Friday, August 31, 2007

compost is like grace

This morning, Matt decided we should rent a little trailer and take all the junk--like the old window trim that we tore off--that's lying around the house to the landfill. I persuaded him that, as long as we've got a trailer and are going to the landfill, we might as well get some fresh compost for the garden.

We've picked up free compost from the landfill before, but the availability of a trailer opened up a new possibility for us: they could use a big machine to load the compost for us.

Scale is difficult at the landfill. Huge piles of trash. Little bitty people.

Turns out it costs $4 to have them load you up with compost. But it's WAY worth it.

The biggest scooper truck I've seen comes over to help us. (There's probably a better word for this piece of machinery, but "backhoe" is the closest approximation I have and this is WAY bigger than any backhoe I've seen.) The very large man in the very large truck looks at our receipt and starts loading. Just before he dumps the beautiful, smelly compost in, though, he beckons Matt over to his cab. (Well, like, over to 10 feet under his cab.)

"Is this for your garden?"

When Matt nods yes, he backs up, dumps the compost back where it came from, and takes off. Turns out, we get the top shelf compost this time. "Food compost," he called it. The best they have. He came back with his scooper less than half full.

We'd been having this discussion about volume. Our receipt indicated that we could receive 1 cubic yard. I realize that cubic yards are a lot bigger than cubic feet (like, 27 times bigger, by my math), but it didn't seem like a lot. I told this to Matt. He told me a cubic yard is big.

So the nice big man in the nice big truck dumps his partially-filled load of the good stuff in our trailer. Suddenly, it looks bigger.

Now, as darkness falls over City Heights, it looks huge.

Here's the pile that's left in the driveway, after I spread a layer liberally around the garden. (Gardening liberally is a specialty of mine...)
I think we have enough.

Our windows are all open (on account of it being really-hot-for-San-Diego today). It smells like compost around here. Pretty cool that this all comes from our trash...

stuff you probably didn't even want to know about me

Erika tagged me again. Here are my answers to the big questions of life:

Breakfast Items That Are Critical To My Happiness:
Coffee and...
My day just doesn't feel right without starting with a cup of coffee and something else--often peanut butter and jelly on toast. (Now that I've got homemade jam, it's taken up a notch.)

Oh, and it all goes with the morning paper, except on Thursdays, when I'm always running too late to get to the paper.

People I Would Most Like to Share a Table With On a Cruise:
I don't know if it was because it was a Carnival cruise, or what, but the cruise vibe just isn't really me. What I'd really like is to share a table at home, filled with homegrown goodness with Matt and dear friends. And, while we're at it, it'd be cool if I could make those friends live just a few blocks away. ;)

Rudest Thing Said To Me This Week:
Not sure--I try to forget these things.

Rudest Thing Done To Me This Week:
Again, I'm failing in memory. And grateful that I don't live and move in the midst of rudeness. Would the incessant littering that goes on in my fence line, sidewalk and garden count?

Jobs That Have Made Me Go, "Huh?"
It's trash day, and the window's I continue to harbor a mix of emotional reactions to the handful of people who regularly move through our neighborhood, sifting through trash and recycle bins for bottles and cans that are redeemable for deposits. On one hand, I'm grateful that our trash can generate income. It also seems like a miserable way to make money.

Jobs I Have Had That Concerned and/or Confused My Mother:
More than my jobs, relocating at great distances from Nebraska is probably what has most confused my mother. Boston, Niger and California are all pretty far.

Favorite Curse Words That I Can Use In Front of Children Without Too Much Fear of Repercussion:
I've been known to say things "suck."

Curse Word That I Use Most Frequently After Leaving the Children:
Variety is the spice of life.

Most Honest Bumper Sticker I've Ever Seen:
War is not the answer.

Changes I Would Make If Money Were No Object:
Ah, if only money could solve our problems. The ones that it seems money could solve--access to safe drinking water, hunger--I suspect to be much more deeply rooted in our ways of setting world priorities. And in (not) honoring the dignity of all humans and all of creation. If we're going to solve things, it can't just be generating more money; we need to reallocate things.

That said, I'm pretty thrilled that we have the money to repaint our house right now.

Favorite Piece of Technology:
This week, ceiling fans. It's San Diego hot this week.

I'm tagging Marian (so I can see her new blog), Krista and Deb.

Friday, August 24, 2007

friday five: giving credit

I figure, what the heck. It's about time I played another RevGalPals Friday Five. Today, it's about art, which I dig. Here goes:

Name a

1. Book
Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Especially lately, I've been thinking about food a lot on this spiritual and physical journey of mine. I treasure the way she brings the intricacies of turkey life cycles into crisp, beautiful invitations to live differently in this world.

2. Piece of music
While naming the Indigo Girls is tempting, as they sang me through some critical years of spiritual development, I'm gonna say Sinead O'Connor's "Thank U for Hearing Me." Exquisite. (Bach's "St. John's Passion" gets a shout-out, though, too.)

3. Work of art
Matisse's cutouts. They are so clearly made by human hands, so grand in scale, so vibrant and such a testimony to the possibilities we humans can find to express ourselves, even when we lose physical abilities.

4. Film
Shawshank Redemption, I suppose. It's a good one, anyhow. Nothing soars like that opera music through a prison yard...

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
"Unusual" is such a tricky category. I listen to country music these days; I especially like to wake up to its honesty and direct way of speaking of things. (Later in the day, I love rich, metaphorical poetry, but there's something to be said for just layin' it out there, especially before coffee. I mean, how do you beat this kind of clarity:
id like to see you out in the moonlight
id like to kiss you way back in the sticks
id like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
and id like to check you for ticks

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
If engagement means being involved in all the richness of language, visual perception, our hearing, relationships with others, and turkey mating, then my answer is: yes.
All we have are these bodies through which to know God and seek to live in the world as God intends it to be. We're certainly called to engage, for ourselves, for our communities and world, and for God's sake. (Am I allowed to say "godsake" in this?!?)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


We got a new door to our house yesterday. (The neighbor installed it for us.) I like it a whole lot more than our old door. And, it's one piece of our current round of home improvements, most of which are aimed at tidying up the outside of the house. (That is, improvements like patching the siding under the kitchen window that's been a gaping hole since January.)

It's incredible how much better I feel coming home to a door (and lack of hole) that looks beautiful to me.

And it's not even finished yet.

All this is making me wonder about the importance of thresholds, entrances and boundaries. If it feels this good to walk through a beautiful door, how can I do a better job of opening beautiful doorways into our church?

Wednesdays often make me think these things, because they almost always include communion worship at Vespers. Standing at the communion table speaking words of grace is a little bit like opening a beautiful door.

And, today these doorway thoughts are even stronger for me, as I made a visit to Strength for the Journey. I've always (like, "always" meaning "every year since I've been a real pastor" which is, in human terms, for six years) been a part of camp, often in what felt like big, responsible leadership roles in this retreat for adults with HIV/AIDS. This year (#7), I got to pass leadership on to two people I look up to in ministry. And, today, they let me come for a visit. (Ostensibly, I was there to share our portable labyrinth as a workshop option.)

Today felt a bit like poking my head in the doorway to check on things. And, I was delighted to find that the magic of camp, with all it's grace-filled possibilities, is most definitely still happening. In beautiful ways.

And the horrible part of me that was mildly disappointed to see that things go fine without me was also delighted to be warmly received. I love the community that happens at Strength for the Journey.

And, I love it when "church" opens its doors wide enough to make space for people living with HIV/AIDS--gay and straight, male and female, young and old, sick and healthy, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, at all places in their lives of faith (or lives without faith). If only it were all the time and not just for a week, up in the mountains.

'Til then, I'll try to enjoy my new, wooden door. And keep it open as much as possible. Celia, my neighbor who taught me that "elotes" means "corn" like corn-on-the-cob, is extravagant in saying hello, and I'm starting to feel more like I know my neighbors.

I've had two fabulous visitors last week and this--friends from college. Getting to offer a little bit of hospitality to people I love is cool. Plus, it's like making time-travel doorways that span 10 years. So, thanks for visiting, David and Z! What fun it is to open my door to you.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

eating some very local food

Yesterday and today, I've been enjoying fruit from the yard. Marian came over, and we ate figs, with goat cheese. (Don't worry: I don't have goats in the yard. I got that at the store.) Delicious. I'm liking learning to eat figs well.

We made 'em into a little pizza, too. A splendid combination of savory and sweet. The rosemary from the yard set it off perfectly.

(We made a tomato and basil pizza, too, but didn't take a picture. It was good, but nothin' like figs and goat cheese. Marian told me: "They can't all be figs and goat cheese." I should just be delighted that it was fresh and tasty.)
Tonight, I had my first corn from the garden. My favorite summertime meal: a blt and fresh corn. Good stuff.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

garden perspective

Today, I've enjoyed looking at how things have grown 'round here. The bananas in the backyard seem CRAZY big. (At least, crazy bigGER than they were...I'm hoping they keep growing taller, so they don't hit my in the face when I walk by.)

Here's the backyard when we planted it.Here's that same little banana plant today. (The fig tree and kiwifruit are a lot bigger, too!)
(Excuse the window, leaning against the fence, that's waiting to be installed in the house...)

And here are our vegetables. That's a six-foot fence the corn is towering over. The first pumpkin looks about ready to pick.
And, my little delight for the day is how well the stephanotis is doing. It's just growing away in the backyard, filling the area with smelly delight.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

i heart tomatoes

for breakfast, lunch and dinner
in salsa, soup, salad and sauce
tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!Not that you asked for it, I thought I'd share my tomato joy. It's joyous enough that I've been able to share with neighbors and friends. (I'm hoping that my sharing will prompt the neighbors across the street to want to share their Chinese water fruit with us, so we can try it... See, I have my motives.)

I'm rather enjoying this summer harvest (even if I am a bit disappointed with our zucchini's resistance to growing well, and if my flower bed looks fairly wretched and rather patchy...)

Here's what the vegetable garden looked like before camp, the last time I thought to take a picture when it was light out. The corn has grown considerably since then--this was July 13, I think.
I keep thinking these long summer days will give me time to do more projects around the house, during the week. Alas, so far, this has not been the case. By the time I get home from the church, I'm ready to just sit on the couch. I try to convince myself that, because I don't have a television to turn on, it's not that bad. But I spend a lot of time living vicariously through other more-active people's instructions for how to make cool crafts and revolutionary gardens.

Oh, and searching for the ideal colors for the exterior of our house.

If you lived in a neighborhood where you could--really--paint your house ANY color and it woudn't look out of place, what color would you paint a cute, little (and did I mention "little"?) wood-sided house built in the 1920's?