Archive for December, 2008


favorite things #2

December 29, 2008

I just spent the past 5 days at home in Goshen with my family for Christmas.  For me being at home has always been one of my favorite things.  Starting soon after I left home to go to college, I began to realize the great way that home provided a safe space away from the rest of my life.  Granted college was only 3 blocks away and that my trips home often revolved around doing laundry, I really valued the time to get off of campus and go spend time at a home where I felt so well known and loved.  My freshman year, my freshman colloquium class focused on the theme of Utopia/Distopias throughout history and we learned a lot about different (mainly unsuccessful) attempts by humans to live together in community.  Our final project was an essay about where we found hope in the world.  Some people wrote about family, others about God, but I wrote mine about the concept of home.  While I know that many people in the world are not blessed with the ability to go home, for me home was and is a place of rejuvenation.  A chance to be reminded of both one’s uniqueness and universal humanity.  The basic construct of family and a gathering place is not a new one or particular to western culture.  While home means different things to different places, and for some is not even a positive concept, the idea of home means a place where I, in all my oddness, can be guaranteed of a warm accepting welcome.

What I loved about the past 5 days can also be described in more concrete terms.  For example I was amused when about a week before I was due home to receive an email from my Dad with a rough schedule of events that Mom and he were planning for our time home.  Planned activities included the more typical things such as baking christmas cookies, decorating the tree, attending the Christmas Eve service and opening presents.  Of course, considering it is my family we are talking about we also participated in some more unusual activities such as playing with Legos, reading out-loud from Angels and Other Strangers, watching Two Towers and Return of the King extended versions, making cheese (which will age for the next year to be enjoyed Christmas 2009), taking long tramps through the woods, caroling on Christmas Eve while delivering cookies to our neighbors and plenty of board games.
Here are a few pictures from some of our various activities:

I built a house, Jonathan a robot and Tim a car

My siblings and I and our lego creations. I made a house, Jonathan built a robot and Tim created a car.

Tim and Jonathan pour off the whey before pressing the cheese.

Jonathan and Tim pour off the whey, before pressing the kurds and forming the cheese.

Our family went for a tramp through the woods on Christmas it was beautiful, cold and sunny!

Our family went for a tramp through the woods on Christmas it was beautiful, cold and sunny!

I think they were playing follow the leader, I must say I rather love this shot!

I think they were playing follow the leader, I must say I rather love this shot!

My great aunt Ethel was an amazing knitter and after her death, my Mom ended up with 6 of some of the last of her sweater vests.  So of course we had to try them on as a part of our Christmas celebration!

My great aunt Ethel was an amazing knitter and after her estate sale, my Mom ended up with 6 of some of the last of her sweater vests. So of course we had to try them on as a part of our Christmas celebration!


favorite things #1

December 26, 2008

Given my tendency to skip the whole “thinking about the past year” thing and my plans to spend most of my break as relaxed, movie transfixed, continually baking, and socializing as possible leads me to think I should probably get started on that whole year end review thing now.

So trying to think of cool ways to sum up the year 2008 (which according to my tongue in cheek goals from last January was a bit of a failure), I will be doing a list of unknown length* in which I write posts about my favorite things.

While I tend to have a love/hate relationship with blogging**, what has by far been the best part of blogging for the past few years is comments and more specifically you who are reading this.  The first comment on my blog was by the lovely phoenix from Seattle, who has long been a blogging inspiration to me and great friend.  My blogging community has grown somewhat over the years, still mainly populated by friends and family, but it has brought me a few new friends.  For example, I have met two great ladies from Australia, Bindi and Mirabella, the fun and European Marta, the generous and funny MLE from Denver, my fellow library school friend from Canada, and others who I am probably failing to mention.  I have gained closer bonds to loose connections from college in the form of nicole and emily, and stayed in touch with my far off friends, david, meryl, rini, etc.  Along with friends I have learned the joys of having a brother and parents who read and comment on your blog, and gotten to know gina, an older cousin, in great new ways, while also staying connected to my dear cousin laura and her beautiful girl, lillie.

But what I feel like has been one of the coolest things to happen through comments on my blog is getting to know Mirabella, a wonderful lady who found me through Bindi a few months back.  While we have only exchanged a handful of emails, after my grandma passed away Mirabella offered to have a hymn sung in honor of my grandma at her church.  I found the idea of a church far away in Australia doing something to honor my grandma such a beautiful concept and one that I think my grandma would have been amused to discover.

So all this to say, if you do happen to read this either by some weird accident of google, or because you are a friend either in real life or through the blogging connections feel free to say hi.  I would love to get to know you better!

*given my ability to not follow through, this could end up being the only entry

**I always love reading other people’s blogs, but on occasion I hate writing my own in that it feels like such a weird randomly narcissistic thing to do


way past my bedtime

December 21, 2008

I guess it isn’t too bad, cause I don’t have to work tomorrow.  However I will probably still try to get up to have breakfast with my housemates, so it will be a short night.  This is the second evening where I have ended up staying up till midnight after enjoying a Christmas party.  Last night I joined the girls in hosting a small party/cookie sampling/game night with around 12 friends or so.  We played a round of the name game, apples to apples and a two shorter games of mafia.  Then tonight we went over to Zach’s (Libby’s boyfriend) apartment for another Christmas party.  This one a little bit larger and full of more unknown folks.  Both parties were fun, but I always find it odd that while I end up getting tired at the party and therefore heading home, only to climb into bed and be so wide awake that I end up checking email and writing silly little blog posts for another hour.

Anyways tomorrow marks my first official non-work day of christmas break and I am pretty excited about it, although in typical fashion I already have more things to get done than I think will truly happen in one day.  Fortunately I have part of Tuesday still before I head to Goshen for 5 days of Christmas with the family.

Goodnight you all, sleep well!


Lucky Platter reunion

December 20, 2008

Today Steph has been back in town for quick visit and it has been so lovely to catch up with her again.  We were able to spend a good portion of the day together, except for a meeting I had to attend.  So it felt like we were able to have a lot of those good conversations that really update you on a friend’s life, beyond just the customary “how are you?”, “fine, thanks.” kind of thing.

For supper, Jess, Becca, Steph and myself all went to Lucky Platter and I was struck by how many parts of our lives have changed since we all first moved to Evanston almost 2 1/2 years ago.  But despite the weddings, new apartments, new jobs, grad school, etc, there remains an incredible bond that connects us all to each other.  We are all such a large part of each others’ back story that it is not hard to imagine sharing this bond for the rest of our lives. As one often does in kind of reunion environment, much of our conversation involved remembering events from the past.  Some of those memories were about big fights we had with each other, or shared difficulties with boys, but we were all amazed by how many of those events that had seemed to so intense and life-changing at the time have not kept us from keeping our friendships strong.

And I am lucky enough to have that kind of bond, not just with those girls, but with many of my close friends near and far.  I am so blessed and to those of you reading this who have been those friends to me over the years, thank you!  I probably don’t tell you all enough, the way I value each one of you in my life, so just in case you were doubting it, I care about each of you so much.


welcome to the city, here have a horrible mishap!

December 16, 2008

This past weekend was a full one and rather extreme in ups and downs.  Friday night my good friend from college, Will, and his wife Keri arrived in Chicago and we enjoyed a good catch-up conversation before I went to bed and they went to the airport to pick up Keri’s brother.  The brother arrived successfully and Saturday morning Jess joined us and we went downtown with the idea of entering the drawing for good cheap Wicked tickets.  The plan was then to wander the streets, etc, before Will, Keri and brother would head back to Goshen.  Will and I parked the car and then joined up with the rest at Borders where we all entered and breathlessly awaited the results.  Lo and Behold, Keri’s name was the second one pulled out of the hat!  Much excitement was had by all, because this would allow all three of them to attend the play for much cheaper then the soon closing Wicked tickets usually go for.  We then rushed off to lunch, had yummy pizza, more good conversation before we parted ways, Jess and I to head back to Evanston, and the rest to go to the show.  Happy that our friends had had such luck while visiting us, I was even more saddened by the phone call I got later that evening.

As Will and I were leaving the parking garage, he turned to me and was like, “Did I lock the car?”  I responded with a reassurance that he probably had and besides it was a parking garage, so he was probably fine.  He agreed and so we thought nothing much of it.  When they returned to their car after the show, it had indeed been unlocked, but it didn’t appear that any of their possessions were missing, so they headed back to town.  It was only after arriving the whole way home that Ian, Keri’s brother, realized that his laptop was missing out of his carrying case!

I have to say I felt/feel horrible about the whole thing.  There is nothing like giving a friend bad advice, while they are your guest in the big city, to really make one feel like a dunce.  Even though I know neither Will or I are at fault for the event, that doesn’t keep me from feeling guilty.  In fact most of my bad city experiences have been while either using other people’s vehicles or hosting people in the city.  For example getting swindled out of cash on the CTA (still one of the stupidest events of my life) while my good friend Zeb was visiting, or waiting endlessly for not appearing CTA cars with my brother, or probably others, I don’t seem to have a good track record with showing folks around the city.  So while you are highly encouraged to visit, you can’t say I didn’t warn you!


timeline 11-15

December 9, 2008

0-5, 6-10

Age 11 – The year is 1994, I enter 5th grade at my first ever public school.  Fortunately this turns out to be a non-scaring experience due in part to my excitement of having more than 13 classmates.  During this year I learn about a new social concept when, near the end of school, our teacher apologizes for his lack of focus for the past few months and states  he is getting a divorce.

Age 12 – For the first time, I have someone at school who have a strong dislike for.  Her name is Shanda and she annoys me in almost every possible way.  She unfortunately seems to like me, or at least she likes my friends, which I find very frustrating.  It is only after we lose touch in junior high, that I realize my dislike for her is based in part on her faults being similar to my own.

It is also this year that I complete the Best School Project Ever by building a replica of a castle.  I get very excited about the project and my dad dumpster dives large cardboard boxes as material and my mom helps me spray paint the whole thing grey.  However upon bringing the larger-than-a-table model to school, I am surprised that other people made theirs out of marshmallows and Legos.  I get over this small embarrassment by burning the castle in the back yard with my brothers.  Take that small-size thinkers!

Age 13 – I find junior high to be a rather fascinating social experiment, so much so that I spend several evenings diagramming the social order of the school cafeteria.  I include the popular table, the jock table and label mine the “social accepted but still complete misfit table”.  It isn’t until years later that I realize how lucky I was to have that small group of other misfit girls to cushion me from the social wars being waged around us.

Age 14 – I buy my first pair of “cool” jeans.  They have flair legs which my Mom finds amusingly like the bell bottoms of her youth.  I pair them with a green multicolored velor shirt and blue corduroy jacket and feel stylish for the first time in my life.

Age 15 – After deciding to attend private high school with my best friend from church, I am surprised at the level of dismay expressed by my friends from 8th grade.  I had no idea they had liked me as much as they did, but despite this I decide to stick with the plan of private school.  This also means that Becca and I begin our 8 year stretch of attending the same school, which we followed up with 2 years of living together post college.  But it should be noted that the true record lies with Laurel who I attended junior high, high school and college with, which makes her my bestest school friend ever!  We should totally get matching trapper keepers!


end of classes and new boots*

December 8, 2008

It is very odd to sitting here on a Monday morning and not be feeling annoyed to be awake and functioning.  Not that I hate my job, its just that Monday mornings are generally not my favorite time of the week because the mark the beginning of my long 4 day stretch of business.  However today is different, because while I still have all my usual evening commitments this week, this is the last week of classes!  So instead of spending my day working and getting classwork done I have a chance to relax, which feels so nice after the continual cloud of upcoming assignments that hovered over me for the past 3 months.  Granted I still have to read over my take-home exam and make sure that I put my commas in the right place and created read-able sentences.  But after that I only have to BS my way through my final final exam on Wednesday and then I am free from classes for the next month!

So hopefully next weekend** instead of reporting that I spent most of my hours hunched over my laptop typing away at a dreadful take-home exam, I will instead be able to tell you stories about movie nights, games and baking Christmas cookies.

* Wow, that title alone encapsulates just how exciting my life truly is!

**Although it should be noted that I along with my take-home exam I successfully purchased a pair of winter boots.  While they are great and totally fit my requirements (fit my large calves, waterproof, warm, good traction, allow me to tuck in my jeans without looking stupid, and some semblance of style) they also cost more than any other item in my wardrobe.  But I feel like when it comes to having a pair of quality boots to protect one’s feets from the worst of Chicago winters, it is worth spending the money.  And hopefully these will last me for the next 5 to 6 years if not longer.  Okay fine, here is a picture of them.

I should note that obviously Rini's obsession with faux fur is rubbing off on me.

I should note that obviously Rini's obsession with faux fur is rubbing off on me.


poem of the day

December 4, 2008

Actually this is yesterday’s poem from the Writer’s Almanac, but I opened on a whim late in the day and was completely blown away. I don’t know if it was the imagery, the prose-like voice or the incredible final stanza, but this reminds me of all the reasons poetry is sublime.

Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I’m broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don’t
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it’s a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I’m all that’s left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

Piano” by Patrick Phillips, from Boy. (c) The University of Georgia Press, 2008.