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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

S'Nami Boh

This is the hymn that is sung in Byzantine Churches for the Christmas Eve Liturgy.  Though the tenor of this video doesn't do Fr. Joseph's deep, resonating bass justice, it is a beautiful hymn, which brings Christmas home to my heart just hearing it.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!!

....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookies

Nothing happens at the Black's but the Two Little Girls know about it.  Especially in the kitchen.

If you pull out baking bowls or flour or sugar (particularly sugar) or vanilla, you will soon hear the familiar (sometimes dreaded) sound of their little wooden high-chairs *scroooooonkeeeeenkskenrrnenssk* scraping across the dining room, squeaking slowly (but steadily) into the kitchen, and up to the counter, right in front of your workspace.

"I'm just gonna see what's in this loodle bowl here," they say. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are a serious business here at the in-law's.  The sagas of tree-getting are many and varied (and hilarious).  There was the year that Dad brought home 4 trees. Yeah--four.  Because they were all that the lot had left.  They were so lonely, I guess. 


Then there was the year that they got a 16-some foot tree, since in their old house they had cathedral ceilings.  And the year they lived 30 minutes from any hardware stores and broke three different tree stands trying to hold up a large-ish tree, which means three trips to and from town to get a new stand. 


There was the year they got a fabulous deal on a tree that was supposed to have gone to a large company for their rather large foyer, but the tree somehow never made it there.  So dad brought that one home.  Seriously--this tree was 10 feet in diameter at the bottom.  It was totally ginormous.  


That was the Christmas Taylor and I had started dating.  


That was also the year the Christmas tree nearly fell on me... [story for another time]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

...


[miss this little girl...]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Husbands

Husbands are awesome because they do things like this when the Wife is having a hard week..


He loves me.. He loves me a lot.

I love you too, my own Sweet P'Taylor.  And I'm so blessed to be your Wifey-Love :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Updated Photos

Things I'm pretty good at: 
  • bringing my camera with me wherever I go
  • being not-too-shy about getting it out of my bag to take pictures
  • taking a photo (or seven) a day

Things I need to improve: 
  • uploading and processing my pictures more regularly (um, less work, right?) 
  • posting them online more frequently
  • being even less shy about taking my camera out to take pictures
  • "street" shots (of random people walking by or standing around)
Still, the 365 is coming along.. and I've been enjoying it!  I think I've even gotten a few decent shots.  Maybe. 


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Firsts

I've held lots of babies in my life.  My sister when I was very young. Nieces and nephews. Siblings-in-law. Friends' babies.  Babies I've only just met.

But always it was just holding them. For a moment.  Here and there.  The baby was always someone else's baby.  They were mine only in Love and far-off relationship.

And I've given lots of baby gifts over the years.  Hats, blankets, carriers, pictures, booties, mittens, clothes, nursing covers, shoes.  I've wrapped them and transported them and handed them over, watching as the mother and father undid the wrapping and ooh-ed and ahh-ed.

I did all that today again, just like always.  But it was wildly different this time.  I sat down on the couch, with That Sweet Baby Girl in my arms and asked Taylor to grab the little gift bag I had brought.  I had thought that the foster mother would open it and ooh and ahh.

"Why don't you go open it? Over there with Baby?"  she said.

I wasn't ready for that.  I'd never opened a gift unless mother's hands were full (of baby).  And certainly never while holding a baby that might be mine.  Taylor brought the bag over, sat down next to me on the couch, and put his arm around my waist.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Day Away

Tomorrow we'll meet her.  A baby girl who could be ours.  A baby girl that God has placed in our lives for a time--who knows how long--to remain in our hearts forever.

I've never met a baby that could be mine.  I've only ever held other people's children.  Children who had parents close by, who knew mommy and daddy from the first moment of life, who would never need to ask "who are my birth parents?"

I am a strange mix of excitement, joy, anxiety, sorrow, giddy-ness, and apprehension.  What will it be like when I hold her?  What will it be like when she grabs on to my finger with her sweet little hand?  Will I get to feed her?  Can I kiss her?  Will I want to?  What will I feel as I hand her back to her foster mother when it's time for us to go home?  I don't know.

Oh, Sweet Baby, I wanted very much to be your foster mother while the legal technicalities of your future were hammered out.  I wanted to hold you and feed you and sleep close by every night, watching you breathe, knowing that your mother wanted us in your life, no matter how long we got to take care of you... I know that God has a plan, though, so I must trust Him that this is the best way.  I miss you already, Baby, even though I haven't met you.  I can't wait to hold you, even if just once. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Warning

Posing for self-portraits in a pretty handmade Christmas dress leave husbands irresponsible for their actions:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas to Me

To me, Christmas is a time of creativity.  It always has been.  From my earliest memories, Momma was always cooking, baking, gifting, sewing, painting, and decorating.  She loved the holidays. 

Momma's nativity sets, for example, took countless hours of hard, detailed work from start to finish.  She even poured the ceramics herself, and had them fired.  Then there was the basecoat (which we kiddies got to help with--how hard can it be to paint something all one color? (turns out it's rather tricky, to get it not-lumpy and goopy)), which was sealed, then the antiquing, sealing, colored antiquing, more sealing, and finally, the painted details, which Momma mostly did.  

It was just stunning to see her finished sets arranged just so at the parish holiday bazaar.  I wonder how many of her sets are scattered through our home town--how many lovely pieces of Love and talent and dedication adorn the homes of our friends at Christmastime.  

And still, nothing puts me more in a Christmas mood than getting my full box of paints and paint brushes out and, stroke by stroke, bringing clay or ceramic pieces to life.  


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

On Being a [Law] Student's Wife

It takes a certain kind of woman to be a student's wife.  I'm not tooting my own horn, here--it takes a certain kind of woman to be married to any one kind of man.  I know I couldn't be a Navy wife, and I don't think I'd be very good as a rock star's wife.  I might be able to manage as, say, a dentist's wife, or an engineer's wife, but the life of a student's wife suits me best.  At least for now.


There's a unique rhythm to life when your husband's a student, a give and take and lull and roar of the semester.  Each season has its characteristics and each different phase of the semester carries with it its own peculiar "mood" in the home.

Right now, for instance, we are in the death throes of finals.  Taylor has finished two finals so far, one Tax (exciting, right? (apparently, though, it was a pretty good class)) and one on the History of Western Legal Thought (yeah, that was a pretty cool class, too), and he's spent days figuratively chained to the kitchen table on his (nifty, new) lap top, outlining writing outlining writing outlining.  He comes up for air occasionally and watches a movie with me, eats, or he'll make coffee or open a beer (which beverage is solely dependent on the time of day).  Sometimes he spends the day at a cafe, just to change up the scene.  But he's a hard worker, for sure.  Tomorrow he has his First Amendment final and Cyber Law on Wednesday.  So he's still outlining and writing and reading and studying.

Now, you may be asking yourself (and rightly so) how this picture differs from the rest of the semester.  Well... it doesn't. Not really.  Except that there's less class-ing involved during finals, and there's a bit more, shall we say, tension in the air as the cold wraith-like breath of finals threatens to frighten the life away from the law student's soul.  You can imagine this is not a nice feeling right before Christmas. And no matter how often people tell me "well, isn't it nice to be done before the holidays?" I know that you're never done in school.. not if there's another semester looming ahead of you.


That's just part of the rhythm, and a lot like "real" life outside of school.  There's always something else to be done, even when on break.  As a student's wife, Advent will always be tense with finals and the rush of finishing piddly things before the semester ends.  Christmas break is never wholly break, with articles or notes to finish by January.

I know there are lots of wives (or, let's be fair, husbands too) who couldn't be married to a student.  It's a life that has its own unique set of challenges (and perks).  But that's why we got married.  We wanted to share the challenges we knew we'd face, and we wanted to be together through the difficulties we couldn't predict.  It's simply better together.

And I love that he's home so much in the afternoons.  He'll be reading or writing, often with his headphones on, but I just like to have him in the house.  If he was working a 9 to 5, I couldn't rub his shoulders whenever I wanted, and I couldn't strategically interrupt him for a few kisses now and then.  I like that we can go to a cafe together to "get work done," me with my knitting or embroidery and him with his books and computer.  I love that he gets time off from classes during Christmas and during the summer, when we can plan trips and adventures.  I love that he loves what he's doing.

Being a law student's wife isn't any harder than being any other kind of wife, really.  It's different than being a builder's wife or a poet's wife, but no harder, I think.  I love it.  Because I love being married to Taylor.

And right now, he's a law student.  He won't be a student forever (right, Love?).  Who knows what he'll be when he graduates :)  Another exciting adventure awaits us..

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Christmas Dress

My very own Christmas dress.  A good friend sent me a pattern she thought I would like, and I finally cut it out last week.  I started sewing Friday evening and hand-stitched the hem yesterday afternoon, watching Wall-E with my Sweet P'Taylor...  


I remember Christmas dresses when I was a little girl.  Sometimes we would buy them; sometimes, Momma would make them.  On Christmas Eve we would all open one present from under the tree before going to the children's mass as a family.  Momma would often suggest a particular gift for us to open, and I remember once I received a pair of brand new, shiny black, heeled shoes.  I felt so grown up and beautiful walking into Church that night.  Rustling dress, new shoes, warm winter coat.  I sat up straight because I felt like such a lady.  I paid extra close attention because I was so grown-up.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Day

Kris Kringle has been working on some ornaments this month.  Each one stitched by hand.  Each one emerging slowly from pattern pieces and teeny tiny stitches.  Each making an appearance on sometime close to Sunday morning.  A labor of love, though, no matter when they are finished.

They tell a story of a snowy afternoon... coming home from the library.

Wrapped in a warm wool coat..


Three gray buttons keep the cold out.


There's a note in my pocket from someone special..


filled with love.. 

As I passed out of the city, I think I saw a polar bear watching me..

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Weekend

I really need one this week.. hope yours is wonder-full!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If I Could..

If I could re-arrange the entire academic world's idea of when it's a good idea to have finals, it would be something like this: 

Most of January would be vacation.  Since T is in law school, I will state that I think January's a great month to meet with firms and other lawyerly folk to hopefully get that ever-illusive job.  New Year's resolutions, re-focusing on work, all that stuff.


School "starts" sometime in February, just in time for Lent.  Really, what could be better for enhancing the discipline of Lent than rigorously putting one's nose to the grindstone of academic work?  Yeah, that would be penance enough for me, too.  Spring break could still be sometime around Easter.  I'm all for getting the week after Easter off--who wants to vacation during a fast? 

By the end of May the semester is winding up and finals happen sometime end of May/beginning of June.  The  rest of June and all of July are also vacation.  The next semester (that is, the second semester of the school year--is this confusing you yet?) starts in August.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Uncertain

I'm not sure if we should share.  I don't know if it's something that one would blog about or if it's better to keep it closer to the vest, all in the family.  I want to ask for prayers but I don't want you to think that I'm anxious or hopeful for one certain outcome or another...

Last Wednesday, a woman had a baby--a baby girl--and she wanted to make an adoption plan for her daughter. She had looked at our profile book and thought we'd make a nice family for her baby.  She talked to the adoption agency and they talked to the father.  The father does not want to make an adoption plan.

The case has to go to court, now, because the mother (wisely) won't sign relinquishment forms if the father is so unwilling.  The court will decide if the baby can be placed for adoption or if the mother will parent.  It is my understanding that, in most cases where one parent refuses an adoption plan, the judge rarely rules against the parent.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid, Mary

The first time I visited Taylor's family was during Advent, just after Thanksgiving.  Raised Roman Catholic, I was used to starting advent sometime in December, but Byzantine advent starts two weeks earlier.  The colors, instead of purple and rose (a red-headed Jesuit once emphatically told me it was not pink), are a somber, but still lively red--the color of fasting.

The fast moves through Thanksgiving (Byzantines always make room for feasts!) and the last days of November, entering December with the triumphant feast of Holy Father Nicholas.  As December 25 approaches, everything about the liturgy tingles with anticipation--the melodies, the antiphons, the psalms, the Gospel, and the singing!

In fact, the intensity of the singing in Taylor's house sometimes causes a chuckle during the second and third weeks of advent, when the prokimemon is proclaimed: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have won God's favor.  You will conceive from the Spirit and bear God's son."  Do not be afraid, visitors, we sing this loud because we are very excited for Christmas to come... It's a wonderful way to prepare for the feast. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Favor

Just a quiet Sunday today. We woke earlier than usual and had a simple breakfast (of curried rice.. go figure), tidying the house a bit before heading into Mass. 


I grabbed this picture of Taylor because Bonobo's is having a contest.  Taylor loves these pants, and winning a shopping spree wouldn't be a bad deal :)

So, if you have a moment, go vote for Taylor.  Because, really--doesn't he look great in these?

I think so.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

For Unto Us a Child is Born!

My sweet husband and I spent a lovely evening together attending the Handel and Haydn Society's annual performance of Handel's Messiah.  It was beautiful.

Every year, Taylor's family attends a Seattle performance of Messiah in Benaroya Hall and we have been lucky enough to have an organization like the Handel and Haydn society to facilitate our continuing the tradition.  Before I met T's family I'd only ever head parts of the performance in movies or on the radio occasionally.

It's an amazing piece of music.  I confess that I don't like everything about it--the florid arias throughout can sometimes seem a bit much to my taste... but there are certain parts, phrases of a few notes or whole pieces that thrill me every time.  The soprano this year was one of the best we've heard, and the clear, smooth note of her voice rang out high and bright like crystal "Come unto Him all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmastime

Our little home is getting ready.. we're all getting excited.


I'm so glad to see my favorite ornaments, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Teal Wool

in skirt form


pattern from a wrap-around jean skirt I've had for years, which isn't dressy enough for the workplace.


warm. cozy. stylish. adjustable (to wear on the hips or at the natural waist).

buttons. pockets.

I like it :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christians Never Say Goodbye

This afternoon I attended a memorial mass for a friend's father, who died 5 years ago.  For me, now, any memorial mass for a parent touches very close to home, and I found myself reflecting on Momma's death, too.

I saw my friend and her mother in the front pew, and I could tell my friend was crying. I thought of Momma's funeral and my family in the front rows.  Daddy, me, Taylor, Vivian. My sister Summer's family. Ray and his family; Bethany and her family.  I remembered how good it was to have so much of my family there beside me, feeling our loss all together.  It was easier to bear the pain when I could hold Vivian's hand or cling to Daddy's arm.  It was more comforting to bury my face in Taylor's shoulder than into my handkerchief alone.

When I first faced the fact that my mother was dying, I thought of my friend, whose father also died from cancer.  She is an only child and I remember thinking to myself, "She only has her mother left to remember her father from her childhood."  I wasn't judging her or her parents for having a "small" family; I wasn't trying to congratulate myself for having "so many" siblings.  It was merely an observation I had at the time, wrapped all about with the coming loss of my mother.  I was especially thankful for my siblings, then, and for my nieces and nephews who had known Grandmama while she was with us.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Nantucket Cranberry Relish

As promised, here's my favorite recipe for Thanksgiving cranberry-ness .

  • there's no cooking involved
  • you can make it several days (even weeks) ahead of time--the longer it sits the better
  • since there's no cooking, all the natural enzymes of the fruit are intact and help you digest all that turkey
  • it's way tasty

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moody



Yep. That's me. Not sure why, today, but it remains the case, despite my best efforts.

Ok, maybe not my best efforts. In fact, maybe not any efforts.

I should probably go work on that.. maybe a Harry Potter movie might help.

Well, Happy Sunday anyway :P

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hope

The first year Taylor and I were in Boston, he worked a lot on the weekends at a church in Belmont.  He was gone all day on Sundays and often a good deal on Saturdays.  So I had a lot of time on my hands.  I filled the hours with crafting, mostly, and I made an Advent Calendar for us.


I had grown up with a felt calendar which my grandmother had made for our family.  It was so exciting to take turns every day pulling each new ornament out of its numbered pocket and finding the perfect spot to snap it on the tree.  Each ornament had its own explanation, which we read from the little booklet disguised as a present under the felt tree.  It was so perfect for children.


Friday, November 26, 2010

HP 1, 2, 3.

In case you were wondering what we did today, there was a lot of sleeping in. a lot of sitting. a fair amount of eating leftovers. much movie watching--the first three Harry Potter movies, actually. popcorn eating. and chatting and laughing.

All in all, the perfect follow-up to an intense food-fest that went off successfully.

In fact, we pretty much looked like this all day:


I even mended a couple sweaters that had been sitting in my "need time to sit down to hand-sew to mend" pile for over a month.  So not a bad day, if you ask me :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks Giving

Thanksgiving was always Momma's favorite holiday.  She told me it was her favorite because all she had to worry about was food. And--let's be honest here (in case you haven't figured this out yet)--my family was really into food.

Especially Momma.  


And boy did she "worry" about the food.  Not that she stressed out about it, but she planned and planned for it. I think she really looked forward to the holidays all year long, planning for months ahead of time: stocking up recipes and thinking about what she'd make and how she'd serve it. She loved parties.

She had stacks of magazines with recipes she wanted to try.  Countless cookbooks were piled on her bookshelves. Her recipe box was stuffed with 3 x 5 cards.  Every year she'd try at least one new dish.  Usually, there would be several--sweet, savory, and cookie-y.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Little Luxuries

I recently started forcing myself to read more.  I wasn't not reading because I don't like it--really, I think I like it far too much.  But I have to force myself to read more because I always feel like reading is being lazy, that I should be doing something else..

I wasn't reading just more in volume, but more frequently, and a wider variety of books.  The adoption process was one cause, since part of our home study is reading books on certain topics of adoption.  Part of it was traveling a lot--it's always nicer to look at a thick stack of pages when the plane touches down, rather than unplugging my headphones from the TV jack and thinking "golly, what did I just do for the past 6 hours?"  So I've been reading. And it's been wonderful :)


But when I get home from work, and I'm tired, I find that all I want to do is make some popcorn or tea and sit down and read the afternoon away.  Of course, there's nothing really wrong with this :) but it does become a problem when one wants to do it every day and may (or may not) have actually succeeded in doing it for a week or two...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pause that Refreshes

A couple weeks back, pausing during Mass and looking ahead to a particularly busy week, I found myself distracted from the liturgy, thinking instead about the many and varied little things I had to accomplish before I would sit in that pew again.  It was going to be a very full week.

I thought, "If I can just make it through this week, next week will be easier. I'll just muddle through and then I can relax a bit."


I did muddle through the week, and I got (nearly) everything done I was supposed to finish.  But y'know what? The next week was almost as busy as the last one and I didn't get a chance to relax "unhindered" like I thought I would.  I felt a bit cheated. And quite exhausted. I had been so looking forward to a  rest later on that I missed opportunities to rest when I had them.  Does this happen to other people?  I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who (unrealistically optimistically) thinks busy-ness will subside occasionally and give me a break.  Perhaps I am.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hawaii--A Summary

So, you may be wondering what our Hawaii vacation was like.  If I were you, I'd be wondering, but (knowing myself as I do) I may not really want to hear about it because I'd be jealous.  But you're a much better person than I am, I'm sure, so I'll go ahead and share.

T's parents took the whole family to Hawaii for a week to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  Most of the family arrived in HI on Thursday, but T and I didn't get there until Saturday afternoon.  As soon as we got there, we started to relax. It was almost as if our bodies could already feel the waves rocking us back and forth on the water, lulling us into a soft sense of loveliness.  It was my first time going to Hawaii; we stayed on the south shore of Kauai, right on Poipu Beach.

In fact, after just a few days there, swimming every morning, lunching, and swimming some more, I found that if I sat still, I was still being rocked by the waves. Back and forth, up and down. So peaceful.  I woke in the mornings to the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, perfectly in time with Taylor's breathing, who slept contentedly on my shoulder.

If there's one thing I take away from Hawaii, that could summarize my whole experience, it's that the ocean is a magical thing that sets the rhythm and pace of life there.  I understand, now, why T wants to be close to the ocean.  It's so easy to feel little in front of it.  It's big and mysterious and calming and magnificent.

Our week in HI was full and relaxing and wonderful.  We went hiking and swimming and touring and shopping and eating and beer tasting.  In summary, I'd have to say that I would go back, but I was also glad to get back home.  I truly loved it, but it's hard to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas when it's 85 and sunny and beachy outside :)

Enjoy the photos--hit me with questions!


Hawaii

Friday, November 19, 2010

Almost


Such a funny word, huh?  All-most. To be all of something that isn't quite. It's similar to being all muddy. Or all giddy.  Or all blue.  Right?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Baker In Me

I've always loved to bake.  I get it from my mother.  My earliest memories of her in the kitchen, especially around the holidays, were her baking.  She probably made something of everything over her lifetime.  Cakes, cookies, candy, baked decorations.. it was wonderful to see how she loved to make.

Her mother loved it too.  As Thanksgiving approached, Big Mom (that's what we called my maternal grandmother--she was, after all, from Texas) would start to bake sugar cookies. Batches of them! She carefully sorted through her two or three suitcases of cookie cutters, picking which ones she wanted to use that year, and she'd mix, chill, roll, cut, bake, and store the cookies for days on end. Then she would put her kids to work frosting them.  There were plain cookies and imprinted cookies and all shapes and sizes (we have a tree cookie cutter from her stash that's nearly a foot tall), turkeys, pumpkins, santas, stockings, even full nativity set figures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Torn

Ok, fellow eaters of the world. Here it is, less than two weeks from Thanksgiving, and I have yet to nail down which recipes I definitely want to do.  I have quite an arsenal at the ready, but I don't know what to do.

The turkey, for a brief moment, was hovering between a maple-butter turkey which Momma made for Viv's birthday dinner one year (which was. delicious.) and a boned turkey a la Julia Child.  I still really want to try a boned turkey, but with 10 people coming to dinner chez Black, I think I'll stick with something I know this time 'round.  I was settled on the maple turkey, herbs and all (and more patience and planning this time).  And then... (oh, that infamous little word), I found this turkey from Joanne Chang.

Now, it may not look like much to the un-initiated eye, but really, this woman is the ultimate in amazingly tasty foods.  You've heard me talk about Myers + Chang before, and you've heard me rave about Flour Bakery + Cafe.  And I'm only now discovering she does Thanksgiving?!  I think I would eat anything this woman cooks.

But then I love this stuffing and these sweet potatoes and I'd love to do a soup like this (especially for Vivers), and there will be mashed potatoes and gravy and the Nantucket cranberry relish I made last year (though this one from Joanne looks amazing, too).  I'm even thinking of adding other-than-starch vegetables this year :-o  Like this salad, and then I saw her carrots and her pickles.  I don't know what to do!

Thoughts? Suggestions?  Do you think a soy-sauce turkey will conflict too much with other, more traditional flavors on the table?  If I did Joanne's turkey, what other of her recipes do you think I should definitely make? What ones of my more traditional ones?  Dare I ask what your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving are?

I realize I'm only be acerbating the problem with more recipes, but I'm a recipe junkie. What can I say? :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Tangible

Fall has always been such a sense-filled time of year for me.  There's the change in the air, the crunch of the leaves, the holiday cooking smells that begin to waft from the kitchen, the lessening daylight and cozy indoor evenings, and the smell of burning leaves or wood fires in the chill air when you step outside.  The season of fall is all about preparing, storing up, buckling down, and bundling up. Preparing for the holidays, storing up the season's bounty, buckling down to the work of the new school year, bundling up against the looming winter chill.


Slicing a squash in half and scooping out the goopy seeds with a spoon, I was struck by the tangibility of the season.  I soaked the seeds in some water, methodically loosening the squash "gunk," straining, rinsing, and separating the seeds, and dried them off.  They stuck wickedly to the towel, so I ended up having to brush the sticky-seeds off with my hand, and then off my hand into the pan.  I stirred them around in some oil, salt, and pepper, tasting my fingers to make sure the spice was correct, and put them in the oven [275, till crispy].  I love the smell of roasting seeds.  Roasting anything, really--chicken, apples, tomatoes, beets.  All that flavor sealed in to burst at the right moment in my mouth. Perfection. So Fall.


Of course, other seasons are tangible, too. In fact, everything has that sense-full aspect to it.  Padding softly through falling snow, wrapping mitten'd hands around a mug of hot cider; or feeling the first warmish sunshine of early spring on your face, smelling the green things popping up through the ground; even something as unpleasant as sweat dripping down the middle of your back as you walk to work on a hot summer morning brings us sharply into the awareness of our physicality. Our own tangibility.

What a joy to be touch-able, to feel things and see them and smell them and hear them.  To come to know things through the real experience of them, making the idea of them palpable. Memories stirred up from childhood of mounds of crispy roasted pumpkin seeds, freshly salted, recalled themselves to my mind slicing open that squash, peering inside at the promise of spring.  Slowly and steadily, as I washed and seasoned and baked the seeds, the memory and anticipation of Delicious approached until the warm seeds where in my hand, popped into my mouth, and crunched down into reality in a burst of salty-roasted Goodness.  What a beautiful gift our senses are.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh--Hello November

So, remember last year when it was NaBloWriMo in November?  (A cursory look seems to indicate it was October this year.. oops).  Well, I so enjoyed a reason to write everyday that month that I fully intended to do it again this year.

And then I was in Hawaii with my husband's family on November 1st and y'know what? It completely slipped my mind :)  Which is understandable, I think (wait till you see the pictures--I think you'll forgive me, too).

But hey Byzantines:  guess what--Philipovka is just around the corner! When did this happen?! I was thinking about Kris Kringle presents last evening and I realized: HOLY MOLEY NOVEMBER 15 IS ON MONDAY!  You might think all-caps is unnecessary, but I was more than a bit taken aback.

Philipovka means the beginning of the nightly meal prayers, and the advent wreath and the red cloths on the icon corner.  I have to get out my felt advent calendar and start snapping little ornaments on the tree. It means I need to get my act in gear for Christmas presents and to start (really start) thinking about Thanksgiving.  It means, to put it succinctly, that the year is almost over.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

Though still, to my mind, the end of the year is always such fun with all the holidays and the presents and the cooking and baking and eating, oh! the eating.  I love the Christmas season for the same reason I love the Easter season--it's so centered around the senses--a truly tangible holiday:  the smells of baking, or leaves outside, the touch of the well know Christmas decorations in my hands as I unwrap each one and hang it up; the soft glow of lights on the tree and the sight of a beautifully set table ready for a party.  These things remain with me closely.

And I find myself wanting to slow the year down a bit, to savor its ending just a little more this year..

Back to blog writing months.. I've worked out a compromise.  I'll blog every day during Advent.  That is, during Byzantine Advent, which is Philipovka, starting November 15.  Blogging every day will, at least, help me realize the passing of days, which may not slow time down, realistically, but it will help me appreciate the days more.

And that's important, too.