Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Merry Christmas, and soon.... HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I have had a non-stop lineup of to-do's in the last few weeks.  At first, it was all about THE MOVE.  Then it was wedding planning catchup.  Then, snow and travel and hurry up Christmas shopping.  Now I am back, almost.  I have a little stomach bug that is keeping me away from work (as you might imagine, we are VERY careful about germs in the cancer care world).  I feel pretty marginal, but I am able to catch up on a few wedding planning things from my computer in between installments of cups of tea and plain toast.  Doug comes home from his part of the travels tonight just in time for Oliver's FIFTH birthday celebration.  Happy Birthday to my sweet pup!  How is it that he has reached five years old so darn fast?

To recap on the long hiatus in a few easy steps: 

1) Doug and I are now happily ensconced in his condo, living in sin.  The condo is cosy (tight!) but is not busting at the seams the way we thought it might.  Thank goodness.  What we are noticing about this housing arrangement, however, is how URBAN it is.  We are constantly longing for a quieter, more spacious, less populated place of our own.  We are nervous about the real estate market, but are trying to keep our wits about us and take it one step at a time. And the good news?  We really love living together.  Living in sin is awesome.

2)  SNOW.  The entire Pacific Northwest was inundated with snow a week plus before Christmas.  We fared well because of my super SUBARU, Ruby.  Even though she is 12 years old, she is still the biggest snow champ in the entire metro area.  Actually, I miss the snow now that it's melted.  (I know I just got about a zillion virtual snowballs thrown at me!).

3)  Christmas + engagement party.  Doug and I left the pooch with his Christmas girlfriend (our new best friend, Monica!) and flew to Santa Barbara to celebrate the holidays with my side of the family.  I swear we were the last plane to leave SEATAC in the midst of pouring down snow.  We had a beautiful Christmas in SB and for the first time in a LONG time I was able to attend Christmas Eve worship with my family.  That was sweet, especially having my sweetie by my side.  On the 27th, my parents threw D and I an engagement party with all our SB loved ones in attendance.  Many of Doug's loved ones were able to join us (we missed Doug's Dad & Susie due to being snowed in - boo hoo.).  It was a lovely dessert, champagne and time together time.  In the morning over french toast our families extended the visit.  That was super double sweet.  That was when we especially missed Doug's Dad and Susie.

4)  NOW.  Now I am feverishly (kinda literally) catching up.  There are invitations to finalize, bridesmaids dresses to order, hotels to book, and I don't even know what else.  Mary, my trusty sidekick, is keeping me in line.  Or at least she's standing with me in the chaos.  What more could I want?

5)  A beautiful poem I meant to post a while ago.....

little tree
by  E.E. Cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look      the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you are quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands 
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

Monday, November 10, 2008

a poem for you

i've been thinking a lot about what brings perspective, what causes me to stop and appreciate my life. this poem ran accross my desk (or, er, my laptop) and represented what i am learning right now from my work with patients and families.

by Pat Schneider

I have learned
that life goes on,
or doesn't.
That days are measured out
in tiny increments
as a woman in a kitchen
measures teaspoons
of cinnamon, vanilla,
or half a cup of sugar
into a bowl.

I have learned
that moments are as precious as nutmeg,
and it has occurred to me
that busy interruptions
are like tiny grain moths,
or mice.
They nibble, pee, and poop,
or make their little worms and webs
until you have to throw out the good stuff
with the bad.

It took two deaths
and coming close myself
for me to learn
that there is not an infinite supply
of good things in the pantry.

"Lessons" by Pat Schneider from Another River: New and Selected Poems. © Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2005.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

housewifey duties

This weekend I think I might have caught the domesticus virus.  On Friday afternoon a dear friend called and asked that I provide the cake type item for her husband's birthday party the following evening.  I started to brainstorm right away about what could be done.  Said husband LOVES my pumpkin bread.  He begs for it each year as the holidays roll around - sometimes as early as when the first leaves turn.  So, I knew I had better do a pumpkin thing.  After careful consultation with my sister and mom (fellow bakers of this same fantastic recipe from my grandma) on Saturday morning, I was set.  I headed for the grocery to get my supplies.  

All afternoon, along with pumpkin cake preparations (with cream cheese frosting and chocolate chips - YUMMM), I also did laundry, paid my bills, talked with family and friends (I love that I have rediscovered my hands-free gizmo for my phone), and copious amounts of wedding planning/daydreaming/thinking about the future.  The cake came out fantastic, the birthday boy and guests gave it serious raves, and I was pleased as punch.  I was so satisfied with myself having taken care of all my housewifey duties.  In fact, as my head hit the pillow I felt accomplished.  

This is not a feeling I have a lot lately.  Though the fit of my new job is growing on me, generally fitting better, there are many days when I still come home feeling defeated or overwhelmed (especially when I have to write 10 page theological papers - like this week, yikes).  Wedding planning is frustrating at times - for example, we STILL haven't found a reception venue(!!!!).  The downturn of the economy and general insanity of the housing market has made D and I feel very small and vulnerable in the process of planning our future housing.  Last but certainly not least, in order to save money, I am moving into D's condo at the end of November.  It will be great to finally live in one place, but it means that I will have 90% of my belongings in storage and have to say goodbye to my lovely house.  (this last one is making me sadder that all the above combined right now. sniff, SNIFF.)  So, well, feeling accomplishment was a BIG DEAL to me on Saturday.  

This feeling got me to thinking...  I am as much of a feminist as a romantic, idealistic, athletic, vegetarian, clergyperson, graduate of a women's college, firstborn daughter of midwestern(ish) parents can be.  And that's pretty feminist, without going over the top - as in, there's no way I'm a separatist, I'll be taking my husbands name, and I'm more of an idealist than anything.  

On Saturday, I think there began in my spirit a curious transformation.  I still bristle at the idea that I would be the ONLY one doing the housekeeping but I am falling in love with the idea of staying home to raise the kiddos.  (prayer break:  PLEASE God let us be blessed with kiddos.  Amen.)  I never thought that would be me.  I thought I'd have a little time at home and then be back to work gradually.  I thought I'd need the work outside my home, mommy, wife, life in order to stay balanced in my self, my sense of call, and my sense of myself.  But right now, I am all about home.  It is pure delight to imagine creative projects, long walks, the day to day of watching children grow, and putting care into the marriage that I hope to have, taking care of the one I am about to promise to create my life with.  Somehow, at least since Saturday, it is the housewifey duties that I am longing for.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

the noble marmot

For my birthday, D gave me a super cool jacket from a company called Marmot Mountainworks.  We've been joking as we get ready to go out, "Grab that varmint and let's go."  or  "How's your marmot today?"  or  "Is that a squirrel jacket?"  This has led to a lot of wondering about marmots.  What are they anyway?  Are they squirrels?  Rodents?  So last night we finally couldn't take the curiosity anymore.  We looked them up online.  A few clicks later we found a world we could never have anticipated, let alone imagined.  I don't know how to post pictures from other websites on my blog (I'm still quite the rookie blogger), but I do know how to write out a link to a site.  Go check out: www.marmotburrow.ucla.edu.  You won't be sorry.  This was the most entertaining - and informative! - surf on the internet I've had in a great long while.  We laughed out loud.  You'll laugh, you'll cry... and who knows, maybe YOU will be inspired to participate in advancing marmot research or protecting the endangered Vancouver Island marmot.  Maybe you will want to be a part of the next International Marmot Meeting.  The noble, charismatic marmot - check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the power of prayer

What a difference a week makes.  Last week I was fretting and unproductive.  I needed to focus and get a few things done.  The wedding planning had hardly been even begun, the dress was not yet selected, and I was totally stuck and frozen.  Overwhelm is my weakest link.  When there is too much on the plate I tend to shut down.  So I stopped and considered my options.... we could delay the wedding date a little further out.  I could quit my job.  We could win the lotto and so then we could hire someone to do everything (and fast!) and we could stop worrying about housing.  OR, I could set a few attainable goals and pick away at them.  As it turns out, nothing was really as hard as it initially seemed.  More importantly, progress has been made!  I called some venues, we visited, and now we are narrowing in on dates, places and times.  I bravely made another appointment and employed my fantastic friend to accompany me to the bridal boutique (this is where the prayer comes in).  Through the power of the prayer warriors who were praying for our success and the Lord's good grace in answering those fervent prayers, we found the perfect dress!  All is well in brideville tonight.  No one is quitting or despairing or putting things off.  Phew!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

a BIG year

I'm two days into my new year.  My 35th birthday was Thursday.  Yikes... mid thirties.  But the bigness of the year is not about the bigness of my age, it's about all the major turning points that are up ahead on this road.  This is my last "single" birthday - D and I are getting married this coming spring (still haven't settled on a date).  I'm working full-time at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance as a fellow in oncology chaplaincy.  That means that before the year is out I will have produced a publish-worthy piece of research writing (a LONG one).  D and I are hoping to start a family soon after our wedding.  That is the fulfillment of a great big hope of mine, but it's still scary to think that it might come true THIS year.  We will sell D's condo and buy a house together, hopefully before the wedding.  That will make me a (co) homeowner.  Wedding, writing, kiddo?, home.  WOW.  That's a lots to contain in 365 days... and there's already only 362 left!  Better get off the computer and get back to work.... or maybe take a moment to breathe and pray.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

as the crow flies

I'm still adjusting to my new job at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  There's lots to learn.  There are (what seem like) a hundred different computer things; new modes of communication; new faces; a new schedule; two medical facilities; new medical jargon and concepts; and a whole new "outpatient gig".  As if all this newness was not enough... I have to figure out transportation and schedules.  Serving two places is complicated.  Today, I thought I would start and end my day at the UW Medical Center (where our patients go when they need to be in the hospital - and where my office is).  In the morning I took the bus to UW, but then in the midst of the day my plans changed.  Instead of taking our shuttle back to UW at the end of the day, I decided to just walk home from SCCA.  Great!  With my ipod fired up, I headed out.  All was well until it started to pour down rain.  I took off my nice warm jacket (because it is stuffed with down - and feathers without their ducks aren't so waterproof) and stowed it into my bag where it would stay dry.  I was cold, but I have to say, all was still well.  You know those days (or moments) when everything seems to be touched with a golden light?  I was having one of those moments all the way home.  This gilded feeling kept me warm, both in my spirit and body.  When I was halfway home, I noticed a mailbox perched atop a fence in front of a house.  The mailbox had a sign posted on it reading, "a poem for September - take one".  WOW!!!  I smiled as I opened the mailbox and pulled out my poem.  Any of you that know me, know that I love poems and I especially love little surprises.  I tucked the poem into my bag and thought about what it might be.  I thought about how whenever I receive something, it is an invitation to give.  I am pondering how I might create more surprise and delight in the world.  Here is the poem for September from my neighbor.  Dear neighbor... whoever you are... THANK YOU.  As this little crow flew home, sideways in the rain, the distance did seem shorter.

Triolet on the Adage "As the Crow Flies"
- M.J. Iuppa
As the crow flies, sideways, over fields,
The distance shortens, the evening reels - 
Darkness rallies, voices sealed.
As the crow flies sideways, over field
Will he stop short of his address - take shield
In a stand of trees and decry what is real?
As the crow flies, sideways, over fields,
The distance shortens, the evening reels - 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

scenes of the summer

 Here's me and the neph hanging out in his backyard.
Doug and I paddling around in the arboretum.  You'll have to imagine Doug... but I swear he was there too.
Oliver giving a kissy face for the camera.  He's been working on becoming calm and submissive.  Doesn't he look like he's lovin it?!?!
Catching a sunset over Lake Union - aka "where it all went down this morning" according to the champion rower pictured next to me.
ZENO, the wonderdog.  A crochet pup I made for my new friend Parker.
Here's a few images from the summer.  This is what I've been up to - that is, aside from being a resident chaplain in a hospital, which was pretty much the rest of the time.  Events not pictured here:  getting engaged, a visit with Doug's family in Idaho, a visit with my parents in Seattle, hours and hours of writing and reflection for CPE, the beginnings of wedding planning, a rainy 4th of July trip to Bellingham....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

adventures in blogland

Okay... so this is my first post.  I have been reading blogs for about a year now.  I guess you could say I'm fairly addicted.  I read all kinds of things but mostly crafty things, stories of my friends and family, and the adventures of parents, individuals and families as they make their way in the world.  I've seen what support and encouragement these blogs can bring.  I've been envious of those that are gaining in wisdom and clarity through the regular practice of writing and sharing.  And... not too long ago when I ended my regular practice of sharing my own writing (I was a pastor preaching weekly in a congregation), my dad asked me, "What about my subscription?"  I realized that the sharing of writing and reflection contributed to the larger community and to my self.  So here's my contribution to the whole of blogland.  My hope is that it is a way of sharing life together - making it richer, wiser, and tons more fun.