Jan 30, 2008

Yes, I said dog

Yes, we've acquired a dog, and he's actually really cool. His name is Charlie, a lab-hound mix whom we got from the Lexington Humane Society. It wasn't really an impulse decision; we've been considering getting a dog for some time. Billy grew up with dogs and really loved it; he's been wanting Miranda to have the same experience. So a few weeks ago, when Billy and I were out for a Miranda-free weekend, we wandered into PetSmart to look at the fish, and found Charlie at the LHS branch shelter there in the store, and fell in love. He's a great dog -- at 66 lbs, he's a bit bigger than we'd expected to get, but he's (largely) housebroken, and as a 4 yr old, he's much calmer than most puppies. Miranda really likes him, and we're getting used to the added responsibilities and trouble. (Our hardwood floors are beginning to take a beating, and the night he barked at 2, 4, and 6am, I thought "This is just like having a newborn again!!") But overall, he's a great addition to the family.

Here are our only pictures of him to date. Despite the menacing nature of the footage, he & Miranda do really well together!

Jan 29, 2008

Life is good

A companionable dog in the passenger seat, crunching on a bone he received at the dry cleaners. A cool kid in the back seat, munching on a lollipop she received at the dry cleaners. A cool mom in the driver's seat, sipping a cinnamon latte. "Texas Women" playing on the radio. The weather just warm enough to roll down the windows and sing along.

Yep. Life is good.

Jan 23, 2008

Dance to the beat of a different (ok, the same) drummer

My mom was visiting last week from Denver, and we did a ton of fun things, both with and without Miranda. The day after she arrived, we took the Wunchie to the PB&J Concert Series of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. They provide pb&j fixins', apple juice, and a kid-friendly venue to participate in music. This month was a drum circle at the Lexington Children's Theater. They had congos, tambourines, and dozens of homemade noisemakers. It was cacophanous but very, very fun. Miranda enjoyed acquiring and trying out lots of different instruments. We're sure to be there next month!

My mom (front right) shakes a spice-rack noisemaker while the Wunchie tries a tambourine.

You mean, it's not all about me? Then why am I out here, center stage???

Jan 22, 2008

Meditations on food that will not end up in my thesis

I was shopping today, and started thinking about food and how strange we can be in our relationship to it. Not just in over- or undereating, but in our likes, dislikes, habits, and secret cravings. Here are a few of mine. I'm not going to tag anyone, but please play along!

1) We’ve been trying to eat whole-grain bread, but I still love a ham sandwich (with either miracle whip or mayo) on white bread. Lettuce and tomato optional. What is it about ham and white bread?

2) Cook either a chicken or a turkey, roasted in the oven. Make sure to leave the skin on, and rub it with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. The minute it leaves the oven (the very minute), place it on the range top and begin eating it straight out of the pan. You’re not allowed to remove it from the roasting pan.

3) I like jello salads, pretty much any kind. I like how southern women call them “molded salads”. My mom used to make one with cherry jello, bing cherries, and a little port wine. It was awesome.

4) My sister and I always like to eat tuna fish sandwiches (again on white bread), with Campbell’s cream of celery soup. This is a meal Ellery and I often eat together, since we were kids. I don’t know why we enjoy it so much, but we do. The tuna fish must have mayo, lemon juice, sweet relish, and chopped celery. No substitutions.

5) My mom used to make a spaghetti dish that Ellery and I still love. You open a can of Franco-American spaghetti and put it in a saucepan. Add ketchup and Italian seasoning. Mix, heat, and serve. The next day, make a spaghetti sandwich out of the leftovers. Yum yum yum.

6) I’m very particular about the big Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. I mean, if I’m a guest somewhere, I’m an easy guest, but if I’m preparing it myself, there are certain rules to follow. First, you have to have a turkey. Second, the dressing has to be my mom’s recipe. Third, you have to have both homemade cranberry relish and the kind from a can. Fourth, no fancy veggie dishes – just green beans or asparagus. And if there’s anything left of the turkey after #2 above, I love eating days and days of holiday leftovers. Make a sandwich with turkey, dressing, gravy, and a little cranberry sauce. Wow.

7) Sometimes I get a 12-pack of soda, put them in the fridge, and then chain-drink them throughout the day.

8) I love celery with velveeta cheese melted in the trough. This is soooo my Mimi (paternal grandmother).

9) My mom makes meatloaf with onions and raisins. It’s great. Then, make sandwiches from the leftovers, with French’s yellow mustard.

10) I love eating cereal (especially the less-than-healthy ones) with whole milk and half-and-half. Or heavy cream, even better. (Hey, if you want to eat water on your cereal, just use water and stop the charade that is skim milk.)

11) I love cheese toast – white bread with a slice of American cheese, put under the broiler until the cheese poofs up and the top gets nice and brown. Ultra-yummy.

12) When food is supposed to be hot (especially soup), I like it very hot, where you're just able to eat it.

13) Last but not least… this is almost too embarrassing to write. I still like to get Gerber’s meat sticks and eat them straight out of the jar. And I’m proud of it, so what!

This really was a meaningless post, but it was fun to write!

Jan 15, 2008

Doing something cool with my family

While I was in Texas over the holidays, I spent one morning with my dad and his wife, working at the breakfast meal ministry run by their church. I attended St. Paul's on the Plains during my childhood, and I always enjoy returning there when I'm in Lubbock. My sister was married there, and there are lots of great memories.

And now we're making some new ones! This past year, St. Paul's began a breakfast ministry called Neighbor to Neighbor. Dad and Pat have been heavily involved since its inception, and I was happy to go work with them (even though we had to get up at 5am). Here's a blurb from a local paper:

Every Thursday morning, a core group of volunteers meets at 6:00 a.m. to cook breakfast for anyone who is hungry. From 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., eggs, sausage, bacon, kolachis, biscuits, refried beans, and tortillas are served. Hot and cold cereal, fresh fruit, milk, juice, and coffee round out the menu. The guests now number from 135 to 185 and include all ages and races. Families, the disabled, homeless, elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged and college students are among the guests that are fed. The guests are encouraged to eat all they want – 185 to 235 plates of food are served. Everyone is given a sack lunch as they leave.

It was pretty amazing how well they carry this out. It wasn't that I doubted they'd do well; it's just difficult for anyone to do things like this well, in ways that are good and sustainable, both for those served and for those who do the serving. But they seem to run like a well-oiled machine. Several things made this possible.
  • First, they have the money to get semi-prepared food, which they can then quickly finish off in large, commercial-sized appliances. (Let's face it, money can make lots of things much, much easier.)
  • However, they also operate really well together. Volunteers arrive, get their stuff, do their jobs and do them well. They are genuinely happy to see the folks when they arrive.
  • The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. There is carpet on the floor, nice round table where folks can see each other and carry on conversations. There is a flower on each table, and volunteers circulating with coffee to refill their cups. Several people have commented on how much they look forward to the meal.
  • They have a truly sweet spirit of generosity. When they put me on the serving line, I asked, "How much should I give each person?" The volunteer looked at me kinda funny and said, "As much as they want." That's the spirit! Again, being able to afford virtually unlimited food makes this much easier, but they are unfailing generous with those blessings.
  • And perhaps most importantly, they are getting to know the folks who come on a regular basis. People are addressed by their names, those who aren't there are inquired after, and conversations continue from week to week. Relationships are being formed.

Anyway, here are some pics from the morning I was there.

Washing lots and lots of dishes

Here's my dad Bill, probably telling a good story (that's probably mostly true!)

My stepmom Pat and our longtime friend Tom, finishing up the prep

Lots and lots of scrambled eggs!

Dad and I take a quick break

The serving line. They had biscuits, tortillas, refried beans, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, kolachis (yummy rolls with link sausage inside), cereal, oatmeal, fruit, coffee, and tea.

Jan 9, 2008

Quotable Quotes from SCE

  • Ok, buddy, that's the only shade of green the light's going to turn.
  • I'm not a luddite, I'm a patient customer. I wait until it's a proven thing.
  • Yale might give you a chair to hold, but would they give you a pot to sit on?
  • I'm happy to pay for your dinner, you poor impoverished grad student... 20 dollars???
  • We need to keep our comments brief, preferably under 1 minute each.
  • I definitely like the 1974 version of Charlie Daniels' "Easy Rider" better than the 1988 version.
  • I'm hoping to be employed this time next year.
  • How much is that book, with the discount?
  • It's too late in the day to be eating beef, don't you think?
  • Those have to be the wives of all the folks at the youth ministers' conference, next door.
  • I think we've underestimated the degree to which ___ is indebted to the thought of ___ in this matter.
  • How many of you would like a free sample of our house cabernet?
  • I just think it would be nice to return the car clean. Just a drive-through car wash, that's all I'm suggesting.
  • You're nothing to me, both of you, but fleas on the backs of rats. You're just vectors.

Jan 5, 2008

Books I purchased this weekend at SCE (aka why I need to ask Billy for forgiveness)

Jan 3, 2008

Yet another thing to do in my "spare" time

The Countess at the 32-Aker Wood tagged me for this meme. (And what does "meme" stand for, anyway?) Since I'm away from home at the SCE conference, I actually have more spare time than usual, at least until tomorrow. So, here goes...

8 Things I'm Passionate About
  • My faith community, Communality. After almost 10 years, I still love sharing my life with these folks.
  • Traveling. I love going anywhere, anytime. Seriously -- just throw a dart at the map, and I'm up for going there, right now.
  • Reading. I love reading new books, the excitement of the newness of the tale. And I love re-reading old books -- James Herriot, Anne of Green Gables, Watership Down, Louis L'Amour, Stephen King, Tolkein, Barbara Kingsolver -- and re-experencing the tales that I've grown to love. Billy once said that I'm a true lover of books, and I'm flattered by the label.
  • Staying connected with my friends and family (and I hope my friends who are out there reading this will agree!)
  • Making a home. I'm realizing more and more that I love homemaking, cooking, decorating, hosting, making the people I love feel at home.
  • My dissertation topic (sorry, my thesis topic, in British parlance). I'm really enjoying thinking about temperance and the ways in which it could help us think about consumption more clearly.
  • Being a parent to Miranda. I love her so much! I really see how parenting is a magnum opus, a life's work that has to be entrusted to God for its completion. (I feel this very distinctly right now, being away from her for a few days.)
  • Learning how to be a life partner to my husband.
8 Things I Want to Do Before I Die
  • Travel to Iceland and ride horses around the old volcanos (doesn't this sound awesome???)
  • Be able to say that I've read each and every book in my house (yeah, right)
  • Reach and maintain my ideal weight
  • Own a clawfoot tub, where I can steep like a tea bag
  • Make a real contribution to the field of moral theology (Christian ethics), something that makes a difference
  • Be a real part of the lives of my extended family
  • Watch Miranda grow up and have a good life of her own
  • Take an extended roadtrip across the US, really seeing the sites

8 Things I Say Often
  • No MA'AM!
  • What do you say? ("Please" and "Thank You" are the usual expected answers.)
  • I love you (to various people that I love)
  • Hey Munchie!
  • Why did I decide to do a PhD???
  • Honey, have you seen my... (keys, phone, purse, etc etc)
  • What time is it?
  • I'll get up in five minutes.
8 Books I've Read Recently (and by recently we mean in 2007)
  • Wealth as Peril and Obligation: The New Testament on Possessions
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The Confessions of Saint Augustine
  • Sitka (Louis L'Amour)
  • Donde Viven Los Monstruos (Where the Wild Things Are)
  • Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God (Brennan Manning)
  • Ender's Shadow (Orson Scott Card)
  • Wizard and Glass (Stephen King)

8 Songs I Can Listen to Over and Over
  • "Whisky River" Willie Nelson
  • "Hammer and a Nail" Indigo Girls
  • "Gift to Me" Martyn Joseph
  • "Scarf Dance" Psalters
  • "You'll Be Mine" Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • "Somebody" Depeche Mode
  • ""Volcano" Jimmy Buffett
  • "Spring" Vivaldi

8 Things That Attract Me to My Best Friends
  • A sense of fun, wanting to experience life in all its craziness
  • A shared sense of purpose and meaning
  • A shared willingness to prioritize our friendships over time and distance
  • An amazing sense of humor (almost always)
  • A willingness to speak to me clearly, directly, and candidly, not coddling me or pulling punches
  • A willingness to love me despite my faults and through my failures
  • A history of shared experiences ("Remember when we...?)
  • The value of a deeply invested friendship

8 People Who Should TOTALLY Do This Meme
  • MeesheMama, because she's absolutely hilarious
  • LazyMom, ditto
  • Melinda, ditto
  • Loco Lara, because she needs a break from her 3 girls and her job
  • My sister (even though she doesn't have a blog), because she needs a break from her twins and her pregnancy
  • Lisa Samson, because she's a great author and so good with words that I like reading anything she writes
  • Her daughter Ty, because she's exceptionally cool
  • My husband, even though he doesn't have a blog

Jan 2, 2008

In the big leagues now

Today I drove from Lexington to Atlanta for the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics. My friends Jim and Christine graciously footed the bill for this poor postgraduate, borrowing a rental car from the seminary and covering the gas bills. We had a great time on the drive down to Georgia, listening to holiday carols, bluegrass, and Charlie Daniels. The conference starts tomorrow evening; we arrived early for Christine to attend the board meeting.

It's a bit strange to be attending these things. I feel something like an imposter, or a wannabe. Who cares what I think? I'm just a pathetic postgraduate, an unproven amateur who should heed that turn of the century parenting advice -- that children at the dinner table should be seen and not heard.

Ok, so it's not that bad. People are generally gracious and welcoming, sometimes even attentive to what we have to say. But last year, I felt a bit out of my depth, and was afraid to make comments for fear of sounding unknowledgable or insufficiently erudite.

Whatever! This year, I'm reveling in my status as a punter (Brit/Aussie slang for someone who doesn't run anything, but just shows up). I'm relaxed, I'm enjoying hanging out with my friends, I'm just sitting back and taking it all in. Turns out there's a certain freedom in being a nobody, which is that you can fly under the radar and just absorb everything. I'll let you know how it works out.