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.

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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.


thursdaybook - not eating the cookies

For today I am,

Seeing... A pile of dishes, a pile of laundry, and a pile of the Last of the Christmas Presents to hand out - all ready to be "dealt with now"... Cold, winter sun slanting through the blinds... a bag of cookies that I would like to eat...

Hearing... A neighbor's dog barking. Incessantly. Frantically. For hours.

PSA   People. Dogs are pack animals. They do not do well when you leave them alone all day long. Those facebook meme pictures showing a dog who tore apart a piece of furniture and the words "I thought you were never coming back" are not a joke. Some dogs really freak out about that. Get your dog a friend or visit him/her at lunch or have a dog walker or someone drop by. ENDPSA

Tasting... NOT COOKIES. Dangit.

Working... Wrote and wrote and wrote this morning. Will write some more this afternoon. And deal with the aforementioned piles. And the backed up email. And file papers. And probably write some more.

Reading... Still plowing through The Bible Made Impossible. We've now began the section offering a healthier way to approach the Bible. Interesting read, so far. Good discussion fodder for me and MM.

And today, lots of blog posts. Including an important one by Kristen Howerton. I have long said that Mark Driscoll is a dangerous guy who is more like a cult leader than a pastor. She links to a lot of descriptions of the stuff that has troubled me and even worse stuff I didn't know about. And this one is even worse. Oy vey.

Learning... About Anglicans. Other than some jokes, "We're Catholic Lite." "It's an entire religion of people who can't use their arms." Some over-generalizations, "King Henry wanted a divorce, so he could marry that strumpet, Anne Boleyn." Media portrayals (Like Dawn French's awesome Vicar of Dibley, or sweet Father Tim in those Jan Carrow (sp) books. Hey man, Lauren Winner read them too.)) And the media sensation over Spong and Robinson and the resulting fractures and fizzures that have resulted. I don't know much about them. I keep encountering Anglicans these days, so I thought I'd study up.

Creating... A few last Christmas gifts and all that writing mentioned above.

Dreaming... A new job... a new house... a Grand Adventure with my Love... It feels good to dream.

Pondering... How most bad behavior has its roots in fear. The opposite of love is not hate; it's fear. The correct response to all that fear must be love. Hate accomplishes only death.

Thankful for... Dude. I had on my favorite outfit and a new haircut, so last night MM and I blew off church and our regular dinner and had a date night instead. We went to a tasting room and got wine and cheese and olives. We held hands and talked and made smoochy faces at each other. Then we walked next door and got fancy schmancy lattes and talked some more and made more smoochy faces. He is just my favorite.

Alright, well, I'm going to eat last nights dinner for lunch instead of cookies. And work on my piles. What about you? What does your Thursday look like?


thankful tuesday - champagne flutes and poetry

It's Thankful Tuesday at Micha's place. She has a lovely list of holiday travel gratitude and a picture of her dad with a stuffed dog on his head. I have other things:

The continued entry into easy grace. Last night we did chores, ate dinner, picked up Venti coffees (decaf!) and spent the evening talking through Christian Smith's The Bible Made Impossible. (Fantastic book describing how we Evangelicals have elevated the Bible beyond its place and made an idol of it. Yep. He went there. BAM.)

A good morning hunkered down in Comfy 2 (the other comfy chair that we bought for reading - sadly, it's not actually that comfy, but it works in a pinch and was a cozy spot yesterday) journaling through some stuff and thinking and praying and the like.

Breakthroughs. A bit of my soul that's been struggling just sort of... clicked. Or shifted. Or something. No fanfares or angel choruses, just a quiet release/embrace and now here I am. A new place. Very cool.


Champagne flutes. I washed them all up after our Twelfth Night party. Even the kids got to have their sparkling cider in real glasses. All lined up on my table, they just make me smile. Champagne flutes are tall and elegant and filled with sparkles. They make me think of elegant ladies in formal gowns and long gloves. Love them.

Dinner poetry. MM and I have started reading and talking through a poem each night at dinner. He loves poetry. I enjoy it, but have never been the sort to just pick up a book of poems and read. This gives him the chance to experience one of his great loves and gives me practice at consuming poetry, which, I think, will make me a better human being. Poetry does that.

I'm thankful for more things, but a second cup of coffee and my new journal are calling me back to Comfy 2.

What are you thankful for today?


easy grace

We did it! We made it through all 12 Days of Christmas with pomp and good humor. Yesterday, after a rousing Twelfth Night party that lasted til 1:30am, MM and I slept in, made French Press coffee, lit a fire and spent the whole day yesterday eating, drinking, and talking theology in front of that fire. During breaks in the eating, drinking, and talking, I took down the Christmas decorations, leaving only my paper snowflakes and a few white candles. We feasted on rest all day long, and it was good. The last log burned down to embers at bedtime. We toddled off to bed with full and happy hearts.

Now we slide into the quiet, easy grace of Ordinary Time. Already the laundry hums and the soup simmers and I continue to unencumber my workspace and deal with things now. Space and light and breathing room. Amen and amen.



Unencumbered. I think that's the real word for this year. Freedom sounds more romantic, but what I'm really feeling is a great desire to get untangled and unburdened and unhindered. To flap my arms around and kick my legs and twirl and gyrate and fling, flail, and fightfightfight. I want to throw punches and fist pumps and jazz hands. I want to give 2013 a big ol' roundhouse kick to the face (and then buy it a beer after). Yes. Unencumbered.

~ ~ ~

Today, I unencumbered the floor around my desk, which over the past three months has become Ground Central for all the parties and projects I've been doing. I haven't even been able to sit in my desk chair for three weeks.Tonight, I will unencumber my actual desk, plowing through piles of papers and random stuff thrown into a plastic shoebox to "deal with later".

I think a key part of the Year of Unencumbering is "deal with now". In the heat of parties and projects its fine to set things to the side, but I don't want a "deal with later" bin that never gets dealt with. (I have in this bin a couple Christmas presents from 2009.) (Ahem.) Tucked into various corners of the house and garage, I've got bins and boxes and bags filled to the brim with "deal with later" stuff. Now is the time to deal!

~ ~ ~

The other unencumbering thing I did today was to officially clear our Saturdays from 1/12-2/2. Amen and Hallelujah! And amen again. This is not easy. As soon as I did this, I got an email invite to a birthday party on 1/12. One that I would love to go to. And I know there will be more super fun invites to hang out with people I love.

But - my husband and I are introverts. Introverts who need big stretches of no people. Big stretches of time to read and think and ponder and write it all out. We are also introverts who both own snowshoes and are surrounded by quiet, snowy hills. And while we still live in this house we are introverts who have a fireplace and were gifted with fancy chocolates and wine this Christmas. We've been partying since October. We need a month of Saturdays to regroup.

~ ~ ~

I've begun my annual examen. How are things with me? Pretty good. Not great. I'm healing in leaps and bounds, but still limping. Frustrated. Weak. In pain. I am not moving freely forward like I want to. But this unencumbered business already feels better. It feels less like a new thing I "should/ought/have to" do, and instead feels like getting rid of things - sometimes literally. (We already have a big pile to take to Goodwill.)

I'm very much looking forward to the light and space and movement ahead.

May it be so.


second advent

Happy New Year! Had our third, and final family Christmas yesterday with my tribe of sister-friends. I hugged a lot of necks, played Uno, exchanged gifts, and stuffed myself with appetizers and taco salad and spiced cider. (My husband makes an amazing sour cream onion dip. Just sayin.)

MM went back to work today. And I begin my own search for work, in between loads of dishes and laundry and general tidying up. It is time to dig in to all the adventure and work of a new year. This season always finds me making lists, consulting calendars, reviewing last year's Intentions and Goals and pondering my next steps. I want to clean clean clean - my house, my desk, my file cabinet, my garage, my heart...

Last year I had double words: Strength and Beauty. And um. I'm still not really sure what happened there. It was a very, very different year from what I imagined. I felt weak and broken for most of this year. But I worked harder than I have ever worked in my life - deep, dark healing work. Good, painful stuff. Yowzers.

And while I'm tempted to keep these words again (and do it right this time), I'm not going to. That was then. This is now. And 2013 feels more about freedom. Getting unencumbered physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally. If this day next year finds me lighter and less burdened in all these areas, then that will suit me right down to the ground.

May it be so.

In the meantime, it is the 8th day of Christmas. Though I'm quite ready for the season to be over, we're hanging in there the whole 12 days. We're still burning down our Advent candles and enjoying our Christmas tree til Epiphany. We're delivering Christmas presents this weekend. I'm washing the red and green tablecloths and gathering supplies for one last holiday party. (Twelfth Night - pancakes and champagne!) In lieu of Christmas carols we're listening to Les Miz and having long discussions about justice and mercy. (And how Russel Crowe just does not work as Javert. I'm sorry, but No.) Another Advent of sorts as we wait for the end of all this merriment and sink into the quiet of winter, armed with nothing but pots of tea and stacks of books.

May it be so.