Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Night Stroll

A few weeks back, DC was nothing but leaves and colors. One of my favorite things about living where we do is that the grocery store is two blocks away. I LOVE walking with my reusable grocery bags up the hill past the library and back down Wisconsin Avenue to the Social Safeway. Yes, it's really called that. Apparently all of the DC Safeway stores have names. Thus far, I only know of two: Social Safeway and the Soviet Safeway in Dupont, called such because its shelves are almost never fully stocked as Dupont is one of the busiest areas in the city.

Anyway, here is some color from our street that I snapped on one of my grocery trips:


In keeping with the subject of walking, Michael and I often take walks after dinner. It gets us out of the apartment, gives Michael a nice study break, and helps our digestion. Win win win. We took the camera the other night and although I wish we could boast some photography know-how, we have none. We did have some fun with the night setting though.

Normal camera setting:

Night setting:

Ooooo spooky                

Suddenly the Harry Potter theme song has popped into my head.

Shoot. I think I must go now and read HP. I'm in the middle of book 4, re-reading them all of course. I was one of those Potter diehards who went to the midnight book releases at Barnes and Noble every time a new book came out. My brother read them too -- one time he even tore my book in half because I wasn't reading fast enough on our beach vacation. Unbelievable. 

I didn't plan on writing about Harry Potter at all yet somehow I've done it. And just watched one of my favorite YouTube videos. Oh good grief.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Firecracker Life

Marriage has certainly calmed my life down. Going from 8 roomies, to 6, to 4, and finally to one hubby can either make a girl go crazy, or can take the crazy out of a girl. For me, it's thankfully been the latter. Not that I was crazy before I was married. I was just busy. Non-stop. Go go go. Traveling, running, eating chips for dinner, calling, making plans, buying flights, sleep here, sleep there, watching the Kardashains with my roomies (I miss this,) driving, working, planning a wedding, preparing your heart, loving every minute, excited for it to be over.

Summer turns to fall and then I write poetry:

Bright light burning until it goes dark
Stars left in the midst of the fairy lights
Green grass smells like summer rain but
no rain fell

Green grass, green tree changes
into orange.
Indian summer or Indian paintbrush?
The night swallows the day as I sit and
The clouds roll in like frothy milk.

They cover us warm.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Great Read

I am re-reading books that I read several years ago and am as completely taken with them as I was the first time I read them.  This can only mean one of two things: either I just loved the stories so much that I want to immerse myself in them once more, or - and this is more likely -  I'm turning into an old woman and can't remember the plot so have to therefore re-read the whole book.

I just did this with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I read it maybe two summers ago and was so intrigued by the story. It not only sheds light on the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II, but it makes you fall in love with each character as you come to know his or her voice. The whole story is told via a series of written letters, all fictional, but all accurate in how they depict the way the Islanders lived and supported each other during the occupation. And, this book is so funny. Laugh out loud funny. Always a plus.

Here are some of my favorite passages: 

"I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with." 

"Doodlebug... That was the name coined by the ministry of Information; it was meant to sound less terrifying than "Hitlers' V-1 Rockets" or "pilotless bombs." We were all used to bombing raids at night and the sights that followed, but these were unlike any bombs we had seen before. They came in the daytime, and they came so fast there was no time for an air-raid siren or to take cover. You could see them; they looked like slim, black, slanted pencils and made a dull, spastic sound above you - like a motor-car running out of petrol. As long as you could hear them coughing and putt-putting, you were safe. You could think "Thank God, it's going past me." But when their noise stopped, it meant there was only thirty seconds before it plummeted. So you listened for them. Listened hard for the sound of their motors cutting out." 

"Do you know what sentence of [Shakespeare's] I admire the most? It is 'The bright day is done, and we are for the dark.' I wish I'd known those words on the day I watched those German troops land, plane-load after plane-load of them - and come off ships down in the harbor! All I could think of was damn them, damn them, over and over. If I could have thought the words 'the bright day is done and we are for the dark,' I'd have been consoled somehow and ready to go out and contend with circumstance - instead of my heart sinking to my shoes." 

"Your questions regarding that gentleman are very delicate, very subtle, very much like being smacked in the head with a mallet. Am I in love with him? What kind of question is that? It's a tuba among the flutes, and I expect better of you. The first rule of snooping is to come at it sideways - when you began writing me dizzy letters about Alexander, I didn't ask if you were in love with him, I asked what his favorite animal was. And your answer told me everything I needed to know about him -  how many men would admit that they loved ducks?" 

"Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go? My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace. He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and 'fruitfulness' is drawn in." 

Ps. Tell me if you have read any amazing books recently! I love recommendations. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joy Deux

Two years ago, I asked friends to tell me what brings them joy, and I posted their answers here.  I loved hearing their replies so much that I asked them again last week. Here are some of the things they said:


Cute babies.*
Mikey and Granty


5:25pm on Friday!


Chick-Fil-A


Being able to really encourage my friends. 


The feeling after a good workout. 


The way my dad loves my mom. 


Purring kitties, hot apple cider, cashmere blankets, a beautiful crisp day, and my burly bearded happy man. 
Wilson and Lucinda




Sleeping next to you :) 


Walking Buster along the water with Thomas, being able to see the mountains and breathe in the salty air, and feeling thankful for everything we have been given. 


The chatter of little ones babbling in the back of your car. 


When Jimmy wakes up and scoots closer.** 


It felt pretty great when - in college - I sat in the audience and experienced the audience experience the play I'd written. So - I really like it when people are kinda mesmerized or transported or deeply engaged by something I've been integral in creating.  I'm not sure if that's joy.  It's definitely a deep satisfaction.  But it has a kind of lightness and elation to it - so I guess it is joy.


Buying people gifts I know they will love. 


Sunshine. 
Sunset in Virgin Gorda


Every fall I search for the perfect "fall leaf" to tape into my journal. The search brings me joy. Reminds me of growth and newness through change...for trees and people.


Christ. 


Getting lost in music.*** 




Having my marine safe and home. 


Cowboy boots! Driving with the windows down and heat on my feet! Working with kids! Anything turquoise! Fellowship! 


Cowboy boots


Running. 


People. People that God brings in and out of my live give me immeasurable joy. 


Weekends with my husband, and decorating for Christmas! 


People stopping me to ask for directions, and me giving them proper directions, and them being really grateful.**** 


Sunlight pouring through an autumn leaf casting a red shadow my way. 


My hubby!!!!!!!


Going to a church service at Advent. For so long I thought I would have to leave and never get to be back in the most beautiful dilapitaded sancutary sweating--both during the summer and winter--with people who have become family and listening to old hymns and contemporary songs all sung to the tune of a few guitars, a cello, and a violinist. I think I cry almost evey Sunday out of the joy and peace I get by being there. There is something special about finding a place that really feels like home, when you're surrounded by a bigger place that really doesn't feel like home (referencing both DC (at times) and this world (almost all the time)). 


Sitting on the beach with my feet in the water, reading a book next to my mom.*****


NOTES:
*I agree about cute babies. But tonight at Safeway, I saw the most obnoxious 4 year-old girl in the checkout line. She didn't listen to her mom who told her to stop playing with the curled cord that goes across the aisle when the line is closed, and ended up getting her hair wrapped around it in the most haphazard way that only a screaming little punk could do. Birth control at its finest. 
**I think this is my favorite answer ever. 
***mmmmmm music. I have been listening to a Joshua Radin/Gungor mix on Pandora lately. And switching it up with some Pretty Lights. Finding the right song is pure joy. Try this. or this. or this
****One time in Argentina, an Argentine woman stopped me to ask for directions. I will never forget that moment and what it felt like: I was mistaken for an Argentine Portena (score 1,) I answered in near fluent Spanish (score 2,) and I actually knew how to direct the woman through the busy streets of Buenos Aires (score 3.) It was one of those epic life moments when you know it doesn't get better than that.... only to find out that it does.
*****Sitting on the beach with my feet in the water, reading a book next to my mom. I couldn't agree more. Next to my dad too. 


Skippy
Barb

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Things First

There's been a lot of firsts around here lately....


Like the first time we have ever used our KitchenAid to make pasta. Let me tell you what, it was divine. And we went healthy. I know what you're thinking: "How is pasta healthy??" Oh hush now. It was whole wheat. Nothing in it but flour and egg. Claire and Billy Jones and the Clifts need a major shout out right about now: Thank you for our wonderful, red KitchenAid. It brings with it much joy and just knowing that it's from Claire, Billy, and fam makes it that much sweeter.


....Like the first time Michael and I have celebrated Halloween and carved a pumpkin together! Michael carved a pumpkin! Look at that intensity. We weren't sure if we should put our little jack-o-lantern outside for fear of attracting costumed kiddies to our door because...... we forgot to buy Halloween candy. I know, I know -- you're wondering if we're even American. We just didn't get to it. After much consternation, we resolved to pass out granola bars (Nature Valley of course) should we hear a knock at our door. Luckily, our upstairs neighbors dutifully manned their candy basket. No little munchkins actually braved our doorway only to give us a look of dejection when we handed them granola bars instead of Reese's Pieces. We'll be better prepared next year. After all, who wants to be the crazy health-nuts who pass out granola bars on Halloween??


Our pumpkin had hearts. You know you've married the right man when it was his idea to do hearts, not mine.


Of course with the first pumpkin carving comes the first pumpkin seeds! I wasn't actually quite sure how to roast pumpkin seeds, but I knew who would. None another than my own sweet mama, Barbie Ryan. I quickly called her up and followed her instructions which ended up making the best pumpkin seeds I've ever had! No lie. So good that I had to write it down so I wouldn't forget it. I'll share the recipe:


....Like the first time I have EVER IN MY LIFE successfully made an omelette!!!!


It was so good that I was already half-way done before I realized that this was too good to be true and I just had to take a picture. My success story begins with my hubby. Michael has been making omelettes since he could practically walk, so for him, flipping semi-cooked eggs, onions, ham, and cheese in a skillet and having it actually land in the same spot is like second nature. For yours truly here, I have had some catastrophic results in my attempts. However, I am a student of observation. After 4 months of marriage and watching Michael's technique (gently lifting the sides of the omelette with a spatula so that the non-congealed part of the egg could run to the edges, then shaking the pan back and forth to make sure no part of the omelette was still stuck to the skillet, then flipping the omelette upside down with a mere flick of his wrists and catching it back in the skillet, then adding cheese on top right before folding the omelette onto a plate,) I decided to try it out. Lo and behold, it worked!  Will wonders never cease. Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks was wrong.