Saturday, May 24, 2008

growth report

Things are definitely growing taller in my garden these days!  The sunflowers are crazy tall--some of 'em are taller than me.  I'm looking forward to their blooms.

A bunch of my seeds seem to have gotten rearranged when the mischievous gnomes snuck into my garden just after planting--this is my only explanation for the three sunflowers growing at the end of the row where I thought I'd planted carrots.  I haven't seen any carrots yet, either, which is a bit discouraging.  But my little yellow squash plant is making up for it by growing jumbo-size.
The flowers are getting a little crazy, too; I think it's time for a bit of pruning.  But, in the midst of all the flowers, I found that my artichoke had a treat or two waiting for me:
I planted the corn and beans together, hoping the cornstalks would become living stakes for the beans.  They are, and so are the sunflowers and the fence!
Here's the crazy sunflower patch.  My friend (little) Ryan planted them.  I think they're twice as tall as he is now.
Good fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

my current musical infatuation

is with the Flobots.  Every since I heard that sickeningly catchy song, "Handlebars," on KROQ as I was driving to Erika and Joel's house last month, it's stuck in my head.  Now our radio stations seem to be playing it all the time.  So I downloaded the whole album, and I'm quite taken with it.    They're gonna change the world.

I like the verbal rhythms of it.  Like spoken word poetry (another hobby I mean to get into).  Maybe that hip-hop stuff deserves more of my time.

I mean, really:

Stand up
We shall not be moved
except by a child with no socks or shoes

It sings with a confidence that preaches the uncompromising love of God.  And there's a viola in the group.  Not a violin.  A viola.  And violas play in their own darn clef.

I think violas are gonna be my new metaphor for being "in the world but not of the world."  

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

good food

There are many good things to say about my trip back to Nebraska last week, to celebrate my cousin's wedding and to rest a bit, but I just keep getting distracted.  I blame that, at least in part, on Facebook.  Those word games are addictive.  But officiating at a wedding with my dad was more fun than I'd imagined.  A cool way to spend some time with him just before his 60th birthday.  (Happy Birthday, Dad.)

It was good to spend time with my mom, too, hanging at home and digging through antique stores in Grand Island.  I capture a photo of her in her most comfortable native habitat: in front of her computer with the email program open, in her bathrobe.  But, it occurred to me, posting a picture of your mom in her bathrobe is not a good way to honor her on her 60th Birthday.  So, instead, you get to see us at the big wedding dinner.   (Happy Birthday, Mom.)
Which, as it turns out, was a darn fine wedding dinner.  Of course, that some of the food--including the beef--was raised on the family farm my cousin grew up on didn't hurt.  It was so wonderfully flavor-ful and delicious.  After we ate, we noted that it was so good it would be nice to have a picture to remember it by, but, alas, this is all that remained on the table.
What do you think it means that she sat us at the "prairie chicken" table?

In other happy food news, Marian shared some of her grass-fed bison with me the other night, as she was offering the consoling ministry of solidarity with spouses of the deployed.  Wayne's not been far away lately, but away on enough little excursions in his ship to make such a dinner a really helpful thing.  At least for me.

We tried grilling beets, too--lovely, red-and-white striped beets.  They were pretty yummy--and with a little salt and vinegar, a bit like pickled beets, only with the nice addition of that smoky grill taste.  Mmm.  The squash is the first abundant crop of my garden this year.

What a cruel twist that our garden is bearing squash in abundance this year, when Matt, our family's chief squash enthusiast, is far, far away in the deserts of Iraq.

But let's not get distracted: that food was darn good, and for it, I am grateful. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

vacation destination of the day: fruitlandia

Since my blog is already a schizophrenic blend of personal sharing, craft blog, gardening and ministry stuff, I thought I'd throw in a restaurant review.  All in the name of being local.  There's some good stuff here in City Heights, little of which has fame beyond.

And, today was hot.  After a delightful haircut ('cause what's nicer than having your hair shampooed and cut?) and a run through my favorite thrift store (the Rescue Mission Thrift Store on University just east of 30th) for some bargains and crafty possibilities, I stopped to get a medium fruit salad at Fruitlandia.

A whole world of fruit, on the south side of University between the 805 and 15.

The ambiance is, well, not what draws me in (though I am fond of the plastic fruits on the rack behind the counter).
It's the wild and wonderful combination of good stuff in their fruit salad.
Everything you could want: melons, mangoes, strawberries, pineapple, apple, papaya and banana, topped with cottage cheese, honey, granola and raisins.  A delicious and decadent balance of cool, crisp, creamy and sweet.  Perfect for a hot afternoon.  Yum.

And, for the adventurously crafty, I'm told you can make shrinky-dinks out of the plastic in the container.  That's all hearsay at this point.

After getting the fruit salad, I made it home in time to meet my mailcarrier, who's been trying in vain to deliver the mail I'd been holding since, well, mid-April.  It was a whole lot of mail.  I'm appalled at the number of credit card applications we received.  Unbelievable.

Now it's almost all in the recycle bin, though, which leaves me ready to tackle the rest of cleaning out my closet for a new roommate!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

a circle of sorts

I started writing this blog the same time my husband, Matt, returned to the US after his first deployment to Iraq.  Now, I feel like I've come around the turning of a cycle as he returns to Iraq again.  Today, he called to say that he's there, at Al Asad air base.  It looks like he's going to be somewhere other than where he'd though, way out west near the border with Syria, doing his best to stay sane and live in a way that is good, even in the midst of a bad war.

It feels different this time around.  Although the oddest things still make me weepy (and I sobbed at the video story of two college softball players who carried their opponent around the bases after she broke her leg during a home run), I feel a little less raw, and a little more generally sad.  I still struggle with how to make sense of being a loving spouse in the midst of deployment to such an awful war.  I guess it gives me more reasons to work for peace, however it comes.

Maybe I'd better go work in the garden.

Really, I need to clean my closet.  I'm moving my clothes into our bedroom, to make room in our extra room for my sister-in-law, who's moving in sometime in the next week.  I'm looking forward to having someone else around here, even if I'm a little scared of how to fit another person into a little house with too much clutter I just can't bear to get rid of...  Wish us luck.

Oh, and if you know what to do with lots of fuzzy green algae in a salt water aquarium, let me know.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

meanwhile, back at the ranch

the garden just keeps growing.  Flowers are filling into open spots, and vegetables are beginning to look possible!

(Just in case you'd thought I abandoned my garden pursuits, I wanted to assure you that I'm trying to stay rooted...)
I'm particularly excited to see the tomatoes growing stronger, and the squash, too.  The corn and beans I planted together along the fence are gonna be fun...
Here are my first fruits of the season!
I am enchanted by foxgloves, and started these guys from seeds just after moving in, nearly 2 years ago.  Finally, they're lovely.
The columbine is looking good, too--graceful and tall.

And, I just today noticed some Flanders Poppies growing up in the Bachelors Buttons.  Lovely.

Monday, May 05, 2008

upon reflection

Now that I've started getting more than 5 hours of sleep per night, some of the craziness of General Conference seems, well, crazier.

Take, for instance, the fear-mongering arguments floated for why we should preserve a pastor's right to deny membership to particular people (in recent times, a gay man...).  Folks suggested that, unless we preserved this right, we might have Klan members in our churches.  (As if we haven't already.)

I've been imagining this possibility, and it seems to me that this is exactly what church is for.  For sinners and all those who need help being made perfect in love.  For people who want to claim new identity in the body of Christ--membership in the sense of belonging together, flaws and all, as we seek to live into our calling from God.  What better place is there for us sinners and folk who carry hatred and prejudice in our hearts?

(I should also say, incidentally, that I don't label homosexuality as sin, so their arguments seem especially absurd.  But, just for the sake of argument, let's run with them...)

Denying membership to people seems to me to make church into an "irrelevant social club."  That is, if we have to have things figured out and straightened out in order to join, we become like a club of folks who've earned membership by good behavior.

I prefer to think of church as a place where we belong from the beginning, whose welcome comes from the God of infinite grace, who has power to transform us all into something more loving and beautiful than we've been on our own.

The "irrelevant social club" argument was given on the floor as the scary image of what we might become if we open up the possibility of redefining marriage to include same-gendered couples.  But I think we had it in totally the wrong place!  We're like an irrelevant social club when we suggest that God's including love and transforming grace aren't big enough for some people--that we need to keep them outside of the church community or we might be destroyed.

That's absurd.

So, here for your viewing pleasure is a picture of me on the big screen at GC, looking a bit like a trouble-identifier, I think.  My new friend Steve from NC emailed it to me.  ;)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

how do we get there from here?

I'm back from my trip to General Conference and to see Matt before his deployment, and I'm wishing I knew how to get to somewhere else: away from this horrible war in Iraq, and toward a church that gets over its homophobia and finally, fully includes and affirms gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folks.

Both seem too often driven by fear--fear we've been tricked into.  And now we have to live in this meantime, trying to get to a better way.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

more moments from general conference

Yesterday, our votes to retain existing language about homosexuality were depressing.  It would be hard to choreograph a more wrenching moment that we had on the floor: after the vote, as reconciling folks stood in the balconies, the conference business went on to a report from the judicial council.  As the Secretary read the long report, people slowing began standing on the floor in solidarity.  And then voices from the balcony began singing "Jesus Loves Me," and it moved around the hall.  The layers of sound were incredible--the drone of a church mired in long technicalities, detailing out the ways in which its bodies would protect their own power, layered over voices from the margins, singing an affirmation of God's love.  Powerful.

Another powerful moment was when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke.  It was truly beautiful, hopeful and a wonderful symbol of the best fruits of good mission and ministry, empowering people like her to be about the work of transforming the world.  As she leads Liberia in the wake of too many years of violent rule, she's building hope.
Here's our friend JJ getting interviewed by UMNews.  It's a good thing they interviewed today, after some healing and hopeful actions by Reconciling folks and by our Bishops.  We all had much better things to say today.
And, I ought to say thanks to Ken, who's been helping me start my days with a Texas waffle.  Who knew: they have waffle makers here that make state-shaped waffles.  Incredible.