Archive for November, 2009

I’ve been on a bit of a knitting hiatus lately, but a little bird told me that a little girl was hoping for a scarf from Aunt Kelly for Christmas, so I happily picked up a few skeins of soft, brightly colored yarn to whip up a couple of scarves for our nieces, Shanay and Hayden.  They are both rib-knit, one with alternating blocks of a chunky green and yellow yarn, one with a double-strand of two shades of purple.  Hayden wore her purple scarf around the house all afternoon after we exchanged gifts, which tells me it was a hit.  I like to think I’ll be doing my small part to keep these girls warm during the freezing cold winter to come…

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Yesterday was full of reminders that I truly have so much to be thankful for.  The sound of laughter coming from our nieces and nephew, the smell of fresh-baked apple pie, the coziness of a warm home, the beauty of sunlight sparkling on a lake, the joy of being surrounded by people that I have come to love as my very own family…  It was a good day, spent lounging around the house together, eating to the point of stuffed-ness, playing games, and laughing till our cheeks hurt.  Shane and I pulled ourselves out of our post-dinner food comas to take a drive and enjoy the sunshine, returning just in time to re-stuff ourselves with dessert.  Perfection.

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May we all count and share our blessings throughout the year to come.

I was thrilled to look out the window yesterday morning and see that the ground had been covered with a fluffy blanket of white snow overnight.  I grabbed my camera and rushed outside to snap a few pictures and take in the pristine-ness of it all.  There are few things more beautiful than snow topped branches.

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The rest of the day was lovely and low-key.  We spent the rest of the morning drinking coffee with Shane’s sister, picking up the last few things for the big Thanksgiving meal, and revisiting some of Shane’s favorite neighborhood spots.  This little park was the perfect place to snap a few more pictures of our white little wonderland.  I was sad to see that the snow was already disappearing (I suppose beauty really is fleeting), but I managed to get a couple of shots before I needed to hop back in the car and thaw my fingers in front of the heater.

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Shane and I had some time to kill last night before meeting up with a few of his friends for drinks, so we decided on a whim to check out the town’s bowling alley.  I was skeptical about how much fun it would be for just the two of us to bowl together, but after my third strike, I was having a blast, grinning ear to ear.  Yes, I came from behind and managed to crush Shane in our first game.

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I was not so lucky in game 2, and Shane will probably give me a hard time for not posting those scores here, but I never claimed to be a fair and balanced reporter…

We ended the evening with a few of Shane’s old high school buddies at the local wine bar/ale house.  It was fun to listen to them reminisce – I obviously didn’t know Shane in high school, so I am always eager to gather more of the bits and pieces of memories from this time in his life.

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Well, I’m off to prepare my first ever Thanksgiving apple pie – happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  God bless.

Yes, it’s been quiet here in blog-land lately…  My absence has been due to a general state of busy-ness, but with things that aren’t interesting enough to warrant a post.  Shane and I left Seattle for Minnesota yesterday and are enjoying a few days to relax and catch up with Shane’s family.  I slept in until 9:30 today, watched a couple of my favorite cooking shows, played Legos with my nieces and nephew, ate steak and potatoes…  It was a good day.  It’s not terribly cold here, but the landscape is definitely wintry, with bare-limbed trees and gray, misty mornings.  It’s nice to be cozied up indoors, savoring the blessings of family and a warm home.  Much to be thankful for.

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One of the things that I value most about our church is their willingness to tackle and discuss ‘difficult’ issues, so Shane and I were quick to register for the latest series of depth classes entitled ‘Faith and Race’.  Race has always been one of those walking-on-eggshells kind of topics for me – out of fear of saying anything ignorant or offensive, I’ve usually chosen the path of avoidance when it comes to discussions on race.  It was nice to be in a room with so many people who were willing to step up take the risk of saying something that might rub someone else the wrong way, for the sake of us all learning about each other and about the realities of a racially unjust world.

There were a couple of topics in particular that really struck a chord with me.  One of these was the discussion on ‘white privilege’.  During our second evening together, we were all asked to fill out a questionnaire composed of true/false statements such as ‘I can choose a bandage in “flesh color” and know it will more or less match my skin color’, or ‘If a traffic cop pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race’.  I answered ‘True’ to all 17 statements.  A perfect score.  But as other people in my group shared their scores of 10, 9, 8, etc, I became increasingly ashamed of my A+ paper.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t relate to other people’s stories of discrimination and inequality.  I was living in an easier, more comfortable kind of world, blissfully enjoying race as a total ‘non-issue’.  And so I was embarrassed by my privilege.  Then I read the questions again, stewed awhile, and the more I thought about it, my guilt transitioned into defensiveness.  I didn’t ask for these so-called ‘privileges’.  I wasn’t responsible for the production white-person Band-Aids, or fashion magazines filled with supermodels primarily of my same skin color.  These were things beyond my control, whether they were fair or not.  Sure, Shane and I certainly live privileged lives, but we have worked hard for things like our home, our well-stocked fridge, our clothes-filled closets.  So why should I feel guilty?  This period of defensiveness was thankfully short-lived as I reminded myself that the church leaders I value and trust were not intending to persecute me because of my race – there had to be a constructive lesson behind all of this.  And so I wrestled with this issue of ‘white privilege’ further.  And I came to recognize that I do regularly enjoy a number of unearned advantages based on the fact that I am part of the racial majority.  But what was I supposed to do with this realization?  I was happy to find that one of the topics up for discussion at the learning conference that took place at Quest yesterday was, ‘White Privilege – Now What?’  Jason read my thoughts as he expressed the difficulty in figuring out what to do with the knowledge that we still live in a very racially unjust world, where white people often enjoy certain benefits at the expense of racial minorities.  He didn’t give us a checklist of things we could do to right these wrongs, or a twelve-step process for obliterating white privilege, but his challenge to all of us was powerful: he asked us to allow ourselves to live in discomfort – to be ‘agitators for justice’, to be daily aware of and uncomfortable with the injustice of white privilege.  God has not called us to live blissfully ignorant lives.  No, I don’t know yet exactly how, where, or when I’ll be called to action, but I’m definitely walking around with wider, more aware eyes now.  That’s a start.

I’ve had a hard time really getting into my sketchbook lately, and as a result, haven’t really loved anything I’ve put down on paper.  But an art teacher once told me that whether or not you’re happy with your pieces, it’s still vitally important to get in the habit of regularly making something, so I’m taking his advice and sticking with it.  Without further excuses, these are the latest…

october (2009.10.19):

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spider plants (2009.10.31):

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bluebird (2009.11.01):

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awkward girl (2009.11.07):

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After nearly a year of planning, budgeting, and coordinating with our neighbors, our big backyard renovation is nearly complete.  We still have some planting to do and some patio furniture to purchase, but we are thrilled to say that all of the major work is done (just in time for the rainy season – grrrr!).  We’re really happy with the results and can’t wait until next summer, when we can roll our grill out onto our new patio and enjoy a glass of wine in our new adirondack chairs.

These are the before photos – our largest issue with the original design of the yard was the steep slope that led from the driveway to the back door, leaving us without a nice space to put a planter bed or even set up a chair.  The grass was in horrible condition, due to poor soil and the tendency of water to run off the slope, rather than soak into the ground.  The pavers that served as the pathway up the slope were also a little treacherous in winter weather – I slipped on those things a couple of times when we got all of that snow last year.

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We worked with our neighbors to come up with a solution that would include planter beds, a flat place to put seating , and stairs that would make up the rise from the back door to the driveway.  Getting all of this done within the budget we established was tricky, but ultimately do-able, after a couple of rounds of negotiations and substitutions with the contractor.  And so, Voila!

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We’ve been planting things bit by bit, including a beautiful Japanese Maple tree, a bright green smoke bush, and several tulip bulbs.  I am so looking forward to watching things grow and blossom over the seasons and years to come.  Now all we need is a little sunshine (I won’t hold my breath…).

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This book may be one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.  The style of writing, the point of view, and the vivid details put me right in the room with the author as he was living out his childhood in his dilapidated little home in Limerick, Ireland.  Loved it.  His story is definitely a sad one – extreme poverty, an alcoholic and absent father, the death of three siblings – but he doesn’t seem to feel the least bit sorry for himself.  He accepts the life he’s been given and when he’s old enough to change it, he takes a tremendous step to do so.

Even more enjoyable than reading this book was getting together with my girlfriends to discuss it at our monthly book club meeting yesterday.  I love these ladies – though we only spend minutes actually discussing the book, we spend hours at our special table at the bakery, chatting and laughing and catching up with one another.  This little gathering has become something that I look forward to all month long, whether I like what we’re reading or not.  Next on the list?  Well…according to our rotation of easy page-turners, memoirs, and classics, we should be reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin this month.  But it seems most of us just weren’t up to the challenge right now, so it’s ‘choose your own adventure’ month.  And it turns out that I was the only one at the table yesterday who hasn’t read Twilight yet, so for the sake of inclusiveness, I’m putting aside my presuppositions and giving into the hype.  Bring on the vampires…