December 27, 2010

Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home"

Epic bike riding - reminded me of figure skating in a way.

December 3, 2010

America Beware!

I highly suggest folks add Peter Hitchen's blog at the Daily Mail to their google readers. For those who haven't heard of him, Mr. Hitchens is brother to the somewhat famous atheist, Christopher Hitchens, and an all-around straight up fellow. Those looking for an introduction to Peter Hitchens should check out his book Rage Against God which chronicles his decent into communist atheism during his schoolboy years and his subsequent return to the Christian faith and all of it's social and political implications. He's interesting, and an excellent writer, and there should be many more of him speaking out in this demented age. If you wonder why it's important to read a political/social commentary on Great Britain I answer simply that as England was we were and as England has fallen so are we. In Rage Against God Mr. Hitchens sketches a poignant picture of a old and honorable culture dying. Portions of the book made me want to weep for the Grand Dame Britannia who is caught up in the fetters of a post-Christian, post-rational society. Which is not to say that his writings are a pangyric on Western Civilization - there have been far too many ills laid at our door. However, it he does provide a thoughtful, incisive look at what happens when a nation abandons God.

December 2, 2010

high hopes laid low

Well, all my high hopes for Advent have been postponed for the moment while I try to shake a round of GI mess that hit me yesterday. I'll spare everyone the gory details, but sufficing to say that my Christmas tree is still sitting on the porch, the closest containing my ornaments hasn't been touched, and I spent most of yesterday asleep on the couch. I've already had to cancel one shindig due to this which I hate because I long for meaningful Advent celebrations and with me sick on the couch and not a single bit of my Christmas things out it doesn't feel festive around here one bit. I'm hoping that tomorrow/Saturday I can finally get around to these things, but for now I'm just figuring that God wants to teach me a bit about relying on Him for my strength and not myself. It's a thing I ignore all too often and getting smacked flat on my rumpus the day after telling a kindly concerned husband that I would just push through and get it all done (who knows how) makes me think that God had a few lessons for me to learn. Not that I think God just goes around smacking people, but I can be pretty stubborn sometimes. At any rate I've had amply time to reflect on the proverb that a man might set out on a walk one day, but it's the Lord who chooses his steps. I'm just hoping I can feel better and get some work done tomorrow. Thanksgiving + sickness + mad present shopping have made a hash of my plans for the week - and possibly of my immune system.

November 20, 2010

storm before the calm

I find myself greatly in need of a little peace and calm. Hopefully I'll find it when we see the mountains and trees and waves and get away from the craziness that has been "one of those weeks" one right after the other. Somewhere in this I'm learning and growing and becoming better prepared for next year. Sometimes I just wish the learning and the application weren't the same thing.

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends and wonderful food and hearts full of love.

November 17, 2010

too mad to say

Just image a stream of vitriol strong enough to melt brick at 50 yards. That's what I wish I was doing to a certain someone who abandoned all his vows to leave his church and his wife. Then he got re-married to a woman his wife knew while they were married.

There are not enough words for men like him.

November 15, 2010

pincushion in underpants

I remember Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) saying something to the affect that the doctor saw him as a pink pincushion in underpants. Well, I can relate. There's something about needles that gives me the heebie jeebies. Can't stand the things. Just thinking about them can make my stomach turn. Yeah, lovely confession for a self-proclaimed grown-up. It's not the pain (which is minimal). There's just some sort of icky gross-out factor that churns my stomach. But, I made an appointment. Tuesday. Nine vials. Fasting. It's bad enough of a full stomach, but you're going to stress me while I have low blood sugar? Jeesh. The doctor he lied to me. He said we probably wouldn't have to do the whole thing again. We'd just do a touch-up. Uh-huh.

Oh well, at least I'm not one of those people forced into getting used to needles. My head is pretty rational about the whole thing. I just wish it could convince my stomach.

Gut reactions? Not always helpful.

November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes + Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

A teacher at our school got engaged and provided the perfect opportunity to whip up some lovely pumpkin cupcakes. I ended up using a Martha Stuart recipe because it only used ingredients I had on hand and didn't leave me with extra pumpkin puree languishing in the fridge, and they came out very well. As several reviewers noted, these are true cupcakes with a light, moist crumb and none of the heaviness of a nutty, dense muffin. I topped them with a luscious maple cream cheese frosting and decorated the tops with silver sugar sprinkles and edible heart glitter. These things are good! They are somewhat intensely spicy though, so if you make them either plan on adding a nice cream cheese frosting or consider toning down the spices just a little. Needless to say, someone ended up being pretty popular today :)

November 9, 2010

reviving the grad school dream

I finally found the program. New Saint Andrew's College has a new masters program for educators in classical schools with low tuition and low residency requirements. It's lovely. Allen has already said that we can talk about how to make it work out for me to go. It's not going to be this year. I'd have to retake the gre and get just slews of paperwork together, but we're definitely looking at figuring out a way for me to apply. At three weeks a year residency requirement it's even something I could potential do with kids, so I reckon I can afford to wait a little. Until then though I can save my pennies and work on getting my credentials together. Either way I'm really excited about the opportunities here. I'm finally getting to do something important that I've wanted to do for years. It's where I want to be. Speaking of which I have a presentation on Rousseau to write.

November 2, 2010

stay at home wife

Ok, time out blogsphere. Where are the blogs for stay at home wives? Can someone point me to even one? 'Cause I've done a little cruising around and as of yet haven't found any blog that really managed to write for women like me. There are plenty of homemaking blogs, but practically all of them veer off into Momland at some point. I'm reading this great post about organizing your time and discover that it's a post about how moms should use their time. Nothing against moms here. They are the salt of the earth and bearers of our future. But. I'm not a mom. I don't have to balance play time with me time with hubby time with...... I've got a whole heck of a lot of me time that I have to balance with my incipient laziness and my desire to put my fingers in too many pies. Believe it not, my needs are different. I'm not a single person with a husband or a mom without kids. I'm a wife who stays at home while my husband goes off to work. While I'm not ideologically committed to this way of life for everyone (or even for all seasons of my own life) it's what works now. And by "stays at home" I mean rises around 6:30 twice a week to go volunteer at a classical Christian school along with the various other ways I try to help out my church and community. I'm no "church worker," but I do try to put myself out there and help. Sometimes I help too much and laze around too much at home. Sometimes I do a pretty good job at home and feel the need to reach out more. It's balancing act with a huge learning curve for me. If I had more brains or a better handle on things I might try writing my own stay a home blog for wives. But what would I write about? I'm not sure. There'd be lots of links to Femina (see sidebar) and lots of questions. Of answers I am not so sure. Still, I wish we had more examples that didn't jump straight to motherhood. I wish I had a better idea what I was doing here. I wish I could shake the last of this lousy cold so I can actually start doing it.

October 31, 2010

Back to my roots

The past couple weekends Allen and I have enjoyed going back to our roots and spending Saturday afternoon rooting for the home team. That happens to be Auburn for anyone reading this who happens to know anything about SEC football. It's kind of nice. We pull the game up on and share a moment with all our friends and family back in Alabama who tend to keep an ear to the game. And hey, it's a good year to be an Auburn fan. They're number 1 ranked right now, and looking good.

It's not the way I wanted to spend my weekend. I wanted to go off to see the fall colors that I've heard are about peak in parts of the eastern Sierras. But since I haven't been able to shake this darn cold of mine Allen sort of made an executive decision in favor of staying home. It's not surprising. I was actually looking at getting a hotel for the night and not camping at all. I'm the girl who takes her tent down into the 20's and loves it. I plan week long trips over Thanksgiving. I really, really enjoy camping. So when Allen hears me start talking about hotels in conjunction with me telling him how tired I am and how I'm not looking forward to the 6-8 drive I'm contemplating......He said maybe we could go next week if there's still any color in the mountains. The eastern side isn't my favorite anyway. It's a lot dryer than the western Sierras albeit more dramatic. I'm really missing our autumns back east. Aspens might be pretty, but they aren't a replacement for seeing all the oaks and maples turning along the creek down at the farm.

So we watch football and think about home. It's a good life out here, but it's still mainly just California. This time of year especially, home is back east.

October 25, 2010

wedding nostalgia

I've got to wait for some laundry to finish washing before bed, so I thought I'd reminisce a little about the recent wedding we attended.

My brother-in-law's wedding was the first family wedding I attended, and the rush of emotions left me thoughtful for many days afterward. I saw my father-in-law's pride in his son's marriage, the little disappointments that ruffle every family event, my mother-in-law's misty eyed pleasure as she watched her youngest son make that most grown up of commitments, and through it all ran the memory of my own wedding. I'm not terribly photogenic. My mom wasn't there with me. The family fighting in my corner was one I'd met comparatively recently. I had one of my dearest friend's there with me that day, but she was as confused as I was about the various events that had brought me to the bride's room without mother or sisters. But through it all I appreciated getting to see how very much my in-laws love their sons and how glad they are to have daughters come into their family. In an odd sort of way they reaffirmed my position as first born - first daughter both to my parents and to them. They are parents to me. They may drive me crazy sometimes, but they stick by me too and are always looking for my best.

Seeing so many lovely weddings it's easy for me to regret all the things my wedding wasn't. I was tired, stressed, nervous, and largely alone. But I'm not alone any longer. Not only do I have Allen, I have a whole new family. If the memories of my wedding elude me (surely I felt something walking up the aisle, but I sure can't remember), I have crisply etched memories of early morning walks in Yosemite, gingerbread cookies on Christmas Eve, nights curled up together, and miles together in the car. I have a whole scrapbook in my head made possible by one faltering step after another towards an altar some four years ago. My impatient, sinful self wants to pout and pine that my pictures will never be as good as someone else's or that my memories can never be as joyful or complete as some other bride's. I want to complain that the world (and God) shorted me on the rarest and most special of days in a woman's life. Sometimes I do. But what happened that day? A whole bunch of people who didn't have to rallied around me to try and make up what was lacking. I married a man who has proven to be a far, far better husband than I ever dreamed possible. I discovered a family that drives me crazy and yet prays for me far more often and earnestly than I pray for myself.

So I sat in the pew beside my parents-in-law and watched a lovely woman walk up and join herself to this family of which I am a part. Ok, so a line or two in the wedding vows made me cringe. I don't like modern language and phraseology in our sacred ceremonies. But I watched. Where Allen and I were they are now; where they will go Allen and I have been, and my father and mother in law are there watching both couples slowly go over ground they first encountered years and years ago. We watch and pray knowing that we can't help each other very much, perhaps wishing we could recapture some essence of early marriage, and finally relapsing back into the realization that maturity is the dearest gift.

They have plighted themselves one to another and are now a new entity who may or may not open their Christmas presents in the traditional family living room with the rest of us. I wish them the very best in their new life, and I'm appreciative of this chance to look back again at my marriage - to see the good and the bad- and above all to be grateful for the gift that marriage has been to me.

October 21, 2010

Best Butter Crust. Ever.

I have to link to this pie crust recipe because it is a combined miracle of serendipity and google's search engine.

While visiting my in-laws last week I decided to make a pie, but I didn't have my normal pie crust recipe around, so onward to the Google I went and found this lovely recipe. When I say lovely I mean my father in law mentioned this pie crust at least half a dozen times over the course of 4 days. He's an easy man to cook for in some ways (like Allen he likes plain homey food), but when he goes around talking about several days after said pie was made you know you've found something.

I don't want to violate copyright, so I'll just tell you to view her wonderful recipe for yourself and then I'll jot down a few observations.

You back yet?

Ok then.

I usually make pie crust by hand (unless I'm making a three or four at a time) because it's really not much harder. Also, I think it keeps me more in touch with how the dough is developing. Learning to have a "light hand" with pastry is the proverbial skill that will keep things coming out flaky and delicate. Speaking of which, here's a trick I learned that may have helped with this recipe. After cutting in your shortening agent take a fork and gently toss or whisk the dough for a couple seconds after adding each table spoon of water. You'll be left with lots of dry bits, but try to resist the urge to add more water. Otherwise you might end up with a tough crust. If it doesn't work out quite right the first time you can adjust it later as you get a feel for the dough.

So you've resisted adding more water, and now you're staring down at a rather dry, distinctly un-crustlike assemblage of butter, flour, and salt. Well, since you didn't over mix your dough you should be able to turn all that out on the counter and smoosh (ok, knead) all the bits together without worrying about ruining your crust. Stop just before you think you should and then get after it with a rolling pin. I rarely wait to chill my dough anymore, and I have very few problems with this so long as the dough isn't too wet in the beginning. The rolling pin should get all the last bits together. Just remember to keep turning the dough frequently (and sprinkling flour over it) so it rolls out easily and doesn't stick or tear. (I forget this a lot - especially when I start rolling.)

And one final tip for crusts that I had heard but never took seriously. Trim the bottom crust a little bit long and fold the extra under. A very little will do. When I go to crimp the crust it looks much more finished and doesn't seem to shrink as much in the oven.

Even if you have a working pie crust recipe I recommend you look this one up. It's light and buttery and flaky and everything a good pie crust should be.

October 9, 2010

philosphy of hiking

When you spend 8-10 hours hiking up a mountain side you have a lot of time to think. At such times a lot of my thoughts center on just why I wanted to climb this mountain in the first place. After a few hours just putting one foot in front on another can lose its novelty. It's uphill all the way, there's a weight on your back, and the trail is pretty dusty. For a while I just think about where my boots are landing and watching the dust puff up. I listen to my pack creaking and hear the scrapes and clicks of my trekking poles as we traverse a stretch of granite covered hill side. I remember all the days I decided I was too tired to do my yoga or visit the gym, and I wish I'd taken the time when I could. Then I remember the days when I did my workouts anyway and am grateful for the ongoing push and pull of my muscles as I persevere over rain rutted trails and push upwards over awkwardly stair stepped boulders. Gulping the ever thinning oxygen into my lungs I inwardly say thanks that I've been able to work at correcting my anemia. I'm tired but not exhausted. Weary and yet eager to reach the top. I'm stronger for this hill than I was for the last. I rest my eyes on the peaks before me and reach for our evening's camp.

These are most of my thoughts as I tramp my slow way up the mountain. I'm the tortoise and not the hare. I walk long and arrive at camp after others have eaten. But I'm here. I can breathe the sweet September air and feel the first breath of winter rush over us every night. And so I walk over the mountains thinking these simple thoughts. Then, I raise my foot, put it down, and realize that this is life. It is so simple and yet so true. All of our days we spend making our way over the course set before us. We remember the good decisions and the bad, and we add to them according to our own bents. Sometimes we can rest our eyes on some goal and stretch out our hearts to it. Other times life closes in around us and rises before us so that all we can do is keep moving forward in faith that once day we'll reach the top of the mountain and find rest for our journey. The only way to learn how to live is to do it. Providence is both teacher and taskmaster. Every good decision I make at home makes my time on the mountains easier. Every lesson I learn on the mountain illustrates and prepares me for my life at home. I have found it so in other areas as well. Life teaches itself. God is revealed everywhere. We just have to keep looking.

Cause if you keep looking around and putting one foot in front on another, you might end up here:

From Vogelsang

Fletcher Peak on the trail up to Lake Vogelsang. Sometimes it's good to be reminded both of how far we've come and what lies ahead.

October 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Yep, it's my birthday. Went and gave a lecture on Austen's Pride and Prejudice, bought some yarn, and hung out with a friend at Stanford. Tonight there will be steak and coconut spice cake. It's been a good day.

Also, I am wearing a new (and wonderfully cobalty) plaid shirt I found at Ross. Life is good.

September 22, 2010

lazy backpacker

I'm prepping for another backpacking trip -possibly the last one this year :( For being too fond of reclining on my sit-me-down-upon* I'm constantly dreaming of unseen peaks and sunsets. I have a hard time getting all my laundry folded, but I long to head out for a stretch of meadow I've never visited and rest my eyes on the ranged peaks encircling and stretching away beyond me. At such times I'm deeply aware of my internal conflicts and compromises. I want to be uber-housewife with a sparkling kitchen, folded laundry, and tidy shelves. In practice I'm easily distracted by books, youtube, and computer games. I strive, and I fall back. For weeks and months I'll plan and dream of some trip only to discover that in the days previous I'd really like a mug of cocoa and a cozy chair from which to enjoy the view. Unfortunately some views are only had with a bit of struggling and scrabbling, and armchairs with the views I require don't come cheap. So I go out in the woods and pretend to be strong and capable, and then I come home and realize how completely lazy I tend to be. In some ways I feel it's one of the deepest disconnects in my character - this chasm between who I suspect I am and who I would really like to pretend to be. Maybe it's just part of the human condition. I think of what Paul said. At any rate, it's once more into the breach. Every day when I find I've wasted my morning or afternoon I just have to pull myself back together and go redeem some of that time - even if it's just a couple hours. Fall down. Get back up. Trip. Sprint. Fall and bash head. Get up again. Stumble about some. Rinse repeat. It's hard to call it progress, but I suppose you could blind determination not to be a slug - not to fall back and miss all the beautiful things that are hard to get and hard to hold. Like mountain sunsets.

(Although if my hiking actually looked anything like that I think I'd stay home. A bashed head ten miles into the backcountry ain't fun. Also, I really hope it's not too cold.)

Dorothy Sayers was in many ways a brilliant author.

September 15, 2010

not thinking things through

I keep feeling the need to write, to think, and to be be introspective about this whirlwind we call life. Well, I call it a whirlwind, but sometimes it seems more like one of those hills you see around here - all smooth and grass-covered. Lovely to look at on a drive up 280 but pretty boring after you've been sitting on one for a couple of hours. I look at all the tree a few times, count the ants running around a log, and decide to keep hiking 'cause I've already taken a nap and am getting pretty antsy myself. Extended descriptions aside, whether life is currently a maddening torrent or a particularly boring stretch of lazy river I like to think about what I'm doing. Lately though most of my thoughts have run more like this:

You know I really feel like I could say something about (marriage, dating, the academic elite, women in society, Dorothy Sayers, etc), but [sitting down to write a blog post] here's this implication and that implication. I really don't know enough to be writing about this.

Then I go check my e-mail again and never put in the work to sort out my thoughts on (virtual) paper. In the end I suppose that's another form of laziness. I want to have a considered life, but I don't want to put in the effort. When I do feel like putting in the effort I'm often off doing something else. So that's why I haven't been writing anything very much to the point. Also, I'm tired. My sleep cycles are completely out of whack right now, and no amount of supplements can compensate for that. Hopefully this is just another temporary dip in the search for a healthy equilibrium, but until then I'm just having to ride it out.

September 8, 2010

Lassen Volcano

Allen and I spent Labor Day over at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It's a really lovely place to visit. Maybe it's just that I was tired, but the park didn't feel as fast paced as some of the other parks I've visited. We didn't spend every hour of the day trying to see everything we could see, and we both had a really good time. We even took some time out to just lie in the hammocks reading. Still, we did a fair bit. Sunday we hiked seven miles, and read for two hours before heading back to the tent for some tortellini soup and a sip of whiskey around the campfire. There's a trail around Manzanita Lake at the base of Lassen Peak that we took both evenings we were there. It's a pleasant little two mile stroll with what are probably the best views of Lassen Peak at sunset. The alpen glow was pretty fantastic the second night in particular. I don't know that I've ever seen a mountain turn that particular shade of pink. Unfortunately I'd left my camera back at the campsite that evening and don't have a picture.

During our hikes Allen and I got to reconnect somewhat and discuss the coming months. We're going to try and introduce some basic routines into our schedules and make more space for productivity and real relaxation. Of course I'm writing this while I should be in bed. What can I say? There was a reason we needed to discuss this stuff. Of course we also talked about fun stuff - like comparing Vanity Fair to Wives and Daughters and Wives and Daughters to Mansfield Park. We really do have the best conversations when we allow time for them to ripen. Aside from literature we tackled race and class in American society and the significance of language. There's a reason we married each other. We were only the only two left chattering after everyone else had gone back to the football game. You laugh, but that did happen on more than one occasion while we were getting to know each other :)

Overall we had a very good trip, and I'm hoping to carry some of that momentum forward into Fall. It's going to get rather busy between now and Epiphany, and I'd like to be ready for it if I can.

September 2, 2010

note to self

When the doc gives you something (in my case a supplement) and says "here, this will even out your brain chemistry and help you feel more motivated" don't forget to take it (or fail to be motivated to take it) and then wonder why you aren't getting anything done. Who cares if it smells bad, and you're feeling particularly lethargic. Take the sassafrassing supplements! You'll feel human again!

Seriously, I feel like I finally woke up this week. Dopatone, you are my stinky but beloved friend.

August 18, 2010

moving forward

Got to talking with what I hope will turn out to be a new friend and discovered that there's a classical Christian school that's hiring for the school year. After calling them I decided not to apply, but I did discover an opportunity to volunteer at the school and hopefully learn something of classical Christian educational methods from the inside. As for why I didn't apply, there were several reasons.

1. They had already found a candidate for they position they liked and for whom they were preparing a job offer. Throwing myself into the mix would only have prolonged the uncertainty right before the school year started and probably unnecessarily so. Which brings me to my next two points.

2. Practically no experience teaching a class. I've tutored and things of that sort, but I've never led a class in my life. Some people would just jump right in and give it a try, and if they hadn't already had a candidate they liked I might have been tempted to myself. However I really do better knowing my boundaries and having a somewhat clear idea of what my limits are. I prefer to grow slowly rather than by constantly flinging myself from one cliff after another to test my wings.

3. The final reason I decided not to apply is because I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to jump immediately into full time employment. Having found out about the position less than 24 hours previously I didn't feel confident of making a decision like that so quickly.

However, the headmaster did send me a volunteer application. This excites me tremendously because I can get some training and insight into how classical education works and hopefully use that knowledge either when we have kids or when I decide to look for a job myself. I'm somewhat passionate about education, but until I learned about classical methods I never found anything I could stomach long enough to get the necessary credentials to teach. Instead of spending a significant amount of money and time getting credentials in a pedagogy that I personally find appalling just so I could try and leverage that into a foundation for the kind of teaching position I would like to have I can (hopefully) volunteer at this school and get the sort of foundation I would need to later teach there or at another school of that type. I've been wondering what my next step needed to be, and I think I just might have found it.

Anyway, I need to go to bed 'cause tomorrow will be a long day. I've got some of Allen's friends coming over for supper, and I decided there would be lots of lovely lemony cake to go around. That means I need to get some sleep tonight, so I don't fall asleep over the lemon curd tomorrow afternoon.

August 15, 2010

Must read Shakespeare

Have you read Much Ado About Nothing lately? If so you really need to read it. Seriously. Go pick up your old Norton Anthology (or I bet you could even find it on-line) and read it. It's pretty much the best Shakespeare play ever. After you've read it go check out Kenneth Branagh's movie version. Or you could do what I did. Check out the movie from the library. Read Peter Leithart's commentary on the play. Pick up my Norton Anthology and read the play. Watch the movie again and discover that Beatrice and Benedict really do make one of the best love stories of all time. The introduction to my Norton tried to argue that Beatrice and Benedict don't really love each other, but in my opinion that's a whole lot of tosh. That critic has probably never flirted in his or her life - or at least never flirted with half the wit it takes to read a Shakespeare play. There's also a lot of good stuff in there about loyalty, wisdom, love, and honesty. Just compare how Claudio and Benedict behave towards their friends and their sweethearts. Plus, for Shakespeare it's quite readable. Got to love the insults. No one can write a good insult like Shakespeare.

August 2, 2010

We'll miss you, Grandmom

Saturday evening Allen's grandmother went to be with the Lord. She was very good to us, and we're going to miss her a lot.

July 31, 2010

tired little girl

A while back Allen found an integrated health care practitioner and sent me to go see him. He looked at my eyes and studied my posture and had me fill out this exhaustive questionnaire and agreed that I probably had some blood sugar/thyroid/hormone imbalance. Then he sent me to have this massive blood panel done (9 vials, and I really don't like getting labs drawn), and I waited for him to sit down with the numbers and figure out what's wrong with me.

Iron deficiency.

Last thing in the pharmacopoeia I would have suspected. I cook with cast iron, eat red meat, use green vegetables, etc. Nope, not on the radar. Thyroid is a touch sluggish, but all the hormones are firing away like normal. Blood sugar is good. I just don't have enough iron in my system. Having learned that though, it explains a lot. Looking at the list of symptoms was like reading about my life for the past year. So he's got me on some supplements to try and straighten all this out, and hopefully I'll start feeling better in the next couple months.

It's also good to know that often when I didn't feel good I wasn't just lazy and not wanting to get stuff done. Doesn't help with the energy levels, but it does help with the guilt for not keeping my housekeeping up in the way I'd like.

July 28, 2010

been thinking some more

I believe my blogging comes in fits and spurts. Sometimes I write down everything. Sometimes I have to chew on things for a long time. There's a mental gestation process as I examine the world around me and seek to discover how I fit into it and where my work should be in it. This past season has been a busy one full of growth and challenges. I've hosted quite a bit of company of both the dinner and house guest varieties. I've planned more than a couple trips for myself and others. I've started to stumble into new routines and new ways of thinking. I have new friends and new goals. I'm loosing weight for pretty much the first time in 4 years. I'm seeking out ministry opportunities in places where I never thought I'd look. In short, I'm constantly picking myself up and catapulting again and again into that insane circus of life.

And now I'm thinking that it's time I started writing again. Today will be busy, but I'm going to try and get a couple thinking posts up by the end of the week. We'll see :)

June 16, 2010

vintage sewing feet

Went rooting around under the seat of my sewing stool looking for a foot suitable for making some piping for a pillow I've been making instead of getting ready for Allen's family to arrive tomorrow. Instead finding another foot for my Janome I discovered that the vintage Singer feet I had (which I found in a box under the seat after purchasing the stool from a Salvation Army thrift store)actually fit on my Janome machine. So now if I ever need to use unfolded bias binding I have the foot to do it :) More to the point, my piping came out well. Unfortunately I don't think it's going to get finished before folks come over.

June 15, 2010

getting by with some help from vimeo

I've realized that I have to actively pursue mental engagement if I'm ever going to get anything done around this place. It's not enough for me to close the computer and put down the book and put on a rousing round of folk songs, I have to have something to focus my brain on while I'm picking up the living room and such. Sometimes I forget and try to muscle through the fog of refracted thoughts bouncing around inside my head. Doesn't work so well. So I'm off to wrap my head around some exegesis of Romans - good hearty reformed stuff that should pair nicely with a clean living room :)

May 30, 2010


Allen went backpacking with me :) We did something like 14-15 miles (haven't added it all up yet), and over 3,000 feet elevation change over 48hrs. We were going to make it a three day trip, but since we weren't able to really plan ahead (apparently the maps for Henry Coe are only sold there) we ended up doing some fly by the seat of our pants planning at the visitor center that (coupled with an usually early start) had us cooling our heals at 1:30 with nothing else to do for the rest of the day and staring at the prospect of a long afternoon with nothing to break the lethargy but a couple of books we'd selected more for their prospective merits as conversation starters and less for their ability to while away a drowsy afternoon. So after a couple hour's nap we decided to pack up, start hiking again, and make a two day loop of it. Besides, the scenery at Coe, though pretty enough as pasture land, wasn't enough to keep me wanting to stare at it for hours on end. I've scene some places where I could just sit and wonder for hours without being bored. The hills east of San Jose....not quite so fascinating. Anyway, I'm super proud of Allen for his unexpected display of hiker prowess. That night when I was feeling headachey and tired he inflated the sleeping pad, fixed supper, and read to me. Then we got up, hit the trail, and made it out in time to get showers and head to church. Based on our experiences I think we'll make a pretty good go of the Sierra's this summer once we're able to get up in them.

May 16, 2010

I'm not dead

Wow, popped back over here only to realize I haven't posted anything in well over a month. Well, I guess everything has its season, and I've just been busy poking away at other things. Hopefully I'll soon be back here on a more regular basis -plenty of blog posts whirling about in my head if only I'll sit down and bang them out.

March 29, 2010

surprised by pain

Every time I think I've got a handle on it, something will happen, and all the pain of losing my family will rush back over me and take my breath away. I wonder what my sister is fixing for dinner and whether my brother likes a girl. I wonder if they feel the weight of lost years like I do. I wonder if they stop and stare numbly at pictures on a facebook profile wondering what happened to kids who used to read books together and chase each other around the yard. I wish becoming me didn't mean losing you.

March 23, 2010

pretty glacier, pretty valley

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that some of our nations most magnificent scenery is the result of some vast, glorious glacier melting away and leaving behind such splendid rock work as can be seen 24/7/365 at Yosemite National Park. I would therefore submit that glacier melt is not inherently bad. Whether or not it's bad right this moment is for wiser souls to determine.

March 21, 2010

a rant in miniature

Not voting or voting for a third party does not mean that you sold out, don't care, are a blinking ideologue, or otherwise don't deserve to be recognized as a part of the political power structure. For a lot of America not voting means expressing a no confidence vote in the candidates and the political structure. This isn't apathy. It's reality. Until the right-wing Christians realize that the Republican Party is bleeding them for their shiny happy family values and their shiny American dollars without wanting any actually part of the Sovereign Christ who established our moral foundation we're going to be in trouble. Until the bright-eyed left wing Christians realize that Democrats just want to pluck their tender heart strings and weave a soothing song of compassion into wide scale theft we're going to be in trouble. Instead of waving slogans and banners around a Washington alive to the lust of power and dead the ways of God I vote we give them a finger waggling, thumbs in the ears, "neener-neener" salute and go back to trying to be good Christians. I'd say this nation has had too much political wrangling and not enough disciplining. Votes haven't changed very much of anything for the better in my short lifetime. I think we'd all be better off doing more praying. I'm better at blogging than praying, but I'm going to give it a shot. Good night this nation is insane! The loonies are running the nuthouse, and I think somewhere along the way we gave them the keys.

March 20, 2010

both feet and a dehydrator

I think Allen's right about me tending to jump into things with both feet. Now that I've been trying to plan backpacking meals (I didn't realize that we've got at least 15 trail days planned for this summer -love it!) I'm realizing just how much I tend to dive into things. I mean, who wants to eat freeze dried Mountain House breakfasts when you could eating hot buckwheat cereal full of dried fruit, nuts, and spices? Ok, I can dehydrate cooked grains in my oven super easy. What about dinner though? Freeze dried is expensive, foil pouch chicken is boring (and tinned meat is just suspicious to me), and all the cheap dehydrated veggie mixes contain things we don't like -namely green peas. I can't have Allen getting sick 15-20 miles from a trail head. Turns out I have a friend who can loan me her dehydrator, so now I'm looking at prepping a whole season's worth of dried veggies and sauces =D which I suppose will also double as our emergency food supply should Loma Prieta strike again. Of course in a situation where things fall down I'm not sure where to actually store this supply...It's not like I can put it a shed in the middle of the yard in case the house is structurally unstable. Maybe we just keep praying that we don't have another Loma Prieta down here. Anyway, I'm excited because this will mean I can have backpacking meals for virtually the same cost as eating at home and with about the same nutritional value. However that does mean prepping something over 22 quarts of veggies for dehydrating. This doesn't count ground meats or rice/pasta. Oh boy. Is it too late to just buy them? :D The good news is that once on the trail meals should mostly be confined to pouring the contents of a bag into a pot and boiling up with some water and a little oil to replace the fats you have to take out to dehydrate your meat.

March 18, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup with Wild Rice and Curry

I've had this huge (we're talking gigantic) butternut squash sitting around my kitchen for the past month or so. I bought it at the end of a soup for lunch kick and just never got around to cooking it. But since my theme for this week was using up the various vegetables I had lying around I decide to crack it open and try making some soup. I spent an hour peeling, slicing, and removing seeds. (Next time we're roasting it.) My knife needs sharpening, and my wrist got pretty sore by the time I'd finished.

Well I tossed that mountain of squash in my dutch oven along with a container of browned ground turkey from the freezer and a couple cups of chicken stock (also from the freezer). I added some water and went to check my e-mail. Once the squash was soft I mashed it up quickly with my little potato masher and tossed in a couple cups of chopped celery, three carrots halved and sliced, a diced onion, one cup brown rice, and half a cup wild rice. For seasoning I added salt, pepper, a tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp cardamon, 1T curry powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. It turned out quite well -rather savory with balance of sweet and spicy flavors and easy to adjust once dished out by sprinkling on more red pepper or curry powder. It's very colorful as well. You should give me a try and let me know how it comes out. I love soup variations.

March 9, 2010

and she said Allen wouldn't camp

So many times I don't understand the world in which I live. For instance, I remember my mom getting very upset that I was contemplating marriage to a man who didn't camp. She was upset that I could see giving up something that I'd enjoyed for so long. Then she turned on me and accused me of never really enjoying it, of lying and pretending to enjoy something that had been part of our family culture and figured so largely in some of my most precious family memories. In the end I think she was accusing me of not being a member of the family. Now that I'm in the middle of planning trips and looking up backpacking meal ideas I recall how upset she was that night in the car where we sat talking while waiting for the younger kids to come out of church. She never came back and said she was mistaken about Allen. She condemned him for not being a certain kind of man, but when he surpassed everyone's expectations by sleeping on the ground and strapping on snowshoes she never apologized. She never said that perhaps she was mistaken about this aspect of his character or interests or his capacity to willingly do a thing because he loves me. That didn't change her. I wonder. What was that argument really about. When I was trying to defend my interest in man who'd said he'd like to go see Colorado National Monument with me, what was that really about? I don't think it was about camping. I don't know if was even really about me. It was probably about her, but I really don't even think that matters much. Listening to that argument one would think she feared breaking the family culture -that I would go off and be a person whom I had not been before and live a life different from hers. When Allen and I married we taught each other new interests. We carry on the cultures of both families and don't belong wholly to either. I wish that could be enough. Why it isn't I don't know.

March 4, 2010

remembering Yosemite

Amid all the hustling with maps and guidebooks, trying to figure out vacation time in the most efficient way possible, I feel like I've lost something. Thinking back to the first time Allen and I visited Yosemite I recall how Allen and I didn't have everything figured out. We took a few wrong turns (bad signage in part) and got the campground so late that wouldn't even let us come in and set up. We ended up sleeping in the car with our necks cricked awkwardly and fleece blankets tucked in the windows in an attempt to block the blaring light of the parking lot. As one might guess we arose early with the energy of sore limbs prodding us to be anywhere but there. Pulling out of our would be campground we rolled east through early morning mists that banded about the stands of pine trees on either side, eager to forget our aching necks in the wonder of this fabled valley. As we drove through the mountains we joined up with the Merced river flowing out from Yosemite's moist valleys. The road swept us up into a cleft in the mountain range as we followed the river ever inward. Finally, the mountains opened, and the whole force of the Yosemite Valley broke upon us. With the sun still drifting gently upwards from the rim of the valley, I recall how everything seemed shrouded in golden wraps -El Capitan and Half Dome thrusting their heads through misty draperies that pooled on the valley floor. Against the other wall the silken scarf of Bridalveil Falls waved and danced in greeting. It seemed a lost corner of Eden sent to refresh the souls of men. That is how I first saw Yosemite.

Remembering my first awestruck enjoyment of the peaks and valleys now become so much more family I wonder if perhaps I lose something with my everlasting counting of miles and researching of trailheads. I will never see all there is to see, and there are little to no bad directions. Should I perhaps, in trips planning as well as life, learn to let things go a little? I will never see all there is to behold, and the work I can find for my hands will never be done. Sometimes I think the hardest part of being human is learning to be incomplete and unfinished. Even the majestic Yosemite is thing always changing and never complete. And God has had many more lifetimes to mold that granite than to shape my stubborn heart.

March 3, 2010

the snooty foodie test

Do you know the taco bell song? If yes, you're definitely not a snooty foodie. If no, ask yourself if you know the greasy pizza song. If still no, you just might be a foodie. If so get thee to the best greasy pizza joint in town and order it with extra sausage.


Now I'm hungry.

P.S. I'm posting this because sometimes I think I'm a snooty foodie myself, and it's such a relief to know I'm not always a snooty foodie. Even when I'm buying organic white sugar.*

*I don't really do that.

Cousins! Yosemite! Backpacking!

Yes, I'm in that sort of mood :D On a whim I reserved an extra spot when I made our trail head reservation out of Tuolumne Meadows because a friend of ours had mentioned coming out over the summer. Well, he can't make it, but I think Allen's cousin can. I am super excited. This guy is a lot of fun. Don't let the puppy dog exterior fool you -this kid is a fiddle playing, ballroom dancing, sword fighting, eagle scout. That's got to be some girl's dream of romance right there ;) He hasn't said for sure he can come out, but I'm really hoping he does so I can learn some of his super-awesome eagle scout tricks :D

Hmmm, that makes most of Allen's family that we'll have persuaded to come adventuring in California with us this summer since Mamaw is coming out in June to see her mountains. This is going to be the best summer ever!

in retrospect

The ladies over on Femina posted saying they were going to have a blog party and invited everyone to post links to their blogs so folks could roam around visiting. Got me to thinking about some of my older posts. Consider this a warning or maybe a plea for clemency. I've mellowed out some on the last couple years. Some things matter more. Some things matter less. Either way I'm less strident. I don't have to defend myself so much. So if you're reading back through the archives just remember -older is wiser :D

February 26, 2010

a softer landscape

Even as once I might have dreamed of trips out into the great granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, now I dream of gentle hills rolling away into a dew washed distance. I miss the softer outlines of my southeastern home, and I should very much like to wonder through their gentler outlines again.

February 23, 2010

Allen, blisters, and rainy trail days

While Allen was out with his buddies at a conference in Atlanta I went on my first backpacking trip with a friend from church. We went out to Pt. Reyes and set up our tent at Glen Camp before hiking out to Alamere Falls. It's a lovely little fall that comes out right on the beach. Beautiful! Unfortunately we underestimated the mileage and ended up hiking back in the dark on lots of steep inclines. Not fun. Fortunately we had tortellini and a platy of wine waiting for us back at our tent. Don't know that the wine did my sore muscles any good, but it sure helped my way past the end of my endurance outlook on life. Well, the pesto helped a lot there too. We had talked about making a longer, ten mile loop, out of the park in the morning, but our sixteen mile day up and down hills had us pretty whacked. So we ended up packing up our gear in a very light misty rain and hiking out through the drizzle. I'd found two large blisters on my fourth toes that morning that even moleskin couldn't help very much. By the time we got back to the car I was wet, footsore, but still oddly glad to be out hiking through the woods. The rain actually made our typically dry California scenery look very lush and mysterious seen through the drifting bands of fog that shrouded coastlines and hills. Over all I had a very good trip. This whole weekend since Allen left has gone much better than I expected. Once again I've discovered that I'm a stronger person that I think I am, and that's very encouraging. Now Allen is back home (hurrah! hurray!), and everything is very good. I even found a Granite Gear pack I can take on my next backpacking trip. Usually I'd never even think about buying one of them because they're some of the most expensive packs out there, but good old REI was selling them for $150 off through their deal of the day program. If it works I'll have found more pack than I could ever dream of getting at a price I thought couldn't be done with a satisfaction guarantee that's the best in the business. That is a good week!

February 14, 2010

This barren earth

Question: What do you do when you do believe that people (ideally Christians) do have the God-given right to have large bountiful families and simultaneously you hold that no holds barred environmental rape is a Bad Thing?

Short Answer: I think that means you're invisible. The enviro-wackos think you're a huge crock of whatsit, and the Far Right (or the religious right) will look at you in disbelief when you try to start a thoughtful conversation about mining on federally protected lands.

Seriously, I've been lurking on this backpacking thread talking about how humans as a species already take up too much space and that going around breeding like we owned the place is a threat to the very values that "we" (outdoor aficionados) hold dear. They're serious. They want to see women educated to a point where they no longer want to have large families, free contraceptives and sterilization, tax laws that punish large families, etc. All this in the name of mother earth and sharing with other species. And it's not like they think each family should get a resource budget that they can use for one kid or for ten. They think you just shouldn't be having that many kids -that even if you raise your six kids to bike commute, compost, and never use plastic bags you're still hurting then environment because you're having way more kids than you "need." It actually makes for some kind of scary reading. Misguided too. Face it, the birthers are always going to win because they're the one's having the kids that are going to outvote, outfight, and plain outnumber the kids you aren't having. These people talk about technology like it's bad because it enables the earth to support an artificially inflated number of people. "Who gave them the right to breed like this and clog the earth with our species?" Uhhh, God? Oh right. You don't believe in God. The point is that they want people to be barren so that the earth will be fruitful. But that doesn't seem to be the way God set things up. If you look at Scripture God is all about fruitfulness. Children are fruit. The works of righteousness are fruit. Fruit on a fig tree is fruit. The children of fruitfulness cultivate the garden so that it will bear even more fruit. In God's economy more seems to equal more. The more we need grace the more it abounds. The more we forgive the more we experience forgiveness. God wants and calls us to cultivate abundance. How exactly this works on environmental issues I don't quite know, but I do know that Christians are called to populate the earth and that as a reflection of God's glory we should strive to use this earth in the most beautiful and fruitful possible. Fertility should call forth fertility and abundance reap as it has sown. The arguments posed by people wishing to limit population size are in some ways compelling if you accept that people can (and do) use the earth in less appropriate ways. However, their arguments lack wisdom because they rebel against God's revelation. I've stayed quiet on this particular issue (on the forum I read) because I doubt I can contribute anything useful to the discussion. Like I said, people like me seem to be largely invisible to the wider culture. We aren't busy creating Christian versions of the latest earth fad, and we aren't on the street corners chanting "Drill! Drill!" We're those quiet people who reject most of the environmentalist's premises and yet think that Christians can and should have thoughtful discussions on cultivating this earth in a distinctly Christian fashion. And I think that discussion needs to begin and end with an attempt to understand what God views as fruitfulness.

February 2, 2010

Snowshoe therapy

Seems like my posting has become more sporadic of late. I went through a depressed spell for a while where I was struggling to get things done. Fortunately life seems to be on an upswing for the moment. Getting out into the woods really helped. This past weekend Allen and I went back up to Yosemite for some snowshoeing. Neither one of us had ever been on snowshoes before, and we ended up having a lot of fun. We got to the campground around 10:30, but setting up took a little longer than we expected. For one thing there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Hmmmm. Out came the snowshoes, and we got our first taste of snowshoeing tramping down a smooth place to set up the tent. Second hmmmm. There was still too much snow for the tent stakes to grab well. Since I didn't have any sort of snow anchor I ended up improvising with a pair of stakes. I pounded on in as usual and hooked a second stake to it that would lay horizontally, packed snow all around the stakes, and horizontal surface area was enough to the corners to hold. I admit I have a blast with this sort of mildly creative problem solving while out camping. Later, in our sleeping bags, Allen remarked that it's a lot of fun watching me come alive when we start setting up camp. It's true. All those times I'd tell Allen to fire up the stove while I set up the tent. He'd heat up supper while I was happily (baring the truly unrepentant rock) pounding in tent stakes.

The next morning we woke up, fixed lunch, outfitted our day packs, and headed up for Badger Pass. It had rained that night in the valley, and all the way up we saw great clumps of fresh snow ornamenting the pine trees. Once at the trail head we grabbed our snowshoes and headed out to Dewey Point -seven miles round trip. Looking at pictures of winter trails I used to wonder why no one ever went tramping off trail through all that lovely snow. Now, I know. Unless there's a healthy crust on the stuff, snowshoes or no, you'll still sink in to mid-calf, and breaking trail is hard work. The other thing I didn't realize was just how warm you can get snowshoeing. With memories of playing in the snow at Wolf Pass with my family filling the back of my mind I donned two base layers, a fleece pullover, rain/wind jacket, hat, and gloves. Within minutes I had skinned out of my jacket, and by the time we reached the Dewey Pt trail proper I was down to my base layer top and had stashed my hat and gloves in my pack. I ended up losing my hat somewhere on the trail :( It was new too. Hopefully someone will turn it in. Anyway, even having stashed most of my layers I still got warm whenever we had a pull uphill. As for pants, Allen had found some cheap rain pants that ended up working like a dream for keeping wind and wet snow from getting us cold.

We ate our midday snack in a pretty meadow maybe a third of the way in on the Dewey Point trail before pressing on towards the point. Seeing everyone coming back towards up from the point we wondered if we were just a little bit crazy going on as we were, but when we got to the point....You come out on top of the south rim of Yosemite Valley just opposite El Capitan with a perfect view of Half Dome partially shrouded with feathery clouds that gravely danced in and out of the valley. Looking west you could see the outlines of tents perched on the shoulder on a hill with what must have been unbelievable views of the sunset reflected of Half Dome and the following moonrise over the cliffs. We sat on our blue foam pads contemplating the view and eating our sandwiches. I saw someone appear on the edge of the hill as if having emerged from one of the tents. Maybe next year I could think of a trip like that. For now I had to be content with watching the sky changing colors above the fringe of evergreens that grew up along the meadows we passed through on our way back down the trail. We hit the main trail back down the mountain just before sunset and spent a few minutes appreciating the modern convenience located close to the trail head. Getting back on the trail we realized just how close we'd come to hiking the last half mile in ever deepening twilight. Here on the main trail, which was really a summer roadbed groomed for skiing we'd have no difficulty navigating downhill to the car. Out in the woods we'd have been following tracks back, and that's never my favorite way to travel a new trail at night. We got back to the car an hour after sunset with only a little aid from Allen's new headlamp. Overall a very successful trip.

The next day we drove around the valley, walked the short trail to Yosemite Falls for a third time (saw deer tracks), wrote postcards, and took lots of pictures. Then we broke camp, showered at Curry, and headed back towards home after taking a short detour to the swinging bridge in Wawona. That's where my knee started acting up. I think I must have turned my foot wrong or something when went off trail. Somehow I strained the side of my knee. At least I was persuaded we should head home instead of hiking more. Including a stop for bbq we got home around 10pm, so we really didn't need to linger any longer however much the glow of lowering sun on snow tempted me.

I can't wait to go back there again. I'm hoping to get in another couple of trips before the snow melts. Then one more trip in the spring, and afterward I'll probably be turning my attention to less popular parks until fall arrives. There are so many lovely places to go, and I'm blessed to live this close to so many of them.

January 26, 2010


I had one of those aha moments where I realized that I'm long over-due for a dental appointment and that I really wish I was young enough to bring my teddy bear and get a sticker for being a big girl. Erg. I got to see my uncle when I went to dentist growing up, and I would still get queasy sitting in the waiting room. You know it sort of mystifies me that I can contemplate packing my life on my back for 3-4 days and disporting myself in bear and cougar country and then when I have to make a dentist appointment...And I'm really hoping that I don't have any cavities. I think I might have one, but I'm praying to be mistaken. Of course if you really can't handle it the nice doctor will give you a pill that will make you forget all of it, but I'm not that far gone. Of course I'm the kid who would start crying on cue when I heard my mom making a doctor's appointment for us because I knew that was probably going to involve stickings of some sort. I keep trying to prove to myself in various small ways that I'm really not a wimp (hey, when I cracked my tibia I was over there fighting back tears and shock because I didn't want to act all wussy), but most times I think I'm probably a wimp. Heaven help me when I have kids.

January 19, 2010

lovely technology

I was thinking the other day about all the things I can do more easily with a computer and internet plus access to netflix and iTunes. I can read books on-line through Project Gutenberg , listen to lectures on Christian history or Old English through iTunes, watch movies on netflix, get recipes and workout videos for free all over the place. This all on top of e-mail and blogging and shopping on-line. I must admit that my recent infatuation with the internet comes from my new work out resolution. I can get resistance training routine on-line, yoga and pilates on netflix, and even more yoga video podcasts on iTunes. Don't got to go the gym. Don't got to buy a dvd and hope it's good. Don't got to go the library and then remember to take it back to the library and be stuck doing serially different routines every week. I've basically got those whole archive of fitness routines I can access at will. It's pretty awesome. Also, the lectures. Oh, my soul, the lectures. I've been listening Reformed Theological Seminary's series on the history of the Puritans, and it's been quite interesting. I've been needing to get my head and my body out of the ruts I've fallen into, and I'm just thrilled I can do both without spending any more money.

Anyway, that's my panegyric on internet access. Thank you lovely people who make it all work.

January 15, 2010

Fear and Fatherhood

I've been reading an interesting book lately. It's called Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus' Provocative Questions and is written by Winn Collier. I picked up off a five dollar table at one of those bookstores that tend to pop up overnight in the mall during Christmas season and consists of a dozen tables with books basically poured out on them. Anyway, I picked up this book, and it's proved rather fascinating. Basically the author looks at the questions that Jesus asked his disciples (and others) during His ministry on earth and asks "Why?" What purpose could God have in asking this question and not the dozen other questions that we would have asked? What can learn from answering these questions ourselves? Why did Jesus ask this particular question at this particular time to this particular group of people? The answers that Collier comes up with are both challenging and encouraging. One chapter in particular caught my attention. In his third chapter titled "Why are you afraid? The grace of letting go," Collier looks at Jesus' question to the disciples when caught in the storm on the Sea of Galilee. On this chapter Collier has a lot of good things to say about fear and the way it works with our lives and our faith, but I was particularly struck by two things. One, Jesus was afraid (ie in the Garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross when God turned His face away). Two, often times our more superficial fears (say of monsters under the bed) are actually manifestations of our loneliness and our fear that we really do have to face the "brutality of life" by ourselves. Collier illustrates this by looking to his own discussions of bedtime monsters with his son. Collier writes:

Wyatt fears he will be left to himself to fend off the menace his imagination conjures up for him...Wyatt wants to know that, as he says it, "If I really need something, you'll come up." So, even as I tell Wyatt that there are no monsters, I want to be quicker to tell him what he needs most to hear--that his safety is not in his own hands, that if any scary creatures are foolish enough to enter my son's room, his dad will be there, hell-on-wheels, faster than he can blink, to dish out a grade-A monster butt whoopin'

Collier goes on to explain to his son how he will be there like greased lightning to pummel any monster his son sees. The reason, he tells his son, not to be afraid of monsters is not because they don't exist but because his "daddy is stronger than any monster there is."

I know that's a fairly extended quote, but I latched on to it because just last week talking to my counselor he observed that there must be times when I feel very lonely. I realized that he's right. I've spent the better part of my life not fitting in and not measuring up, and it's been lonely. On top of that I've been scared. I never really saw how the two might fit together though until I started reading this chapter. Because if you'll look at what Collier says elsewhere in this chapter he's essentially saying that to be alone is to be afraid because that means there's no one outside up to help us face up the brutal realities of life. Loneliness says that it's all up to us--there's no one I can rely on except for myself. And I don't know about the rest of the world, but I'm pretty well aware that one very determined cat could wreck some serious havoc on my rear. That's not to mention germs, cars, muggers, earthquakes, loose gravel, stray bullets, political unrest and all the other bogeymen of my imagination. Of course at this point Collier goes on to talk about our need for God, but honestly one of the things that caught me most was his portrayal of fatherhood. Growing up I always had the impression that Dad would throw himself between any of us and an oncoming car cheerfully with no hesitation. What I also learned growing up was that Dad wasn't going to stand between me and the real monsters that scarred my life. The few times I went to him saying "Dad it hurts when Mom teases me about this, can you help me" I came away discouraged and undefended. It was up to me to take the abuse, alone. I had no champion at all until Allen came along and finally asked what the hell was going on. He was the first person who attempted to fight the monsters under my bed.

I find all this immensely interesting because the way I look at my dad is (big surprise) similar to the way I look at God. If Dad wasn't big enough/loving enough to fight for me then I don't see why God would be either. And so the monsters, not seeing anyone around with proper butt kicking gear, keep trying to multiply. I keep trying to push forward into my fears instead of running away from them. And many times I still feel alone. I need to find the God who is there because to be quite honest the God I know is the one who still hasn't figured out how to keep poor children in Africa from dying of malnutrition. Yes, He died on the Cross to save us from the wrath of God. Yes, He is the perfect Creator of the Universe. Yes, He is God as revealed by His word in the Bible. Sometimes I just wish I could find the God who sits by my bed and tells me not to worry about the monsters in the closet because Jesus has a special roundhouse kick for closet monsters and He'll be here in two snaps if any monster tries anything in my bedroom. And then maybe He could help my mom.

I wish my dad had taken the time to show me that kind of God. Maybe Dad doesn't know that kind of God exists either. I wish he could have though.

January 14, 2010

an actual resolution

Ok, so I'm thinking that the exercise/lose weight resolution might actually stick for longer than it took to write it. Since I've already got some momentum going I want to break it down a little better.

1. For January I'm exercising at least 20min a day six days a week. Might reevaluate this either the end of January or mid-February. For now I just need the tiniest non-guilt inducing amount that I can maintain while still getting some benefits.

2. More veggies for supper. Go crazy and fix steamed broccoli and Caesar salad with the spaghetti bolognese.

3. Go back to the eat when you're hungry stop when you're not principle. Stop obsessing about camping gear for 3 hours and get some breakfast! The sale will be there later.

4. Easy on the grains/carbs. This is January. That means we've just come through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Carrot sticks sort of follow logically after all that pie.

January 12, 2010


Dear Family,

Can we stop pretending that love is something you earn?


Dear God,

I don't like you very much, but I still need a hug. Can you handle that?

Dear Dad,

I think people are forgetting that I'm your daughter. Do you still remember?

Dear Sisters,

Once, we were good friends. I wish we could be again.

Dear World,

I don't take shit from nobody anymore. You've been warned.

January 6, 2010

thoughts for the last day of Christmas

While elsewhere people are putting up Valentine's merchandise and pulling lights down from the rafters, Allen and I are looking forward to the last official hurrah of Christmas. The living room isn't perfectly clean. There aren't any whimsical centerpieces, crackling fires, or gathered friends. There are steaks marinating on the counter though and unopened presents waiting under the tree. This isn't the Epiphany I hope to be celebrating five or ten years from now, but it's the very best Epiphany our travel wearied selves can celebrate this year. And, by God's grace, it's enough. Tonight, with steak and good wine, gingerbread and sweet potato soup, we'll quietly close out what has, in some ways, been the best Christmas we've ever celebrated.

That's the thing about getting better with practice. I don't want this Christmas to be the best Christmas ever because that means I'll spend all my other Christmases looking back to one tiny high point wishing I could go back again and capture a few fleeting moments. I want this Christmas to be the best Christmas so far - not the best one ever. But with that desire comes to the temptation to rush ahead and try to plan three or four Christmases out instead of enjoying the one I have right here. I need to rest in imperfection for a while.

So my bookcase needs organizing, and I can think of a dozen things I'll likely try to do differently next year. But I think it's been the best Christmas so far. And that is enough for this year.

January 3, 2010

some very California jitters

If any of y'all have heard the rather arcane news that the sea lions have (mostly) gone from Pier 39 at San Fransisco's Fisherman's Wharf you will perceive the source of my jitters. Apparently the sea lions arrived shortly after the big Loma Prieta quake of '86, and now they're gone. No one really knows why, but of course there's always someone saying "well, the animals always know first." Translated: the big one is coming. I'm an Alabama girl who hasn't ever felt so much as a spoon jingling tremor, and this little quasi-rumor has me just a tad spooked. Here's hoping there's more to the sardine fluctuations than the scientists realize and there's a perfectly plausible reason for this odd occurrence that has nothing to do with large scale plate convulsions. Eep!

January 2, 2010

A few goals for the New Year

Nothing very well thought out here but just a few wishes and intentions for the next few months.

1. Go backpacking

This is one I've been planning for and working towards for a long while. We're thinking about making a short trip just to get acclimated, but I'd love to visit Pt. Reyes and Yosemite. Pretty much just gotta get the water filter and rent some packs once we plan our first trip.

2. Go snowshoeing in Yosemite.

This one we're planning to do by the end of this month :D

3. Exercise 3 days a week

Now that I've started getting my mind in shape I'm wanting to work on my body. I don't care if it's five minutes or thirty minutes. I got a new pilates type workout set for Christmas, and I'm planning on putting it to use.

4. Lose 20lbs

Something I've been meaning to/half trying to accomplish for about 2 years but just haven't really settled down to consistently.

5. Read something interesting

Ie Emerson, Shakespeare play I've never read, Calvin, lit theory, theology, etc

6. Read my Bible more.

Yeah, we aren't going to talk about how much I don't read my Bible. However, as I'm starting to become more honest with myself I'm starting to realize just how much I really need to get in touch with the God who is instead of the God I imagine.

7. Find a job and/or volunteer position.

I think it's about time I start spreading my wings and figuring out just where I fit in this world. Besides that I've gots to keep my hands busy.

8. Invite someone over for supper/coffee/lunch.

Repeat as necessary to develop friendships and community :D