December 31, 2009

Happy New Years with a box of tissues

Hi folks! Sorry I haven't been posting for a while, but Christmas got extremely busy, and what with all the seasonal germs getting together with the seasonal pie eating I've come down with a cold. So I'm holed up on my mother-in-law's couch drinking tea and postponing packing as long as possible. Tomorrow we start the grand road trip to Dallas to visit Allen's great-grandmother, and I'm really hoping that I'll feel a bit more human by tomorrow morning. With seven people in a seven passenger van for ten hours this is not the time to be hacking up your lungs onto someone else's neck. Anyway, we've had a lovely but busy Christmas and are once again looking forward to being back home.

Hope everyone enjoys their New Year's celebrations!

December 17, 2009

Counting down the miles

Pretty soon Allen and I will scrunched up in economy class trying to catch a couple hours of sleep as we count down the miles to Christmas at home. Finally, mercifully, it's all starting to come together. The box of gifts has been sent off -possibly too late for the family gathering on Saturday but in plenty of time for Christmas, but that's not a total disaster since I've got a few more goodies tucked into my suitcase. The living room is lived in clean, by which I mean there's a plate here and some strayed kitchen towels there. Again, nothing disastrous. Similar could be said for most of the apartment with the exception of the back bedroom which has been the staging area for numerous Christmas intrigues and looks the worse for it.

For Advent we have eaten steak and pumpkin pie and homemade soup and leftover turkey sandwiches with lovely wines to smooth out the edges. I've decorated my tree, strung lights, lit candles, and decorated gingerbread cookies. All this and it's still a week before Christmas. It's easy for me to think about the lovely things I'd love to do for Christmas -more handcrafting for instance - and lose sight of the things I have done. A year ago I couldn't have imagined that I would celebrate the holidays with such a relatively low amount of stress. Life, breathing, is coming easier to me. Some of that has unfolded in the Christmas decorations around me and the presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for Epiphany when Allen and I, returned again to this new land, will finish the Christmas season together with all the abundance that overflowed our boxes and suitcases. I've done pretty well for a girl who started the year with as much overwhelming guilt and unredeemed pain as I did. And now I'm sitting here counting down the hours until a friend from church picks us up and takes us to the airport so we can go home for Christmas. It's been an amazing journey.

To everyone else out there seeking beauty, grace, and rest -Merry Christmas.

December 14, 2009

Almost there.....

Well Advent is almost over, and Christmas is almost here. It's a sort of happy sad occasion for me because on one hand I'll be going home and on another hand I really like making Christmas in my own home. Ok, so in the past it's been challenging. It's a challenge I've been warming up to these past few years. Since we're flying home this year I've kept things fairly simple overall - there's a strand of lights and a red beaded garland draped over my bookcase, a nativity scene in the bedroom, and another in the living room, some candles, and my tree. Against all common sense I had to have my tree. It's about six feet tall and covered with nearly that many strands of lights. I've got all my ornaments from Granny and Mamaw and Allen's mom on it along with some I painted and some others I picked up here and there traveling. Every year it's about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. One day I plan to be that mom who decorates the house from top to bottom with candles, lights, fruit, greenery, and colored balls. I'm going to build me an Advent nest and curl up inside with a mug of cocoa and a wedge of pecan pie. But for now I'm just one of the kids hopping on an airplane and flying home. I look forward to it. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to the day when home isn't a place you visit once or twice a year.

December 6, 2009


The past week has been simultaneously very busy, very good, and very disconcerting. As for the very busy and very good parts I've found that I've had a lot more energy lately. I'm getting up earlier and getting more stuff done. My bedroom is so neat it almost feels like a hotel room, and we put together our 15ft bookcase in the living room. On top of that I've put up the tree, cooked, gone Christmas shopping, and in general gotten more work done in one week than I used to get done in a single month during some of my bad spells. I'm doing really well, and there is a part of me that finds this very disconcerting. I'm finding myself scrambling for the guilt and angst that have been my environment for the past only God knows how many years. True rest eludes me as my mind casts itself back and forth seeking its old companions. I know that I'm doing vastly better than ever before -I'm feeling better, doing more, and in general more comfortable with myself as an autonomous individual. I know all this, but I'm heaving and gasping like a flatlander in the Alps. I've breathed the air of guilt and insufficiency for so long that don't know what to do now that I'm breathing purer air. That's really what it feels like. I know that everything is going well and that I should be resting and enjoying my labors, but I feel so restless. Allen says I'm learning new habits and won't feel so lost for long, but I never expected that getting better would feel like wandering over some unmarked border where suddenly everyone speaks a different language. It's rather disconcerting.

December 5, 2009

Pear, Mascarpone, and Almond Tart

I tried a new recipe out tonight and ended up surprising myself. I usually don't go in for anything too gourmet, but even though this made up quite easily it felt fancy and somewhat decadent. As usual I went hunting for recipes and then adapting one to suit my own ideas.

This recipe is adapted from one at

First, you'll need a baked nine inch pie crust in a tart pan (or I used a steep sided pie pan.

For your filling you'll need the following:

2 pears peeled, cored, and sliced
white wine for poaching (I used some Riesling I had on hand)
1/3c brown sugar/succanat
1t nutmeg
1t cinnamon
2/3c mascarpone
1/4c white sugar (I used zylitol)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3T milk or cream
1 1/2T almond paste
slivered almonds

The original recipe called for canned pears, but I used fresh and poached them in a mixture of white wine, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. I used just enough wine to almost cover the pears. Once the pears were tender I removed them from the liquid and reduced the liquid to about half a cup -by which time the liquid resembled a dark caramel. (Warning, the boiling wine smelled pretty foul to me until I added the cinnamon and reduced the liquid. Afterwards it tasted great so don't get scared if it smells weird.)
While the liquid is reducing mix together the remaining ingredients in a food processor.

Here is one place where you might want to play around. I ended up arranging the pears in the bottom on the pie pan, pouring the sugar mixture on top, and pouring the custard mixture over all. You could also put the pears on top. I don't think it really matters that much. Either way reserve a tablespoon or two of the liquid because if you pour it on top of the custard you can swirl it around with a fork or a toothpick, and it looks really pretty. Last of all sprinkle some slivered almonds over the top and bake in an oven at 325 for 30 minutes or until the custard is set. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

This is hands down the prettiest dessert I've ever made. The custard turns a lovely golden color and the sugars caramelize into interesting little swirls. I was worried about the almonds on the top burning, but they ended up adding a lovely punctuation mark to the whole presentation. I think it's also going to be a fun dessert to play around with. There's proportions to play with for one, but I could also change up the flavors (Lemon zest? Red wine? Pecans?) and presentation (different designs and layering methods). For being fairly rich (all that mascarpone) this tart doesn't feel at all heavy like a cheesecake or some pudding desserts. If you accept my usual caveat that I rarely measure and these amounts are generally estimates I think it's worth a shot.

December 1, 2009

internet resolutions

Resolved: to stop reading web articles that don't interest me. Far better to put on a timer and just stop and read my book for half an hour than to read things that A. are mere repetitions of things with which I already agree and aren't instructional or edifying or B. lots of words winding down from faulty premises to an unenlightening conclusion. If I want to scroll for information after supper that's fine. There's no reason for me to be wasting my day in this manner. Also, with counseling and such I have plenty of advice and matter for contemplation without worrying about what some person with at least partially ill-conceived ideas has to say about matters of marginal interest.

Now, back to some matters of real worth.

November 30, 2009

and right into advent

We appear to have slid ride down the Thanksgiving Day slide only to land in the ball pit of Advent. There's no reprieve this year from all the festive food slinging -no week to spend stretching your belts and digging out your loose fitting pants. It's a turkey sandwich in one hand and gingerbread men in the other. Merciful heavens I don't know how exactly this is going to work. I spend so much time getting ready for Thanksgiving, and now I'm already behind on Christmas. It feels that way anyway. So instead of spending a leisurely day tomorrow running the laundry and in general recovering from the Thanksgiving rush I'm going to be rearranging my living room so that we can go get a tree to put up Tuesday. Since I also wanted to have my new bookcase put together by Christmas I'm going to be clearing out room in the living room tomorrow so that when we come home tomorrow with our Christmas tree we can start on that. SO! This week I'm going to put together a bookcase, decorate my Christmas tree, clean up the apartment, finish shopping for Christmas presents, and try to do at least one Christmas-y thing for myself. Oof. I need a nap.

November 25, 2009

More thoughts before the Feast

This is the part where things start to get sad. Looking on Facebook I see my old pastor "incandescently happy" to have his daughter home to Thanksgiving; I see my younger sister updating her profile as she leaves college herself and then arrives at home, and it hurts. It hurts because I don't know what it means for my dad to love me that much. It hurts because no one is at home waiting for their daughter to come and complete the circle -at least if they are they haven't said anything about it to me. There's a lot of heartache there. And when I mention my old pastor I don't mean to say that I think he's a perfect dad or that my life would have been materially better if I'd been born into a different family. For all their flaws I love my parents a lot. I just know that there's a dad out there on Facebook with the biggest grin I've ever seen on his face just because his daughter came home, and I wish that was me and my dad. This is the part of Thanksgiving that hurts. This is where are the old war wounds start aching and twinging in the sweeping east wind of love seen from afar.

thoughts before the feast

In many ways this upcoming Thanksgiving feels so momentous. It's my first turkey and my first major holiday away from family. It's the first Thanksgiving I've planned and honestly one of the first camping trips I've planned without some major emotional hijinks. I'm starting to enjoy being Natalie -to lose some of the guilt and get back in touch with my desires. It's the night before we leave, and I'm not running around worrying about the unswept floor or the laundry yet to be stowed away. Most of my meal prep is done. I didn't leave a huge pile of dishes in my wake. Allen's pleased, and it looks like the turkey will just fit inside my dutch oven. The vegetables might get the ultra-traditional cooked in an aluminum foil pouch treatment, but but I think it's all going to come together. And no one is crying, yelling, or forcibly losing hair. It's a nice feeling. Tomorrow I'm going to pull together our clothes and personal sundries, prep the turkey, pack the ice chests and freezer bags, and head out to pick up Allen from work before wandering off into the hills. This is probably the least stressed I've been about any trip I've taken this year. Of course this is still the night before. We'll see when I wake up tomorrow morning. Still, I can remember feeling absolutely sick to my stomach the night before a trip from massive amounts of guilt and worry. Yes, and I still wanted to go camping. "The mountains are calling" is a pretty powerful motivator. By God's grace though I've been able to see through much of that guilt and frustration to the larger issues beyond, which has allowed me to reconnect with what's really important. Planning for this Thanksgiving has been so much fun (after the initial bout of homesickness and frustration) because I'm seeing just how far I've come in the past few months. When I look back on the first year Allen and I were married I can't believe just how much of me was buried in a swirling pool of pain, hurt, and denied longing. Sometimes I feel as though I'm only just now waking up after a long hibernation. So like any old bear crawling out of her cave I'm going to wander around in the woods and each a bunch of food.

November 22, 2009

10 reasons I love smoothies

Here are my top reasons why smoothies are great.

1. Strawberries
2. Blueberries
3. Pineapple
4. Blackberries
5. Bananas
6. Cherries
7. Raspberries
8. Mango
9. Honeydew melon
10. Papaya

Of the fruits on that list there isn't one of them that I ate regularly before I started drinking smoothies once a day. The odd apple was pretty much all the fruit I ate on even a semi-regular basis. Now on any given day I'm getting in multiple servings of fruit, and during any given week I'm eating eight to eleven different fruits along with kefir, orange juice, carrot juice, and powdered greens. It's a meal that's never boring, always surprising, and endlessly fulfilling. It's like your best relationships in a glass :D

creating beauty - resting in beauty

Homemaking is finally, slowly starting to make sense to me. It's not just about getting things done. The list is as important as you make it. No one will die if you don't make the bed or dust the china cabinet. I've heard people say that we should think of housework as a blessing we bestow on others, but I think there's more to it than that. I think housework makes room for blessings. Even more so I think it creates opportunities for rest. Making the bed or scrubbing the sink is work. It can be redeemed work, but it's really work. Walking into your clean kitchen to make bread or pies or breakfast pancakes can be rest, recreation, and hospitality all in one. The clean counters make way for restful occupation.

I think this explains something that has puzzled me about my childhood home. Growing up in that home was at times a confusing and traumatic experience, and yet I experienced moments of great peace and rest while there. I think of the sun shining through my bedroom window, the smell of pancakes and coffee in the morning, the sooty metallic scent of the wood burning stove, and the gleam of hardwood floors in the sun's slanting rays. All those memories involved work -often my work at that. Cleaning and polishing the wood floors, washing dishes, carting armloads of wood up the deck stairs. We went to effort and we basked in the results -shining floors, good smells, and warming fires. This puzzled me though because I very rarely saw my mom content and resting from her work, or perhaps I should say that I very rarely saw her resting to enjoy her work. For that reason I think I saw the good results of work and exulted in them without understand why or how they came about and how I should be enjoying them. Now, it's starting to make more sense to me. I hang curtains in the living room (well actually Allen did), and then I sit back to enjoy the soft, frosty colored light filtering through their white lengths. I clean the kitchen so that I can enjoy the rest and joy of mixing up pies for Thanksgiving. It's not work before you play because work is intrinsically more valuable, it's work before you play because rest is more important and therefore requires more preparation.

I think that's the secret.

November 20, 2009

satisfactory resolution

Yesterday I had the curtains of doom, and today I had the phone call of despair. Fortunately both situations resolved themselves, but I had a good little time of it until they did. First, the curtains of doom. A while back I bought some lovely cream colored gauzy material to make sheers for the bedroom. Since we live on the ground floor with people walking by during the day it's can feel a bit exposed with the blinds open. It's also dark if you leave the blinds closed. Hence the sheers. Well I finally decided I was going to go ahead and get my bedroom curtains up. So first I sat down and very carefully trimmed the fuzzy edges off the selvage. Then I ran a line of fray check down the side just to make sure. Then I thought about how on earth I was going to get that gauzy stuff to lay flat and square for me to measure it out. Then I thought about trying to roll any sort of hem before the edges unraveled under my fingers. Fortunately I wanted my curtains to pool on the floor just a bit. You serious seamstresses may cringe here, but I plopped my fabric on the ironing board and eyeballed a strip of fusing right across it, trimmed the excess, turned the edge under, and ironed. I measured my length from the hem, ran another strip across to fasten the bottom of the sleeve, then measured again and ran another length across the top to turn the raw edge under. I trimmed and turned the top raw edge, ironed it down, then brought the turned edge down the fusing to make a sleeve. I ran off four panels this way before adjourning to my sewing machine to run a straight stitch down each of my "seams" to hold them in place. Normally I think the fusing would hold the fabric, but the weave on this stuff was so loose it wouldn't hold the fusing very well. Fairly straightforward to tell, but it took me at good 30min per curtain just to get all the ironing and trimming done. However, now I have nice, soft, full, draping sheers in my bedroom. They filter the light beautifully and are a soft, almost delicate counterbalance to all the sturdy wood furniture in there. I'm glad I went to the trouble, but I'm not so sure I would do it again in a hurry.

To my next bit of perplexity - I wrote a while back that Allen and I had made reservations up in redwood country for Thanksgiving weekend. Well today I got a phone call saying that California had decided to close that park for the season or something like that. I can't say I understand myself why they don't just raise their prices and/or run their parks more efficiently. I really don't believe that California's budget problems are due to someone leaving the faucet on at their local campground. Anyway, I got that call this morning. Hours of searching for a suitable campground for naught -and the week before Thanksgiving too when all the parks are either closed for the winter or bang full up with reservations. I was perturbed. To put it mildly. With a tent I'm a little less ambivalent about trying to get a site on busy weekends than I would be with an RV. At least with an RV you can always have pretty good odds of boondocking for the night if you can't get a site. It's harder to do that with a tent. Thank the Lord though when I was searching I came across a private campground in that same area that wasn't full, took reservations, and was close to all the areas we wanted to see. I had a bad hour or two of it wondering if we'd be scrapping our Thanksgiving plans, but it looks like we won't have to now. Thank the Lord.

November 16, 2009

language: a means of miscommunication

Did a bit of link hopping early today and came upon a list of Groucho Marx quotes translated for the environmentally inclined which I very much hope were intended as a joke for the more humorous members of that community. Alas, I'm afraid they were serious. When you study homo-eroticism in Victorian literature every fop is a queer. When you're convinced the sky is falling every comedian is a planet prophet. I guess. Anyway I thought I'd have some fun with their quotes.

1. "A four-year-old child could understand this report. (pause) Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can't make head or tail of it."

Decoded: The cause and effect of our current eco-crisis is simple but all the bureaucracy and subterfuge swirling around it makes it confusing and disempowering. Maintain a beginner's mind.

Grouch couldn't possibly have been creating humor by taking an idiomatic statement seriously. Nope, he's asserting that discovering apparent subtlety in an issue is "disempowering" and we should endeavor to bring the same child-like self-absorption and indifference we see in classrooms world-wide to bear on our environmental challenges. Side note: if weather and ecology were so simple I think we'd have much fewer consternation about hunting and endangered species. We could just establish safe minimum numbers for all species and have at it. Also, your picnic would never ever be rained out unexpectedly. You know, because this is all so "simple."

2. "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."

Decoded: Firstly of course, he wasn't talking about Planet Green's TV shows. But his point is well-taken. The average American spends 145 hours a month watching television and the net result is a nation mostly unwilling to do the hard work to create social change.

I suppose that to Groucho's apparently intelligent mind television would have little appeal. I would, however, submit that reading a book is rather different from guerrilla gardening or writing indignant letters to Archer Daniels Midland - particularly if it's book written by some right wing nut job intent on drilling oil wells in Alaska. But Groucho didn't mean those kinds of book. Just like he thoughtfully excluded your improving tv shows.

3. "Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms."

Decoded: A not-so-subtle reminder that the U.S. Department of Defense is the planet's worst polluter and biggest gas guzzler.

Yes, because some guy perched on a roof with binoculars and a walkie talkie has a HUGE carbon footprint. Must be the pork rinds he's eating. They'll give him away some day if he doesn't watch out. You can get dna evidence off anything these days.

4. "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

Decoded: Smells like greenwashing to me.

Ok, so it's sort of hard to really misapply that quote.

5. "A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running."

Decoded: The time is long overdue for America to adopt a single payer-style of health care and for each of us to take responsibility for our own health by making greener choices.

A government run taxi paid for by government employees with government issued money is much less expensive because when you run out of money you can just print more. Never mind that children are getting blocks of money for Christmas to use as building blocks because it's cheaper than an apple in the toe of your stocking. Please also note the irony of getting something you're not paying for (my taxes only go to support orphaned whales) as a means of inducing responsibility. We all know that children showered with toys take better care of them than children who carefully hoard pennies and do extra errands to get that new Spider-man action figure.

6. "I could dance till the cows come home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the cows till you come home."

Decoded: The only human with whom a cow would tango is a vegan.

Actually, you're just ugly and step on my feet a lot.

7. "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies."

Decoded: Two words: Clean coal.

They've got a point here, but they could also make the same argument about the Federal Reserve, the War on Terror, and No Child Left Behind. Actually, most any bill or committee you threw this at would stick. Not a fan of coal myself.

8. "Florida, land of perpetual sunshine. Let's get the auction started before we have a tornado."

Decoded: An eerie preview of today's climate change-created monster storms.

Couldn't possibly have anything to do with the Disney World brochures that fail to tell you about the afternoon thundershowers that sweep through nearly every summer afternoon. Groucho, making fun of marketing schemes? Never. (Ok, so you could convince me that this is eerily apt.)

Disclaimer: this is not to say that I am unsympathetic to conservationists and those who seek to use resources wisely and with due consideration for those who will come after us. I love clean water, clean air, fertile soil, and good food. I also enjoy people who use really bad logic to assure us that we don't have to laugh at humor -far better to use those valuable carbon emissions in deconstruction.

November 14, 2009

Pie in a jar

Oh my stars and garters have you seen pie in a jar? Trina linked to the post at Our Best Bites that explains (in mouthwatering color) just how to make these darlings. I was wondering what would be the best way to make and freeze individual pies to take camping with us at Thanksgiving, and this is a perfect solution. Now I just have to find some jars. I'm thinking pecan and apple for sure -maybe some pumpkin pie too? Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This is going to be great.

November 13, 2009

No turning back -I've already ordered the turkey

Looks like we really are going to go camping for Thanksgiving. We had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with the "remnant" hosted by some folks from our church, but we decided that we wanted to head out. I suppose that (for me at least) despite the griping about being uprooted and away from family I'm curious to see what happens when it's just Allen and I on Thanksgiving making our own traditions and finding our own meaning in the celebration. So we're heading for the hills again, although our plans actually took a left turn. We were thinking about driving out to King's Canyon/Sequoia National Park, but that's just way too much park for us to have a relaxing trip. Perhaps I should say it would be too much park if it was open. I'm not sure about making our first trip out there when A. a significant park of the park is closed, and B. they're saying to pack your sleeping bags and extra food in your car in case it snows and you're snowed in for a while! That would be just a little too much fun for us. Instead, I discovered a campground close to redwood country that even has HOT SHOWERS! That is going to be nice after a few days living in our smartwool socks and polypro base layer. The place itself looks nice enough to stroll through while ruminating over turkey and dressing, and it's also close enough that we can take side trips to Humboldt and Sinkyone if we like. The drive back will also give a chance to explore a section of CA-1 we haven't yet encountered. All in all I think it's a great way for us to visit a corner of Northern Cali without feeling rushed off our feet.

Thanksgiving itself is another matter :D I've decided to be just a tad ambitious for our little sojourn among the big trees. Here's the menu thus far:

Roast Turkey ala Byron's Dutch Oven Recipes with root vegetables
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Salad
Cornbread Dressing
Turkey Gravy
and Miniature Pecan Pies
Wine or Spiced Cider to drink

I might add bread if I get around to it.

Sounds like a lot for cooking outdoors, but I already have a 12in dutch oven I can use to cook the turkey and root vegetables. Whole Foods lets you order petite turkeys ahead of time which means I'll be able to get one small enough to fit in my oven. I can prep the veggies before we go and have them ready to add. Ditto for the basting. Sweet potatoes I'll wrap in foil and cook alongside my oven. The cornbread dressing I'll make ahead of time and freeze in muffin tins, so I can bring (and heat) only what we'll actually eat at one time. Since I only have one oven I plan on improvising a smaller oven with some cheap aluminum pie pans. It's easier to do than to explain. Basically you put your food in one pan and turn the other one over on top of it like a lid. To the top pan you've attached a third pan (bottom to bottom) so that you now have a bowl on top in which to put your hot coals. All you need in a drill, screw, nut, and washer. Anyway, I'll warm the dressing up in that (and maybe the bread if I decide to add it), and once the dressing comes out I'll put my mini pies in there to bake and/or warm. I plan to do the pies like the dressing and freeze them in muffin tins and then heat them by putting the muffin tin (probably have to cut part of it out) in my improv dutch oven to warm while we eat. As for the gravy, I'll probably just put the turkey and vegetables on a cutting board covered with foil and mix up the gravy in the bottom of my dutch oven. Sounds about doable I think. The rest of the trip I'm mostly planning on us reusing the leftover turkey either with rice and veggies or over bakes potatoes with salad -maybe I'll throw in some baked apples or such. Now if only it won't rain.

Well, those are our plans.

November 9, 2009

arguments against wedding do overs

Yeah, I'm realizing it's a very good thing I didn't get to fully exercise my fancy at my wedding. You think it was bad that the ac blew out at the reception, but at least you didn't have to deal with 500 Scotsmen...err make that Scotsmen singing "500 Miles" because yes I would have. And that's not all I would have either.

"Havering" is apparently an old Scots word for talking piffle; piffle is an English word for blarney, and blarney is an Irish word for nonsense. Nonsense is a American word that describes my thought processes while constructing the above sentence.

tiny bits of longing

There aren't many good ways to say it. I desperately want a home. I'm getting tired of lodging places. Last year it just about worked. I remember calling Allen up and telling him that little nonsensical me had decided that our little apartment appropriate artificial Christmas tree just wasn't enough. I wanted a proper tree - a real live Christmas tree to stand in the corner of the living room and scratch up my arms while I wound the lights around it and greet me again and again with its festive breath. And Allen said why not. So I heaped up evergreen branches on the mantle and strung all my lights and for a time was blissfully happy in the beauty I had called forth. Even then I wanted a proper house, but it's no hard job being content with that beautiful tree in the corner. Thanksgiving too went well. There was family gathered around, and even if the traditions weren't my traditions they were family traditions nonetheless and enjoyable for their own sake. This year...we aren't flying home for Thanksgiving because it'd be rather spendthrift of us to fly out for Thanksgiving and then fly out again three weeks later. So we're going to be here. Since there's not really anyone here we'd feel comfortable sharing Thanksgiving with it looks like we're on our own. Probably going to pack up our gear and head for the hills again. Thanksgiving dinner will be produced from my dutch oven and not Grandmom's kitchen, but I don't know that there's any help for it. As I indicated though, we are flying home for Christmas. Even though we'll be at home for Christmas there are other problems. If we're going to be gone for roughly two weeks I can't very well put up a live tree in my living room that needs to be watered every few days. If I'm only going to be there two-ish weeks (and over Christmas and New Years to boot) I'm going to be hard pressed to reconnect with all the people I miss. And this doesn't even account for the cheese balls, gingerbread, cider, and hot buttered rum that have become part of our (Allen and I) own traditions. Leave them here? Take them with us? If so how? I see a lot of difficult questions ahead without a lot of really satisfactory answers. There's no other way to say it. I want a home with large windows to let the sunlight in and a corner to put my great big Christmas tree in and plenty of rooms to house those children we don't have yet. I want it close enough to family that I can drive over and see them for Thanksgiving. I want to be back among my own people who know me and love me. This is my third move in as many years of marriage and my forth move in four years -five if count our month of temp housing. I'm ready to have roots again. I suppose a lot of people are. I wonder if I will be one of the lucky ones.

November 5, 2009

taking the lazy river of indecision

Yesterday the counselor said I need to start basically being more conscious about how I live my day ie not letting facebook happen all day but deciding what I want to be doing at any particular moment. Result? It's a quarter after one, and I've only had a small piece of cheese to eat. And yes I'm hungry. MAKING DECISIONS IS CRAZY SCARY CRAP! Even though he told me I could decide to do whatever I wanted to do I had to actually decide. If I was on FB I needed to decide to be on FB for half and hour or something and then make a new decision after that time was up (even if I decided to stay on FB). Somehow that added up to me not even being able to decide to get something to eat. Yeah. Paralyzed of making wrong decisions? Even when there aren't supposes to be any wrong decisions? YES!!! My problem is that I don't want to decide to do dumb stuff like read on-line comics for hours at a time. I want to decide to do good stuff -like scrub the entire apartment :D But I don't want to scrub the apartment. I want to make a (very belated) smoothie and work on my bedroom. And yet because that means deciding not to worry about the dishes that need doing and the laundry that needs folding and the bathroom that needs scrubbing I find myself unable to decide to do anything. And since I'm not doing anything I might as well read internet comics while I'm just sitting here. Yeah, come live inside this head for a while. You'd be a bit kooky too ;)

Ok, enough ranting. I'm going to give this at least one shot today. The counselor said this was going to be pretty emotionally exhausting, and I think I believe him. I already warned Allen that emotional exhaustion was probably going to translate into frozen food from Trader Joe's.

Ok, for real, going to get up and do something. I think. Damn, this is scary. And it looks so easy when other people do it.

things that no longer send me into hysterics

I admit that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get all excited about gay marriage and all the various arguments Christians put up against it. I've become convinced that one man one woman no longer cuts any ice as an argument since it pretty completely misses the point. To a certain extent marriage conventions are arbitrary -there is no "obviously" right way to do marriage (or sex or romantic love for that matter). To my limited knowledge we've had polygamy, hetero plus homoerotic relationships on the side, convenient marriages with mistresses on the side, polyandry, and now a huge battle over whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to make the same spectacular failure of marriage as all us clean cut, church going heteros. At this point I should probably clarify that when I say "arbitrary" I mean something that's not readily apparent to fallen man. It's not like saying that walking off cliffs is unmistakable bad for humans. So long as enough men and women are getting together to produce enough children to keep medicare from going under what do we care what all the other folks are doing?

I've come to the conclusion that I am against gay marriage for the very same reason that many other people are for it. To the secular mind (secularists correct me if I am wrong) marriage is a commitment made between two people who love each other and wish to solemnize their love in front of witnesses. It is the ultimate form of exclusivity and a proclamation to each other and to the world that this person is hereafter dearest above all to one's self -to be considered, cherished, and enjoyed above all other relationships. Women also like wearing pretty dresses and having a big to do :D I highly advocate all the above, but a Christian marriage adds something more. Beyond any other consideration a Christian marriage depicts Christ's relationship with His bride the Church. Christ (masculine) is betrothed to the Church (feminine). Christ is not betrothed to Himself, and the Church is not betrothed to herself. The secular mind sees nothing in the definition of marriage that cannot be extended to same sex couples, while I see everything. It's not about one man and one woman or two hens and and guinea pig. It's about Christ and His Bride, and because it's about Christ and His Bride it's also about masculine and feminine. And that's why I can't get too excited when people start blathering on about gay marriage. If Christians start showing the world what marriage is (and painting with God's brushes and not just whatever they had on sale at SaveMart) then I believe gay marriage will fade away in light of God's covenant awesomeness. If, on the other hand, we refuse to live together in light of Christ and His Church, then all the referendums, sign waving, and illogical babbling won't stop it.

I'm still going to vote, argue, believe that homosexual relationships aren't God's plan for the world, but I'm going to be a little less hysterical and a little more compassionate when I encounter my unsaved counterparts. I'm going to try and wave signs less and live a little harder in the Gospel. I don't plan on being ignored, but I admit I'd rather be known for my love of God than my propensity to stand about on street corners.

October 29, 2009

hadn't thought of this

I might have to rethink my frozen fruit smoothie habit -either that or turn on the heater. Brrr. I keep forgetting that you can actually get cold in California.

October 27, 2009

because life is good

You know one thing that makes me feel competent? Homemade biscuits! To me biscuits symbolize pretty much everything awesome about home life. There's winter sunshine streaming in through the windows, the sooty, metallic scent of the wood stove, soft doggy paws clicking over the floor, and fresh out of the oven biscuits with their hot flaky insides just waiting. Any pan where I didn't burn my mouth (and my fingers) on their moments from the oven goodness I just wasn't paying attention. There is nothing to compare. I know I'd had a few things to say about my home life on this blog, but those mornings will always remain for me a delightful memory.

Anyway, this evening Allen and I were having breakfast for supper -sausage, scrambled eggs, cooked apples, and perfectly flaky biscuits with golden brown crusts. While we were eating I was thinking that this is what I want to do when I'm old and (Lord willing) have grandkids. I want to invite folks over for weekends and holidays and sit in my kitchen eating hot biscuits with butter while outside the wind stirs the bare branches and inside a wood fire crackles and glows. Then, while the kids play cards or run in out and out of doors we adults will sit there with our coffee and cider discussing the good things in life. Maybe later we'll go for a walk or play in the leaves with kids. It's a good dream I think.

October 25, 2009

Out and about

Took our bikes off to the library today and came home with panniers full. Kind of interesting when you go run your errands on a bike. Walked out of the store with this huge duffle bag we bought to replace the one we lost around Moab and for a moment we weren't sure if we could get both it and the library books home. However, bike bungie cord cargo rack doohicky to the rescue! Got all the books, the duffle bag (yuppy plaid, but hey it's what they had), cookies, the water bottles, and tomorrow's sausage home all in one piece.

October 23, 2009

odd evolution of a new pasta sauce

Sometimes I just have to wonder at myself. I was going to make one of those dead easy one skillet pasta and hamburger meals. However, after I had my onion, hamburger, spinach, and tomato sauce in the pan and was contemplating whether or not I had room for the pasta to cook in the skillet instinct took over, and I started mixing in milk, wine, cheese, and basil. Welcome to the world new pasta sauce. For being an accident it actually compares quite favorably to the bolognese recipe I've been using.

The recipe is amazingly simple:

2 cans tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce (will use crushed or dice tomatoes next time)
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 med onions
1 package frozen spinach
1 bunch basil minced
approx 1c red wine
approx 1c milk
1c shredded mozzarella
salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper to taste.

Just simmer together until all the flavors are developed and onion is translucent.

October 20, 2009

grief apart

Recently found out the fiancee of someone in Allen's programming circle has been hospitalized with (as I heard it) pretty much zero hope of ever leaving it. He told Allen that they were getting married this evening. It's one of those situations where you don't know what to do and it feels like every possible course of action is wrong. We're planning to get them a wedding gift as soon as we can figure out what to get them. A nice vase or some crystal candle sticks seems pretty silly and useless when you know the marriage is going to be all too short, but giving them a new mixer just emphasizes the disparity between what is and what they wanted. It really doesn't help any that they're atheists. Death and hope in the face of death are pretty hard subjects for Christians and atheists to grapple with over a hospital bed. All the old sticks about love being eternal ring pretty hollow when you're talking about people who don't believe in God or heaven. I'm really trying hard not to think about the alternatives here. It's kind of ripping me up inside that there are two people who love each other and are standing by each other through one of them more horrific things two lovers can experience, and I'm over here praying desperately "Lord, have mercy." I truly believe that love is the ultimate defiance of death because love is the only thing is this miserable, fallen love that's large enough to reach eternity. As the Bible says, "and the greatest of these is love." "Love never fails." Love existed before creation, and it will exist after this heaven and earth have faded away. To Christians going through pain this can be a comfort. I know for a certainty that if either Allen or I died tomorrow we would be with each other again. Can't say that either of us would really feel like living through that reality, but it would still be real. Atheists don't know this. It's not the way their world works. When you give up the sacrifice at the cross you give up its hope too. I wish God would look into this couple's lives and make the pain stop. I wish God would "prove" Himself, but the fact of the matter is that the Bible says He already has. God gets to decide what constitutes evidence -not us. I can't say I blame Him either. Jesus said that people who didn't understand Jesus and His mission from the Law and Prophets wouldn't believe even if someone where raised from the dead. Well you had Lazarus, and you had Jesus. These events didn't take place in some little backwater town where no one knew what was going on either. Here you have Jesus and Lazarus walking around talking to people and people who should have known still didn't believe. We ask God to prove Himself and forget how many times He already has proven Himself to a people intent on going their own way. This includes me. The reality of God is sitting there in front of us, and we can't even see it. Our lives are filled with pain. With defiant eyes we raise our futile hands to the sky and condemn the Maker we hate for not giving us parents that loved us or life instead of sickness. The only difference between me and the rest of them is that I'm searching for, waiting for the God who loves me not just enough to die for me but to put up with my sloppiness, my temper, and my inattention. And I desperately wish I could give hope to people going through these kinds of situations. How do you give hope, though, to someone saying "God, if you're real, you can make it stop, and if you could make it stop but you don't then you're no kind of God at all." I don't know what to say. I've asked time and again "God, why does it have to hurt so much?" I still don't have an answer, but I do have hope that one day I'll be beyond all this hurt and sorrow.

So enough with all this rambling. What am I going to do? Well someone closer to this couple has offered to get some information for us about suitable wedding gifts, and I'm going to pray really hard that God has mercy. It's the only damn hope any of us have.

October 17, 2009

Some lists re camping (edit Oct 19th)

Ok, here are some camping lists. I need a place to put them, and this will do as well as anything.

Backpacking -a tentative list:

Tent: two options here A. rent from REI then buy -primary candidates being either a Eureka Pinnacle 2 (advantages: $100-150 less and more durable) or the Tarptent Squall 2 (fully 2lbs less but less more expensive and less durable) B. given price and return policy buy something like the Eureka Pinnacle -saving the money both on rental and a Tarptent and put the money into other gear.

Bags: TNF Cat's Meow 20 degree (5lb combined). Given time, budget, and opportunity might do something like make/buy a 40 degree double wide quilt. This will give us a low weight summer bag that we can layer over our 20 degree bags if we're sleeping in very cold conditions. (est. 1-1 1/2lbs for a summer quilt + $100-150)

Pads: BA Insulated Aircore -supplement with emergency blanket and/or thin close cell foam pad as needed (3lb combined)

Packs: Two plans, A. rent from REI and buy later, B. depending on price and return policy buy packs from REI. Either way try to find low weight packs (ie Granite Gear)


(Moving) Base layer, fleece, wind shirt, nylon pants, socks (wool+liner), hat, gloves w/ liners
(Camp) lightweight flannel/wool shirt, pants, and socks for sleeping. May be layered into day wear if needed.

(Moving) wicking shirt/pants, socks (2 liners/liner+hiker), wind shirt, broad hat
(Camp) lightweight shirt/pants + flip flops if needed

Personal Kit:

Toothbrush/toothpaste, hand san, wipes and/or tp, sunblock, deo, Bonners soap, lotion, tea tree oil, fem hygiene as needed, lip balm, lotion, trash bag, trowel, comb, hair band, bandanna -items repackaged and shared as needed/practical

Smaller Band-aids (4-6), gauze roll, med tape, butterfly bandage (2-3), Rescue Remedy, activated charcoal (~12), Advil (1-2 indiv packs), calendula, arnica, tweezers, nail clippers, silver shield, stomach comfort (~6), astringent herb (need to look this up)

Safety/repair -
Whistle, emergency blanket, water filter, compass/map (learn how to use), duct tape, needle/thread, id, safety pins

Kitchen kit: Probably will only use for hot drinks/cereal.
Esbit stove and tablets
2 mugs
pot w/ lid
outsak/food sack
cord and carabiner
trash sack
(use bandannas as pot lifters and mug insulators)

Meal ideas:

Breakfast - oatmeal/rice with dried fruit and cinnamon/sugar + turkey jerky
Snacks - chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels
Lunch - PB on pita (me), (Allen?)
Supper - sandwiches + hot drink (winter) + desert (ie cookies)

Luxury items -
Cards, DSi, camera, frisbee, book

Misc for car camping/winter playing:
Cheap down coat for Yosemite in the winter?
Pie Iron for breakfast fun?
Non-cotton clothing (because cot won't dry very easily when went)

Need/want to acquire:

Marmot Ion wind shirt
Buff multi-configurable hat (they're pretty cool)
lighter tent (rent or check Campmor)
non-cotton shirt and pants for Allen and I (check for bargains)
Ebit stove (should be able to make one)
mugs for cooking/drinking

What am I going to do with all of this?

Backpack at Point Reyes National Seashore,
Go snowshoeing (and maybe learn to cross country ski) at Yosemite,
Hike around Henry Coe State Park,
Cook Thanksgiving Dinner among the Ponderosas,
and someday I'm going to watch the early sun splashing over the Sierra Nevada range with cup of hot tea in my hand and my pack on my back.

Oh a camping we will go....

I have been something of a gear head this past week as Allen and I gear up for camping season. Yeah, I know. That was summer. However, since it's pretty hard to camp here without a reservation (and reservations are snapped up months in advance through the summer months) I've been looking forward to winter for a while. Just now we've got a trip to Yosemite in the offing and another one that's still somewhat tentative but probably to King's Canyon down near Mt Whitney. The other thing I'm looking forward to is the snow. Even though this area isn't exactly known for it's snow there's plenty of it up around Yosemite, and I find that I suddenly have a passionate desire to go snowshoeing through it's beautiful forests. They even have full moon snowshoe hikes there. I told Allen, that's it we're going. I really thing we're going to have a blast this winter.

That's not all though! Once we get some gear together and find a time we're going to try some backpacking. It's something I've been interested in trying, and Allen says he's game for it. We just have to get our gear together now and find a time and place. That's probably not going to be until maybe January sometime though. Still, some exciting times coming up for us.

October 16, 2009

Equal in skincare

I just thought of something kind of funny. Think how the majority of people today seem to buy into all this "equality" rhetoric and then look at all the products marketed just for "a woman's skin" or "your unique needs." Now I think real equality is a completely silly idea, but if you look in my bathroom you'll see that Allen and I pretty much use the same shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and (occasionally) lotion. Silly? Yes. Funny? I think so.

October 15, 2009

stuffed feelings don't shout in your face

The past few weeks have really been a time of very intense processing for me. I've realized that in the past I've had trouble voicing my feelings, desires, and hurts. So many times when I thought I was expressing my feelings (like on this blog) I was either making intellectual statements (ie "I think") or making excuses for other people (ie "they didn't realize"). So rarely do I ever say simply "this hurts." If you put a huge pile of guilt and perfectionism on top of that you sort of have my everyday life. Pretty exhausting. And it plays out in the strangest ways. For instance, lately I've been thinking it would be all kinds of fun to try backpacking for a few nights. Allen says he's up for it, so away I go researching lightweight sleeping pads, wind/rain shells, water filtration systems..... the whole kit and caboodle. At first it's fun. "Hey look, REI has their BA insulated air core pads on sale right now -let's sit down and have a talk about how we see ourselves camping in the future." In a way research kind of appeals to me. But then I find myself spending five or more hours a day (yes I said a day) trying to find the perfect wind/rain jacket that's breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, etc. I need to get this right. Things will be very wrong if I don't get this right. Because of various influences I can be highly tempted to point of being absolutely compelled to sit down at the computer and painstakingly research water filters or vacation destinations while dishes and laundry pile up around me. By the time I tear myself away I'm stuck feeling lethargic and guilty with a huge pile of work that I am now mentally ill-quipped to handle. It's no fun. And now that I'm trying to express my feelings and really work though some of this junk I feel sort of like a roller coaster that's lost it's brakes. For instance, I often feel very apologetic about stuff like having a bad day or wanting to do something, and I hate feeling the need to compulsively apologize for stupid things. I really, really hate it. Lately I've found myself apologizing for stupid things and then feeling resentful about it. And if my counselor is right about anger often masking unhealed wounds then I' guessing this will only stop once we've gotten to the festering, bleeding core of things. I thought I had gotten the anger out of my system a long time ago, and here it is coming back. It's like picking at a scab that won't quite heal. I don't like feeling this way. Of course this is where my counselor would be asking "feeling what way?" Anger and resentment are pretty ugly emotions. I suppose I would say that I don't want to be feeling my feelings. And then we get back to where I was when I started going to counseling. It seems like I have to feel the feelings to get through all this and become the stronger Natalie that I hope to be one day. It's just that this stretch of the road is kind of bumpy right now.

October 6, 2009

Happy birthday to me

More later - Allen is just back with the candles, and it's now birthday cake time!

September 29, 2009

fruit of affliction

Lately I've been doing a bit of thinking about seasons of life, identity, purpose, what it actually means to live with an intentionality that deals confidently and compassionately with the past. Just today I discovered two posts on Femina very much to those points - one on affliction and the other on fruitfulness. I don't know that the good women over at Femina meant those posts to be complementary, but I believe they are. I know for myself that the particularly twists and turns of my own afflictions have made me doubt whether or not I'll ever really be the fruitful person I'd like to be. The phrase, "pensive, doubting, fearful heart," applies pretty well most days. I suppose because it's the nature of children (and indeed most everyone) to be egoists I'm more inclined to look at the various hurts and troubles I've been through and wonder "what did I do wrong to deserve this?" or "surely I must be a terrible, incompetent person to deserve this" instead inquiring of myself and God what should I be learning through all this? Along those lines Nancy Wilson writes:

The Bible has much to say about affliction in this life. God always uses such things to sanctify us, to conform us to the image of His Son, to teach us to follow Christ. It is good to be needy because we have a Savior who loves to bestow comfort in affliction, joy in suffering, and help for the helpless. If we never had need, would we have an idea of His matchless grace?

Afflictions are good for us because they are God’s schoolroom in which He teaches His children many things. Learn to listen and learn to be a good student in affliction. He does all things well. This is not an accident, but part of His good (though hard) Providence in your life. This is an opportunity for faith, without which we will not see the Lord.

Of course such a doctrine of affliction doesn't allow anyone to play the egoist. Maybe we earned the current affliction (ie the defaulting bank clerk) or maybe we didn't (ie an abused child), but either way affliction is something we should view from God's point of view and not own own. It's more a question of what God is doing in His kingdom and less of what we did or didn't do to earn our particular affliction. In some ways it's a hard doctrine and in other ways it's a freeing one. If you didn't earn it you can't even pretend to be in control of it. And yet if we really do believe the Gospel we must believe that suffering isn't arbitrary. It's always redeemed. Meaning that my issues with co-dependency and growing up with the kind of family I did is somehow part of God's ultimate plan to redeem creation. Yeah, I admit that I have no clue what part a couple of co-dependent parents and a few more or less messed up kids have to do with redeeming creation. Couldn't make up an explanation if I tried. Yet despite my own cluelessness I can't help but feel that if God is really in charge of this affliction then maybe it isn't such a crime to feel hurt. Maybe I don't have to shut down my heart and refuse to feel the pain since somehow, somewhere this pain that never quite goes away will be redeemed. It's not a wasted and wasteful emotion. By God's unfathomable grace it's part of my own redemption. That's very helpful to me because in the past I have more or less shut down in the face of pain. I've berated myself in private for wanting things to come out differently. Face it, if you expect a slap in the face, and you get a slap in the face at least you aren't disappointed. However, if you'd rather get a hug and know you might just get a cold shoulder and then get a slap in the face....well more fool you for wanting something you knew you weren't going to get. Way to pile up hurt and disappointment for yourself. So you stop wanting and you stop feeling. Every time you do that a little bit of you dies, but that's ok because at least you don't feel the hurts. At least it's ok until you get so numb that you'd rather feel anything than nothing.

As you might guess, under such circumstances it's pretty hard to be fruitful. When the Bible says "out of the overflow of his heart man speaks" I think it could also say that out of the overflow of man's heart he acts. Consider Jesus's remark that any man who harbors hatred in his heart is already guilty of murder. When you're feeling dead, dry, inadequate, and empty it's really hard to be fruitful no matter how much you might want to be. I know that for myself the fruitfulness comes in little fits and spurts -symbolic of my "pensive, doubting, fearful heart" I suppose. As I said, the connection between affliction and fruitfulness, suggested by the juxtaposition of the two latest posts at Femina, is in this case strictly from my own imagination. Whether or not they ordinarily go together I can't say. I can only speak from my own experience. And in my experience being told I couldn't cook for the longest time didn't exactly make my heart overflow with bounty once I got married and found myself having to cook. I remember I cooked spaghetti for our first meal together, and i was scared stiff. Of spaghetti my friends! Surely I had well and truly learned my own inadequacy. And this is where I found Rachel's post so encouraging. She pointed out that in the case of vines and bushes and fruit trees their fruitfulness isn't contingent on someone being there to appreciate the fruit. I don't normally block quote so much, but she puts it so well. Regarding fruitfulness Rachel says:

If you are like me, probably one of the first things you think of is Psalm 128 “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”

But the funny thing is that in this verse, the fruitful vine is not bearing children, she is bearing fruit. The children are all off her vine long ago, and are responsible for their own fruit bearing. She is just a heavy laden vine. My mom has always taught that fruitfulness is not equal to bearing children, and here is another example of that. The mere fact of having had children does not mean you are a fruitful person. That would be like the apple trees calling it off after their first year of bearing fruit.

Fruitfulness isn't contingent upon someone being there to applaud, appreciate, or make use of what we do. In that sense fruitfulness is wasteful and supremely unconcerned with other people's reactions. We do the best we can and then drop the fruit where it may. If other people can use the fruit great. If not we just go right on producing it. I find this refreshing because this attitude makes hash of my more utilitarian sensibilities. When I think about taking up writing (and not just blogging) for my own pleasure or learning a new instrument or making something extra for supper I keep finding good reasons why not -mostly because who would they really help besides myself. But if I'm seeing this picture of fruitfulness aright then developing one's talents and putting something a little extra into supper making are in themselves fruitful activities. It doesn't matter if the husband notices or if you ever find yourself pressed up to use your talents publicly. We produce the fruit and let God worry about the harvest. And this is so not how I grew up. I've been so afraid of looking stupid or failing or not being recognized for what I do that I've really been kind of scared to do anything. Contrarily this sort of fruitfulness seems to look to God and to itself for its only justification. That's very freeing. Not having to worry about what every one else thinks.

So I know this all has been very long and rambling, but what am I trying to say? Here it is in a nutshell (if you're skimming stop here). I think any sort of non-Biblical idea of affliction is likely to produce people who either don't know how or believe that they can't be fruitful people. It's hard to have a generous heart when you've tucked it down into the furtherest cranny of yourself so as not to feel it's wounded pulse. Case in point -as women its so easy to feel that without kids we are simply waiting somewhere between contentment and despair for our fruitfulness to begin. But no, God has called His people to affliction and to fruitfulness. They can only be contrary callings if we make then be.

September 27, 2009


There are things that were said that cannot be unsaid. Forgiveness can't supply the missing words. There are things that were done that cannot be undone. Reconciliation won't rewind those steps. There is pain that cripples because it believes itself to be a weakness instead of a wound. There are the things that may be forgiven but should never be ignored. Like I tried to do. I made excuses for the hurts because I was not sure the kindnesses would have been better. I did not know that there are things I didn't deserve not because of any aspect of my past or anyone else's past but because of my innate dignity as a person. Perhaps I shouldn't make the same excuses for people who hurt me that they made to deny hurting me.

Maybe, just finally, I'm learning to grow up with the me that is and not the me I wish there was.

September 25, 2009

getting out of hand

Looks like the camping obsession is getting out of hand. Yeah I don't know what I'm talking about either since we haven't been camping since we went to Yosemite over a month ago. But lately it seems like I can't get away from looking at camping gear and planning what gear to get next. I just ordered a couple of mummy bags to replace/upgrade the super huge two person sleeping bag we've been dragging around with in an effort to assemble gear that we could conceivably take on a one or two night backpacking trip. Anyway I was really excited to have found some good sleeping bags on sale. I had bought my gear for the month. Wasn't looking for more. Then I got an e-mail sale flyer from Campmor (same place I bought the sleeping bags). Now I've got just over two hundred dollars of gear in my wishlist -all on sale and all of it pretty basic essentials that I'm sure we'll want. And I'm out of mad money for the month. The annoying thing is that everything I have on my wishlist I can justify pretty easily. If we're going to be camping in the mountains this fall/winter we're probably going to want at least a warm bottom base layer and probably a water/windproof shell. Fleece jackets would be a good addition to all the cotton we've got in our wardrobes. AND DID I MENTION IT'S ALL ON SALE! Jeesh. /shakes head. Of course none of this includes getting a bike rack for our car, and since we've got a spare tire I'm afraid we won't be able to get by with a fifty dollar trunk rack. It is way too easy to spend money. Way too easy.

September 22, 2009

No I can't juggle or breath fire or pull coins out of your ears

How in heaven's name did "entertaining" come to describe the heart warming practice of a person/family inviting you and perhaps a few others over to enjoy a some combination of food, conversation, and possibly cards or a board game? Every time I hear someone say "but of course we love to entertain" my brain conjures up two rival images. One image consists of people shining, polishing, and otherwise gilding their home in the hopes of dazzling the less fortunate the elegance, creativity, and tasteful ostentation of their domestic life. In this sense "entertaining" is understood to refer to that sentiment which prompts people to pay enormous fees to walk around the elegantly furnished homes of people long since dead. At least in the former instance one may reasonably expect refreshment. The second image that comes to mind is that of guests sitting around in expectant silence waiting for their host to do something astonishing such as burst out into an aria or tell a selection of appropriate humorous anecdotes. And here I thought that by cleaning up my apartment and messing up my kitchen to have friends over for a meal I was practicing hospitality. If you want entertainment there's a movie theater down the street. Otherwise I have some homemade bolognese sauce and a bottle of wine that I'd dearly love to share if you can condescend to not being entertained for a single evening.

I know in many ways it's a silly and meaningless usage, but I do rather feel that it obscures what I feel should be happening when people invite other people into their lives for a time. When the emphasis is on entertaining I get a sense more of showing off one's possessions or conversation. However, when one extends hospitality the emphasis seems to be more on making room in your life (however temporarily) for another person and their interests. Entertaining wants crab cakes and champagne. Hospitality might enjoy crab and champagne as much as the next person but will happily make do with hamburgers and iced tea. Of the two I would rather practice hospitality.

September 18, 2009

Thanksgiving in Cali?

So Allen and I are facing the prospect of a Thanksgiving in California far away from both our families. At first we were thinking that maybe we'd just bite the bullet and fly out for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but when we really thought about spending that much money for four days with family when we're going to turn around three weeks later and head right back for an extended Christmas seems the better part of stewardship to just stay in Cali for Thanksgiving. Of course if this were a book put out by your favorite Christian author this is where things would get all heart warming because one of three things would soon happen. We would A. invite an older person without family close by over and (insert heart warming moral/lesson/conclusion), B. be ourselves invited to join a family gathering (insert heartwarming moral about family being where you find it), or C. spend the day dishing up food a local shelter (insert Christian brownie points). The problem is that none of those options really appeal to me. If I wouldn't go feed homeless people any other day of the week I can't see the virtue of doing in on Thanksgiving just so I can feel all warm and virtuous; I can't think of anyone I'd care to invite over, and I'm not so sure I really want to go visit someone else. I still have enough awkward moments around my in-laws during holidays that I'm none too sure I'd want to go hang out with someone else's family. Of course there's always the "young married without family in town Thanksgiving Potluck" that I'm sure someone will end up suggesting. Can't say that really appeals to me either. I suppose at these moments I tend to revert to my mom's attitude. If there's no family to visit then by golly we've got four whole days to go see something. Pack your bags, and crank up the rv. Of course in our case this would translate into throwing the tent into the car and packing the icechest. I really don't know though. Of course if I was at home I probably wouldn't know either because there would at least be a chance that we'd have to decide among three different Thanksgiving meals. But we'd be with family. At this point it doesn't matter if we head for the mountains or the beaches or just stay here. It's still not home. But we make the best of it. If anyone has any suggestions for destinations no more than 5-6hrs from Silicon Valley area I'd love to hear them. I honestly don't know what's good to visit in November in this part of Cali.

September 15, 2009

no more flu!

Allen and I are finally pulling ourselves together from our recent bout of flu. I don't know if we had the dreaded swine flu or what, but it sure took it's sweet time. First I had a very dry cold (tight cough), then a very wet cold (kleenex flying about willy nilly), and finally a very stuffy cold (sinus pressure with nightly headaches). I feel like I've had a succession of colds to make up for the ones I seem to missed the past year. Allen's been about the same, although his symptoms have come and gone in about half the space mine did. Having missed three weeks of church I've been half expecting people to start asking Allen if I'm dead or possibly run away :D Of course now that means I have piles of back laundry and dishes that need doing. Marvelous feeling to wake up feeling better and then realize how much work you need to do. Rather makes me feel like going back to bed. We're making a bit of progress at any rate. Made supper tonight for the first time in over two weeks. We've been scraping the bottom of the barrel around here and supplementing with frozen pizza and take-out. Homemade soup is welcome change. Anyway, hopefully I'll be fully up around around in a few days. My bike panniers came in the mail last week, so now I can go to the grocery store and the library without having to carry it all on my back.

September 5, 2009

Missing Autumn

On facebook I've been seeing everyone start their annual "my football team is better than your football team" posturing, and I've realized quite suddenly that Fall should be here. Growing up Labor Day always meant another week on the road. For months we'd discuss locations -Maine, Colorado, New England, wherever our fancy and two or three day's traveling could take us. As Labor Day approached we'd check out travel books from the library and watch the weather reports. At some point us kids would be dispatched to vacuum out the rv and stash numerous boxes of cereal. Then, on a Friday afternoon, we'd put the milk in the rv fridge, put a few pizza's in the oven, and wait for Dad to come home. As soon as Dad had come home and changed we did a last check of the house to make sure faucets and ovens and irons were all off; we'd carry down the pizzas on their cardboard rounds, scramble up the steps into the rv, and wait for Mom to lock the door. I can still hear the sound of the that first twack as Mom pulled the rv door closed behind her, and the rv rumbled it's way up the driveway and out onto the road. Sitting there in the rv, eating pizza, and digging into my library I always knew we were doing something special. It was every trip was like Christmas where each day was another present unwrapping itself from the ribbon of the interstate before us. Every sunrise was an entirely new thing seen from a bouncing, swaying window while licking powdered sugar from my breakfast doughnut from my fingers. Even the rain didn't bother us because it was new rain from a new sky, and watching the storm come up over mountain or lake could be half the fun. When you go to see things it doesn't matter near so much how you see them but only that you do see them.

Unfortunately I can never return to those days. I'm even finding myself increasingly reluctant to wear my old vacation shirts because they are the last tangible memories of a time that was necessarily all too brief. Even if I wanted to though I couldn't go back. The university schedule changed much of our travel schedule. Now that we are growing up and going our own separate ways.... How I wish my memories of these days were clearer. As they are I only have snapshots of hikes and sunrises and late nights listening to old radio shows -often as not thinking about some boy I rather liked. They were good times, and I will be forever grateful that I had them.

September 3, 2009

This is just brilliant

This is a quote from Lark News article Pastor tries inauthenticity.

BEND, Ore. — For years pastor Terry Bradley of New Life Community tried to be entirely real with everyone.
That experiment is now over.
"Authenticity is bogus," he says. "It's never real. Nobody knows himself well enough to be fully authentic, and trying to self-divulge all the time breeds shallow relationships because it denies the complexity and mystery of human personalities."

If you don't read Lark News you should -this goes double if you're a Christian and triple if you're an evangelical Christian. If what you read there offends you, and you vow to never darken their links again be scared. Be very scared. Remember, the Pharisees couldn't get the joke about them meticulously straining out gnats out of their wine and then golluping a camel in their soup.

Sorry for the below

I just wanted to say sorry for the sour tone of previous post, and I hope I haven't offended any of you young/new moms out there that might have stumbled across my little blog. However, I think I'm going to keep that post up because I really have felt like that in the past. I suppose I should explain that when I'm talking to a person I have a real life connection to I can genuinely be happy/sad at the news -happy for them but a little sad because of the mess I went through. When it's random people popping up on the facebook news feed throwing out congratulations to people who've been married six months it feels a lot more in my face.

September 2, 2009

pregnant people (can) annoy the heck out of me

1. Because so far Allen and I haven't been able to have any

2. Because some of the congratulations and well-wishes almost make it sound like the expectant mother is holier than the rest of us dumb mom wannabes.

3. Because just maybe I think God is punishing me / it's my fault that we haven't had kids yet.

4. Because I don't want to be worthless because I don't have kids or a career.

5. Because coming face to face with a brand new mom in the making brings me smack up against my own pain as a daughter and a wife.

September 1, 2009

icky sicky -future plan uncertain

Well Saturday I came down with a sure enough cold. It's one of those things where you feel reasonably alert, but every time you stand up you get the head spinning/kind of weak in the back feeling. So mostly I don't stand up that much :D Unfortunately all this isn't helping me plan what to do over Labor Day. Not having any family in town or anything like that I was thinking we might revert to a Natalie family tradition and hit the road but not knowing how long this cold is going to last I'm pretty reluctant to make reservations anywhere (assuming I still could at this late date -California parks fill up early!). If we don't go anywhere I think I'm going to campaign for us to make that bookcase I want for the living room. Anyway, I think I'm going to find me some breakfast and head for the couch. Even sitting up at the computer desk is less than ideal right now.

August 28, 2009

A minor to do list

Ok. I'm really bad and getting going in the morning. Like really bad. So if my to do list seems really belated, that ok. It's better than no to do list.


-Completely take apart and wash blender (by hand or in dishwasher)
-Unload and load dishwasher
-Start a pot of soup.
-Jump on the rebounder
-Sit down with a glass of smoothie and my Bible. See if maybe I can find this God I keep saying I believe.

We'll see how it goes. But that's the plan for this afternoon.

Flaky like a biscuit

So I realize that I haven't been posting much on here lately -particularly not much of anything worth noting. It seems like it's part of a general trend lately. My moods have been better, but as I've been in a state of accelerated mental processing it seems like my get up and go has all gone into my head -literally. I can't settle down to anything. I'd rather be talking about something than working on my dishes. It has been a long week though. I sort of pushed kind of hard when my in-laws where in town (all the time saying "it's really no trouble" -liar liar), and once they left I was sort of zonked. Then yesterday (my busy one) I randomly ended up feeling queasy most of the day. Ok then. Today I stood in line for two hours getting my California driver's license. I've done some things, but not too many things, and I'm having trouble getting my ball rolling. I'm pleased to say that this counseling seems to be going really well. At first Allen and I weren't too sure about since it has me driving an hour and fifteen minutes one way to see a male counselor. However, we got the male thing squared away. Leaving the door partially opened seems to appease the gods of propriety, and the drive really isn't that bad. When I leave in good time it can even be quite relaxing to listen to some good music and just muse along to the lyrics. The first couple of times I went I wasn't quite sure how much, how often, how worthwhile these sessions would really prove, but yesterday hit a minor jackpot. I can chatter away for hours about various things -particularly my past-, but he managed to ask a few questions that honestly made me stop talking and think. Although he didn't say it's what it all boils down to, he recommended I read a book dealing with co-dependency. Honestly that's the last thing I would have considered in my own case. After all, I'm the one who broke away and got married. To me that didn't jive with being co-dependent, but then I looked it up and read some of the markers of a co-dependent. Oof. I could see plenty of signs in both myself and my mom. Interestingly (but I don't think oddly) my mom and I have almost entirely opposite tendencies. Where she pushes I hang back. Whereas she seems to feel like things would fall about without her, I am persuaded of the hopelessness of trying to pull things together. And what I find even more interesting is that the symptoms I've thought might be depression seem more likely to be evidence of codependency. It's exciting to finally feel like I'm making some progress in understanding my own behavior and being able to (by the grace of God) change it. Speaking of God's grace, my counselor was also able to draw out some reasons why perhaps I've been ignoring God against my own desires and inclinations. Once he put out there what he saw happening it really made so much sense. Very slowly I can see things starting to change. It might not really look like it on the outside. Goodness knows that most baby steps are bigger than the fractional progress I tend to make. But I really do think that I've got more potential for pushing through some of this and becoming the woman I want to be than I ever did before. Allen's excited too. Things are definitely starting to look up.

August 21, 2009

Family in town!!!

Since Allen's folks had to fly out this direction for a conference they decided to tack on a side trip to visit the newly out of towners. Allen and I got the apartment cleaned up, and we're looking forward to a weekend of visiting with home folks. Today I'm going to show them some of our local California attractions -CA 1, Trader Joes, Apple... That covers most of the big ones. They won't have time to visit Yosemite with us unfortunately. We're hoping though that we can convince them to bring Mamaw out here with them next spring sometime and visit a few parks on the way. Anyway, I still need to change sheets and empty the dishwasher and clear junk out of the car before I go pick them up from the airport. And shower. They would appreciate the showering part I think. Then it's off to Half Moon Bay. I can smell the spicy scent of those wave met hills just thinking about it. There's certainly no smell like it anywhere back home.

Hopefully I'll get back to posting some more writing around here. I've been doing some pretty intense processing the past few weeks -the combined results of meeting new people and starting counseling. Rest assured that things are going well.

August 10, 2009

Pasta for supper

Lately I've been learning to enjoy homemade pasta sauces. Several months ago I picked up a magazine called "Perfect Pasta" put out by Cuisine at Home. I don't know if you can still find a copy around somewhere, but if you stumble across one I'd encourage you to pick it up. It starts out by explaining how to make some of the most basic pasta sauces and moves on to cover most of the classics -including salads and risottos, and I love that it has at least one picture of every recipe and prep tips to make everything come out faster and tastier. So far I've tried making the oven roasted marinara and the bolognese sauces. Both of them were a big hit with Allen. The marinara recipe in particular is amazingly simple. It's posted below along with my modifications (since I rarely leave any recipe alone!).

Oven Roasted Marinara with Summer Squash

The basic recipe calls for for:

8c quartered, fresh tomatoes
1c chopped onion
1/2c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4c fresh basil, sliced thin

To this basic recipe I added:

1med zucchini, rough chopped
1med yellow squash, rough chopped

I also added another cup chopped onion. (I had some large onions.)

Rough chop all the veggies and mix together with oil and seasonings in an oven safe dish. Roast them at 400 degree for 45 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft. After you've roasted everything, pulse the mixture in batches to your desired consistency, and add basil. Feel very proud of making your own spaghetti sauce - I know I did!

Tip: I ended up blending too much liquid in with my sauce and making it a bit watery. If a lot of liquid was released during roasting you might want to hold some of the liquid back -at least until you've blended part of it and judged the consistency.

August 8, 2009

More good news

Found a counselor in the city. Going to go up there soon and see if I can't get a few answers to some of my questions.

August 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Three years today. Pretty soon Allen and I are going to rock it out with some homestyle bbq at one of our favorite joints (ok, chains) from our newly wed days. Good times.

Love you, Honey.

July 30, 2009


Having attached the blinking lights of safe guidance, Allen and I did forthwith venture upon the night and found that the night received us as one of her own and did usher us gentle down the lamp strung streets of San Jose.

Ok, that's sort of hard to keep up. Sufficing to say we had fun, and no one got hurt. Hopefully we'll have another opportunity to take a night ride together sometime soon. Right now Allen want's me to get off here so we can watch another episode of Leverage.

weight loss for the reasonably healthy?

Seriously, I see all these weight loss ads/programs/herbs/whatever. What I need is something that will tell me why a girl who eats organic, homemade, balanced meals can't seem to budge a single pound. Seriously, it seems like every time I try making a lifestyle change for the better (raw food, more fruit, biking, getting my broad spectrum supplement, etc) I end up gaining weight. Or if not gaining weight then having weight shift. I know the big thing I need to add into that mix is 15 minutes of rebounding a day and some weight training, but honestly this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Little help that my mom always thought I was overweight anyway. The past few years certainly haven't done much to improve my body image. But, I can't gripe about my weight anymore just now. Betsy and I are meeting Allen at the bike shop to get a rack for B. Then it's off to meet church folks for dinner. Road meet Betsy. You have just met your doom. For these ten miles at least :D

July 29, 2009

What does depression actually look like?

Lately I've been wondering just what depression really looks like. I understand that suicidal inclinations and an inability to function because life is just too much to handle indicates real, severe depression, but is that all depression looks like? I mainly ask because for I don't know how long I've cycled through up and down moods. My up moods never really become manic phases, and my down times don't actually cripple me. Not really. My mom used to joke I was bipolar because I could cycle between up an down sooo quickly. Allen actually told me when we were dating that if I was flying too high when he picked me that was a signal to try and get me back home before my mood crashed. And still the man married me. Isn't love great. Fortunately my mood swings have gentled somewhat -or at least lengthened. I still can cycle between up and down in a day, but I don't cycle between adrenalin highs and sobbing in the corner lows. Not normally anyway. Nevertheless I still experience a cyclical pattern of highs and lows. About a week and a half ago I entered a downward swing that pretty much continued unabated until Monday. That is not to say that I didn't have good days during that time. It's just that my default mood is lower than usual. Monday though I woke up, and it was literally as though someone had flipped a switch in my brain. Although I didn't get up any earlier that day, when I did get up I had a much more positive outlook on life and the tasks that needed doing that day. Same thing today. In fact, I was actually upright and coherent when Allen left for work. Just that can be quite a feat some days. In the past I've questioned whether what I've experienced has been some form of depression (sometimes I think that would be a definite yes), but waking up Monday morning and feeling that abrupt switch in my personality has made me wondering whether or not my rolling mood swings actually constitute some sort of depression in and of themselves. I don't have an answer, but I'm thinking it might be time to find some. Yes, I've been through a stressful cross-country move, and I'm struggling to fit into a culture and geography that's strange and slightly scary. I also know that before I had my last depressive episode I was doing better than I have since Allen and I got married. Chores where getting done. I was feeling good about myself. I was looking forward getting fully settled in here and pulling out some of my long neglected projects and hobbies. all fell apart. I did have some muscular distress in my shoulder that was making deep breathing/sneezing/yawning painful, but I don't know how much of that was correlation and how much was causation. For one thing three days after I went to a massage therapist the pain was gone, and the depression lasted maybe 5-6 days longer. Could be related. At any rate I can't think of any one thing that triggers these blue moods of mine. A common frustration/complaint with me is that as soon as I get things on track I get knocked back on my back again. Could this be one of depression's many faces? If so it would explain so much of my discouragement over not being able to keep to a schedule longer than a few weeks because what can start coming naturally when I'm in a good mood can seem like an impossible burden when I'm in one of my blue phases.

One reason why I haven't sought out professional guidance on this issue is that my moods never really get that bad. I certainly become lower functioning, but I never really get dysfunctional. Heck, during this last rough patch I even managed to keep making my smoothies. Considering that when I get depressed it takes a good deal of mental effort to do anything for myself I'd call that forward progress. Peanut butter on rice cakes and frozen fruit smoothies might not be a complete and varied diet, but it sure beats what I've eaten in the past when I get down. So like I said, my down times aren't, on any absolute scale, that bad. They're just bad enough, and they keep coming back. Towards the end of last week I found swing music helping me to get moving and face the day. Maybe it's matter of environment and learning to talk my way through it. Maybe I need to find me a decompression chamber -be it bike riding, pedicures, or taking my hammock off to the park with my last Agatha Christie find. Maybe it means hanging out on the sofa trusting that my bad days will pass. I don't know, and I think it's time I start finding out. So maybe one of my next steps should be finding a Christian counselor in the area who can help me sort through all of this. If anyone knows of such a counselor (preferably reformed) then please holler out. If not I've got a feeler or two I can put out.

July 27, 2009

....with the jolly roving tars

I've figured out what we're doing for our anniversary. For some reason I'm constitutionally unable to spend $400-500 on a weekend at a bed in breakfast, and considering the accommodations at the cheaper places I will only say that I enjoy waking up in a tent. However, by dint of much searching I discovered a national historic site right on the bay that has historic sailing adventures by day and sea shanty singing on the dock by night. So that's the plan -caltrain, ships, singing, pizza, and really old arcade games. Really the perfect Saturday I should say.

July 22, 2009

anniversary coming up -ideas?

Does anyone out there have any ideas for celebrating a 3rd anniversary? It's coming up fast (Aug 5th), and I'm fresh out of ideas. It's smack-dab in the middle of the week, so we'll probably end up doing something either the weekend before or after. Day of ideas would be nice too. Monterrey is out since we're planning to go there for my birthday. Napa Valley might be nice, but I need to check prices. We were thinking it might be fun to do something in the city (ie SF), but I'm drawing complete blanks. I guess it's back to trip advisor to try finding something fun.

July 16, 2009

Bigger than ourselves

Our new pastor out here said something last Sunday that I've been thinking about all week. He was referring to an author who was writing about how on the whole Americans aren't really that ambitious -or rather, how Americans tend to be rather narrow in our ambitions. By this author's estimation American ambition is mostly concerned with upward mobility ie parent's working hard to afford a good home and good schools so their kids can get good degrees and afford even better housing and schooling for their children and so on and so forth. Apparently the author views this as a rather narrow, self-concerned ambitions. What is really ambitious, to his mind, are those Christians who say "I'm going to devote myself to the reading and studying of God's Word, the Bible." According to our pastor this fellow isn't even a Christian, and yet he realizes that to devote yourself to God's Word is to devote yourself to something far bigger and more meaningful than just ourselves. I've been thinking about that all week. I've heard of so many people talking about wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves. I've thought it myself quite a bit, and yet I don't think any of them have actually said that picking up your Bible and reading some psalms or part of the Gospels would be, in that moment, throwing ourselves into something bigger than ourselves. At some level I think we all know it, and yet I think we get caught up in thinking that there are people (missionaries, pastors, leaders of great causes) who are definitely doing something great for the world and forget that perhaps there are much smaller ways to do great things. I'll admit I'm pretty remiss in my Bible reading, but maybe next time I start thinking that my life doesn't count for so very much or that there's nothing I can do I'll take a moment to open my Bible. It's a thought.

blender recommendations?

I'm thinking that I might have to get a new blender. I know I got one only about a month ago, but every day it sounds a little more tired. Any recommendations? I'm looking for something that will make frozen fruit smoothies 4-7 times a week and not burn out on me. Since it looks like these smoothies are going to be a regular part of my diet I'd be willing to get a more expensive model if it would do the job and last me a few years.

nice try mister walking directions

In my search for biking directions around town I have often checked Google out for general to and from information. What I have learned through this experience is to very carefully zoom Google maps all the way in (or nearly) and check for walkways, overpasses, trails, etc. For instance, in getting from my place to the other side of 280 (yes, they have a 280 out here) Google would send me through two large, busy intersections. Think 280 and 1-19. About that size. Instead, there are two pedestrian/bike overpasses that should allow me to avoid the main intersections (and especially avoid trying to turn through any of them) instead take a few peaceful little roads to my destination. I'll admit I first discovered one of these overpasses using Google maps. However, it was from zooming and searching for shortcuts instead of following any of their suggested routes. I think Google walking directions have a lot more to do with satellite view than anything they actually suggest.

June 30, 2009

bike for your salad

I'm realizing it's kind of neat living in a place where you can just hop on your bike and run out to pick up some mozzarella and salad for dinner. And while you're out maybe some orange juice too. My adrenaline still gets going when I pull out on the road will all those cars, but riding my bike to the grocery store seemed a little more like adventuring and a little less like running errands. Pretty cool I'd say.

June 29, 2009

sort of but not really

Seeing so many people around me having their first (or fourth) babies has gotten me thinking about things. In these past few weeks I've finally started to feel like I'm regaining some of the strength I enjoyed during high school and most of college (before senior year and family stress sapped almost everything I ever had). It feels really good to ride my bike to the library or work out until my arms and legs are all worked out and pleasantly achy. I know that if we were to have a child sometime soon it would be that much harder just to do those simple activities -not to mention taking road trips or trying my hand at backpacking along the coast. I've always felt that my life was far too messy for me to suddenly be responsible for a completely helpless human being. Now that things seem to be turning around for me I find that part of me simply wants to enjoy the changes. The other part of me says that kids are awesome and that I really want to take my kids out into the wide world. I want them to scramble up mountains and learn Latin and take things apart and understand that failing is infinitely better than never having the guts to try. But do I want it now? I'm not sure. I feel like I want to enjoy the (hopeful) returning of my strength, but as that strength returns I can't help wondering what I'm going to do with it. It's a curious question. Fortunately (unfortunately?) there's not so much I can do about it. Que sera, sera.

June 27, 2009

In the "I bought series"...

Her name is Betsy, and eventually she will have a rack and light for hauling mystery novels around at night. First,though, I will get her a green chain because Betsy is just bad like that :D

June 17, 2009

I bought a blender!

And now I have bananas, strawberries, and blueberries in the freezer waiting for breakfast tomorrow. Yummy. Since coming to California I have come to love these things. I will confess to having had two today in the course of my out and abouting :D Getting a blender seemed the only way to save my budget from utter ruination.

June 16, 2009

How to Speak of Animals

As the unpacking continues (somehow I think movers make almost as much work as they save), I've been refreshing my sanity by reading essays out of Umberto Eco's collection How to travel with a Salmon and other essays. I just came across one essay which I must quote because I think it's so completely brilliant on the way teachers and environmentalists have skewed our view of nature.

In this essay Umberto talks about how children's conceptions of animals have changed in the schools efforts to teach that whales, wolves, and elephants should be protected. He says:

No one says [animals] are entitled to survive even if, as a rule, they are savage and carnivorous. No, they are made respectable by becoming cuddly, comic, good-natured, benevolent, wise, and prudent...We must save the whales, not because they are good, but because they are a part of nature's inventory and they contribute to the ecological equilibrium. Instead, our children our raised with whales that talk, wolves that join the Third Order of St, Francis, and, above all, an endless array of teddy bears...To make them forget how bad human beings are, they [are] taught too insistently that bears are good. Instead of being told honestly what humans are and what bears are.

I'd never thought of it that way before, but I really thing Eco is on to something. That last line in particular is a zinger. After reading this though I'm really curious as to what Eco would say about Grimm's Fairy Tales, Mother Goose, and Beatrix Potter. Something to think about while I'm trying to get my closets organized.