Archive for October, 2008

A friend of mine saw that I was reading A Clockwork Orange and remarked, “Wow, I didn’t know you were so dark…”  Well, I didn’t know that this book was so dark when I picked it up a month ago.  Brutal beatings, intoxication, vandalism, rape, all within the first couple of chapters.  If I were watching the movie, I would have closed my eyes through many of these violent scenes.  But since it is difficult to get through a book with your eyes closed, I pushed through.  And as I read on, I understood that this wasn’t violence for violence’s sake, but it was the set-up to a very difficult question: can true “reform” be forced upon a criminal, and if so, should it be done without any regard to what it actually costs the reformed?  This brutal, remorseless narrator is brainwashed and manipulated into a weak, sniveling, choice-less shell of a man that has very little control over his actions and state of mind.  Is this progress?  At least this now-spineless being isn’t physically or emotionally capable of hurting anyone other than himself, but is it humane to strip a person of their ability to make choices?  Big questions.  A good read.

Already chipping away at number #9 on my “27 before 28” list – today was the 5k Pumpkin Push run at Seward Park.  When Shane told me last weekend that he wanted to run in it, my reaction was, “Have fun with that.  I’ll hang out at the finish line and sip a latte while you run your butt off.”  But somehow I ended up enrolling in the race as well, with only enough time to do a couple of very last-minute training runs.  And although there was a point this morning about 2/3 into the race when I seriously considered stepping aside, laying down on the grass, and calling it a day, I did indeed finish.  And I wasn’t last.  What a relief.  I’m so glad I let Shane talk me into participating.  The weather today was fantastic, and it was fun to be a part of the excited buzz that flowed among the runners as we lined up at the starting line.  I loved the course (I believe I have mentioned before how lucky I feel to live just a couple of miles from Seward Park), with the exception of the hilly detour that occurred somewhere around kilometer 3.  The perimeter of the park is flat, but this run took us up a hill into the center of the park and back down again.  I was doing pretty well for the first couple of miles, and then I hit that hill and instantly felt like 30-pound weights had been strapped to each of my ankles.  Man, I was dragging.  It was painful.  But I pushed through it, despite the overwhelming desire to walk, or stop altogether.  And once I got down the hill, I found that I had just enough energy left to sprint to the finish line.  Mission completed.  Sweet victory!

I loved the idea behind this post I saw on Simple Lovely – a list of meaningful things, small and simple, that you want to accomplish before your next birthday.  And since I just had a birthday, that gives me nearly a year to get these 27 things done.  I will keep you updated on my progress…

1.  Go to Europe (I realize that this is hardly “small and simple”, but we really are determined to get back to Paris within the next year).  This item is intentionally at the very very top of the list.

2.  Make an apple pie.  Then eat it with vanilla bean ice cream.

3.  Put our favorite wedding photos and mementos together into an album (hopefully before our third anniversary!).

4.  Learn how to use the vintage Polaroid camera that Amanda bought me for Christmas last year.  Could turn out to be a very fun little toy.

5.  Make something out of the beautiful wool blend fabric that I picked up for super-cheap at the thrift store several months ago.  The sewing machine Shane bought me two years ago has been collecting dust for far too long.

6.  Eat a burger at Quinn’s on Capitol Hill.  I’ve got to taste the alleged goodness for myself.

7.  See a play.  Preferably something dramatic, and preferably at a small, intimate venue.  We don’t take advantage of the theater offerings in Seattle nearly often enough.

8.  Clean out the closet underneath the stairs to make room for the wine rack that Shane keeps talking about buying.

9.  Run a 10k race.  Or two 5k’s.  5+5=10, right?

10.  Play in the snow – hopefully we have the kind of winter this year that will allow us to do this in our backyard, but if not, I’m happy to head east for a snowball fight.

11.  Make mulled wine, and invite some of the neighbors over to drink it.

12.  Take a ceramics class.

13.  Read something that will advance me in becoming a more critical thinker in the area of theology.  Bonhoeffer?  Chesterton?  Not my typical “fun” reads, but important to take on, nonetheless.

14.  Branch out musically and expand my iPod playlist.  I’ve had Ryan Adams and Sufjan Stevens on repeat for too long now.

15.  Check out a Seattle coffee shop I’ve never been to before.  It’s good to have my favorites, but I’m in a bit of a cafe rut.

16.  Learn how to hit a tennis ball so that it consistently goes over the net, but not out of bounds.  I’ve discovered that this is harder than it looks (particularly for an athletically challenged person such as myself).

17.  Make my own butternut squash soup.  This is one of my favorite fall foods.

18.  Get my architectural license.  Once again, not “small and simple”, but I’m already over halfway there (and so ready to be done!!!).

19.  Plant something pretty in the flower box outside our living room window.

20.  Have a get-dressed-up, get-out-of-the-house, all-about-us “date night” with Shane at least once a month.  This might just be for dessert or a cocktail (we don’t have to spend money on an extravagant meal), but I think it’s important to have these special “kinda fancy” evenings together.

21.  Spend a day on Whidby Island, checking out the local scene there.

22.  Develop a list of 15 simple meals that we both enjoy and figure out what kind of basic ingredients we can keep on hand in order to prepare these meals with minimal planning.

23.  Buy a great pair of leather boots that I could wear with jeans or a skirt, dressed up or casual.

24.  Add some color or decor to the walls of our bathroom.  That’s the one room in our house that has been “decoratively neglected”.

25.  Finish the two incomplete paintings that have been sitting on my easel forever.

26.  Write a letter and send pictures to Marcel, the boy in Rwanda that we are sponsoring through World Vision.

27.  Keep blogging.  So far, I’ve kept up with my commitment to averaging 2 posts a week.  Reflect on what I’m doing well and what I could be doing better.

It’s go time.

Fall is in full swing here, with all its wonderfully saturated shades of yellow, red, orange, and copper.  And to top it all off, the sun shone nearly all weekend!  A twenty-minute stroll through the neighborhood and I was reminded of God’s brilliant creativity – so many hues, pigments, and textures.  Yum.

Shane is working late tonight, which initially bummed me out, but rather than feel sorry for myself (see previous post), I decided to make the most of my time alone and enjoy a “me-night”.  I came home, opened a bottle of red wine, put on my most comfortable pair of sweat pants, and curled up on the couch with a few of my favorite things: my current knitting project, my little black journal, and a good book.  With Over the Rhine playing on the stereo, the rain falling outside, and a comfy blanket wrapped around my shoulders, the stage was set for a perfectly relaxing evening.  And I soaked it all in.  Felt good.

I’ve been riding an emotional roller-coaster the last couple of weeks, and it’s taken some fairly low dips – I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed, misunderstood, and very unsteady.  Concerns, pressures, and disappointments compound upon one another and form this totally out-of-control snowball that is hurtling at me at 600 miles an hour.  But so much of this is because of my own doing.  I am frustratingly emotional and I often let myself become totally absorbed in my feelings when I swing really far one way or the other.  Saturday at the pumpkin patch I was silly and grinning and telling Shane that we were having “one of the best days of 2008”, and earlier tonight I was sitting on the couch crying my eyes out for reasons that are too trivial to deserve elaboration.  It’s hard, being so emotionally volatile and not really knowing what to do about it.  Where is that healthy middle ground, and why can’t I find it?  I pray for steadiness and the ability to process things reasonably, but it’s just so easy to fly off the handle.  Immediate relief.  But then… the realization that my little outburst was totally unproductive and probably a little childish, and so I add “illogical behavior” to my list of self-woes.  I feel defeated.

Thankfully tomorrow is a new day.

Today was a Great day, with a capital G.  We had a leisurely morning, worked in the yard a little, and then headed out to North Bend (about 30 miles east of Seattle) to check out a pumpkin patch I’d read about on-line.  I am embarassingly nostalgic and have tried again and again since Shane and I have been married to instate new “Schnell family annual traditions” – activities we’ll continue to enjoy for decades to come.  In rare instances (ok, make that instance, singular), my idea has seemed to stick – we head to a tree farm east of here every December to pick out and cut down our own Christmas tree.  Today’s visit to the pumpkin patch was another attempt at beginning a new tradition, and after just a couple of hours out at the base of Mount Si, I can tell you that we won’t be letting another fall go by without a trip out here.  I can only pray that we’ll have weekend weather like this during Octobers to come.  So fantastically beautiful…

My little punkin’ head…

Our wagon full of loot – we came in search of just one single pumpkin to put on our front porch, but walked away with five.  I knew I had a weakness for cute shoes and good chocolate, but now apparently I have one for perfectly shaped pumpkins as well.

And a trip out to the country just wouldn’t be complete without a pasture full of cows… There is something so serene about this shot.

And so, I have moved on from mourning the passage of summer – fall is looking pretty spectacular right about now.  And we’ve discovered the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of autumn.  I realize that this single visit to the pumpkin patch doesn’t quite deserve “tradition” status, but I’m hopeful that this is a place we’ll enjoy going to for years to come.  Stay tuned for fall rituals, part II: “Shane carves a jack-o-lantern”.  Should be good.

I’ve fallen a little behind with my “weekly” sketches (studying for my test side-tracked me for a couple of weeks), but I’m determined to catch up.  With this gray weather we’re having, I’m hoping to find a cozy place to curl up with my sketchbook this weekend to do some doodling.  I’ve been playing around with different media lately, but I’ve found that I’m still a big fan of a plain old ink pen.

country road  (09.01.2008):

woman with flowers (09.26.2008):

dancing shoes (10.03.2008):