Sunday, June 24, 2012

week 25 in review

Yes, it's that time again: the weekly roundup! Settle in and ride along with me.

On the home front
It's only small scale excitement here this week. I am loving that my rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) is starting to bloom with perfusion. It's probably my favorite perennial since it needs such little care and responds well to apparent neglect. This would be compared to petunias, with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I have never grown petunias successfully because they always get so leggy. I've been told to pinch them back, but even that hasn't worked terribly well in the past. We have a hanging basket of 'tunias this year that joined the household full of blooms. All I can say at this point is that it looks like a big colorful mess that does NOT respond well to neglect. Sigh. 

Our tomatoes appear to be doing well, unless you count their untimely end when supped upon by birds.  We've already lost six ripening toms to the winged beasts.  Yesterday Ken picked up some rubber snakes to thwart the little pretties, and we'll see how they work. I do not--repeat, do not--want to go the route of caging.

Family 
My Aunt Hap, dad's remaining sibling, turns 85 next month, so a big family bash is planned in Cincinnati. Hap's nieces and nephews are in touch via global email to keep each other up to date on plans and ideas. Of the six branches of the family descended from the siblings, five will be represented at the party, and we're working on the sixth.  As usual, I will be the lone standard bearer from my clan.  And Dana and Mike, I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to see you since we'll be so close!

I've been scanning more pictures that came home with me from dad's, and am feeling inspired to take note of all the questions that occur to me as I look at these. I know nothing, for instance, of my dad's grandparents, and close to nothing about his father's side of the family.  It's time for my aunt to succumb to an interview. Fortunately she is an encyclopaedia of family lore and her memory is very good.  I've decided to write down some of my questions and send them to her in advance so she can start filling her tank with an arsenal of stories. That's Hap on the right, with her sister Enid, probably in the mid 1930's. I adore this picture.

At work
It's been a slow week of continuing to purge and pack, and work on the flow of a new design for the Center's web site. Some of that is fun, but much of it is tedious.  No word on the job.
On the table
Some lettuce from our garden! Alas, no pictures, but what a treat to reap what has been sowed!
On a personal note
For a change I got to spend all day at home yesterday. I spent it dividing my time between domestic necessities like laundry and vacuuming, making headway in reducing and organizing the clutter that claims my office, and scanning photos.  All in all, I am quite pleased with myself! I will make an effort to follow up today with more of same. Aren't you glad to know this?

I'm not aware of much on the radar of the week ahead, but stay tuned! And have a good one yourself. Ciao!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

epiphanies

I had an epiphany this morning on the way to work as I listened to the news. I'm not a news junkie by any stretch of the imagination, but somewhere along the road to middle-age I turned the corner from casual observer of the world (news-wise) to valuing being informed. It feels like a curse these days as the news is so dismal about so much of what is going on "out there." The desire to turn off the news halfway through a story is what birthed my epiphany. 

We (those who think like me) wonder why so many people have their heads in the sand when it comes to making political choices. Women vote for ultra-conservatives who want to push back the progress made for women's freedom and opportunity to a place I wouldn't recognize. The marginalized vote for people who want to marginalize them further. You get the picture. It. Makes. No. Sense.

Except that it does when you stop to think that the only way not to allow the woes of the world and machinations of the powerful who want to control that world to interfere with our own individual sense of contentment and well-being is to shut it off and pretend its not there. When we do that we can imagine a world where people treat each other well and want the best for one another and believe the dross that drips from the lips of those who do the opposite. I get it. That's my latest epiphany. Earthshaking, isn't it?

Sadly this epiphany doesn't accomplish anything. It isn't going to change the time I get up in the morning or alter my route home from work. Perhaps more sadly it won't influence my diet or exercise habits. The only good news, I suppose, is that it is evidence that my mind continues to work and reflect and yield fruit, bitter as that fruit is. Sigh.

I've had some other epiphanies recently, too, though of course I can't recall them at this moment while I'm at the keyboard. A couple of them might actually be worthy of leading to something, but none of them in and of themselves are life-changing. Still, I'll take a foundational sort of building block epiphany. One by one they stack up sufficiently to change the view, and when that happens, well, there's just no telling what will come next.

This morning's epiphany wasn't exactly welcome. It certainly doesn't make me happy. The only thing I can say about it is that it broadened my understanding and increased the capacity of my compassion (okay, sort of on the latter).  The news is still dismal, and I don't feel like I'm making much difference in helping shape a brighter world with better news to shout from the rooftops or whatever I'm building with my blocks.  

For today, I guess I'll just have to settle for being a little wiser. 

Here's to ya!

Monday, June 18, 2012

week 24 in review

On the Home front
Our parsley is flourishing! We've also got some tomatoes beginning to ripen, basil that is going to seed (it seems too early--the whole summer stretches before us, so now what after the pesto is made?)

Family
at Melrose when I was five months old

It's been a poignant week for me as I've begun to go through the collection of things brought back from dad's when we were there to get the piano in May. I've scanned some more photos, and continue to trip over tears and grief as memories of a life, known and unknown, rise to the surface. It's been nostalgic, to say the least, and perhaps because life has been such a struggle the last several years I am finding refuge in memories of less stressful times. Perhaps that is why Edinburgh begs my presence. I miss my dad. 

On the Table
This isn't our creation, but Ken's lunch from the "Smokey, et al" food truck at the American Artisan Festival we attended on Saturday. That's not a traditional burger, but a hodgepodge of pork (ham, bacon, you name it!). Think of it as a meat-lover's pizza without the part that makes it a pizza. Sort of makes me cringe from a health standpoint. I had a rather amazing sandwich of grilled curried peanut butter chicken with apricot marmalade from the Peanut Butter Paradise Truck. Very delish. Photogenic? not so much.

At Work
Wow, what a week! Incredibly productive meetings resulting in an exciting and extensive "to do" list when it comes to serving the needs of our adult students. So many ideas and such creative and enthusiastic people with whom to collaborate! It was also the week when final scholarship decisions were made (or in a few cases, almost made). I love the part of my job when I can tell someone that their financial burden for the coming academic year will be reduced by $4000.  Yay!

On a personal note
As mentioned above, we ventured out into the big city on Saturday to attend the American Aritsan Festival in Nashville's Centennial Park. We hadn't been to an art/craft show in what seems like forever, and I was in heaven as my soul was drenched with the creative fruits of the artisans present. Amazing work, just amazing. Ken asked me what my favorite "booth" was, and I couldn't narrow it down. What was fun to note is that work I would have walked past previously called me to explore and appreciate it. And then there was this hammock (among others in the collection) strung between trees that simply looked inviting on a hot day.

Bonus Round!
I covered my gray colored my hair gave my hair a boost yesterday. I tinker with the idea of coloring on a regular basis but yesterday it seemed that the stars were in alignment, so the deed is done. No pictures yet. I don't have the kind of camera that I can hold out at arms length to photograph myself (unlike some people I know on facebook who never tire of posting their self-portraits for the rest of us--and I'm not talking about anyone who reads this blog!), and it didn't occur to me until just this moment that I could use the bathroom mirror. Next time!

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

an unexpected twinge

Ken has gotten a notion into his head to plan the perfect Knights Templar tour. He often comes up with ideas that lean toward the fanciful and then there is no further word about them. But this is an idea that continues to resurface, and last night he asked me to pull out my world atlas so that he could take a serious look at the geography of his plan.

The tour would, of course, include a stop at Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel is located outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, and when I couldn't locate it where I thought it was on the map, I headed to the internet for a precise pinpointing of this critical destination.

I was both right and wrong in recalling where it was. I haven't been there, but could have made the excursion on one of several trips I've taken to Scotland, including a semester during college as part of the "study abroad" program. I knew it was an easy day's excursion from the city. From the Rosslyn web site I clicked on the "get directions" portion of the page and was startled to see that Rosslyn is, in fact, a stone's throw from the perimeter highway that circles Edinburgh. More than that, it is incredibly close to the area where I lived while there as a student.

Learning of Rosslyn's locale was a pleasant surprise, but it came with a nostalgic twinge that I didn't anticipate as the map of Edinburgh came into focus. The street names grabbed my attention like the voice of a long lost friend. Images, impressions and experiences leaped to mind, and I was drawn quickly into memories that run deep and warm with a visceral connection to a place that I love.  I felt a longing to be there, to ride the buses and walk the hilly streets, stop in at the pubs and linger in the parks. The smell of the breweries, far from fragrant, are as much a part of the sensory landscape as the distinctive accent and the glow of the afternoon light that paints the stone walls of the city's buildings with rich, brilliant color. 

Connection to place is one of the human experiences that defies explanation, but I can attest that to this city and the countryside that extends north and south from it, I am deeply attached. There is a spiritual connection that transcends words, and a love for the rugged rocks and prickly blooms of the highlands that bid me welcome.  There are the sheep, the cascading burns, and the lonely ruins that reverberate with the blood-soaked history of Scotland's modern peace.  It is a place that from coast to coast and mountain to lowland draws me and nourishes me in a way no other place has ever done.  It is home.

Once again I covet my connection to it: savoring the sweets of Clarinda's Tea Room on the High Street, drinking in the colors and patterns of tartans in the kilt shops, breathing in the aromatic scents of the Indian restaurants that dot the neighborhoods, and taking my place among the pedestrian traffic that makes its way from one part of the day to the next.  It is all rich in my memory and feeds my soul in these days so far removed from their origins. 

No matter the time and space that divide my life now from those months of incredible opportunity.  There is a trip being planned. In due time, it will all be there to greet me again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

week in review

It's been a Big Week here! How big, you ask? Read on!

On the home front:
The fence is done! There are a few tweaks still to make, but the important thing is that the yard is now secure for the dogs to run freely. Yes, those were our huge sighs of relief that you heard last night that you might have confused as thunder rumbling in the distance. Our sighs came from that deep within! This has been a very long time coming, and we are sooooooo thrilled to have this task completed. Did I mention how glad we are to have the fence done? Here's a brief photo retrospective. Amazingly I did not document any of yesterday's activity that nudged us over this finish line. I just wanted to revel in the experience. Photos will come!

Family:
We were absolutely tickled to enjoy a visit with the Hamiltons last weekend. We met up with them in Murfreesboro Saturday morning where the kids participated in the local "Small Fri Tri" event, and it was too cute! They ran, biked, and then took on the sprinklers to cross the finish line and take their trophies. Rock on, boys! Tuesday Ken was able to spend the day with them, but they came to the 'boro to join me for lunch, then we all met again for dinner. We bade farewell to them at breakfast the next morning at their hotel. Fortunately Jude has a Significant Birthday coming up in July, so we will see them again soon!

On the table:
We enjoyed a great chicken on the grill last night (again, no photos, but here's something from earlier in the year, just so you can feast your eyes on our mixed grill of steak and kielbasa with roasted onions and peppers!). It was a slow roast, marinated in a garlic and herb dressing with a splash of pear wine made by a friend. Add corn on the cob and Ken's favorite "cabbage salad" (a vinegar-based cole-slaw) and we were in heaven!


At work:
In anticipation of my area's relocation to a new student union building in August, we are busy purging files. The Center for which I am serving as interim director will lose the physical portion of what makes us who we are (the center for women and nontraditional students), and that translates to the loss of space and storage. The strategy behind the new configuration of offices is best left to another post, but  for now our challenge is to downsize. The process is tedious and time-consuming, although some of the things unearthed in the process are illuminating! On a brighter note, I oversee a specific pot of $50,000 in scholarship money, and the recipients of those funds were determined earlier this week. I love the part of my job where I can give away money!

On a personal note:
The process of hiring the permanent director for the above-mentioned position is underway and coming to a close. I have applied (as previously noted in other posts). I have a good shot at keeping my job. I am still anxious about what happens if someone else is selected. There's been way too much uncertainty in my life in recent years related to work, and I would really like not to be on the short end of that stick for a while. Thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc., are appreciated as the process moves forward. I will probably know something within the next two weeks.

And as a bonus...
Did I mention that we finished the fence? Have a great week!

Friday, June 08, 2012

friday five: whatever!

At RevGals Kathryn offers us a random meme for today's Friday Five. I'll play! 

1.  What religion/faith besides yours captures your curiosity and why?
I'm intrigued by just about any faith system, but the one I feel most compelled to learn about is Islam. I'm so tired of the rants against Muslims resulting from ignorance and extremist actions, and I'd like to get better informed so that I can be a source of information to counter the voice of the radical right on this subject.  Unfortunately I don't retain what I read very well. That said, however, a very good read for Christians is Jesus: One Man, Two Faiths, by Ron Messier

2.  What is the first or most memorable pop song you ever learned as a kid?
I'm going to say "Red Rubber Ball." It is still a favorite
(tried to embed it here, without success)

3.  If God were a color.....(finish this sentence creatively)
You mean God isn't a color?

4.  If you were going to make a sandwich right now for lunch, and you magically had all the items you need for it, what would that sandwich be?
A standard favorite is a BLT, and we almost always have the ingredients on hand for that. Other favorites include roast turkey with tarragon aioli and brie on rye; grilled ham and cheddar cheese on marbled rye with cranberry mustard; and what I refer to as a "stack:" a slice of rye cut from a large round loaf, piled with slices of black forest ham, turkey, swiss cheese, tomatoes, red onion, bacon, and lettuce, topped with a special sauce (a homemade version of Thousand Island dressing).  Now I'm hungry!

5.  How are you doing?  Really, how are you?
Mostly good. Really! I'm dealing with some anxiety because my present job is as interim at a local university. I'm a candidate for the permanent position, for which interviews are being conducted right now. My chances are good, but anything can happen.  If they choose someone else I have no clue what I will do next. When I lean into God I experience peace. I just need to remember to lean more often.

My husband is in a funk at the moment, and that is decidedly not fun.

Bonus:  What are you enjoying/loving right now?
The frequency with which we have been able to see our daughter and her family (grandkids!) lately.
last weekend in town and participating in the local parks and rec Small Fri Tri(athlon)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

week in review

Saturday, June 02, 2012

addicted to atticus

It's all my mother's fault. "Oh!," she says, almost as an afterthought. "Take this home with you--you can listen to it in the car. You'll LOVE it!" she says of the book on tape that sits on the back seat of her car. Her face is gleeful and her enthusiasm is out of bounds.

She was right. I DO love Following Atticus, the story of a man and his dog and their incredible relationship as it develops and grows through their life and journey hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is compelling to me as a dog-lover, native Yankee, and admirer of Tom Ryan's engaging writing and down to earth manner. I love that he quotes from a range of authors as their subject matter relates to his own life revelations. From Tennyson to Richard Bach, the nuggets of wisdom that Tom weaves through his story embraces me as comfortingly as a grandmother's afghan.

It's not just comfort, though. I find myself plunging deep into my own layers as I reflect on the observations Tom makes for his life and recognize in them a template for looking at mine. It may be the mid-life "stop and take stock" place where I find myself these days,but whatever the cause I am finding good company in the musings of this writer and the joy he finds with his dog.

I have also found this "following" an opportunity to spend some time with my father. He was a lover of Richard Bach, a hiker of New England mountains, companion to dogs, and possessed a willingness to engage the questions of life. These echoes of my father's soul keep me company as I keep pace with Tom and Atticus. Since this dynamic duo continue to share their journey post-publication on a blog and through facebook, I have the rare opportunity to continue to follow their story and feel a part of it. It feels a bit like I am journeying through my own days with more than suitable companionship, and there is peace and comfort in that.

I commend this book to anyone, though dog-lovers will especially enjoy it. And I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother for introducing me to the wonderful world of Tom and Atticus.
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