Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bright Blue Weather

I'm back in Minnesota, my friends! Enjoying the glorious clarity of October air, and the alternating cerulean brilliance with misty grey... There is truly nothing like the turning of color as the frosts creep in. Oranges, rusty reds and variations of greens and yellows. I took a walk the other day, following paths mown through gold-brown grasses, venturing up to the colorful trees, and ducking into the groves, under and over logs, crunching through the leaves. I filled my pockets and hands with crimson leaves fallen from the maples and oaks, and when I came home, tucked them between papers and heaped some weight on them so they'll be ready to decorate with in a few more days.
I was home for a couple of days before heading off to Rochester. A new opportunity to serve came up, so here I am in a lovely part of the state, continuing the day-to-day adventures of life. It's October, so of course I've made apple crisp, pumpkin cookies and bars, apples dipped in caramel, and various stews and squashes. I think a pumpkin pie is in order this afternoon. Just in time to chill in the fridge and come out for Sunday dinner. I had a chance to meet a new friend for Thai coffee in a delightful shop downtown. And amid the ups and downs and difficulties of the here and now, I have been able to enjoy the pleasant company of several aunties all in one place! Coloring and movies (like the sophisticated grownups we are ;) as well as cooking, singing and worship.
The days have been quieter here. Less music, more knitting and Sudoku. But that can be a good thing. And less time on the internet gives more time for thinking, reading, journaling, etc. Which is definitely good. And as always, through new experiences and old ones, through bounding life and throbbing joys, difficult paths, tough decisions, and tedious uncertainties... Prayer.
All-prayer is the armor that I must remember to don every morning when I get up--and then to keep tightening the straps as I jog through my day and my armor loosens like the autumn leaves...

Fly you leaves! And let my heart-strings be
Undo your ties and shudder through the air
Illuminate that beam of light for me
I'll praise your maker, rest my spirit there.

Burn! your flaming colors in this light
Shake off your summer burdens, raise your arms
Breathe in the wind, forget your stormy plight
Immersed in gold, put off the cold alarms

Run you chilly waters! while you can
Shine you sun! and turn the crops to gold
Foraging and storing is the plan
While flocks go over, chased by bracing cold.

Gleam and sing and dance in your fine dresses
Decorate the hills in russet glow
Loosen and let fall your leafy tresses
You've melted hearts; fear not the coming snow.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Adventure update


Well hello again, my friends! Is it October already?
Sorry, yes; I am again out of tune with the spinning of our little sun-centered orb. 'Clock moves so slowly, Time moves so fast' once again. The usual. Winds blow, cool evenings creep in, and here I am, struggling not to miss anything. Trying not to take for granted this, my very favorite of seasons. Chai, pumpkin scones, open windows, playing football in the yard.

Here where I am in the PNW, there hasn't been much chilly sweater-weather yet, but the mornings are lovely, and I'm soaking up the last warm sunny days. Of course the few misty, rainy days have also been perfectly delightful and Eyre-ish; with drifting fog that looked like wisps of white cloud fallen from the sky and lodged between the dark hills.
my little eyrie at Auntie's

and a couple of the hilarious cats that amuse me daily...

The above picture was me wishing Frodo and Bilbo many returns of the day~


crafts and party things, and pretty dinners

Off to Portland on a rainy day. (Got to browse in Powell's!)

(package from home)

entertainment and creative pursuits...

random selfies...
window-pretties

It is difficult, as always, to synopsize or incapsulate a month of extraordinary life. Pleasant outings, friendly conversation, delicious food; insightful sermons & scripture, new books and window-views, football and movies; parties and celebration, toast and tea, girl-time; brisk adventure, (more pizza and football), time for sketching and writing, (more coffee, chatter, laughter); crafting, and kitties, and babies...

Along with some great new experiences, there has been plenty of time for reading and writing and things. One of the projects I've been working on has been typing out/editing some stories of mine that I brought in the form of a stack of notebooks. Like C.S. Lewis, I prefer to write (first draft) by hand (long-hand with a pen--much more stimulating to the inspiration and writing experience). So it has been much to my surprise, as well as satisfaction, to find my word count is past 20,000 already!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dandelion Fire


"--Living fire, laughing like dandelions standing tall in a fresh-mown lawn, like dandelions that have cracked concrete with nothing but roots, like dandelions unafraid to be turned into ash, or cut or poisoned, ready to be born again." - Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson (READ IT.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Doe the Nexte Thyng


author: anonymous
From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like low inspiration
     "Doe the Nexte Thyng"

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by Moment, let down from heaven,
Time opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
     "Doe the Nexte Thyng"

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all resultings
     "Doe the Nexte Thyng"

Looking to Jesus, ever serener
(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalms,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
     "Doe the Nexte Thyng"

Monday, August 18, 2014

yours in demigodishness...

"Hercules, huh?" Percy frowned. "That guy was like the Starbucks of ancient Greece. Everywhere you turn--there he is."
***
'I nodded, looking at Rachel with respect. "You hit the Lord of the Titans in the eye with a blue plastic hairbrush."'
***

'Piper had heard that Percy could speak to horses, being the son of the horse lord Poseidon, but she'd never seen it in action.
"What does Blackjack want?" she asked.
"Donuts," Percy said. "Always donuts.”'

***

{"From Hamlet to omelet in practically no time at all" -- the Melendys}

Friday, August 15, 2014

Clasping corruscations,

...and leaping at beauties as if they were fireflies. Touching, smiling, photographing; glad to find them as real as I believed.
 

Because sometimes my tired mind forgets the swirling weight of glory hanging in the very air we breathe. Each gift of God in the pleasures of full moons, good pizza and sweaty ball-gloves... books and singing, and the tree's anthem of leaves... waiting to be seen and loved and laughed at. 

  
...Gifts to make worship well up in my chest and life-joy sparkle in my eyes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ache


There is the sign of it, earth has its mar
There's no denying it: sin's left a scar
There is a heaviness in hearts aware
The dark's not your eyelids. It's really there.

But since we are founded far deeper than life
We don't simply hold on, but see through the strife
There is the heart of it, deep in the earth
Just where we looked for it: beauty and mirth

God is the source of it--beauty so true
Thankful for all of it; much that we knew
Now as we look at it, loveliness aches
Glimpses of Him in it, homesickness takes

This kind of heaviness I can endure
Head on His sturdiness, I am secure
Heaven is home for me, longing is good
Trust that He'll take me there just when He should

Head on my knees tonight, heart resting deep
Sorrow and loveliness both make me weep
Arms clasp around His truth; aching is best.
It makes me fall on Him, then I will rest

Knees on the fragrant earth, eyes on the sky
This is the land that we use till we die
Look for the mirrors of  heaven above
Ache for Him, rest in Him, Savior of love.

written by myself, Olivia, in the spring of 2011

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When I'm feeling slow....

... the world goes 'round in a whirl--work, appointments, words, sleep.

But it's books and tea and things that occupy my comfort-times.
 
 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Creatives


I recently read this article called 18 things highly creative people do differently. I always enjoy such articles, full of fascinating bits of information about the way my own mind works. None of it is quite a surprise, but it awakens somehow, inspires, some of the hidden corners in the city of my mind. Just as certain books are immediately, clutchingly important to me because they tell me things about myself... reminding me of all the things that make me feel alive... like a strain of Will Stanton's music, or a painting of a Narnian ship.

And for certain ones of us, surrounding ourselves with these certain colors, pictures, and stories is astonishingly important to our everyday thinking and creative processes. I find myself very easily muddled by the vicissitudes of life. Particularly in the creative realm. Creativity is a natural sort of thing, and doesn't love pushing. So when life is feeling a bit tumultuous and scattered, it can be hard to get back into the various arts I love. The difficulty comes when I have to be intentional about serendipity, and scheduled with my daydreaming. It seems like it can't be done, or even that it shouldn't be done. But the truth is that in real life, those beauties rarely come on their own.

We are the ones who must work for our free time, and fight for the hours in which we are allowed to forget about time, and meals, and telephones. We read late into the night, and on buses and benches and kitchen counters. We fold our napkins into curious shapes, and scribble ideas down so quickly during work hours that they're nearly indecipherable later on. 

And it's beautiful. And it's worth it. I see myself in that article, and amid life's clamor I appreciate the reminder: these things are, in fact, important. It's how I work. And I love it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So, about food.

--That all-important gear in the routine of my existence.

A month or two ago I watched Julie and Julia for the first time, and was thoroughly inspired to write about food and all its variations of grandeur, elements of comfort and joy, and treasure trove of memories. So here goes:

I have had a life-long relationship with food. I wrote a poem when I was, oh sixteen or so, describing myself as an enthusiastic foodie. Feeding people is my day to day love language, and one of my favorite activities. It's so beautifully fulfilling.

Between my mother and sister and me, we call it the Pelican breed, happily coined from The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. Which reminds me how very influential reading has always been to the culinary art. From Marmaduke Scarlet, to Annie Ridd, Aunt Hilda Jarman, and Ratty's supper at Mole End. And I discourage all expressions that indicate Anti-Sausage Societies and the League for the Suppression of Eggs.*

Cooking has an extra special kind of beauty simply because it doesn't last that long. A painting or a sculpture may last a thousand years. My food will barely last a week, and I'm rather more delighted when it doesn't last ten minutes. In that way it's a gift, a kind of sacrifice; a way to give of myself for momentary nourishment. A well crafted meal, a masterpiece perhaps; but the fact that it is quickly gone doesn't means it's wasted.

I have so many memories and experiences with food that I wish to share, but they may come in a rather lopsided and topsy-turvey manner. When talking of cooking and food, I must start with my mother. She really learned to cook in Costa Rica as a missionary in her twenties; and as she learned Spanish, moved to Guatemala and had her first child, she fell in love with food. She began by gathering whatever good cookbooks came to hand and reading them cover to cover. And then reading them again. In this way she became familiar with the structures of cooking, the elemental laws and whatnot (disentangling these from the traditions and preferences also provided) and began to branch out, experiment and practice. I didn't come along until about six years later, by which time my mother had increased greatly in her knowledge and proficiency in the kitchen, and been tested by busy toddlers, poverty, and moving all over the world.

She often let me help measure and stir, give a hand here, and taste this. But mostly I watched. For years I watched her chop vegetables and sear meats, stir sauces and make bread. Mounds of yeasty elastic dough, sometimes 100% whole wheat, sometimes French-style plain white. We would take bowls of dough with us in the van to punch down periodically during the day so we could bake rolls when we got home in the evening. I learned to make pizza crust and Italian bread early on. Cookies... chocolate chip cookies with dark brown sugar and plenty of salt. (Despite the fact that I don't eat them anymore, I could still make them with my eyes closed).

I learned to make pastry before I delved into savory dishes. Pie crusts and biscuits, light and flaky. They were an absolute pleasure to make. Katie made great pie crust, so I got tutoring and tips from her, and 'practiced' at every opportunity. The Betty Crocker recipe. Real butter of course, very cold. And plenty of time to roll out cold dough, and pinch off leaves, flowers, and sailing ship decorations out of the spare dough.

The first time I chopped an onion, no one showed me how. No one was watching. I had never cut a squash either, but I made sauteed onions and summer squash by myself without any problem. That was the beginning of my cooking adventures with onions, one of the chief staples of the kitchen. That was the start of cooking on my own--calling on what I'd seen and read, working with all five senses, and having all the fun in the world.

I remember my elation when my first white sauce thickened! I wrote about sauces and roux, the arts and science, the absolute magic of it. I basked in the aroma of a good mirepoix. I learned to cook beans, great vats of pintos, from scratch, and give them marvelous flavor. And I learned how to make a real pot of rice. Naturally, I also remember my unnatural fear of salmonella as I learned to cook whole chickens (which I quickly got over, thank goodness, and yay for chicken) and the fear of ruining eggwhites (which I didn't, even the first time... since then I have had some 'oh well' moments in that department, but nothing tragic).

Besides Motherdy, the most influential person in my food world was, and still is, Nigella Lawson. Ever since I can remember we've been watching her cooking shows; and her love of food, the colors of food, cooking, and the kitchen has contributed largely to my feelings for them as well. She reminds me of my mother, and over the years I've come to feel that Nigella is my aunt or something. Her home and her voice are soothing and familiar.

Long before I tried separating eggs myself, I'd watched her familiar hands cradling the yolks time after time. I watched her (loath and detest) sieving, stir lemon sauces, chop mounds of coriander with her mezzaluna ... Her meals were simple, comforting, and made from real ingredients ~ chocolate cake, risotto, pork shoulder. Some recipes were done in minutes, some took more preparation and finesse, a few cooked all day long. But the approach was the same. Happy in the kitchen, at home around food.

A more recent source of culinary inspiration has been Rachel Khoo, and the delightful cookbooks and cooking shows from her Paris kitchen. Her recipes are artistic and traditional, but entirely accessible. Another cook whose shows (found on youtube, as are Khoo's) have been delightful and stimulating in the food-world, is Miss Dahl, who cooks to suit mood and atmosphere.

Unfortunately, in recent days I've come up against the result of too many summer treats. Somehow I think I can handle french fries and ice cream here and there because the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and everyone else is doing it. It isn't true. So I'm going back to a diet even more strict than before, and it's really quite rewarding. It provides a pleasant challenge (I'm all out of pirates to fight at the moment), and makes me feel all brisk and efficient in a totally unjustifiable way.

*Extra kudos if you caught all six references in that paragraph. ;)