Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Matt's Blog

Matt's been blogging about the ferry he's building in Africa. Check it out!

Wednesday Morning Again

I've made it back! Back to my favorite local coffee shop, baby free for a few hours to do some grading for King's and some heart time for me.

I have a smattering of things to offload here, little musings that have had me pondering this week that I'd like to share.

First of all, thanks to Alisha, I'm newly smitten with a new online magazine entitled Delish, "Live like you mean it." My favorite sections are "Heavens to Etsy," in which they review their favorite Etsy online stores, "A Little Birdy Told Us," quoting from favorite recent tweets, and their features categories: Make, Grow, Taste, Nest, Read. Read currently discusses genres of life-formative books for children to read, from which I gleaned an excellent Brit children's adventure lit. recommendation: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Never heard of it, but excited to try it out once I've gotten through some of my current stack of books to read.

Also, I found this Etsy storefront, full of adorable, handmade children's wear. Our clothing budget these days is nil, but I'm in love with these little ruffly bloomers and simple handmade dresses. After loading up on some vintage sheets for fabric at Value Village last week, I'm excited to head to my local sewing shop to buy a few patterns and start some summer sewing projects. Little dresses for my little one. I've also reserved Amy Butler's book on sewing for children from the library, and am dreaming of Lotta Jansdotter's book on the same subject, sadly not available in my library system. I wonder if they allow requests?

As you already know, I've been following the Lost series (so if you haven't watched the finale yet, skip ahead three paragraphs!) I won't write an entire essay here, though I'm tempted to, but I did want to make a few comments about the finale. First, if you thought that plane wreckage footage at the credits meant something, it didn't. Here's an article explaining why ABC (and not Lindelof/ Cuse) chose to do that. While I was right about the Juliet/Sawyer moment and Juliet as Jack's ex, I have to admit that I was wrong about the flash sideways being the true reality. Well into the first hour of the finale I really hoped that would be the case. Kill smokey, sink the island, maybe everyone dies in the process, but some Desmond inspired deus ex machina joins the two realities. It would have been so cool if they had all gotten a new lease on life, no one chained to protecting the island, but with total memory of that other life they had lived. As my friend Stephanie says, it's string theory.

I was pretty surprised when they took a different, and very existential tack, making the flash sideways the "place they created to find each other" (Christian Shepherd) after their deaths. A place that they could remember what they shared before moving on to the afterlife. Despite my disappointment with this, and with the plot action in the island reality that seemed somewhat disjointed and at times illogical, now that I've had time to think about it, I'm more pleased than I was intially. Jack's sacrifice is at the heart of the series, as is the arc of his character (the slowest to find his true self/ redemption compared to the other characters). Rightly so, we begin with his perspective, end with his perspective, and it's his realization that completes the flash sideways action.

As someone who does believe in heaven, in the gathering of all the great hearts, in the remembering of all the heroic, true and meaningful things that our lives have seen and done, I was stirred by the all the moments of knowing experienced by the characters. Yes, my heart seemed to say. Yes, we will remember. It will not all be for nothing. We will be stirred by beauty, touched by the memory of sorrow, but in a place where there will be no more tears, no more suffering. Kudos to the Lost creators for being willing to go deep in a culture of shallow entertainment. For another interesting read, linking the novel Watership Down to the Lost series, go here.

Ok, spoilers over now.

Finally, for a last thought, I wanted to share something that offers a light-hearted critique of American style church. While I want to be careful not to offend my friends for whom the large church experience is an authentic part of their Christian walk (and I believe it can be), I find myself in the category of people just too distracted by the format, so much like a commercial product to my eyes. Anyway, I thought this was both insightful and funny.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

I particularly liked the starbucks cups, the cool guy with tats and glasses and graphic tee, the "Give what you want, but we're tracking you" (oh so like my old church), and the "Winner of the Papyrus Font Award" at the end. I am one of those dorky people who notice font types in everything I read, especially Papyrus, which is mightily overused and screams "I'm an amateur designer" in my humble opinion. :) At least they can poke fun even at themselves.

That's all for this Wednesday! Off to grade a LARGE stack of papers and do some personal writing. I'd love to hear your responses to any of this, and also, what are YOU inspired by these days? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How does your garden grow?

Matt and I have been jonesin' to plant a vegetable garden for a couple of years now. Second floor apartment/condo living precludes that (or so we thought), and we've been under that label since we got married nearly 5 years ago. Sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in that Feist song: "Second floor living without a yard... It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay."

Inspired by the BBC/Food Network series Jamie at Home, Angelo Pellegrini's The Unprejudiced Palate, and a host of other influences over the past couple years, we been straining at the leash to get started, but our yearly summer moves have really made it impossible. Since we're staying put this summer, we decided that this is the year for us to get our hands dirty and do some gardening and Matt made some fabulous wood raised beds for us. Our latest place has a spacious deck to accommodate them.

Last night we finally got our seeds in the ground:

getting the soil ready

onion seeds


What's this? A little garden gnome.

so small

beet starts

The finished product:

Bed one has beet starts, two types of onions, swiss chard and kale. The beauty of these choices is that the beet greens can be harvested continuously as the beets grow and the beets themselves will keep in the fridge for quite some time. The onions will be harvested all at once and dried to keep through the winter, and the kale and chard can also be harvested continuously-a leaf here, a leaf there-as they grow. We'll replant beet seeds, chinese cabbage, and kale in the fall in these spots. We have four strawberry plants growing in the hanging basket.

Bed two has pole beans, bush peas, carrots, romaine and lettuce. The lettuce leaves can also be harvested continuously and replanted in fall. The carrots can be taken out of the ground throughout the winter, one at a time, as I need them. We'll replant this bed with more romaine, and possibly more carrots, if we need them, in the fall.

In addition to all this, we have a hanging cherry tomato plant, mint, basil, oregano, and rosemary.

I assume we'll have some casualties, since we're new at this, but for a first attempt, I feel pretty pleased with ourselves. Matt's practically glowing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Georgia O'Keefe and Noah's Ark

If only I had been married in May, I would have surrounded myself in peonies. I love it when they're finally in bloom. Yesterday's peonies, unfurling like senorita skirts atwirl:

Kind of reminds me of a certain painter. I can see why she took her inspiration from a fierce sense of detail in the natural.

And, to end the day, despite its stormy disposition, a beam of lightness (do you see it?):

Bon weekend, mes amies!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Value Village Score

Pink "Bumby" 2.99

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Morning Musings

These days, Matt and I are pursuing authenticity and intentionality in how we order our lives. In other words, as new parents, workers, friends, family members and individuals, we find ourselves more often at frayed ends, running all over the place to maintain relationships and interests, but never fully fulfilled by those pursuits. It's impossible to maintain the pace of life we were living before Avonlea came to begin with, but now that she's in the picture, we are forced to face our limitations and attempt to pursue a lifestyle that's more in line with what we can authentically offer to others from a healthy place. This means a lot less social engagement, and a lot more intentionality to make space for time together as a family and time alone as individuals.

One of the practical results of this is that Wednesdays Matt works from home so that I can have a morning to myself with my journal, a cup of coffee, and a little space of sanity. Later I can run errands sans bebe. You would think with just one infant who, admittedly, sleeps like a champ, I might manage this on my own, but the stark reality is that the general business of running a home, trying to get to the gym or outside with some regularity, and keeping up with emails (poorly, at that) intrudes far too often to really have the head space to pursue any of this when I'm "on" with Aves. And now that I've taken on a fair amount of daily tutoring and some reading (grading) for King's, this month is especially packed full. (No wonder I was stricken with a bad case on bronchitis from which I'm still recovering).

All of this to say that, this space, this morning, this double tall, split shot, two percent Vivace Espresso latte, this little cafe with the breeze from the Sound wafting in and the sunlight filling the air, this little bit of life alone with my heart that I've carved out for myself with the support of my amazing partner at home right now, this moment is mine. And it's good to be here. And I hope that in coming Wednesdays I might get to share here some of my heart and head space and inspiration. Now that I've got a moment in my week to pay attention to it.

Today's Inspiration?

1. New blunt bangs. I cut them myself the other day. Check em out.

2. Planting our homemade garden beds this weekend. (Photos to follow accordingly). The plan: carrots, beets, kale, lettuce, and onions. We already have tomatoes and strawberries in hanging baskets. And in the fall we'll replant with winter veg: more beets, chinese cabbage, winter hardy lettuces and more carrots. Who said apartment living can't be fruitful?

3. I found this on Alisha's blog. Now that I'm sewing, I'm intrigued by the possibility of repurposing some vintage dresses. This girl's efforts are very inspiring. And I have a crisp twenty from my mom to treat myself for my first mother's day. Value Village, here I come!

4. I'm back to writing some of my thoughts on why 4 1/2 years ago Matt and I left what I like to call The Sunday Morning Church Experience in search of something more true, more organic, and more like the Jesus we've come to know. It's been hard to pursue telling this story without it seeming like a diss on where we've come from, which is not my heart at all. Anyway, these days I'm feeling like I have a little more perspective to share our story and to do so with hope and vision, rather than bitterness or frustration. Hoping I'll have some short things to share here and there.

That's all for now, folks. I'm off to Trader Joes, maybe a short nap, and then back to back tutoring sessions. Here's to the antibiotics paying off!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My LOST Predictions

*Warning: This post is full of spoilers, if you have not yet watched up to the current episode in Season Six of LOST.

And now to make this blog even more random than it already is...

Yes, I would like to offer up my predictions about the conclusion of LOST before its final episodes. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But if I'm right...ah the eternal glory.

I've been a fan of LOST and a faithful viewer since the beginning. And while, like many people I've talked to, I had a hard time getting through that off-track third season, I'm glad I stuck with it. I don't think the creators can fully resolve every question they've raised (especially the ones posed regarding the Dharma Intiative, the crazy map inside the hatch, etc, which I think have ALL been written off as just a side-story compared to the Jacob narrative), I do think we will get some resolution.

While my ideas are my own, they have been informed by a blog or two and some conversations with friends, so I won't take total credit. Here are my predictions:

1. Jacob will not be replaced by a new guardian of the island. Instead, he has found a way to remove the need for a guardian.

Remember the scene (which they deemed important enough to show us TWICE) when we first see Jacob and the man in black together on the beach? MIB says (we now know, quoting his "crazy mother"), "It always ends the same. They come, they kill, they destroy...etc." To which Jacob replies, "It only ends once. Everything else is just progress."

I think this is incredibly important to understand what Jacob is trying to do. He, like his guardian, who first baited and then thanked the MIB for killing her and ending her eternal task, is looking for a way out of the task he inherited. Originally, it was through the candidates, but what if they, collectively, were supposed to accomplish something, not be whittled down to the final person?

I'm aware that Jack is the most likely candidate. He's finally dealt with his issues, which I believe is one of the purposes the island serves: as a venue for the characters to transform and heal, and Sayid even said "You're the one, Jack." He's the only one resolved to stay on the island indefinitely. But do you really see this ending with Jack as a demi-god, forever keeping Locke-MIB in check? Personally, I don't. I think Jacob's plan was much more complex, and final. Which brings me to my next theory.

2. The alternate reality/ flash sideways we've been seeing all season is the true reality and the outcome of Jacob's plan.

I think the "it only ends once" comment is actualized in the blowing up of the atom bomb at the end of season five. Why? Several reasons. First, we saw the state of the island in the flash sideways at the very beginning of season six: under water. It would be impossible for anyone to live there, and potentially, it may have dealt with Mr. Smokey/MIB indefinitely.

Second, as Juliette is dying in the same episode, she seems almost to be shifting between two realities: the one in which she is dying, and another, in which she says, "Meet me for coffee," to Sawyer. One epsiode or so later, the spirit of Juliette inform Sawyer through Miles, "It worked." What this says to me is that they accomplished what they set out to do: prevent any of them from ever crashing on that island. Look for a final scene in which Juliette and Sawyer meet for coffee in the flash sideways.

So why are they still on the island? Why didn't things reset completely to the alternate reality that they created when they set off the bomb? Why these two split realities? Something still needs to happen to complete Jacob's plan. Something needs to finalize the action that began when they set off the bomb and ends when....? It might have to do with dispensing with Mr. Smokey forever. Or releasing the light inside the island into another place or time. Or all of the candidates dying. I'm not entirely sure. Whatever it is, when it happens, the only reality left will be the alternate one. One in which there is no longer a need for an island protector and one in which the connections and transformations Jacob tried to make happen on the island, happen in the real world instead.

In a way, the entire season's flash sidewayses are going to be a way to answer our "Now what?" that would have come if they had just completed the action on the island and not given us a picture of what a world without the island would look like:

Sun and Jin are together and in love and having a child. Claire is keeping Aaron and reunited to her brother Jack. Jack has worked out his daddy issues through a good relationship with his son (BTW I think Juliette is the mother! We haven't seen her yet because they are waiting for the big reveal with the coffee scene with Sawyer), Sawyer's a cop and working through his past legally, Hurley's using his money for good free of his "curse" and together with Libby to boot, and Kate? I think she'll end up exonerated (maybe mom drops the charges?) and together with Jack by the end. Ben Linus saved his "daughter" rather than sacrificing her for his own advancement. And Locke still has to reconcile his father issues from a new perspective: as the guilty rather than as the victim. Sayid? Sayid is what he has always been. A renegade and a torturer. He couldn't kick that on the island, and I don't think he will in the alt. reality (though I really, really hope he does). And can we hope that Charlie meets Claire before he kills himself?

3. What actions will occur on the season finale?

I don't know exactly, but look for a big save from Richard and company at the last minute (they're still on the island, unaccounted for). Look for something required of Desmond; perhaps he's the link to joining the realities with his unique gifts of foresight and mental time-travel? Also, maybe the undoing of MIB is to somehow get him back into the river of light for another transformation? Mortal again? Finally, the sneak previews for next episode seem to indicate that Jacob's ashes play some role as ghost child Jacob demands them from Hurley. A resurrection perhaps?

If you look at the Wiki page for LOST season 6, next episode is called "What they died for," which I hope indicates a lot of explanations and maybe some more deaths.

And to cinch my prediction that Jacob's plan is linked to him saying, "It only ends once"? The finale is titled "The End."

Feel free to comment with your own theories, or shoot holes in mine. Either way, this week's episode and Sunday's resolution are going to be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Avonlea 4-months-old

Monday, May 03, 2010

Book Report: Love and War

It's no secret that Matt and I have been profoundly influenced and affected by the ministry of Ransomed Heart and John Eldredge. Even before we were dating, we each encountered this message individually and it became central to our Christian formation. In the years that have followed, Ransomed Heart has continued to offer counsel, teaching, and spiritual discipleship for us, especially as we embarked on our long pilgrammage away from the Sunday morning church experience.

Recently, John and his lovely wife Stasi have published their new book on Marriage, "Love and War." And even though we're pretty familiar with what these guys have to say, they've really done something important this time.

What I love about John and Stasi's writing is that the solutions they offer are never canned or trite. It's not a theology of principals for better living, tips and tricks to make things go better. Rather, it's an invitation back to God, the only one who can give life. This book is no different. It's also remarkably honest, practical, and real.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, both for marriages in distress and marriages doing just fine.

Matt and I are still mid-stream on this one, taking it slow and reading it together out loud. So far, so great. We have some friends who devoured it. Having been married some thirty plus years, they actually suspended their marriage counseling after reading it because the book offered them more healing and perspective than their counselor could (John's background is in counseling, so go figure).

For all that is good in this life, we have to strive. We have to strive against that which distracts, opposes, diminishes, or corrupts it. We have to engage in an active stance of pursuit, even painfully, for the best and beautiful things. Any athlete can tell you that. Marriage is one of those good and beautiful things, often opposed or diminished, but worth fighting for. I think this book shows you how.

To download a free copy of the first chapter, go here (it's a link a little down the page, in orange). It's also available on Amazon.