans.

Tasting... Buffalo Trace Bourbon porkchops and onions (cooked in the crockpot - so tender and amazing. We just did salt, pepper, and a little garlic salt. They are fabulous!) And veggies.

Working... Today is a writing day. Lots and lots of writing. In journals. Blogs. A few non-blog-might-be-a-book projects... Laundry. Bathroom. Floors. Slipcovers...

Reading... I am reading Lonesome Dove. I have never read it or watched the TV series. I like cowboy stuff just fine, and have heard its good, but I was busy watching other stuff when it came out. So far, I am loving these characters. Gus! He's crusty and hilarious. The writer deftly switches POV between all the characters in a way that I've not really seen before. We get to know all the cast inside and out. Very interesting technique. MM tells me the story gets sad soon,  and since I've been in an intense emotional season lately, he worries that reading a sad book may be too much. But, man. I love these characters. Its tough to give up on them. I may keep going and see how I feel. If its too much, I will set it aside (Ah, Mad Men, someday we will meet again.)

Learning... Nothing yet, but I am going to make the most of my recuperation time this fall/winter. I'm ordering some books on Instructional/Presentation/Information Design, and will borrow MM's Edward Tufte books. I'm looking forward to shifting my career focus a bit, and these books all sound interesting.

Creating... I am binding some books this week. And doing a bit of sewing while I still can. I have figured out that during my surgery recuperation I won't be able to crochet, but I might be able to embroider, so I'm trying to figure out some projects to keep me occupied while I watch a billion episodes of Jimmy Fallon.

Dreaming... Well. I'm looking forward to our upcoming vacation. MM will be at a conference for part of it, so I will be catching up with old friends and touristing around a fun old city. I haven't traveled since before MM and I got together, so I'm pretty excited to go on a plane and lose my luggage and get lost driving around an unfamiliar city. :) I'm also looking forward to connecting with my friends and visiting museums and parks and beautiful old buildings. I think it will be more fall-like there, so I am also looking forward to long sleeves and hats. And coffee that means something.

Pondering... Old patterns at work and in relationships. What needs to change. What needs to stay the same. What is real, what is perceived, but feels real, and what is just plain false. What used to be true, but isn't true now. And what is now true that I never knew existed before, but now I have to figure out how to fit it into my worldview. Its all very upheavaly. I can feel big foundation shifts inside and I know that when the ground stops moving, I will be in a new place. Mostly, I'm just holding on for the ride.

Thankful for... Our little church that we've been visiting. Oh, it is good to be around old people again. And to be in this small group of people who seem to genuinely love each other. So much of it is weird and unfamiliar to us, but already parts of it feel like home. We participated in our first potluck last weekend. We sat at a table with awesome old ladies, joked with the rectors, and the woman who received our school supply donation was so moved she cried and hugged me. We've decided to continue on through Advent and Christmas, and go from there. I don't know how long this will last, but I do know that we look forward to going each week, and are bummed when we miss one. This is a good feeling.


indian summer

The Farmers Market stalls overflow with dahlias, peaches, tomatos, and zinnias. Our own garden alternates between droopy and crispy, and at 5pm, we cannot sit in any of the front rooms of our house for fear of melting into the furniture. These days are better fit for the lake, the park, and the pool than for the office or classroom. Oh, how I wish I could make a pitcher of lemonade and spend the afternoon reading in a hammock. But I can't. There's work needs doin'.

Indian Summer. Beautiful and hot. It always makes me frustrated because the weather doesn't match the required activities. I remember coming home from school to a sweltering kitchen, my mom putting up peaches, apples, and trying to figure out what the heck to do with all the blasted zuchini. I just wanted to go swimming.

In fact, one time I did. I didn't walk to the kitchen, but instead went to the apartment pool, set my violin case and backpack on the concrete and took the Nestea Plunge, clothes and all. It was glorious. And my mom, in a flash of parental brilliance, didn't scold, but just laughed and told me to change, because she needed my help to press apples through the strainer.

~ ~ ~

My life feels like its in Indian Summer. It's almost a new season, but not quite. I'm anxious to get to the new, but the old clings to me, like a sweaty Tshirt. In addition to physical organizing and cleaning and packing, I have a lifetime of sorrow and confusion to sort through. It's slow-going.

I can see the next season. I am shaping a vision for that life. But it's just out of reach. Not yet. Just this or that barrier to overcome. Oh, hey, another layer of healing to go through. Another new system to develop. You thought you were done with this task/project/obligation, but nope. Not quite.

It's tiring and painful and lonely and sometimes boring, and it just goes on and on, like pressing a hundred bushels of apples through a tupperware strainer.

My man encourages me to keep pressing. "You are almost done. You are kicking ass. You are so close, and what comes next is gonna be awesome. Wooooo! Also, zinnias! You love those!" And most of the time I am with him, but sometimes its just, "Yeah. Zinnias are cool. But. Dude. I don't even really like applesauce. This sucks and I'm tired of suckiness. When does the suckiness stop? Wahhh wahhh wahhhh."

~ ~ ~

So, I'm here, pressing apples and sweating in my Tshirt. Just concentrating on the task in front of me, and hoping for a cool evening breeze. Trying to remember to be present in this in-between season and to appreciate the beauty it offers. Zinnias. Peaches. A few last runs through the sprinkler before settling down to the business of Autumn.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Or, in more modern vernacular, "Just keep swimming."


rushing the season

The evening breeze has picked up, and the backyard air cools at last. Autumn's coming in fits and starts. Some leaves are changing. A few geese are honking. But the peaches have not yet been replaced by apples, and its too hot to really enjoy a good meatloaf.

Still, I bought a cart-load of school supplies the day before yesterday, and now five tiny backpacks stuffed with crayons, pencils, paper, glue sticks, notebooks (and at least one Justin Bieber folder) etc. etc. sit cheerfully on our hearth waiting to be dropped off at the church. MM and I have no children, and I have a deep love for school supplies. When we heard the call for donations, I wriggled in the pew and clapped my hands and grinned. (See? This is why I can never be an actual Anglican/Episcopalian.)

It's our first actual connection to this place, other than a few coffee hours and the occasional ten spot tossed in the collection plate. We've off and on attended over the summer, but the rectors are back from sabbatical, and this weekend is the Welcome Back Picnic. We are bringing a side dish. And perhaps a gluten-free dessert. MM and I come from Baptists, so we need to hit the potluck thing strong. Wow them with our casserole and our scriptural exegesis, yo.

Today I packed up a few "Happy Fall" bundles for family and friends (bouquets of sharpened pencils, pumpkin spice candles, that sort of thing.) I'm excited for fall, though I suspect it will look quite a bit different than in years past. I have shoulder surgery early next month, and will spend several months after with my arm in a sling. No pumpkin carving for me. :( But I can't bear to not have a party. So I may just host one anyway. I can push buttons on the microwave to make kettle corn. And I can turn on the crockpot to make cider. And if I print out a template my Sweetie says he would carve my pumpkin for me. (That is love, because this whole dorky pumpkin carving thing is all me, and he is such a great sport about it - gloppy pumpkin guts and all.)

But then, I'm getting ahead of myself - "rushing the season" as my mom used to tell me. All in good time. For now, I will make a few last peach cobblers. I will sew a few projects before I lose the use of my arm. I'll order a few books and dust off my library card, so I have a nice big stack to travel and convalesce with. We've got house guests for a few days, and then we get to be house guests for a bunch of days, so there's cleaning and packing and organizing to be done. Time still to throw open the window above my desk and drink the last drops of summer.


what i did on my summer vacation

Hi friends. I'm back. Finished up my summer job on Friday. After a handful of transition meetings, I turned in my Nerd Badge and my boss took me to Chinese food for lunch. Delish! I'm glad I had this job. It made a universe of difference in our finances, and I was able to observe myself at an office job (which I haven't had in a couple of years) to see what I liked/didn't like, etc. Invaluable. My next foray into the work-a-day world will be in January, so I have time to ponder what I learned.

When I wasn't working, I was playing with MM. We did right by our Summer List this year. Boy Howdy! We went camping, hiking, paddling, biking, walking, and all kinds of other ings. We went to the lake and to the ocean and Shakespeare in the park and visited four waterfalls. We saw some beautiful moons. And beautiful flowers. We went to the Farmers Market where we bought locally grown mushrooms and tried Kombucha for the first time. We saw summer movies with robots and fight scenes and explosions. We set up a canopy over our blowup mattress in the back yard and read all afternoon. Another time we hauled our books and blankets on our bikes and read at the park. We saw a ballgame and fireworks. We ate ice cream. We sipped wine. We grilled so hard, I think we broke our bbq.

A lovely, life giving summer. Happy, happy days. What about you? What did you do this summer?


fake friday fave five - "I'm in Work Clothes" edition

Friday Fave Five

1) My new Stanley travel mug. I just started a multi month contract working on-site at Fancy New Worksite. MM and I are not good about getting to bed on time. 6 am is not my friend. We are not even frenemies. We are just plain enemies. I don't care how beautiful and cool and peaceful the early morning is with your birds and your sunrises. I only care about tea and coffee. (MM and I have been pretty much caffeine free for a while now, but this contract is changing everything.)

MM broke his favorite travel mug while we were camping last month, so one evening we headed to REI with a fist full of dividends and a heart full of desire. After two hours (OK, 45 minutes, I was hungry, so it felt longer to me) of ditzing around with unfulfilling REI mugs of various sorts and sizes, we spied the 16oz Stanleys. Perfect. Solid. Vacuum insulated up to 10 hours hot and lots more hours cold. The cool, old-timey textured steel. Two colors - Official Grandpa's Stanley Green (blegh!) or blue. Fabulous leakproof lid. As the Gamers say, this thing was made of win. Bought it. Took it home. It fit in the cup holder on his messanger bag. Win! It fit our cupholders in the car. It fits a Starbucks Grande. Win! He used it for a week and still loved it. All kinds of win!

So when I got my new contract, he bought me one in the smaller size. (I am a Slow Beverage Drinker.) And now I can drink free coffee at the office, which keeps me from frazzling into tears from being way too tired. Biggest Win of all.

2) Yogurt. I'm just into it this week. Specifically plain yogurt, blueberries, slivered almonds, and a splash of vanilla extract. Dude. So good. I didn't have any this morning, and life just felt incomplete. So did my tummy. You could say, there was a Yogurt-shaped hole in my tummy. Lucky for me Fancy New Worksite has cafeterias. It took me awhile but I found yogurt (Greek! Strawberry Banana!) and assorted nuts and things to dump into it. Awesome. Hole filled up. Between that and my Stanley, this morning perked right up!

3) Work Clothes. I know its everyone's dream to work at home in your pajamas/underwear, but I've missed work clothes. After a couple of years of yoga pants (and the occasional I'm Trying Today Jeans), I'm enjoying business casual. Its hot as blazes here, so my wardrobe for this project is a rotation of sleeveless blouses and a cardigan with khakis, capris, or skirts. This is not fancy suit action, but it is a step up from T shirts every day. And, bonus, when I "dress up" for work, I like my yoga pants better. MM has been so sweet about indulging my Buddy the Elf, "I'm in work clothes!" outbursts and complimenting my outfits.

4) My messenger bag. Another copy from MM. He'd been unhappy with his messanger bag (an REI bargain bin find) for as long as I've known him, and found one at Office Max that he liked. Olive green, canvas. Looks like a writer's bag. Makes you feel legit when you tap-tap, scribble-scribble away at Starbucks. We got it for him. He loved it. Kept telling me to get one before they are out of stock. I was looking for more girlie ones, but they are all too pricey. A few weeks ago he got me this one, a little encouragement during my job search. It really is perfect. Great pockets. Not too floppy. Fits the Stanley, a laptop, space for books, a little organizer section for pens, etc. a newspaper pocket on one side, and a zippered pocket on the other, which I basically use for my "purse" when I carry this bag. MM figured out how to take off the Swiss Army logos. (Yep. Swiss Army bags. Sadly, these bags do not include wine openers.) I am going to applique some girly fabric on mine. Until then we are pretty much matchy matchy with our bags and our coffee mugs. :D (We even have a couple matching T shirts. #dorks)

5) My man. I know I talk about him a lot, but I can't help it. He has encouraged me a ton this week. When I came home brain dead on Tuesday he made dinner while I sat and watched reruns of The Office. To prevent my mornings from being frazzled hot messes, he cheerfully engages in the Nightly Chores Routine instead of doing fun stuff like driving to the City to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge or watching movies. And because no matter how smoothly the morning goes, it is still hard for me, he goes to bed a lot earlier than he'd prefer. He's done the lions share of laundry this week, and caught us up on household tasks that we'd fallen behind on (with my shoulder out of commission, he is the full-time Executive Scrubber of Bathtubs and Floors and Grills and Gunky Pans). My commute means he has to go to the office earlier and stay later, which gives him less time to do his fun stuff, and he's graciously found ways to accommodate that. And he's been kind to me as I've been adjusting physically, mentally, etc. to way less Introverted Processing time. Poor guy. I go into these weird fugue states where I just sit and stare at nothing, sometimes in the middle of sentences. He just rolls with it. I've been blessed to work at home for the duration of our marriage, and this shift could have been a disaster, but it hasn't, in large part due to MM's cheerful flexibility, and kindness.

He is made of way more win than Stanley.

BONUS) Fancy New Workplace has automated standing desks! I am in love! For a person who writes for a living, these are a God send. You push buttons to raise and lower them for the perfect ergonomic height when you are sitting or standing. Awesome. I have no idea how much these cost, but every office should have them. Seriously. Sitting down all the time is killing us. This is a relatively simple solution. Love, love, love.

BONUS 2) The automated towel dispensers in the ladies room sound like some of the electronica from Gangam Style, so all my bathroom trips end up with that song in my head for awhile. One of these days I will scare someone by singing out, "Heeeeeeeey sexy lady. Op- op- op - op op- Opa Gangam Style!"


dancing stars and cuisinart ice cream makers

The earth spins and dips and makes out its dance among the stars. I got a contract. It starts tomorrow. I got new shoes and khakis for work and have done my best Buddy the Elf impersonation: "I'm wearing Work Clothes!" I got an appointment to meet with an orthopedic surgeon about my torn rotator cuff. We've planned new daily and weekly rhythms for this new season, and have spent the last week staying up too late, eating junk food, and spending too much money - just to get it all out of our systems before we buckle down to what MM calls The Season of Being Grownups, but the church calls Ordinary Time.

Speaking of which, we tried out a church around the corner. We've driven passed it a zillion times the last three years, but last week they changed their message board out front: "Are you looking for a sign from God? Here it is!" Ha! We cracked up and thought, these people can't be half bad if they joke on their sign.

They aren't half bad.

In fact, this was the warmest welcome I've EVER received. Ever. Everyone was kind, gracious, friendly, and warm to us, and genuinely affectionate with each other. So many people made a point to connect with us, to make sure we knew about the coffee hour, and that there was a BBQ planned for after 2nd service. "You picked a great day to visit!"

It's an old fashioned church with pomp and circumstance and traditions we're not familiar with. They pass the peace - like actually, "Peace be with you." "And also with you." The priest/rector/vicar (?) person stands in the midst of the congregation to read from the gospel. They have a fancy procession and recession, an incredible pipe organ, and a choir of old ladies and one dude singing anthems and leading hymns. Between the hymnal (people still use those?) and the print out of the morning's liturgy, we kept fumbling, turning to the wrong page, getting lost and giggling. But we recognized a lot of it, and the young black woman behind me sang steady and sure with voice so bright and clear, she helped us find our way through. No one seemed to mind that we were clueless.

It was promotion Sunday for the Sunday school and the sweet, young, pregnant-with-her-fourth priest (?) in charge of childrens ministry handed out certificates and accolades and thank yous to a bunch of cute little kids and teachers grinning from ear to ear, unsure of being stared at, but enjoying the applause. The rectors called up all the graduates and folks having birthdays and anniversaries to bless and pray for them. Then the elders/vestry (?) called the rectors up to bless and pray for the rectors as they take their family on its first vacation in seven years. Then they introduced the retired pastor who will fill in for them while they are gone, and blessed and prayed for him. (George and Gladys kept turning around to apologize for the extra long service; we kept assuring them that it was fine. It was fine. More than fine.)

Through it all, this little church shared so much laughter and warmth. The sermon/homily/devotion (?) was a bit rambly (I don't think this guy (an intern) gets to speak often), but heartfelt and sweet and had a power of its own. Everyone encouraged him and thanked him for speaking. We sat next to him at the BBQ and heard a bit of his story. Really neat guy. The man on our other side shared his passion for ice cream making, and advised us on which ice cream maker to get. (This one.) A guy named Doug invited us to join the church members at the ballgame Friday. (We already had plans, but it was fun to be asked.)

It was all wonderful, really. I got my beautiful sanctuary. MM got his Communion. There were tons of old people! We felt instantly connected and welcomed. Our new friend Gladys told us, "we're really small, but we are a family." Yes, ma'am. For the first time in a long time we felt light and happy as we drove off after the service (to a snappy wave and a cheery, "Please come again!")

MM and I joke about how weird all this is, and that if we do end up going here, or some place like it, we'll still be some sort of weird Baplican hybrid. "Give it up for the priesthood of all believers. Hey-o!" But it felt good to be in that place, with those people, singing those songs, and praying those prayers. It felt good to look up during communion to eyes crinkling with joy, "Christ's body... Christ's blood... for you."

We want to stumble our way through another service or two. We want to learn some of the old-fashioned lingo, "rector", "vestry", "supply", "collect"... We want to share a few cups of coffee in the Parish Hall with these warm, welcoming brothers and sisters. And in the week between, we lay down, we rise, we eat and work and rest and play, and if we remember to, we watch the dancing stars.



Today was Pentecost Sunday, and I missed the traditional commemorations that I've never actually had before. I missed the scarlet fabric draped over the cross and across the Table. I missed the red roses and geraniums and snapdragons at the base of the pulpit. The red, orange, and gold streamers spun from the pews to the ceiling, Holy Spirit fire blazing up to heaven and down to us. The songs and stories remembering the surge of power that swept through the tiny band of cowering disciples, filling them with Love That Casts Out Fear, changing the world. "The Comforter has come."

More and more my husband and I find ourselves longing for these things. He laments the missed opportunities to share Communion more often - especially following sermons about loving the stranger or what it means to be the Body of Christ. "This is my body..." "There is one body..." I long for altar cloths, floral arrangements, and those banners quilted by crafty church ladies that call out the names of God or the fruit of the Spirit or whathaveyou. Things that mark the turning of the seasons - Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost, Ordinary Time...

I feel a bit lost these days. Tired. Wrung out. Like the Old Wineskins have sprung too many leaks to be useful anymore, but I can't quite throw them out, because I haven't any New Wineskins to replace them with. I'm left with Ziplock baggies. Flimsy, temporary, and not made to hold Good Wine. Baby carrots, maybe, but not Good Wine. And aren't we supposed to be cutting down on our use of plastic anyway?

So, today I wore a red blouse and MM and I thanked God for giving us His Spirit. Tomorrow, I'll pick some geraniums and roses from our garden. I'll keep looking for wineskins and hope that the wine will last.


liturgy of the hours

Vespers  -  The concrete steps radiate the heat of the day into my backside and bare feet. I glance down to see roly polys dawdling along the sidewalk and into the grass where bees bob from clover to clover, dodging water drops. Our old-timey fountain sprinkler shoots up from the lawn, a firework of gold in the setting sun.  The wings of tiny bugs also catch the light as they drift up from the crab grass like sparks from a fire. In the cool of the evening the neighborhood gardens release delicious fragrances - rose and jasmine and some undetermined tree blossoms that just popped out this week. I breathe deep this peace. God is in his heaven... Already summertime, and its not even May. My thoughts are full of baseball games, camping trips, ice cream recipes, and picnics. Fun to be had. But just now, I sit on my front step and try to take in the beauty of this moment. Only this one.

~ ~ ~

Compline  -  We blow past the "bedtime alarm." Again. Just one more hand of Phase 10. One more episode of Venture Brothers. One more chapter in our book. One more cookie.

We'll pay for it in the morning, and we always say we need to get better about going to bed on time. But, chances are, we'll blast through the alarm again tomorrow. Its just too fun to be together! Thank you for being my friend. I love you the MOST!

~ ~ ~

Vigils Don't turn off the light yet. I just want to look at you for a second. Hi. We smile and hold hands and chat just one more minute. He makes me laugh so hard I snort. I bonk into his eyeball with my cheekbone, and try to make up for it by caressing his face. We make out a little. And eventually it all settles down into our version of "Now I lay me down to sleep." But for grownups. With adult-sized worries and burdens - marriages and countries blowing up, economies and friend's lives going down the tubes, safe deliveries of babies or surgeries, a good diagnosis, another friend out of work... Keep us safe... Please be with us... Thank you. Thank you. We fall asleep holding hands, but in the end have to mumble a last I love you and flip over to our sides.

~ ~ ~

Lauds  -  I awake weeping in the middle of the night. Another nightmare. So much ancient pain working itself out in my soul. Can't do it all during the waking hours. This was a bad one. He has told me to wake him up when it happens. I do, and he holds me and comforts me reminds me of what is real and true while I try to explain the dream and cry out the hurt and fear. Oh, my soul. I know why you are so downcast, and it takes time. And lots of holding from this good man.

~ ~ ~

Prime  -  His alarm blasts into our early morning peace at 6 am. I'm a train wreck from an aching shoulder and painful dreams, but he figures out how to turn it off somehow. He rolls over smiling, "Good morning, Beautiful." What a name! He does an abbreviated morning prayer, something about helping me to get a little more sleep, and for his morning time of exercise and silence to go well. I mumble a few I love yous and roll over to do my part. (If I don't get enough sleep I turn into a two year old. This is vital for the health of our family, so I do my best: earplugs, eye mask, Complex Pillow System to accommodate my shoulder and back and other aches and pains.) I'm so proud of him for getting up every day and doing this. He's supposed to wake me before he takes his shower, so I can make breakfast, but most of the time he just lets me sleep. God bless him.

~ ~ ~

Terce  -  OK. Now I'm awake. I'm writing, journaling, reading, thinking, writing some more, drinking tea, planing... This is my hour. Bam! Best thinking, connecting, praying happens in mid morning for me. 9-12 is so good for my brain and my soul. This is when I am inspired. Art, poetry, music, scripture, wisdom, Good Writing, New Ideas! I dive in deep and take it all in, through every pore. I pray with my heart in the mornings. May the meditations of my heart...

~ ~ ~

Sext  -  Same. I usually forget to eat lunch, cuz I'm so into stuff. Go go go. Read, think, learn, pray, write, yeah, baby, yeah! I need to switch to water now, but I always forget. I am perpetually dehydrated. I need some kind of alarm or alert or something. But yes. By now I've grabbed on to a topic or a project that needs focus. I pray with my mind at mid-day. May the thoughts of my mind...

~ ~ ~

None  -  My brain is slowing down. I remember to eat lunch. And drink water. Dangit! And stretch and get up from my desk and connect with the earth and sky and weather. Now is the time to DO instead of think. Back in olden times, I'd save document formatting work or admin tasks for afternoons, when my brain was ready to downshift. It's still working, but it's churning away in the background as my hands click-click on the mouse, or sew or plant or clean or craft. I pray with my body in the afternoon. May the work of my hands...

~ ~ ~

Vespers  -  And here we are again. A glass of wine in the back yard, admiring our roses before we dance our daily rhythms of dinner and chores. A moment to catch the sunset colors and watch tiny bugs fly up like sparks into a summer evening. Peace. In this moment. Thank you.


leave thy babbling

A delicious rainy spring day here in Fake New Jersey. All the green looks SO green against the drippy skies. The last of the blooming trees (a bit of peach and the breathtaking dogwoods) shine out bright pinks and whites between the green and grey. I confess that, though I don't want TOO many of these rainy days, I hope for a couple more. A couple more days of daytime fires and soupmaking (cream of asparagas instead of butternut squash) and curling up with blankets and books and ginger pear tea while the thrum of rain on the roof provides just enough white noise to drown out the freeway.

~ ~ ~

The last thing MM said as he left the car this morning: "This is temporary. This season is temporary." I teared up at the grace in those words. This season has been hard in every way: spiritually, emotionally, physically, professionally, relationally, financially... I catch myself laughing at something or other (like Jimmy Fallon and the Chickeneers- Bok!), and realize that I rarely laugh lately, and I remember laughing a lot, and feeling light-hearted, which is also a rare occurrence these days. And I forget, as usual, why this is so. I just think, "Man, what the heck is wrong with me that I don't act silly and laugh like I used to? Get with the program, lady!"

Then I remember, ohhhh, no, this IS the program. This is a season of pain and fear and grief and work and growth growth GROWTH. Deep healing and transformation. Metamorphosis.

This is the season of the phoenix. And death by fire hurts. Yowza! So its ok to not be so happy clappy right now. That time will come. All will be well. All will be well. And all manner of things will be well.

~ ~ ~

In no way is this to mean that my life is bad. My life is awesome. Growth is good. SO good! It's a whole new world, baby! And its rad. But, you know. Not easy.

So, I plug along and look for goodness and do the work and take it all in.

~ ~ ~

Our Holy Week and Easter day was good. We didn't really rev up til Maundy Thursday, but that night we read the old story. And I teared up at its poignancy. His tender goodbye supper with his best friends. Resurrection notwithstanding, that was the last time he shared a meal with them like that. The line, "... those that were his, he loved them to the very end." gets me every time.

Good Friday service at the church we've been going to was a mixed bag. They tried. We get the feeling that these sort of liturgical elements are new for this group. Feels a bit clunky every time they try to do outside the Standard Evangelical Procedure. But, hey, they had artists create installations for a sort of modified stations of the cross, and did a few call and response readings, and no one exploded or stormed out and no lightning struck us dead, so good deal. :)

Holy Saturday we died eggs, which was a blast. MM had never died eggs before. We had his three nieces come over, who had also never done this before. Seriously? Are you guys Americans? :) Anyway, we got the little boxes at Target, filled mugs with water and vinegar, dropped the tablets in and went to it. We spent two hours or so chatting and dying, and the girls were so thankful and pleased. We kept with the DIY theme by making our own pizzas for lunch. The girls made their own sauce, kneaded dough, chopped veggies, and built their own pizzas. And again were so thankful and pleased. How cool that something so simple and old skool can still be fun to tweens and teens in this age of electronic everything.

Easter Sunday we got dressed up fancy and went to church. We were so fancy that people didn't recognize us. "We're not new. We're just dressed up." We went to the early service so we could come home to prep for Easter Tacos. I started hosting Easter Tacos a decade ago. I wanted some kind of fun, celebratory, alternate Easter experience for folks who couldn't be/didn't want to be with family. We eat tacos and gobs of dessert and Easter candy, drink beer, play games, and visit. Low key, casual, but still feels like a party. Its a mix of religious and non-religious people, who all enjoy a day of love and joy and friendship together. So, so good.

~ ~ ~

Somewhere during all that, I got to introduce MM to Zepharelli's Jesus of Nazareth, which I've long referred to as The Anemic Jesus Movie, cuz wow is that guy skinny and pale. What a cast! Darth Vader as a wiseman. Bilbo Baggins as a scribe. Cukoo-kachoo Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft) as Mary Magdalene. Freaking Michael York as a crazy-eyed, spitting, hollering John the Baptist. Awesome.

The movie is slow and kind of cheesy at points and their creative license with the story often takes some of the more powerful moments and makes them less so, but the Peter and Matthew scene is so good, it makes up for a lot of the lame stuff. From the very beginning of the scene, as he firmly tells the disciples that, reputation be damned he WILL go eat with those sinners, "James. The heart of the law is mercy." Good stuff.

~ ~ ~

Good stuff in a different way are my books. I finally finished Malory and I'm now re-reading Chretien de Troyes' Arthur tales. So much swooning! These men and their tearful, "I love you man!" declarations. "Bros over hos forever!" Yeesh! I roll my eyes a LOT.

And despite his stubborn crazyness, I was totally on Gawain's side in the final tale. Lancelot was a traitor and without honor, despite his skill at arms. I loved it when he kept challenging Lancelot, and Lance would make these big long speeches about how he and Gwen were innocent and he didn't want to have to kill Gawain and it was all just so terrible because he is such an awesome fighter that Gawain has no chance blah blah blah, and Gawain finally yells, "If thou darest do battle, leave thy babbling, and come off!" :D "Shut up and lets do this."

Though I do find the French ones charming. He inserts all these funny little asides:

"His wife and daughter came out. She was very beautiful. They were working in a workshop. I do not know what they were working on." No? You don't? You are the author. Make something up. We won't know any different.

Or, this one: "All of the people - the blondes and the brunettes and the redheads - thought that..." I guess the gray-haired and the bald don't count as people.

Detailed descriptions of horses, armor, livery, and fight scenes. Not so much with the inner motivations of the characters. And what terrible depictions of women!

Irritating and funny. MM says I should do a blog series on the goofy stuff I'm finding. Maybe. Right now I'm just enjoying it myself.

~ ~ ~
Lunchbreak is over. Time to leave of my babbling and get back to it.


at the noon day, I will complain and lament

I woke up with curlier than usual hair, and when I dressed for my coffee date with a BFF I decided to put on a skirt and long johns instead of my usual jeans. I grabbed a scrumptious rumply scarf, and drove off to a new-to-me cafe. My usual test drink is cappuccino. I figure if the baristas can craft an excellent cappuccino, then the place must be alright. But since we went paleo and cut down our caffeine, I'm super sensitive to it. One cappuccino and I'm wired for days. Woooooooooo! So, I went for a latte. Good number two test, and often has fun foam art as a bonus.

Cafe passed the latte test. Delicious. Pretty foam art. Snooty baristas that eventually smiled, though it almost broke their faces. Ha ha. I win, you little pretentious dweebs. Life is full of awesome, and you can't pretend its not! Neener neener.

~ ~ ~

My BFF had to cancel at the last minute (sick kids), so I sat with my foam art and my King Arthur book at my little outside table and spent an hour, taking Vitamin D the old fashioned way, and just pretended I was in France. Sometimes that's the only thing to do.

~ ~ ~

By the way. How much does Guinevere suck? Seriously. Maybe she's bipolar.... I mean, Lord, how many times is she going to flip out and kick Lance out of the kingdom, only to flip out again and beg him to return. Guys. Stop jousting to see whether she should burn at the stake and just get the woman some meds. And Arthur. Come on, man, how clueless can you be?


Oh, I complain loud, but I'm having fun revisiting these stories. I've got several versions to read after this. It just cracks me up that we get all sorts of powerful, inspiring, romanticized tales of Camelot (Crystal Cave, Once and Future King, Lawhead's Pendragon cycle) from these insipid junior high soap opearas. That's really what they are. If these were being invented now, they would be on the CW. There's not a lot of difference between this and Gossip Girl. "You know you love me, xoxo."

~ ~ ~

MM and I had a delicious Nothing Weekend. Philosophy breakfasts and long walks by the river, following secret trails to new-to-us places. Saturday we lunched at a favorite park, watching various family outings, birthday parties, and frisbee players. A couple dudes played some role playing game in the sun. Odd choice for a spring day, but at least they got out of their moms' basements for a few hours. Ba-dump-cha! Just kidding. Best sight for us was some people zorbing. Too cool!

After Outdoor Adventuring we sipped Americanos or Manhattans and wrote and read and stared into space. We had a nice little nerd moment last night when our bartender came up after he'd delivered our drinks specifically to inquire what we were reading, "Thats so great. You don't see it much, but I love to read in bars too!" We all smiled and did our secret Nerd gang signs, happy to know that we are all part of the weirdo fellowship.

~ ~ ~

I keep complaining to MM that our town does not have the right place for us to go. We have coffee shops, restaurants, and lounges, but none of them really have the right vibe. They all cater to 20-something singles, and are LOUD LOUD LOUD. We are old. We want some place that is classy. Where there might be jazz or acoustic something-er-other live music instead of bumping beats or whiney modern pop rock. A place we can get really good coffee or really good wine. A place where people can be alone or with friends, a place where they can work or write or read or sketch. Indoor and outdoor seating. A simple menu of good, seasonal food - soup, small plates, salads, pastries.

It occurs to me. What I want is a European cafe. Or the sort of lounge that are only found in ritzy hotels in big cities. My town just does not know how to do that in-between, both/and kind of place that is classy AND casual at the same time.

If I were an entrepreneur, I would open this sort of place. But I am not. So, I will have to go to Europe, I guess. Qu'elle domage.

~ ~ ~

Also if I were an entrepreneur, I would create a line of lingerie that actually makes sense. With measurements that are actual measurements, not "measure yourself and add 2 or 3, then subtract the second measurement and divide by 9, but only on Tuesdays." And that takes into consideration ALL the aspects to be measured and considered (height, breadth, distance, girth...). And makes stuff in reasonable colors - I personally don't have a lot of clothes that work with a neon orange and lime green polka dot bra - but that are still beautiful. How disappointing to go through a laborious search and fitting and testing and trying only to find that you have a choice of beige and beige with no trim or embellishments or anything pretty. It's like neon orange or nothing. Lame. And don't get me started on night gowns. Or swimsuits. S/M/L/XL just doesn't work for this stuff.

Anyway. I have some peeves on this score, and I had any idea how to go about it, I would make Real Lingerie for Real Women that Makes Sense and Doesn't Suck. I would, of course work with a PR firm to come up with a catchier tag line.

But again, I am not an entrepreneur, so instead I will complain and lament. Or maybe go to Europe where they have better measuring and design for this sort of thing. Centimetres are our friends.

~ ~ ~

Lunchbreak is over. Back to my job search and house work and whathaveyou for the day. Thank you for listening to me complain about stuff. Have a beautiful rest of your day.



Glorious spring today. Wow. The whole city bloomed last week. Not just trees, but gardens, parks, bushes, empty lots, fields by the freeway. The sun feels delicious, and my thoughts have turned to flip-flops, summer jewelry, flowy skirts, and tattoos.

I always think of tatoos when the weather gets warm. I've decided what I want, finally. Sort of. I just need to figure out what it will look like and where to put it. Unlike men, we ladies have to consider aging skin/muscles, etc. That sleeve that looked so sexy at 25 will just be a wrinkled, saggy blur at 80. Think about it, honey. Ankles, inside wrists, shoulder blades, the cliche "tramp stamp" on the lower back - these spots are pretty good cuz the skin doesn't get so saggy. But - less fat/tissue = more pain. I don't like pain. So. There's that.

Anyway. Spring. Newness and life.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of newness and life - its all babies, babies, babies right now. Three expected in my social circle. A girl and two boys. Yippee! I've got one quilt started and need to buy fabric for two more.

And, there are now giraffe calves in my neighborhood zoo. This morning I walked past their enclosure and visited with a mama and her young one. How beautiful are giraffe eyes. Those lashes!

(I will not be making the young giraffes quilts.)

~ ~ ~

On a whim, last night I grabbed Anne Morrow Lindberg's Gift from the Sea for my bedtime reading. I've always enjoyed this little gem of a book. Such lovely language to adjure us toward simplification, solitude, investing in deep relationship, growing into each season of life, etc. But now that I am married, and middle aged (ahem), I just get it so much more.

And really, this bit makes the whole book for me:

Before we sleep we go out again into the night. We walk up the beach under the stars. And when we are tired of walking, we lie flat on the sand under a bowl of stars. We feel stretched, expanded to take in their compass. They pour into us until we are filled with stars, up to the brim.

Spring/summer always stirs up the longing in me for that bowl full of stars. I want to be filled up to the brim with starshine. The beach is calling me.

~ ~ ~

The other book I'm reading, as a followup to Merlin, is my King Arthur and His Knights - Selected Tales by Sir Thomas Malory. Here's the deal. We've romanticized and idealized these guys, but truthfully, they are all a bunch of selfish, immature, ding dongs, getting their feelings hurt and lopping off heads or stabbing each other or doing some pointless feat of arms to no good end. Grow up, guys.

~ ~ ~

This week in paleo eating: Plantains. Yum. We dice them like potatoes and fry them up with onions, bell peppers, and spices. They are weird, and they are awesome.

Also awesome: GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES ON PALEO BREAD! Oh, Lordy. One lament we've had is our loss of grilled cheese sandwiches. There are just times when that is what a person needs. Period. I do a lot of paleo baking, but bread is expensive and time consuming and tricky. So, I just haven't tackled it yet. Someday I will, but I've got bigger fish (plantains!) to fry right now.

Our local gluten free specialty market mentioned in their latest newsletter that they had paleo bread in stock. Yippee! I saved some of my "entertainment" money from our buget and got a loaf. (Pricey stuff.) I also threw caution to the wind and got Trader Joes tomato and roasted red pepper soup and some olive oil potato chips.

We ate our sandwiches. Freaked out. And watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And it was good.

~ ~ ~

We watched the Johnny Depp version. Weird and fun. I don't remember much of the original one. Only that it scared me. Creepy Gene Wilder, scary Oompa Loompas, kids dying in horrific ways, freaky LSD colors. I don't know. Maybe its awesome. As a kid I didn't like it at all. We may put the old one in our queue just to compare.

This one had little Freddie Highmore, who is just the cutest, sweetest little English boy. I teared up more than once at his little self. He reminds me of my nephew that I took care of as a child, so I think he stirs up maternal nostalgia in me. The freckles! And those ears sticking out of his head! Gah.

My nephew is now a giant, hairy fire fighter man, and father to the expected baby girl I mentioned above. But my heart remembers him as a little boy, and when I see Freddie Highmore, my heart just squeezes tears out of my eyes.

Also, loved all the grandparents. Three sweet, one cranky, and one with dementia. I smiled at her exchange with Willie Wonka at the end:
Her - "You smell like peanuts. I love peanuts!"
Him - "You smell like old people... and soap. I like it."

So yeah. Freaky. Weird. And oddly heart-warming. Plus fun music. (Go Danny Elfman.) Cute, non-scary Oompa Loompas. And little Freddie Highmore. (Who is also now grown into a nice young man. Oh, Time. Just stop already.)

~ ~ ~

And that's all I have to say about that.


mondayboook - my brownies are awesome edition

It's been awhile since I've done an actual daybook. Bless you folks for coming and reading my little weird posts. I will check out those resources for Downton this week!

This weekend was good. A mix of rest, work, giving, and receiving. We had a Philosophy Breakfast that lasted til 2:00! And then ran errands, discovering a great gluten free pizza on the way. Sunday we took our first communion in what may become our new church - woah, man. Just in time for Easter. I had a networking meeting, and got a lot out of it. And we ended the weekend with a cozy dinner and small pre-birthday celebration with some dear friends. Full.

For today I am,

Seeing... A sky that doesn't quite know what to do with itself. It feels coastal this morning. Clouds and clean air and the promise of a sunshiney afternoon... buds, buds, buds! Trees all over have burst forth in glorious pollen. This is my 2 weeks of allergies. This year really isn't that bad. Don't know if its because of the weird weather or paleo, but I'll take it!

Hearing... Our dove cooing and wooing. I hope all our homes have doves near them in spring. That sound means something powerful to me now.

Tasting... Tea. We've got 5 kinds now, including a few remaining bags of my unfavorite chai. Today will be a ginger pear white day, I think. Yesterday was a coffee day. We had the very last of our home-roasted beans. MM was able to finally get the perfect City Roast on the last batch. Such a difference to have freshly roasted beans! We will order (a much smaller bag) in a couple of weeks, and keep perfecting our roast.

Working... Well. Things are finally cookin' with my job search. I've gotten good feedback on my resume revamp, and had a really good networking meeting yesterday. I'm working on my cover letter blurbs and my website today and checking out a few leads. Here's hopin.

Reading... Finished Christian Smith's The Bible Made Impossible. It really does offer great insight on ways that Protestants, particularly evangelicals, have lost connection to the actual power of the scriptures they claim to revere by making an idol of the Bible. Its an academic book, and not at all easily digestible. I'm hoping someone pulls a John Ortberg and writes the "Biblicism for Dummies" version soon.

Also dipping back into the Stephen Lawhead Pendragon Cycle. I'm reading Merlin right now. Fun and interesting. Might try to score the rest of the books at a used bookstore, so we have the whole set. MM hasn't read them and may find them enjoyable. (Or they may make him facepalm and roll his eyes so hard he concusses because of factual errors.)

Learning... About me, mostly. Oh Life Transitions, how good you are at making us grow! (Sidenote: Blerg.)

Creating... Well. I've got a quilt, an embroidery project, a new scarf (this one will end!), and two photo projects to finish soon, but I have to tell you about my new brownies. (I realize I could have mentioned this in tasting, but we sent the last one home with the Birthday Boy last night, and I was all dazzled by the coffee.) Anyway. Dude. So freaking good. Got these from the latest edition of Paleo Magazine (which I gave away, thinking I could get another one at our store, only to find them sold out. Hmpf!).

So, I can't tell you who's recipe this is. Or even give you the original recipe, but I can give you this approximation:

1 sweet potato
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c oil (could be coconut oil, melted palm shortening, or like we did, melted butter)
1/4 c honey (I only used 1 tablespoon of honey, b/c we like dark brownies)
2 Tb unsweetened baking cocoa (I used 4, b/c we like dark brownies)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tb coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c dark chocolate chips (sometimes I do this, sometimes not, also, I'll do 3/4 c and melt them and stir them in)

1 Heat oven to 425.
2 Grease a 8x8 pan and set aside.
3 Poke holes in unpeeled sweet potato with fork/knife.
4 Bake sweet potato in oven til soft (30 minutes).
5 Take the potato out and turn oven down to 350.
6 Remove the peel and place potato in mixing bowl.
7 Blend potato until smooth (I use a handmixer).
8 Add wet ingredients (egg, vanilla, oil, honey).
   - I used way less honey.
   - If I add melted chips this is when I do that.
   - Last night, I added a splash of decaf coffee that we still had in the caraf - yum! mocha!
9 Mix until all ingredients incorporated nicely.
10 Add dry ingredients (cocoa, cinnamon, coconut flour, salt, baking soda, chips).
   - I always add the baking soda last, b/c it reacts with the chocolate and honey, and I don't want
      flat brownies.
11 Mix until all ingredients incorporated nicely.
12 Pour batter into pan.
13 Bake at 350 until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (20-30 min, depending on your oven?)
   - This can be tricky if you've got chips in there, so poke a few times to be sure.

These suckers are delicious. Healthy ingredients. I mean, this is basically a sweet potato with an egg and lots of dark chocolate. Yeah, baby! Potassium! Magnesium! No xanthan gum or soy or grains or weird stuff. If you don't do eggs, use flaxseed and water. If you don't do butter, do palm shortening or coconut oil. Last night we served them with freshly made whipped cream and fresh blackberries. Woah Nelly Olsen.

You just have to play around with the ratios of honey and baking powder and chocolate chips to get the flavor that you like. We like dense brownies, and we like dark chocolate and coffee, so less honey, added decaf, and more cocoa/chips works well for us. You might like something else. More honey. Caramel. Nuts. Whatever floats your brownie boat.

Dreaming... of The Future.

Pondering... The Future.

Thankful for... The Present. My amazing MM and his lifegiving love. The arrival of spring. Coffee. Brownies. Good friends. The possibility of a new church. Trader Joes taco seasoning. Stacks of books. Celtic music. Yarn, fabric, thread, and Netflix streaming. A soul that is learning to speak and believe that it will be heard. Poetry. And the power of good writing to shape a soul. Good art and the people who make it. Feasting in the midst of a lean season. The quiet of lent and that slow stir of anticipation for Easter.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.


it is time to speak of popes and pizzas

What a weird month. Hasn't it been a weird month? The Pope resigned, you know. And last night in a blitz of pollen all the trees in my town burst into bud despite the dry, cold, weird February weather. I woke up with my lungs on fire, like I'd breathed second hand smoke all night.

~ ~ ~

Today @Pontifex sent his last tweet, made his last speach, and flew off in a helicopter to his new digs. I'm just so fascinated. I didn't even know Popes could quit. There've been all sorts of funny jokes and such. Mostly stuff about him collecting unemployment, etc. They destroyed his papal ring today, and my good friend Jovi quipped that it was good they didn't have to take it to Mt. Doom. (Maybe that's only funny to LOTR nerds?) I wonder at his reasons. And his timing. You'd think he'd wait til Easter. But then, who knows what his prognosis is. Anyway. The world is Popeless.

~ ~ ~

I am in transition, which also feels weird. I'm evaluating who I am and how I am made and what I want from my work, my life, and, most of all, my relationships.

MM and I have been visiting a church and are about to take the pastor out to coffee to grill him on praxis and theology. Ahem. I mean, chat about his life and ministry and thoughts on church and whatnot. Big step. I'm updating my resume and researching companies and setting up networking meetings and praying for a job that can be a redemption of sorts. I am thinking hard about my relationships, and which ones are mostly life-giving and which ones are mostly painful, and how do I shift the percentage of my energy away from the latter. I'm done with chronic relationship pain, man.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of chronic pain, I finally get my hips, knee, hand, back, and even my neck with the program, only to have my right shoulder start hurting. And this hurt feels a bit different than the others, so I'll probably have to go to the doctor, which is a whole nother kinda pain. Pain in the @$%.


~ ~ ~

Which reminds me. 30 Rock ending. I didn't like most of the characters, but I love me some Liz Lemon. And, Alec Baldwin may be a horrible human, but the guy has great timing. Now we just look forward to the new Arrested Development stuff. (I played Boggle with friends the other day. Someone found "Gob", and within 2 minutes someone else was whistling "The Final Countdown". Yay!)

And um, while I'm talking about TV, we know what happens with Downton Abbey, which sucks, b/c we haven't even seen season 2 yet.


They stopped putting the seasons on Netflix streaming, so we have to wait for DVDs and our queue has, like, 500 titles in it, so it's going to be awhile. Sigh.

To speed things up, I'm blasting through Season 2 of Gilmore Girls. Jesse really was a punk, wasn't he...

~ ~ ~

So. Enough about me and my transitions and me and my TV shows. It is time for me to make my man a pizza. He had to sit in a meeting with pizza today and he didn't have a single slice. I'm so proud of him!

So tonight, I'm making paleo pizza bowls. With extra cheese.

<3 br="">


thankful tuesday - oh, how i love pancakes

It's Thankful Tuesday, Pancake Day, and Abraham Lincoln's birthday. And a few other days, I'm sure. I will stick with things I'm thankful for:

Pancakes. I don't know why I get so excited about this lame tradition, but I do. Here's a stack of our paleo pancakes (recipe):

Made them crepe-style, and we had them with our friends' Amazing Jams. Soooo good.

MM quipped this morning that I am a "responsible pancake eater" because I make sure that we have bacon and eggs and not just pancakes (sugar) and syrup/jam (sugar). We'll see if he holds to that after tonight's pancakes! (Chocolate with chocolate sauce, strawberries, and whipped cream. Glory!) In my defense, these are for dessert. And though we aren't giving up food things for Lent, we don't get to have much in the way of sugar and whipped cream. So, as the folks celebrating Mardi Gras today would say, Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Lent. I think I've figured out what I'm going to do for the season. I always look forward to this time of year. It makes Easter one whiz-bang of a day, to have prepared for it for a month and a half. The only thing that bums me out a bit, is that the church we're going to right now doesn't do an Ash Wednesday service. Not sure if we'll hit one of the other churches or skip it or what.

My introvert books. I know I keep talking about these, but truly, they are so encouraging. My brain is sparking with all sorts of ideas, and my heart is rejoicing that I was on purpose made in this good way. Cain referenced McHugh's book as well as the work of another author that's been on my list (HT - Tonia). I'm not an off-the-charts HSP or Introvert, but I am those things. It is good to know there are others like me, and that it is good to be this way.

Progress! On becoming unencumbered. On the Great File Storage Revamp of 2013. On the Scarf That Never Ends. On my job search. I feel like the projects and lists and tasks and events and people and unanswered emails and and and just pile up and pile up. They do. But I am slowly but surely plugging away at them. Even if I just work on one thing for a half hour each day, I have made progress, and every little bit helps.

The trick is to not replace these projects, lists, tasks, events, etc. with new ones! Yes, indeed. That is the trick.

Our weird spring. This year is weird. Usually the trees have begun to bloom by now, but that cold snap in January seems to have confused them. Other than the camelias, the trees and bushes are shut up tight. Its also usually grey and foggy and rainy, but we've got lovely sunshine. I'm sure we'll pay for it later, but I'm enjoying these warm days. Birds have begun to twitter away. The crows are scarcer. And our dove is back, looking for love in the thicket behind our house. Godspeed Lovey Dovey!


hey hey, monday

Sausage soup simmers on the stove, a large load of darks whooshes its way through the Normal cycle, the fragrance of chai steams up from my cup and I write a few random thoughts, which seems to be the best I can do at blogging these days.

~ ~ ~

Lent starts Wednesday, and I still don't know what I'm going to give up or take on this year, but I am Very Excited about Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. :D!!! I know. Pancakes. I'm not sure why I'm excited, but I am. We may eat them for breakfast AND dinner. I tried to make a dairy free chocolate frosting on Friday that just completely bonked, so I may add those in to the morning batch. And we've got the Amazing Jams from our friends port wine and lemon) for the evening batch.

~ ~ ~

I ordered a Lenten devotional from Renovare, and hope to collect it at our PO Box today or tomorrow. Last year we didn't really have a devotional, but started reading The Divine Hours in the morning, which has been a great practice for us. But now that that's our regular thing, I feel like Lent needs something special.

~ ~ ~

We had a fun weekend of gatherings and down time and philosophizing, which we love. I think we could have used one more weekend day, though. This morning was rough. Three days in a row of gatherings takes a lot out of us, even if they are all super fun. (And as an aside, delicious! Man, have we been eating well lately. I had the ribs from last night for lunch today and just about freaked myself out. Wow.) Our evening plan is to do our basic routines and then lay low. We may go to bed at 7:30. Just call us Memaw and Papaw.

~ ~ ~

I interrupted my reading of Introverts in the Church to devour Susan' Cain's wonderful book on introversion, Quiet. Oh man. I was 'yes!'ing and fist pumping and high fiving myself all over the place. (Quietly. In my head, of course.) These books make me glad to be me, which, sadly isn't something I felt much while growing up. And the things I'm learning explain so much of my experiences in school, in my jobs, in my relationships. Researchers are just now beginning to synthesize all sorts of data gathered in decades of studies. And books like McHughs and Cains are great at helping laypeople understand why all those studies are important for our culture. As an -ology nerd, this excites me. *fist pump* As an introvert, this encourages me. *high five*

~ ~ ~

Chai is really not my favorite.

~ ~ ~

I think that's it. I'm excited about books and pancakes and going to bed at 7:30. Yep. I'm an introvert. Yay!


friday random - projects

Hi folks. Still feeling quiet here. Processing away and working on lots of projects:

~ Updating my resume, cover letters, etc. And contacting references and starting the networking process for my job search. This whole sabbatical/going back to work process has been emotional. In our culture, so much of us is "defined" by what we do for a living. I'm pondering "vocation" a lot these days. Thinking about the things I want/am gifted to do, and how that fits in with our vision for our life.

~ Writing web content and fixing pages, uploading files, etc. etc.And continuing with the Great File Storage Revamp of 2013. We've got a busy weekend ahead, so this project will probably be on hold til Monday, but I would love to have the bulk of it done by next Friday. Should probably do our taxes too, while we're going through and archiving all of this year's stuff. Might as well.

~ Making a birthday banner and little cupcake picks for a friend's party tonight. I'm bringing some of the cupcakes (and picks!) to my own party with the family tomorrow morning.I took photos, but its too much of an ordeal to get them here. If you go to my twitter page, you can see them. Very bright and fun.

~ Making Valentines. And watching Gossip Girl. Oh! The scandal and debauchery! (And please. So much of that has to be fake. The dialog and storylines are for 20-somethings not teenagers. Granted, I don't hang out in the Upper East Side, but no teenager I have ever known is able to spout insightful speeches like that. And what the heck are all these bars and clubs doing letting 14 year olds in?) The whole thing makes me very thankful for my life and my man. Even if we don't "summer in the Hamptons" *eyeroll*. Anyway. Crafting and Junk TV for Teenagers.

~ Researching options for 3 different upcoming events. It's not going well. None of the options we've wanted have worked out, so far. Alas, I live in a town with no Portuguese restaurants or Christian Skate Nights. Sersiously. Is that too much to ask? Same thing with the event MM is planning. Maybe next week is the key. All our files will get sorted, our taxes filed, and our events planned. Amen.

~ Reading. MM finished Starship Troopers this week. And again. I don't agree with the philosophies that he's presenting, but emotionally, I'm still very proud and teary for the men and women who serve honorably in the military, and for their families who let them. I live in peace, because I have delegated peacekeeping to others. I am also proud and teary for my man. We had great discussions during this book about strength and honor and what it means to "lay down his life for a friend," and I see those things in him. He is a strong, compassionate man, who strives to defend the helpless, speak out on behalf of the oppressed, and protect the vulnerable.

Well. I've rambled long enough. Its time for me to clean my house and bake those cupcakes. Fingers crossed that the frosting turns out right. 


mondaybook - hello world

NOTE: I wrote this yesterday. But The Internet was broken in my house, so I couldn't post it. So. You know. Pretend.

Well. Last week was a doozy. What started out as me getting locked out of my email account turned into us migrating all our websites and email accounts to a new host, restructuring said websites and blogs, and setting up a whole new way of managing our household. Phew! I have a lot of words about that whole process, but for now, I'm going to give you just a snapshot of life:

For today I am,

Seeing... Blue skies and sunshine, through the lightest, wispy haze. Earlier my neighborhood swirled with fog. We had a beautiful and mysterious drive through the park and past the golf course. Loved the look of the trees and fields through multiple layers of mist.

Hearing... Birds, dogs, school children... The incessant dripping of our kitchen faucet. Sigh. Another letter to the property manager with a fixit list. Oy vey.

Tasting... Not today, but oh, I have to tell you. My husband loves to cook. I handle weekday meals, and overall meal planning, but on weekends, he gets to shine. Saturday he made his Fake Chicken Cordon Bleu, and woah Nellie Olsen it was gooo-ooood! He spent the rest of the weekend lamenting that he'd reached the apex of his cooking career with that meal and its all downhill from there. Not true. He'll top it, I'm sure. But man. Delish!

Working... Oh, man. I have projects coming out of my ears. Last week's upheavals and shenanigans exploded my task list with stuff to get done. But its all great. We will soon be a lean, mean, crime fighting machine, people.

Creating... I've been going gangbusters on my knitting, lately. Don't be too impressed. I'm basically doing the same stitch over and over on The Scarf That Never Ends. I only know the one stitch. I don't even know how to cast off. When I finally DO get to the end of this thing, I will have to find a YouTube video for help.

I'm also having fun making a quilt for my newest Baby Neice. So cute and pretty. Pink, but not too pink. Lots of little flowers and such. I have plenty of fabric left over to try and make little stuffies to match. I will post pictures when its all done. Cutie patootie!

Reading... I'm still making my way through Adam McHugh's Introverts in the Church. And MM and I are continuing with Christian Smith's The Bible Made Impossible. Both are good and important books. For my fiction, I've reconnected with the Hitchhiker's series - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

But the real star of the show is my fiction read aloud with MM: Starship Troopers. Dude. I had totally blown this thing off. When the movie came out, the name was so dumb, that I thought it was some kind of B movie or spoof like Galaxy Quest. I didn't know it was based on a book. And I'm not really a science fiction person, so I would not have read it if I'd known.

MM chose it for his next offering in our Cultural Exchange. Holy crap, it's good. Good writing. And while I don't agree with the philosophies that Heinlein presents, he paints a poignant (albeit idealized) picture of honorable military service. I've seriously teared up several times. And my heart feels all soft and squishy and thankful for the service men and women and their families who put their lives on the line. I feel like I should salute them or hug them, wear a poppy... Something. Emotionally, it reminds me of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. (My roommate and I were so taken with Dick Winters and Easy Company the year we watched it, that she got us Airborne patches and we wore patriotic colors on all the military holidays that year. Sentimental.)

I'm so thankful that MM and I do these exchanges. My world is better for having experienced these books and movies. Such different perspectives than the ones I've encountered before. Very, very cool.

Learning... New software. Installed Thunderbird email client. Started using Google calendars for managing projects. And now we have new file management clients for all our websites. And as always, Wordpress is exciting and, um, challenging. Oh, and soon (I hope), how to cast off in knitting.

Dreaming... Of all our stuff merged, archived, filed, saved, and backed up appropriately. Unencumbered! I'm starting to scan things today. Yippee!... Of a new paid gig, and what to do with the dollars that will come with it. Time to review our "To Buy" lists... Of moving... Of traveling... Of adventuring... Of lunch...

Pondering... The digital upheaval of last week was suprisingly emotional for me. It's a new level of "two become one" for us to merge all our files and archives and determine the new systems and structure that makes sense for our combined household. "Us" is different than "Me" and "He". This is as much a spiritual project as it is an administrative one. Wow. Lots to think about on this.

Thankful for... My man. I know. I just can't help myself. He's awesome. And makes great Fake Chicken Cordon Bleu... A clean desk, a clean spare room, and way less piles in general. Amen... Long johns and thick socks straight from the dryer... homemade soup... a fresh table cloth and a white pitcher of flowers...


connubial felicity

Sorry I've been neglecting this space. It's my birthday month, and I've been celebrating. I've gone out for coffee and breakfast and lunch and drinks and to the theater. I've gone snowshoeing and antiquing and to the movies. I've poked around in bookstores and been spoiled rotten by folks providing me with meals and treats and delights. Spoiled rotten, I tell you!

Thank you, dear ones, for being so kind and generous. You have blessed my kneesocks clean off.


I've also been reading a lot!

MM and I blitzed through Pride and Prejudice in two days. I guzzled water, tea, and honey to protect my voice while I read for one whole day and another evening. Hours. So fun to have him react and really enjoy the story and the writing. He ranted and called Wickam names, and laughed in all the right spots. We've been coming up with ways to use the phrase "connubial felicity" in a rock opera. (By the way, we counted felicities. I think there are 15 of them. MM will try some kind of search technique on a digital version to verify if my count is correct. She does use it a lot. Thither, not as much.)

I blitzed myself through The Night Circus, which is... beautiful and well-crafted and interesting and... not exactly "dark", but... "grey". Even its triumphant or good moments are tinged with sadness and feel bittersweet. From page one she sets a tone of magic and melancholy and carries it through to the end. Interesting book.

I'm in the middle of Adam McHugh's Introverts in the Church. Very good. Very needed. Over 50% of the population is introverted, yet the church, particularly the Evangelical stream, expects/rewards extroverted behavior. This is true of American culture at large, but the sad thing is that this expectation is a) not allowing the church to benefit from what introverts bring to the table, and b) damaging introverted people. In theory, the church is supposed to be where people are loved and accepted and healed, but it is often a place of more wounds. This is a book for introverts, to help them heal; and the evangelical church, to encourage it to strive for balance so that it doesn't keep hurting its introverted members. Looking forward to meeting more.


The theater movie we watched was, The Hobbit. Meh. It was ok. Didn't wow me like the Lord of the Rings movies. The technical stuff was still beautiful and captivating, but I think they're trying too hard with the story. The Hobbit is a fun adventure for kids. They're trying to turn it into another Big Epic of Good Verses Evil. The Galadrial scenes were pretty unneccessary, but her dresses were gorgeous. How fun to float around in one of those numbers? And I really liked the dwarves song, all that deep, rumbly business.

An At-home movie we watched was Two Mules for Sister Sarah. It was cute and fun and I loved the music. Enrico Morricone of Spaghetti Western fame composed the main theme. I love the donkey noise and the slightly Arabic/Spanish sound of the instruments. And wow. Shirley McClain's eyelashes were practically their own character.


I bought daffodils at Trader Joes. Early, I know, but they were pretty, and its been a while since we've had flowers. Christmas and cold weather finally took out our little garden, and I tend to use more candles and less foliage during the cold months. These are sweet and cheerful. Our water is highly suspect though, because the leaves are crisping to brown so rapidly. Its overly chlorinated, and some flowers really react. Bummer, cuz I don't know if all of them will get a chance to bloom before the chlorine takes out the rest of the stems. Fun, though.


I'd miscounted the Glorious Saturdays of Nothing and realized to my great delight that we have TWO MORE! TWO MORE SATURDAYS OF NOTHING! WOOO! We can wake up in the morning and do anything we want! :D

We may want to snowshoe again as I believe there may have been a fresh dumping. Or, we may want to write and read all day. Or, we may watch a bunch of movies. Or whatever. CUZ WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT!


So. That's about it. My life isn't exciting, right now, but it feels rich and full. So glad we're resting up now instead of barreling on through activities. This month of quiet has been a Godsend. By the end of it, instead of feeling like "butter scraped over too much bread" I hope to feel positively SLATHERED, melted, and dripping off the side of fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins.

Mmmmm. Muffins...

Good idea. Rock your weekend, friends. Rock it hard. (Or soft. Some people really like Michael Bolton. It's okay. I won't judge.)


thankful tuesday - yosemite sam

Wow. It's already Tuesday. How does this keep happening? Well, Micha is hosting Thankful Tuesday again, so let's rock and roll:

~ Candles. We've got a basket full of IKEA Glimmas and whatever they call the larger sized ones. (I call them The Big Tealights, which they're not, but people know what I mean.) I've been lighting some every morning as I "wake the house." And we're down to the last of the Advent candles. Love and the Ginormous Christ Candle. I moved the Love one into the kitchen today while I made breakfast and puttered around. Nice little symbol of Love permeating even the dailiest of daily tasks.

~ A sparkling clean kitchen. Speaking of Love permeating even the dailiest of tasks... I had a rough day yesterday. A whole bunch of things conspired with lack of sleep and a frazzly me and it all just was zero fun, sir. Every night we're supposed to do "evening chores" after dinner (dishes, make lunches, trash, sweep, etc.) and I was just dreading them. But if we don't do them, I wake up to a pile of dishes, a greasy kitchen, a sticky floor, and another frazzly me. MM and I usually do things together, but last night he had me sit and read to him while he did it all. Plus, he made decaf coffee and busted out some chocolate truffle ganache I'd stashed in the fridge. I felt so cared for. And this morning, I walked into a sparkly clean kitchen and got to begin my day as a peaceful me instead of a frazzly one. I needed that. Thank you, Love.

~ The Prospector! This is actually from last week, and I can't believe I forgot to mention it - BUT - a friend and I were sitting in my car after having grabbed coffees, chatting before we each headed off to our errands, when a prospector walked out of Starbucks. Seriously - long grey beard, fringey buckskin coat, tall boots, big hat all smashed up in front like Yosemite Sam. Dude! It was so awesome, I hollered and made her get out of the car and run to see him before he went into Whole Foods. (He must have struck gold to afford such fancy groceries.) I'm sure he was a docent at a local museum, but I like to think of him loading up his pack mule with vegan baked goods before heading off with his travel mug full of Spiced Vanilla Latte into the foothills to try his luck. Godspeed Yukon Cornelius. Watch out for Bumbles!

~ Books, books, books, and the month of rest. Oh yippee. We are reading and sipping hot beverages (MM made us Irish coffees and Hot Buttered Whiskeys last weekend) and wearing our pajamas and writing and it is all just what we needed. It's week 3 of 2012 and I've read 2 books and we're plowing through 2 read alouds. My next personal book will be Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh. Ahhh. Three more Nothing Weekends left. I'm washing long johns and thick socks in preparation, as those work for snowshoeing or lazying around by the fire. Amen.


friday fave five - random

I know. I'm posting a lot all of a sudden. It's hard to keep up. As Sarah Bessey's son would say, "My has lotsa words." But, its true, and so here are a few random ones for Friday...

~ ~ ~

I canNOT believe my breakfast this morning. I ate sardines. Ack! Yes! I know. I KNOW! I am reduced to tinned fish. Oh, the things I do for paleo.

But. Sardines are a crazy awesome Omega-3 powerhouse and filled with all sorts of nutritional goodies. They are very sustainable, because of their short lives and fast reproduction. They don't have all the mercury risk of other fish, because they are so tiny. And we need more fish in our diet and our food budget is tight. All my sardine memories are of my mom putting small, slimy fish on bread and then PUTTING IT IN HER MOUTH. Gah! Gross! Gross! Gross! And they smelled so bad. Blagh!

But these were boneless and skinless and packed in lemon juice and olive oil. I fried them with spinach leaves, garlic, oregano, and a pinch of garlic, and an egg. Not bad. Salty. And I think if I'd added a bit of chopped onion, it would have been better. And super filling. Not my favorite breakfast, but for a first try I'm quite encouraged. This may be a simple way to get a little more fish in our diet.

~ ~ ~

It is frosty cold again today. The front yard is ghostly white. As the sun peaks over the  trees and rooftops, the back yard fills with diamonds. Clouds are moving in, so I'm not sure if the front yard will get the same bejeweled treatment, but it's pretty in its own way. I'm kind of glad about this cold snap. Often, after Christmas, the post-holiday blues come on with all the rain and fog. This year it's sunny, but it feels like winter. It feels like snow.

This weekend, we may buy some chains, strap up the car, and head up to the mountains to go play with our snowshoes. Or we may buy some rum and firewood and cozy up with piles of books and the last of the Christmas chocolate. Or both! Either way, we win!

~ ~ ~

For our poetry this week we've enjoyed Tom Wayman.

~ ~ ~

We are giving up on The Office. We are two seasons behind. (Andy just took them all on a field trip to Gettysburg.) It just kind of tanked as Michael was leaving, and we can't get into the new normal. Does it get better? Should we hold out?

We don't watch a lot of TV, so we want to make it count. Life is short and I want my man to see things like Arrested Development and Big Bang Theory and Call the Midwives. Portlandia. Etc. etc.

Do we waste more time on this dying show? I just don't think its worth it...
~ ~ ~

What is worth it? These paleo chocolate chip cookies (since I talked about them yesterday, I should post the recipe, right?):

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat

3. Combine
    3 c almond flour
    1/4 c coconut flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt

4. Combine
    1/2 c palm shortening (or butter, softened, but seriously Palm Shortening = fab)
    2 eggs
    2 T vanilla
    1/4 c honey

5. Stir together the dry mixture and the wet mixture.

6. Stir in 1 c chocolate chips*

7. Measure out spoonfuls of cookie dough on the sheet (we use a soup spoon)

8. Bake until golden. Times will vary depending on ovens. Ours tends to run a bit hot, I think, so I have to eyeball it. You get the feel of it after awhile.

Makes 24 cookies. Yum!

~ ~ ~

Happy Friday, friends.