Tuesday, November 25, 2008

life lessons

It's a beautiful thing to learn from your friends.

To share a piece of your soul with them. I love having relationships like that, because each one is different and unique. That means that only the two of you can know the depth of the relationship and only you two will be shaped in a certain way from that connection.

I have learned some valuable lessons from the people in my life lately. And I've learned that life is good. Life is beautiful. It's worth living. It's an opportunity to grow, and there's always a way to move forward.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

winter beauty

This morning my eyes drank in a beautiful sight.

I walked to the patio window in the dining room and froze from what caught my gaze. Everything was covered in inches upon inches of white. It rested on the grey-brown trees, on my neighbors roofs, and created a rounded pile upon the picnic table. The stone bird feeder had a poofy mound of the snow bursting from it. The world had that echo-y and insulated feel to it, and with my breath caught up by the sight, there was not a sound to be heard.

And then I saw the birds. Scattered all through the yards on our many, many feeders. Their features and flutters were accentuated by the white background around them. I saw little brown sparrows near the door clinging to a nylon sack of seed. Swooping in to join them was a full bodied red cardinal with a regal head and beak. To my left on a cluster of feed hung a large woodpecker. He had the rusted red head with the intricate black and white wings and white belly. He sat there pecking away at the seed block, and he was very very large. Back a little ways with the brightest Bluejay. He was not in their typical fashion of obnoxiousness, for everything was quiet as can be.

There was only a glass window and a whole other world separating me between this community of birds. It was gorgeous and rare. Some of them flew in and out, but not one truly left because the other was there. For some reason, not even the big birds gave much intimidation to the little ones. They all settled into their places and continued feeding and gathering. All of these variations of birds eating, living, and flitting about together in a gorgeously colorful existence. Against the crisp winter background, it was a truly mind capturing sight.

I thought of their diversity. Their community. Their mutual existence. And the peace and quiet. As I backed away from the glass, I wondered to myself what humanity would be like if we all behaved a bit more like these birds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

it's coming together!

Of course it's not finished yet, but things are really coming together for the apartment! So I just wanted to post some pictures of the main rooms to give out of town people an idea of what it looks like. :-) (You can click on the pictures to get a larger view)

This is the overall view from near the door.

Our dining area

The buffet acts as a great room divider

Our cozy couch and record player

One corner of the room--Josh's techie-ness

The drop-down ceiling above the couch/buffet

The other corner of the room--our cute little reading area. (Notice the table and chairs!!!!!)

Sorry if the pictures weren't very clear or if they were grainy. I took them with my BlackBerry camera, so they're not the best. But it gives you a good idea. :-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hitting close to home

I read this article in my local news paper today, and I felt the tears brimming across my eyes. This is my community. These are the people I live with, drive on the roads with, shop with, and breath the common air with. I want to do something, but I'm not really sure what to do...

Pantries see more in need

Group aims to stock shelves as layoffs fuel dilemma

By JOSEPH DITS Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Arthur Hensell is beat. A diabetic, he admits that he doesn't eat enough some days to keep up his health. He can't afford the food.

So he climbs aboard his bike. His right leg still gives him pain, amputated last year after a bad fall in 1996 led to eight surgeries and an infection. But he extends his artificial leg to the pedal and rides a short distance from home to the tiny food pantry at 2406 Mishawaka Ave.

"I've been through a lot," says Hensell, 37, washed out from spending the last week and a half in a hospital. He takes a seat and a cup of coffee here at The Church Lady and Friends Outreach Ministries. He says the doctors want to test him for lung cancer.

Another face, another pantry. It could be anywhere in this country or this county. Check just about any newspaper, and you'll read about the same dilemma.

Incessant layoffs and lack of jobs are forcing a dramatic rise in the number of clients at food pantries, including those who once were donors.Pantries are reporting from 30 percent to 70 percent increases over last year.

That's why the United Way of St. Joseph County and several agencies are urging the public to join People Gotta Eat. The initiative seeks dollars because it's more efficient than a food drive. Numbers vary, but the Food Bank of Northern Indiana estimates $1 can garner up to $8 worth of food.

The goal is $180,000 through this winter, the estimated cost of feeding 1,000 families of four for six months, says Karen Sommers, the United Way's vice president of community investment. About $4,000 has been raised so far.

A proposal is being written to access United Way dollars for People Gotta Eat, too, she says. The United Way is asking several companies to join its own fundraising campaign for the first time; if they say no, Sommers says, they can help People Gotta Eat instead.

Half of the money would go to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. The other half would go to 46 pantries in St. Joseph County.Pantry donations started to dry up this summer at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County, says pantry director Penny Cyr. Clothing and furniture donations are down now, too.

But the phone rings so much that the staff can't keep up with it. Needy callers get testy, she says.

"There's a certain desperation out there," she says. "It's frightening."

The requests for food there have leapt from 10,500 in 2006 to 17,630 in 2007 to 19,000 in 2008, Cyr says.

The Penn Township Food Pantry sets a new record for clients each month, says Director Mike Hayes -- 451 households in September with 1,124 people, 388 households in October with 1,188 people.Nine out of 10 of the Penn pantry's clients say they were laid off, he says.

Most pantries give out a two- to four-day supply of food, allowing one visit per month. But if they're short on food, they give out less per household.

The Rev. Mary Booth Lyons says she opened her pantry in September 2007, and it's grown quickly. (Yes, The Church Lady is named after the old "Saturday Night Live" skit.) This month Lyons served 75 households, or nearly 300 people, here in a space she shares with the Mountain Top Faith Apostolic Church, which has about 13 members.

She drops food into plastic bags for Hensell, and except for canned salmon, he agrees to everything -- canned beets, peanut butter, Jell-O.

"I count on these people to get me through," he says, adding that he hits this and other food pantries, but not every month.His disability benefits from Social Security, a total of $538, leaves him $38 after he pays rent.

He says he has about $100 in food stamps, but he cannot use them because he lost his state benefit card and other IDs. He's been trying to replace the card for more than a month, to no avail.

The mess-up, he says, is that the local welfare office knows where he lives, but the place that issues the card has an old address for him.

"Can't slow me down," he says, explaining how he's managed to climb a ladder with one leg so he could do odd jobs -- painting or roof work -- for cash.

As he talks, Lyons softly exhales, "I can't take it.""The Lord has just put a burden on my heart," she says. "My definition of neglect is seeing a need and not trying to take care of it."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

mmm.... home

I'll try to put up pictures in the next few days, but Josh and I have moved into our new apartment! Well, I don't sleep there yet, but we've started to arrange it how it will be once we're both living there permanently.
Saturday there was a call for rain and snow all day long, so I was dreading the move. I just imagined wet boxes, wet furniture, wet and grumpy people. But except for a short time and after things were moved in, all the rain held off! We definitely praised God for that!
I felt so extremely blessed by the help and generosity of people. So much has been provided for us by friends and family that it got a bit overwhelming at times. Our families were amazing, but I was also blessed by the friends that came to help us move. It let me know just how special Kevin and Anna are in our life! Kevin has been helping us for almost a week now with packing and now unpacking the apartment, and Anna put in so much gumption with those boxes, cleaning, and helping me decorate! Watching Josh, Kevin, and Jeremy take the couch up three floors was also really amazing! I can't believe they did it.
Our home looks so nice! The spare room/office and bedroom are still being worked on, but the main living space is basically complete! The dining room is beautiful with the red lace tablecloth, Asian placemats and bamboo wall paintings. We have the antique table and hutch that's been in my family for years, and it the hutch is a nice focal point.
We set up the bookshelves in the living room and they look really nice with those chairs and little table I painted! Oh yes! Remember those that I bought at the beginning of the summer? My dear mother finished them for me, and they look amazing!
It was so fun cooking for Josh and I this Sunday. Josh went "Awwww" when he realized it was our first meal together in our new home! He'd gone out for a while and when he came back he said, "It was so comforting to walk up the stairs and smell dinner and know it was coming from my home."
For lunch, I made penne noodles and for him there was beef and gravy to pour over it, and I made a peanut sauce with tofu for myself. For dinner I made Mujaddarah, which is an Egyptian recipe of rice and lentils and I put in cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, and raisins. Josh said that out of all the meals I make, this one smells the best. :-)

I'll try to put up pictures of the apartment soon so everyone out of town can see!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

So I've seen a LOT of people taking this new online quiz lately. It's basically one of those personality quizzes that matches you to something. At first, I thought, "Oh that's such a waste of time--I already know what my personality is." But then I thought, "I love vintage era celebrities. It'd be fun to see who I'm matched with."

I obviously never knew Ingrid Bergman, but I can attest that these personality traits listed are DEAD ON when it comes to myself. Hmm.... kinda fun. :-)

You Are an Ingrid!

You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me

* * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
* * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
* * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
* * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
* * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

* * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
* * my ability to establish warm connections with people
* * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
* * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
* * being unique and being seen as unique by others
* * having aesthetic sensibilities
* * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

* * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
* * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
* * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
* * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
* * expecting too much from myself and life
* * fearing being abandoned
* * obsessing over resentments
* * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often

* * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
* * are very sensitive
* * feel that they don't fit in
* * believe they are missing something that other people have
* * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
* * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
* * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

* * help their children become who they really are
* * support their children's creativity and originality
* * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
* * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
* * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the next morning

I don't care how one or another person voted.... I feel that everyone should be excited to take part in such amazing history.

Sitting alone on the couch late last night, I was knitting away at some fingerless gloves, when I heard, "There will be children in the white house...." and I looked up and my eyes bugged out. "Wow," I quietly whispered.

I have a lot of respect for both candidates, and my favor swung back and forth between them a LOT. And my respect only grew last night for both of them.

McCain's concession speech was beautiful, honorable, and full of dignity. I've rarely heard a more beautiful concession speech, and he was so respectful. As I listened, I thought, "He's a good man. He's a really, really good man."

Seeing the excitement on people's faces for Obama's win was also really endearing. For me, all political feelings were set aside, and I just watched the crowds. I saw the smiles, the jumping, the flag waving, and the tears. And you know what? I cried too. There's things I disagree with Obama on, but I was proud of my country. Like McCain said, I can't imagine how all those who have felt marginalized by society must have felt for a black man to become president.

What was really cool is that this is NOT a black victory. It was not just minorities crying and cheering last night. It was all races, all socio-economic classes, both genders, and multiple religions. This is an American victory and American history. Seeing everyone cheering together made a feel a little like we're a lot more unified. I'd been so tired of all the race remarks and all the accusations the last few months, and it did my heart good to see that it wasn't entirely true. There IS unity in this country.

I've been wary and cautious of Obama at times, but I sat there last night and thought, "I can't wait to tell my kids about tonight." I have high hopes for Obama. Josh mentioned that seeing the crowd last night was amazing, because he hadn't seen hope and joy in Americans like that in years. And it's true. So, I hope he doesn't let these people down. I hope Obama does great things and is a great president. There's some policies I'm not looking forward to, but others I am very interested in.

Democrat or Republican, I feel this is a very exciting time in America. I'm praying that it stays this way.

I feel like it's a good day.

Song for the moment: "Last night I had the strangest dream" by Simon & Garfunkel

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!

My first presidential election ever!

It was a beautiful day today, too.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So here's my plug to go out and vote....

VOTE! :-)

I'm really excited this year, because it's my first election. I actually get to participate! If you don't know WHERE you're supposed to go vote, both Obama and McCain have resources on their web site to figure out your polling location.

This weekend was pretty eventul. Josh and I went to see about getting approved for a lease, and if we are approved, we move things into the new apartment on the 15th of this month! O_O Filling out the application was such a wave of emotions for me. It made it more "real" that Josh and I aren't just throwing a big ceremony, but our LIFE will actually be spent together. It made me feel both joyous and also heavy with the weight of responsibility. I cannot believe that I'll be married in six weeks.

Anna and I drove down to Cedar Point yesterday to meet up with Josh and some of his "coaster buddies." We had a great time! I even got Anna to try a few roller coasters she didn't think she would have normally tried. It was great to spend the time talking with her in the car, and except for a few times, the weather was REALLY nice!

Tonight Josh and I are planning on finishing the invitations while watching Once. :-) I'm going to make him some Mexican Hot Chocolate, and I'm bringing home Cambodian-Thai food for dinner! YUM!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

edward hopper

I am an avid Edward Hopper fan.

Josh and I were talking this evening about how to decorate our living room. I'd already chosen the colors blue and white, and I'm incredibly excited about the blue and white stripped couch slip cover I registered for. I painted two antique chairs and a little table a distressed white. But we hadn't paid much attention to wall art!

Together we decided on a Maritime theme. We both love beaches, marinas, and water, and coastal living, so I feel it suits us nicely. Another added bonus for me? Edward Hopper. Here are the paintings which I hope to acquire.

Martha McKeen of Wellfleet

Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head

I have some sea glass that I've collected from the shores of Lake Michigan, Hawaii, Maine, California, Spain, and Portugal that I would like to display creatively somehow, but I'm not quite sure what that would look like yet. Hmmm.....