Sunday, July 10, 2011


The other day I was looking out my office window, watching people over on the golf course across the street (no, I do not spend all day gazing out the window...I do get work done sometimes) and something about the light brought back vivid memories of the feeling of the begin of summer when I was a kid. That last day of school when it seemed like the summer stretched out before me forever like a kind of magical promise. I loved it. And in my memory, summer really was magical and idyllic. The days were filled with playing in the hot sun under the Florida skies and then taking refuge inside with a book on afternoons when amazing and beautiful thunderstorms would roll through, bringing in their wake that golden light that touches the summer evenings as the sun starts to set and then the lightening bugs that come in the dusk. As we got older those afternoons included skiing and tubing and swimming in our lake until our fingers and toes shriveled. Weeks spent at the beach with the Shump girls, smeared with zinc (I have pictures to prove the smearing) and baking our skin to golden brown (or probably, in my case, more like a certain shade of red) that would bring a spattering of freckles and hair bleached blond. Picking cat tails, scooping up tad poles to put in a tank in our room and revel in watching as they went through their process of becoming frogs (at which point, my mama would insist that they all go back outside). Swinging so high on our swing set that we would go above the top cross bar and there would be slack in the chains before jumping and seeing who could leap the farthest. Climbing trees, roller skates, my bike with the banana seat with daisies on it, riding on the city bus with my mama and siblings downtown to the big library that was a certain kind of magic all its own to this bookwormy girl. Three weeks at a time spent at the cabin where we roamed the mountain sides like little hooligans, sliding down dirt hills, playing in creeks, picking blackberries, playing sardines, soaring out over the hillside on the Henizes wonderful swing, floating down the river in our tubes, sliding down the "Posey Hole" into the cold, cold waters below, evenings playing spoons and Mille Bornes and nights spent listening to the soft patter of rain on the tin roof. There were even the two summers in a row when I was 9 and then 10, that I got to spend two and then three weeks, respectively, at Camp Dovewood, riding horses, swimming, boating, camping and more riding and then the next summer when we had our very own "Camp Kent" with us and the Shump girls sleeping in our pop up camper in the backyard and spending our days filled with all kinds of activities our mothers came up with. One of those activities just happened to be sewing my very own pair of really awesome jams. Remember jams?!

I know there must have been times interspersed with everything else when I complained I was bored, or was made to do chores I hated, or fought with my sisters or brother. But overall, summer was spectacular in my memory. My mom was a stay at home mom and she always looked forward to having us all home with her. And she always had so much she wanted to do with us.

What I realized as I thought about those summers is that, in a way, I still feel that way about summer. I'm not a huge fan of hot weather, but I do enjoy the many things there are to do in summers. Cookouts with friends, festivals and outdoor plays, weekend afternoons by a pool, the satisfaction of growing my very own tomatoes and herbs, baseball games and a chilled glass of wine. Sitting with friends or family in a darkened back yard with strings of white lights glowing on us. Those are the magical moments these days. And I hope I will remember to cherish them all. Maybe if I do, I won't mind the crazy heat so much. And really, heat or not, nothing makes me happier than nights like the ones in the photo below. It remains one of the best al fresco dinner evenings EVER. I just wish I'd gotten pictures of my bbq the other night where our magic had more than the usual dose of hot and sticky mixed in, but we consoled ourselves with $0.99 fans from World Market and glasses of minty peach mojitos. YUM!

Here's hoping your summer has been and continues to be filled with golden light and magical moments!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book #1 Down

So...I finished the first book. To The End Of The Land by David Grossman. Can't say that it was a particular favorite. Beautifully written in terms of descriptions, but pretty disjointed and it ended quite suddenly. And such a very tragic story. Not horrible, but not great. On to the next. I started The Passage by Justin Cronin. So far, enjoying it a lot more.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Reading List

I've made list of books I am intending to read this summer. Although, looking at how long it's gotten, it's probably going to be my Summer, Fall and possibly even Winter reading list. Especially since I'm still only on the first book of the list. The books on the list are pulled from various book recommendations I've found on lists and books I've just been meaning to read. We'll see how well I do at the actual reading. I'll try to report back on the books and what I think about them. Maybe that'll force me to post more than once a year. So, here's the list, in no particular order:
  1. To The End Of The Land - David Grossman (this is the one I'm currently reading)
  2. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
  3. The Passage - Justin Cronin
  4. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
  5. The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
  6. The Pride of Baghdad - Brian K. Vaughan & Nicko Henrichon
  7. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  8. No Country For Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
  9. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
  10. The Stand - Stephen King
  11. Godric - Frederick Buechner
  12. Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
  13. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
  14. I Am The Messenger - Markus Zusak (I highly recommend another book of his, The Book Thief)
  15. Bossypants - Tina Fey (this one might end up being a book on tape while I drive to NC)
  16. Room - Emma Donoghue
  17. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
  18. The Magicians - Lev Grossman
  19. Angry Conversations With God - Susan E. Isaacs
  20. Love Is An Orientation - Andrew Marin
  21. Crazy Love - Francis Chan
  22. The Shack - William P. Young (no, I really haven't read it yet)
  23. Til We Have Faces - C. S. Lewis
  24. The Harry Potter Books (all of them) - JK Rowling
  25. Love Wins - Rob Bell
  26. Sister - Rosamund Lupton
  27. Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
  28. The Gap Year - Sarah Bird
  29. Matched - Allie Condie
  30. Emily, Alone - Stewart O'Nan
  31. Snow Angel - Stewart O'Nan
  32. Last Night At The Lobster - Stewart O'Nan
  33. The Watery Part of the World - Michael Parker
  34. The White Woman On The Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey
  35. Evening Is The Whole Day - Preeta Samarasan
  36. Wingshooters - Nina Revoyr
  37. Before I Go To Sleep - S. J. Watson
  38. The Storm At The Door - Stefan Merrill
  39. Bright's Passage - Josh Ritter
  40. Once Upon A River - Bonnie Jo Campbell
  41. Reservation Road - John Burnham Schwartz
  42. Northwest Corner - John Burnham Schwartz
  43. Graveminder - Melissa Marr
  44. The Go-Between - L. P. Hartley
Ok,, at the rate I'm currently reading the first of the books on the list, it's going to take me more than a year to complete this list. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scars and Sad Stories's been a loooong time since I updated this blog. Life has gotten busy and this is something that falls by the wayside.

Anyway, I was reading during my lunch hour today, as I most often do, and came upon a passage that I thought was beautiful, wonderfully written and made me do some thinking, so I thought I would share it. It's from "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave (which, although I've only read 1 1/2 chapters, I highly recommend).

"...I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

In a few breaths' time I will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this story-teller is
alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile."

The thing that struck me is how often I hate my scars and sad stories. And I don't know if believing that they are somehow beautiful will ever make me love them fully, but I think, if I believe it's true, it changes (or should change) the way I think about the things that I've been through. The things that have scarred me, sometimes deeply. The idea that I can look at the scar or the sad story and be thankful that I'm alive...that I survived the experience, is beautiful. Because I think the outcome could have been different in some cases. And I'm not talking about physical scars here, but emotional ones. And I recognize that my scars and sad stories are most likely many people's happy stories. But I think we all have had things happen in our lives that we have not escaped unscathed. So maybe the scars are sometimes a good thing. They remind us to live because our lives could very easily be so much worse. At least, this is what I'm now telling myself in reference to the scars and sad experiences in my own life that I struggle to deal with.

Of course, my mind then goes to all the scars and painful, sad experiences I know people have had and I think that there's no way that scar can be beautiful, or a good thing. I don't know how to work it all out, but it's something I've been thinking about.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New-ish Year Post

This is a much belated post. I've been mulling it over since the beginning of the year, which doesn't mean it'll be any better than it would otherwise have been, so don't get your hopes up too much.

Anyway, it's 2010 now. I keep thinking about how it's been over a year since I moved away from Colorado Springs and everything familiar and beloved there. I lived away from Colorado for then entire year of 2009. It feels like it was the longest year and the shortest year all at the same time. It was certainly an interesting one, from the first days that I spent with family in Florida enjoying sea kayaks on the bayous and the gulf and experiencing Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, to the last days spent here in my new adopted home of St. Louis. It was a difficult and exhilarating year. And while I don't know if I want to repeat the experience of uprooting to a place where I know no one anytime soon, it was a year of blessing and challenge and surprising experiences that I wouldn't wish away.

I'm so grateful for family and friends who endured my desperate phone calls when I felt like I just wanted to forget the whole thing and go back to what I knew. And for the new friends who have welcomed me with open arms and given me so many reasons to love my new home. And I have found many things to love here. It's a city full of wonderful food, parks, museums, festivals and so much more. I feel like I haven't even really begun to see everything there is to see.

So, it was a good year, even while it was a horrible year, at times. I look forward to seeing what's next for me in this new year. Hopefully it's full of amazing times with family and friends, old and new.

And I hope your new year has gotten off to a blessed start!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Official!

I'm sitting here in my gloomy living room, drinking tea out of a mug that my brother gave me on a long ago Hawaiian Christmas (it still makes me think of him every time I see it), while outside the rain has slowed to a kind of fine mist that makes everything drip. I'm learning that this is pretty much what St. Louis spring looks like and I guess it is what is responsible for the green popping out everywhere, the tulips and daffodils and flowering trees that almost hurt the eyes in their beauty. It's quite different than Colorado. It can be gloomy, but as I lay in bed last night and listened to the rain, I found I didn't mind it so much. There's something comforting and soothing about it. At least, when I'm safely dry and inside.

It's Good Friday and the first holiday off of my new job. I spent a large chunk of the day running to and fro trying to get my car registered and my Missouri driver's license. One thing that's not so nice about Missouri...SO MUCH RED TAPE!! Seriously. The list of things I needed (my residency permit - yes...that's right...a permit to live here, my passport or birth certificate, a safety inspection certificate, an emissions inspection certificate, the title and so on and so forth) was quite daunting. Whatever happened to just walking in with the old registration, an i.d. and a checkbook? Anyway, barring one surly woman in the first office I went to, everyone was lovely and helpful and the process went much more smoothly than I feared. And now, it's official, I'm a resident of St. Louis. I mean, I suppose the aforementioned residency permit had already made that official, but somehow, having a Missouri Driver's License in my wallet and Missouri plates on my car make it much more real than a piece of paper that I happen to think is ridiculous anyway. Oh...and I'm registered to vote here too. CRAZY!

It feels strange. I haven't decided if it's a good feeling or not. One guy that helped me with my registration took one look at my Colorado license and told me I was insane to have moved here from Colorado. A part of me kind of had to agree with him. But I guess I'll just have to get used to the new license plates (I miss the green mountains on my old one) and the new picture on my new license (they took it right after I had a coughing fit that made my eyes water. I look like I've been crying...and it's good until 2016).

So, I'm going to finish that tea and go make sure the dog isn't tracking piles of mud through the house from my dripping yard and doing all the things that are part of life here in Missouri.

May you all have a lovely Easter surrounded by the ones you love and the surety that He Lives!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Blessings of Change

There's a lot about change that is terrifying. New places, new people, new everything. But I've rediscovered that there are also many blessings to be found. New friends, new places, new experiences.

This week I've been reflecting on that aspect of change. I've met some amazing people who it seems are going to become really great friends and I love that. I marvel at how my circle of friends just keeps expanding as I add new ones in and at how each new person adds a new level of richness to my life. I'm happy to be getting a social life again finally!

My change in location has also brought about changes in my lifestyle. Hopefully lasting ones. Something about being a new place has made it easier to make big changes all around. I feel like it's a good and healthy thing and hopefully there's more big change coming.

Tonight, I've been reflecting on one particular change. My church attendance. I went to church in Colorado Springs. But it had been quite awhile since I'd been what you'd call a regular attendee. Not because I didn't believe anymore, but because I was having trouble finding a place that really fit and frankly, I'd tired of the search. But moving to a place made it necessary to start searching again. The huge blessing is that I found a great church really quickly. And not just any church, but one that truly gets it that we're human and fallible and that life is hard instead of one that makes it seem like it's all roses and abundance and good times if we're being "faithful." We just went through a 6 week sermon series about God's Economy. When is the last time you heard a sermon about money issues, much less a whole series of them. And not about how we should give all our money to the church but about how our faith applies to the economy and specifically this current economy that we all find ourselves living in. It was practical and hard-hitting and, well, changing. I am loving it. And it's been a long time since I felt that way about a church.

So, as I was sitting in a Maundy Thursday service this evening, being grateful for all that we celebrate at Easter, I was also immensely grateful for a lot more. And it feels great to be feeling really good about things. There's still a lot of challenge in my life and many things that weigh me down every day, but I'm glad for the small blessings in the midst of all of it.