Thursday, May 31, 2007

when a stranger calls

Wednesday night, at a quarter after midnight, the phone rang and jolted me out of sleep and into the creeps. I fumbled for my glasses and the lamp; got up and pulled on a robe; and went cautiously downstairs to check the caller ID. "Private Number," it said.

Now, logically, it was a wrong number and nothing to worry about. But logic is not my forte in the middle of the night when I am alone in the house, and all I could think about was these books I would read as a kid where the thieves call the house to see if anyone is home before they break in. Normally the heroine would thwart the intruders, with the aid of her fellow fifth-graders and a friendly policeman. But all my friends were asleep and all the policemen I know were off-duty.

But, the reason I was alone in the house to begin with was that Dan & Anne were in California, where it was three hours earlier. So I called Dan's cell phone. Dan gamely played along and made small talk with groggy creeped-out me until I felt safe enough to go back to bed. ("We'll invest in a pit bull," he said.) I have no idea how long it took me to get back to sleep, but I woke up Thursday morning sore from my muscles being stress-tight all night.

I figured I was done with that creepy feeling, though, since Laura was scheduled to get back from Minnesota last night (yes, we have a new person in household!) and I would no longer be alone in the house. But before she arrived, as I was puttering around the house, I noticed a pair of sunglasses sitting on the back porch table that were definitely not there yesterday morning. So someone was on our back porch yesterday ... I managed to sleep through the night pretty well, but I am really looking forward to Dan and Anne's return, when I will feel totally safe again!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

surveyor's eye

This evening I was sitting at a table with a ruler and pencil, meticulously laying out the design for a poem I am copying out for a gift.

My father, a surveyor, died thirteen years ago today. I've always figured I didn't inherit his surveyor's eye. Give me a yard and ask me how wide it is, I have no idea. I have no concept of large spaces, and distances. But you can definitely find me hunched over a piece of paper, measuring out the inches and eighths of inches and even the sixteenths ...

But it occurred to me this evening that you could actually find my dad doing the same thing. Once the wide open spaces were measured, he'd go to his drafting table with his cool triangular rulers and draw it all out. He had this great graph paper that I would steal sheets of to make multicolor designs when I was a little girl.

I only remember Dad's drafting table from when I was little. In later years he must have done most of his drafting at the office. So my image of him, as a worker, was standing out in the woods somewhere with a couple other guys, using three-legged instruments to capture the topography. Not something I comprehend much. But I can understand a pencil and a ruler, and he used those too, and I am my father's daughter.

Monday, May 28, 2007

put me in, coach

Today at the beach I played volleyball with my friends. For me this is momentous! It's been almost a year since I started playing soccer, and that's been a joy, but I have still shied away from other sports. But today it was mostly my soccer friends that I was playing with, so I felt safe enough to try it. And of course I was terrible, but I had fun and I didn't turn the game into a total disaster. So now I have another sport that I can play without crying ;) But what really impressed me was what kind and encouraging friends I have. Sarah, knowing what it took for me to go out there, told me in the middle of the game, "I am so proud of you right now." Daniel took the time to explain all the rules so I wasn't so lost. (The ball kind of sailed over our heads a few times while he was explaining, but that was OK.) Kyle showed me how to serve and I actually got the ball over the net twice in a row!

Some of you reading this might not be familiar with this concept, but in PoP we sometimes talk about a friend "being Christ" to us. Which basically means, that person brought into everyday reality the love that Christ has for us - they put it into action. With that in mind ...

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I can play any sport in the world through Sarah, Daniel & Kyle who strengthen me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wedding Day

I woke up to sunshine in the east-facing guest room. Courtney would have a beautiful wedding day. The bride herself pushed open the door and sprinted to the spare closet. "Sorry," she whispered. "I have to get my veil."

"Have fun getting your hair done," I murmured, half-asleep.

After she left I lay in bed just being amazed at what was about to happen. My little niece was getting married. I am only six and a half years older than Courtney, but that's old enough for me to remember her mom's pregnancy, and her baptism, and the way she followed me around like a puppy when I was nine years old. Visiting at my house for holidays, she used to push me to one end of a hallway, then return to the other end, and then run full force down the length of it and slam into my legs with a hug. I remember when she was nine and I stopped thinking of her as just a kid and started thinking of her as just a little younger. She is still so young, though, and this morning I was awed at the thought that she was about to pledge her eighteen-year-old self to Joe.

Not that Joe isn't a decent guy to pledge her life to. I've just gotten to know him a bit this week and am entirely pleased with the way he treats her and the way he fits into the family. He is easygoing and laid-back, sweet and funny, and they looked so comfortable together this week, it was a joy to see.

I could tell you all the details of today - the wedding and reception were beautiful, the day was crazy but everything eventually worked - but I wanted to share with you my experience of this wedding. And as beautiful as everything was today, what I will remember is that moment of sunshine thinking about these two young people, about their innocent and bold and courageous and simple love for each other, and knowing that God had already joined them, and praying that no one will ever separate them.

WD - 1 (belatedly)

The Day Before the Wedding was pretty full, and there's lots I could tell you about flowers and errands and the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, but the event of the day was last night. We got home from the dinner at ... 9:30 maybe? ... and Deb set to work decorating the last section of the cake. Then Deb, Craig, Ben, Vicki and I piled into the car, holding sections of cake. We had to get in one by one - each person got in, buckled the seat belt, and then was handed his or her cake section. Craig was the last one in and had the formidable task of driving us over 45 minutes of country roads and highway 15 South without hitting any bumps large enough to disturb the delicate balancing acts inside the car. This was sometime after 11 PM, by the way, and we all got a little punchy. "I spy something white." "Cake!" "I spy something round." "Cake!"

At one point Ben and Vicki pointed out that in the warmth of the car, my cake was slowly sliding across the wax paper and creeping closer to my sweater. I had to rotate it carefully around so it could slide back towards the center of the circle. Other than that, though, we had no mishaps, and the cake arrived at the Holiday Inn unscathed. Praise God.

Then we spent more time setting up the cake table, and drove back, and finally got to bed around 1:30 AM. The sunlight and The Wedding Day woke us all up early-ish this morning, though, and for now I think we're all running on adrenaline. I think all of us, especially Deb, will crash pretty hard sometime this evening when everything is over. But for now, the adventure continues ...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

WD - 2

Last night was the shopping marathon. Deb and I visited at least five different stores collecting wedding items - emergency supplies (deodorant and tissues) for the bridal party, flower holders for the mothers' bouquets, six packages of strawberries for the chocolate fountain at the reception ... it was ten o'clock by the time we got home, and then Deb stayed up to do some more baking.

A side note on how much I love this place. Before going to bed last night I went to get something from my car and it is so very dark out here at night that if I didn't have my remote to blink the lights, I wouldn't have been able to find it. But, looking up, I remembered again how many stars there are up there. I honestly never knew what the night sky was supposed to look like until one summer night when my brothers and I came out here to visit and slept outside. I laid back on my sleeping bag and was astonished at all those stars. It still surprises me, every time I'm out here.

This morning we left early to run errands and have been working on the cake since we got back. Or rather, Deb's been working on the cake and I've been cleaning up the bowls and pans in between batches. Between yesterday and today, Deb has made six cakes, about a billion cupcakes with leftover batter (I'm learning about baking. She can't just save the leftover batter for the next section of the cake because of what the baking soda would do during the extra time; if she mixed the old batter in with new batter it would make an uneven cake), and three (or was it four?) batches of frosting. She's put the crumb coat on most of the cakes and will decorate them all this evening.

And, of course, all of this activity has been interrupted frequently by phone calls from various people ... the best one was from the bride herself. I heard only Deb's half of the conversation. "The bridesmaids are all sleeping here Friday night? No, you didn't tell me that before ..."

The adventure continues ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WD - 3

Three days until Courtney's wedding. I am out here in Liberty, PA (pop. 868) helping my sister Deb for the next few days til her daughter, my niece, gets married. I arrived last night, had dinner, and plunged into the midst of it. We got all the candleholders ready with the fake vines wrapped around them and then took about a hundred wedding favors out of their boxes. This morning we went to decorate with bows and tulle at the cutest little country church you've ever seen. Right now Joe and Courtney are practicing their first dance in the living room. Courtney is wearing her big puffy slip over her T-shirt and jeans, and Joe (the Marine) is in his uniform jacket and cargo pants. I'm having so much fun being behind the scenes here. Praise God for family, and friends, and weddings!

Friday, May 11, 2007

read any good books lately?

I read some books yearly. Christy by Catherine Marshall. The Chosen by Chaim Potok. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In the past couple years, The Grapes of Wrath has been added to the list. These are different from my heavy-reading, PLS-major books (e.g. War and Peace) and also different from my bedside-table light reading (e.g. The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency), although the categories mingle sometimes. Last year I had some light reading that I affectionately labeled "Amish romance novels" - the Abram's Daughters series by Beverly Lewis - and right in the middle of enjoying/ridiculing it, I happened upon one amazing and inspiring character who still kind of lives in my mind. I'll probably go back and read at least one book from the series again, and it has the potential to join my yearly list.

There are other books that I have reread numerous times (Alas, Babylon; Little Women; anything by Jane Austen), and they are a part of my personal culture and my language (shelves in the closet! Happy thought indeed!), but those first four I listed - they are a part of my soul. ... it took me about five minutes to write that last sentence because "part of my soul" sounded at once too cheesy and too intense. But I just can't think of any other way to put it.

So, what I want to know is, what are the books that are part of your soul? Not a book that you did in book club recently and it was kind of cool, or that you studied in college and had excellent metaphors - but a book that is part of who you are. Let me know, because I'd like to read it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Totally Homemade Meal

Clockwise from top: homemade pita bread; salad; homemade hummus; and curried carrot soup. Last night's dinner was ENTIRELY from scratch ... the only exceptions were the veggie bouillon in the carrot soup recipe (I think I made up for that by pureeing two pounds of carrots) and the salad dressing. I managed to get it done in just under two hours, but only with lots of planning and concentration and the assistance of master dishwasher Anne Brewer, who generously cleaned up as I went along. She also generously took this picture with her digital after I mentioned I was so proud of it I wanted to put it on my blog. Thanks Anne!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

driving home

Last Tuesday I wanted to write about how much I love driving home at the end of my late shift at the shelter. Cruising down Lafayette (the lights are all timed) at the end of a long day, usually happy with the work I've done ... breathing the night air and looking forward to my pillow and some much-needed rest ... I love driving home on Tuesday nights.

But just now, driving home after Cold Stone with Katie and some wedding-gift-shopping at Target, I realized I just love driving home at night. Whenever. From wherever. And I think what that means is that I love my town and I love my life.

I truly love South Bend (and if you think that's weird, well, I'm not open to listening to you right now). It is my home now and there are a hundred little reminders and memories always around the corner. Going through the roundabout at Twyckenham &Douglas reminds me of Owen & Claudia and our "exciting" trip to the Brewers' house when I moved (they were thrilled at corners and hills). Driving by ND, of course, always makes me nostalgic for college. Driving downtown makes me think of nights with friends at Fiddler's, and also of the street people I sometimes recognize from the shelter. Even commercialized Grape Rd., which I drove down tonight - the jeweler's reminds me of my recently engaged coworkers, Olive Garden makes me think of going out to dinner with Mom & Marshall and my roommate's parents one move-in weekend, and I even drive by the bowling alley where my women's group spent an evening celebrating a birthday. I am so comfortable in this town and happy to be where I am.

And I love my life. Whenever I am driving home late at night, that means I've had something valuable to do until late at night, and that's a great thing! Sharing life with my women's group; working hard at the shelter; singing with my choir friends; going out with the PoP young adults; going to Lord's Day; playing soccer ... what an amazing blessing, to have a life so full. To be so full of life! And at the end of the night, to have that time to myself, thinking back on my day, looking ahead to rest, praising God for my work and my friends and my life and my health ... praise God. I'm the luckiest girl I know.

Very Belated Photos (Valentine's Dance)