Planting roses

Ok, remember that quasi-New Year’s resolution about blogging more? Yeah. Total fail.

Lately I have been soaking in life and not writing about it. Sometimes it’s nice just to live and not think about how you will tell someone else about what you did. Facebook and Twitter like to whisper in my ear that things aren’t real unless you put them on the Internet — which is total nonsense. But they also aren’t less real if you put them on the Internet, which is what some pretentious young men in tweed will tell you. So here I am, writing.

Today was a delicious day. The sun was shining and warm. I went on two walks, reveling in how happy the world seems when you can go outside without a coat.

It was so warm that I decided I should plant these roses, given to me by a wonderful boy on Valentine’s Day.

Marieke’s generous mother gave us the beginnings of a garden last year. I confess I haven’t done the best job of keeping it up, but I’m determined to change that. I pulled out all the vines and winter weeds today, and I’m excited to do some spring planting. Our bulbs planted last fall are already poking through the dirt. There’s nothing like planting in the earth to remind me of my utter dependence on heaven. I can’t make anything grow on my own.

The dirt felt good in my fingernails, and reminded me of this passage from Candide:

“‘All events form a chain in the best of all possible worlds. For in the end, if you had not been given a good kick up the backside and chased out of a beautiful castle for loving Miss Cunégonde, and if you hadn’t been subjected to the Inquisition, and if you hadn’t wandered about America on foot, and if you hadn’t dealt the Baron a good blow with your sword, and if you hadn’t lost all your sheep from that fine country of Eldorado, you wouldn’t be here now eating candied citron and pistachio nuts.’
‘That is well put,’ replied Candide, ‘but we must cultivate our garden.'” 


Life lately

Life lately has been a blur. So much has gone on, and I have done so little blogging, that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

So you’ll have to settle for a picture tour….

This is my family. Aren’t they great? I went to visit them two weekends ago. Please note that my brother couldn’t be bothered to put down Hayek for the picture.

My little sister is growing up fast. And since I’m finding it harder and harder to remember what it was like to be 12, I find her very, very cute and interesting and funny. She wants a Kindle for Christmas, and when I teased her about wanting to read electronic books, she replied with this:

“My dear loving sister, Let me explain. As you know I love reading books. I love the smell of the books, the sound of the books’ pages. However, carrying around books on a car trip is not very fun, and takes up space. Also, you can buy books on Amazon for a Kindle for a lot less. Those are my reasons. PLEASE DON’T DISOWN ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Gosh she’s great.

I thought D.C. autumns were supposed to be drab, but our street proved me wrong. Our ginko trees turned a brilliant yellow last week, and a rainstorm blew most of the leaves off in a single night, so that I walked to work on a yellow carpet for several days.

I covered the consecration of the new Episcopalian bishop for the Diocese of Washington last week. It was a very odd ceremony. Parts were beautiful and solemn: The organ and choir echoing in the National Cathedral are heart-stopping. And the pageantry — the hats, the colors, the banners — was gorgeous. But other parts were just strange: The sermon included the word “kickass,” and in addition to African and Native American and Cuban and Gospel music, there was a rather painful piano-guitar rendition of Sufjan Stevens’ arrangement of Come Thou Fount. There were also several awkward points in the ceremony when the audience just erupted in laughter.

Not that I have anything against Episcopalians. I interviewed the bishop-elect one-on-one the day before the ceremony and liked her very much. She’s intelligent and articulate and was patient with me as I bumbled around with my recorder.

My friend Naomi visited last week. This photo is from the Kennedy Center, where we went to see the National Symphony Orchestra. But more on her visit later….

The view out my middle window this afternoon. Two important things to note: 1) The leaves are gone. 2) The air conditioner that used to sit in this window is gone. I removed it myself. Huge gold star for me.

And that’s life, lately. Or at least some of it. Life is so much more than daily events. But more on that later. I’ll leave you with a totally unrelated but provoking thought from Dorothy Sayers, as quoted in our evening sermon at church:

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

Pumpkin carving

This past week my friend Juliana visited me on her fall break from law school. It’s hard to explain what a wonderful friend Juls is. Let’s just say our friendship often reminds me of the fifth chapter of The Wind in the Willows, with me, like Mole, breaking down into tears and Juls going out of her way to make it all better again.

We had many adventures this weekend, more of which I will post later. Today we came home from church and did something that made us very happy: We carved a pumpkin.

Our friend Kat joined us in this pumpkin carving endeavor. While we were deciding what shape to carve, Juls told us that all the pumpkins she’d ever carved had smiling faces because carving pumpkins always made her happy. Thus, we carved a happy pumpkin. And named him Felix.

After we finished him, several children walked by and talked about how cheerful the pumpkin looked, according to the report from my housemate Hannah — clear proof that Felix’s joy is contagious.

We took too long carving the pumpkin, however, and Juls missed her bus. But she was able to get a ticket for a later ride, so we went back home from the station and roasted pumpkin seeds and watched a couple episodes of our favorite show, Arrested Development, or, as Juls’ mom once called it, “Depressed Elements.”

What a good afternoon.

P.S. Check out updated photos of our house from Hannah. Also notice how content Juls and I look in the photos. We were watching Depressed Elements — friendship bliss.


“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” — Ecclesiastes 2:24

One of my new activities as a real live adult is what my roommate Hannah and I like to call “nesting.” You see, it turns out there a million bajillion things one needs to have just to eat every day, let alone sleep or stay clean. And then once you have all those basic things (skillet, pillows, toothbrush holder, etc.), having a home that you actually enjoy being in and to which you would like to invite others requires “nesting.”

Nesting is soothing to the soul. As someone who watches her day’s work get thrown in the trash can every day (the ephemeral newspaper), it’s quite satisfying to work on something that will last, at least for a while. For example, I put together this desk the other night while watching Gilmore Girls with Hannah. In my amateur opinion, nesting is best accomplished while watching Gilmore Girls.

Nesting also gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment; you suddenly feel that if you were left alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but an ax you could make it. For example: Who knew I could install blinds? If I can do that, I’m sure the Canadian wilderness is NBD, as they say.But nesting is in vain, I think, unless it is done with a good purpose. One of the best things I’ve ever heard about nesting came from a wise friend (Zach Howard) who is married to another wise friend (Betsy Peters Howard). He said that his marriage, his home, his car — everything he had in life — were his “available means of persuasion” (think Aristotle) for persuading people of the gospel. Thus, kitchen so I can cook: great. Kitchen so I can cook and show others the love of God: way better. I don’t always remember that, but I hope to get better at it.

I’ll end with a picture of some delicious tomatoes I made tonight, and a thought from Dr. Smith’s Last Lecture: “Love your work. What folly it is to moan and groan. Convert the prose of life into beautiful verse.”