Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let's just move along now...

I'm moving my random, infrequent acts of writing here so be sure to change your bookmarks. It's still a work in progress, and since I'm away on business right now, it may be a few days before I'm up and running with everything humming like a well (extra virgin olive) oiled machine. Nick is the braintrust/geektastic behind the new look, and has been more than a little patient with me. Very soon I will resume my aimless rambling from my perch in my kitchen. Until then I'm catching planes and Foursquaring my adventures. I'm also soaking a pair of very sore feet tonight.

Tea today: Tazo Zen

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I am so ready for spring!

As beautiful as the snow is, and as much as I really do love me some Iowa winter, I am so ready to get back out on my bike in the nice warm air, sunshine, and woods.

Longest. Winter. Ever.

This is really getting old.

Tea today: Good Earth Pomegranate Superfruit

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Leftovers

Some days you feel like you have nothing left.

After vacation, the jet lag hit me like a tour bus. I was tired and cranky all last week - not a bit like you're supposed to be after vacation. I really needed to get organized again, back on track with work and home but at the end of every day...

I had nothing left. Nada. Zip.

The weekend was a blur and about 3 days too short. I only exercised twice last week (and not very hard), which left me feeling even more tired, despite nights of 8 and 9 hours of sound, dream-filled sleep. Sitting at my desk all day trying to catch up on seemingly mundane and brainless tasks didn't help much. And then I didn't eat well. And then I didn't sleep well. And the cascade of events happened all over again. Something needs to break the vicious cycle of bleh.

This morning I used up the last bit of everything else around here.
I cooked the last half of banana in my oatmeal and dumped it in the almond butter jar that had one last tablespoon left in it.
I used the last of my grape tomatoes, dried apricots, dates, garbanzos, croutons, and lettuce for my salad for lunch today. None of this looked all that fresh.
Every bag, can, container is empty. Except for carrots. I rarely run out of carrots. You just never know when you're going to run into a hungwy wabbit.
My salad will be topped today with the very last of the only salad dressing left in the fridge.

Every feel like you have nothing left?

Or do you look at what you've had and say "I've had so much?"


Tea today: Jasmine (my last bag)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Burgundy

I wanted to do a sweet, poignant interview with Ron Burgundy about his big birthday today. I was all prepared for him to impart his usual wisdom and light, cheer and good will, but none was to be found. I wanted him to tell you how age is only a number and not a condition. How every year has been the best year yet. How grateful he was that I gave him the thinnest years of my life. 

Nope.

I'm "airing" this anyway, because it's his day and he deserves all the attention.

"Will you answer a few questions for me? Your thoughts about turning (ahem) sixty?"

"No."

"Why not? I need to write a blog post and you're the only blog fodder I have this week. How does it feel to be turning sixty?"

"Terrible. Depressing." (Shifts ice bag on ankle).

"Why?"

"I'm old." (Heavy sigh).

"Sixty isn't old. Not any more. By the time your dad was sixty he was pretty sick, and by the time my dad was sixty he'd had two heart attacks and a triple bypass. You're still running marathons and doing extreme kickboxing."

"I don't want to be sixty. You hear all the time about people who die at 60...62...."

"Do you have any regrets?"

"Yeah, I wish I'd have saved more money."

"There's still time. The guy who invented the frisbee just died and he was 90. And look at Colonel Sanders."

Silence.

Maybe I shouldn't have brought up dead people. He's obviously a better interviewer than interviewee. Whatever.

Go wish him Happy Birthday on Twitter or Facebook and maybe he'll think sixty isn't so bad by the time he hits sixty-one. I think he's still pretty awesome. He can out-kick, out-lift, out-bike, and out-run all of our kids and his young wife. Here's my favorite picture of him from vacation.
I dare anyone to age so gracefully. I just love this guy. The fact that we've been together for 38 years in no way makes him old. It just makes me happy. Isaiah 40:31

Tea today: Good Earth Pomegranate Superfruit

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Aloha and Mahalo

Our vacation was a blur, albeit a beautiful one. Hawaii, Oahu, and Maui in 11 days. Well, Minneapolis too, if you want to include all the stops. The guests on our trip were kind and spry, and downright hilarious at times. My favorite comment of the trip: "Excuse me. I have some support hose that need rearranging."

Our tour manager from Holiday Vacations was probably a drill sergeant in her former life, but she had a heart of gold. She kept all 44 of us in line, on time, and fed mighty fine. Five flights, five hotels, innumerable bus rides (15 maybe?), hundreds of photos and hours of video later, I have to admit the "most expensive free trip ever" (thanks to baggage handling fees, daily internet charges, and umbrella drinks) was downright pleasant and the accommodations were 5-star.
Ron Burgundy was the perfect host for the trip. He handled his duties like he'd used a microphone before. By the second day, he knew everyones name and where they lived. He wielded his camcorder like a ninja. I was just the trophy wife along for the trip (stop laughing), the unofficial trip photographer, and so blessed to have the opportunity to go along. I had a ball Tweeting my way across the islands, despite my unintended lack of discretion for certain hashtags. #gimmeabreak

The side trip to Pearl Harbor was emotional and a bit eerie as I watched the solemn veterans in our group toss the flowers from their leis into the water to be carried out to sea. It was a beautiful tribute to lost lives. You could literally feel the presence of the 1,100 bodies of American soldiers still entombed in the USS Arizona below us. About a quart of oil still leaks to the surface above the ship every day and serves as another sign that we should not forget.

Never forget.
The trip to the Volcanoes National Park was a testimony to the power and strength inside God's earth. Knowing a volcano could erupt at any given time did not unsettle me. I was too awestruck by the remnants of previous eruptions and the literal artistry that resulted from molten lava, black sand, and majestic mountains.
The orchid farm was truly God's paintbrush at its best. I could have stayed there on sensory overload for hours.
We had free time on Maui, the most beautiful of the three islands. The meals were gastronomical. I failed in my goal to sneak into a kitchen of a swanky restaurant, just to watch the chefs. But I succeeded in eating my weight in fresh papaya, pineapple, kiwi, and melon.
The banyan trees had me fascinated to the point that at any minute I expected to see The Captain from "Five People You Meet in Heaven."
The sunsets in Maui were surreal.

The last evening in Honolulu before our departure, Ron Burgundy and I walked hand-in-hand down Kalakaua Avenue, home of the up-scale shops of horror like Prada, Fendi, Coach, and Tiffany. Neither of us had much interest in shopping - he was in search of a hamburger and I wanted sushi. We found neither. Wolfgang Puck demanded $47 for a steak, "market price" for surf and turf (if you have to ask, you can't afford it) and even the gold-painted mime wouldn't perform without a donation.
And then I noticed him, sitting on a rock ledge across from Tiffany's, chin in hands. Hawaiian descent. Shoulders slumped. Tattered, filthy shirt. Matted hair. Plastic bags containing his only possessions were piled around him. He would be sleeping on the beach that night, providing the police didn't kick him off. His face was expressionless and his eyes were glazed. He was the classic image of homelessness.

I wanted to take his picture because he was a beautiful sight of sorts. The downtrodden in the middle of the glitz and glam. The poor among the rich. The empty among the full. The sad among the giddy. Such stark contrast to his surroundings, but I have no doubt he put his pants on one leg at a time, just like the fine Italian leather-shoed men who strutted past him as if he was invisible. But he was so very real.

He was an indelible image from a place known for extravagance. I will never forget him.

Nor will I ever forget the sight and sound of the sea.
video
Aloha, and Mahalo.
Tea tonight: Hawaiian Islands Pineapple Waikiki

Sunday, February 7, 2010

So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye...

We attended our last service today at the church we've attended and served for the past 20 years. For unnecessary reasons outside our four walls, our pastor retired and about half the congregation left as well. It was a sad day that never had to happen, but it is what it is.

It was always my pleasure to serve God and the people through this little church. Our kids were all confirmed there. RB and Luke sang in the choir. I can't count how many times I made broccoli-grape salad for funerals, helped serve communion, and for the last 9 years I've prepped and run the projection for our contemporary service. It was a good place for me, up there in our make-shift "sound room." I could cry my eyes out (I'm a well-known "church cryer") without having everyone see me. The huge cross in the sanctuary is formed from three spikes, and is the same one tattooed on my son's back (I'm over it). For the past 20 years, all of our family ushered at the 8 pm Christmas Eve service. It was such a blessed tradition, but one that is no longer. New people will replace us and new traditions will come into our lives.

Onward and upward.

We're in the process of finding a new church home. I can't wait to see what God has planned for us there. Our old church will remain in my prayers.

Our praise team sang together for the last time today. They did a beautiful job on "What Faith Can Do," one of my favorite (tear-jerker) songs.

Tea today: Yamamotoyama Green

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I could get used to this

A shoreline spackled with coral.
The sea pounding against the lava rock.
A sunset from our hotel balcony.
A volcanic view from the plane.
The surf pounding against the lava rock wall outside our room.
A little food along the way.
An abundance of flowers ready for lei-making.
And umbrella drinks. Oh yeah.
Hey, how did this guy get in here? I was concerned about him after he did a fire dance. Wanted to make sure he was OK (and didn't do any harm to those 6-pack abs). Yeah, he's winking ;)
This is the one I meant to post.
Aloha!

Tea today: is an umbrella drink considered tea when you're on vacation?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wherein nothing has changed - or has it?

The last half of 2009 defies description. Funky maybe?

I felt like a human casserole of worry, fear, and fog. It was just on the inside, but those close to me noticed. Those who cared, asked.

"I'm fine."

The details of what I blame on getting me there are irrelevant, and to recite the ingredient list of my stew would serve no purpose. We all have things in our lives we want to be different. Suffice it to say that life happens, you take the good with the bad, and you wake up each morning asking yourself "Is this the day things will straighten out?" My heart would race (literally) and skip beats. I'd lay down at night with my fingers touching my pulsing carotid artery, counting the erratic lub-dubs, yet didn't care enough to have the physical symptoms evaluated.

Because deep down I knew, they were not physical. I've seen it a thousand times before in the patients who have walked through my work life. That would never be me.

This blog sat in neutral and may still sit a while. Rare postings. I had nothing except an occasional 140 characters or less. It was like I was floating, watching someone else who looked somewhat like me move ghost-like from day to day.

I was uncomfortable. Uneasy. Totally disconnected.

I had only one way out of this drudgery, and I knew it. I'm well aware that God cares much less about my comfort than He does about my relationship with Him, and that being comfortable so often leads to complacency in mind, body, and spirit. So I dug a little deeper. OK, a lot deeper. I needed to be somewhere else - not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I read my Bible with more intention. My dedicated time in the morning involved arising early and doing nothing for at least a full hour except reading Scripture, understanding the Word through God-breathed teachers and pastors, and being intentional about where my heart really is. Now. Today. I took friends' prayer requests very seriously (wow, we're a hurting bunch) and felt confident my prayers were being heard. If I told you I was praying for you, trust me when I say it was with fervor and intention. RB and I embarked on praying together. On purpose. Epic.

And I removed my selfish requests from those prayers.

"So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You."

I realized last Saturday night at church when we sang this song that things have become gradually and gracefully different. I feel a sense of peace and calm, even in the midst of the Haiti heartache. The worry and fear are no longer off the charts, and I seem to have a lot more focus at work, with friends, and at home. I don't feel like I'm floating anymore. It's great not being in charge, or rather fully knowing that I'm not.

What changed? Every circumstance in my life has remained exactly the same. On the outside, nothing has changed. People. Places. Jobs. Relationships. Surroundings. Finances. I did get new tires, but other than that - nothing. has. changed.

God is the same. Everything is exactly the same.

Except me.

I hope I don't stay comfortable with that.

"So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours"


Tea today: Jasmine

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Swimsuit Debacle

I have this friend who was told she needed a swimsuit for an upcoming tropical vacation. She had years of collected swimsuits at one point - but they seem to have disappeared. She thinks they went to the last Goodwill run, probably because they were so old she was afraid she'd actually wear them again. And be mocked unmercifully.

She ran across a brand called the Slimsuit. It actually has a patent and is guaranteed to make one appear pounds and inches slimmer. So my friend tried one on at the mall today. She chose the appropriate size and the color that appeared to be the most flattering.

The fluorescent lighting in the dressing room cast a horrendous yellow-green glow on skin that hadn't seen a dose of Vitamin D for months. Undaunted, she disrobed and put her right foot through the first leg hole, smugly pleased that her balance was so solid for a woman her age. Tweeting from the treadmill and EFX really has it's advantages when it comes to balance and core strength. After pulling the suit up to her hips, she felt a strong sense of gratitude.

The upper body strength training was paying off, as she met significant resistance pulling the suit up over her hips. She double checked the size to be sure it was correct. The tugging began. She became warm and a bit diaphoretic with her efforts, but she did not give up. Once the bottom half of the suit was securely in place, the rest was fairly easy. The shoulder straps of the tank-type suit felt a little snug, and as she attempted to take a deep breath, she realized that indeed, breathing would have it's limits.

She turned to look in the mirror and gasped. She had no idea that aged body could look so slim and trim and attractive. It was truly a miracle. Flat stomach, slim hips, smooth back...all encased in a suit of armor.

Unfortunately, loose skin, excess adipose tissue, and a few internal organs take the path of least resistance, and though the "body" of this Slimsuit-clad friend looked fabulous, she was horrified at the sudden appearance of jumbo armpit biscuits, shoulder pads, backfat, saddlebags, and yes, even the outpouring of frontsetts, all having appeared from the relentless compression of the fabulous patented suit. Looks notwithstanding, breathing was difficult, perhaps because of the rebar sewn into the suit to reinforce it's shape. The fabric had very little "give," reminiscent of the heavy vinyl cover she pulls and tugs to snap on the boat until her fingers bleed. And these newly acquired appendages nearly glowed neon green with the glare of fluorescent lights on that winter-white skin. She was a vision of a radioactive Michelin Man.

But indeed, the suit looked fabulous.

With the help of a shoe horn, hangers, and hand lotion, we managed to remove her from the vicious entrapment that someone dared to call swimwear. I took my exhausted friend home, we munched on carrot and celery sticks, and I helped her Google "tropical print gauze Snuggie."

Hopefully the bruises will be gone by the time she goes on her vacation. She's really earned it now.

Tea tonight: Pineapple Waikiki

Monday, January 11, 2010

Recharging


Just for a bit - the real world is calling for my time and attention, and I feel compelled to listen (this time).

Tomorrow Bridget will host the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival on the word "lust." This is not my way of getting out of posting; perhaps it's my way of taking the time to peruse others' wonderful posts. I hope you do the same.

"Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls."

Tea today: Genmaicha

Friday, January 8, 2010

I want the snow without the cold


I've lived in Iowa all of my life (well, not yet, but so far). I love the changes of seasons, and especially the beauty of the snow. The way the drifts become so beautifully sculpted by the 20 mph winds never ceases to amaze me.

It also never ceases to amaze me that the street plows come after your driveway has been plowed, thus forcing me to call neighbor George back with his scooper thingie.


That's our pond up there. Just to the right, out of view of the lens, is the hole created by the heater that allows my fish to stay alive in suspended animation until the water temperature is high enough for them to move again. Some of those bad boys have lived in that pond for 10 years. I've never heard them complain.

And the birds get fed by berries and seed that Ron Burgundy throws them every day. Yes, on the ground. It sprouts. In the spring. And the seasons start all over again.

But seriously, 30 below zero wind chill? I'll never get used to that. I want 70 degrees and snow - is that too much to ask?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflections on 2009


Whether it's appropriately called "twenty-ten" or "two-thousand-ten," I will no doubt write  "2009" for 3 more months. It will take me that long to change my habit for the new year, and then another few weeks while the "2010" written in Sharpie on my hand gets embedded in my brain.

It was an interesting year, starting out with some devastating news about a friend and the spontaneous combustion of wackadoos into a whole new circle of blog buddies (known to Ron Burgundy as the "imaginaries"). I found terrific inspiration from a great writer Sara and her dog Riley and only through an odd hijacking of Pete Wilson's blog comments one day, did we figure out she lives a mere 7 miles up the road from me. As it came to pass, we found that we've had common ties for over 15 years. How weird/coincidental/spiritual/cool is that?? 

I agonized and beat myself up over my kids, and then praised God at the beautiful wedding of my eldest son  which gained me an awesome daughter-in-law whom I allow to pound me in Phase 10 because she may be picking out my nursing home some day. I keep my kids close in prayer, including this one, as our visits are all too infrequent.

It was an tasty year on the food front. I fell in love with generic foods over brand names (other than fire-roasted tomatoes and pomegranates) and found that pennies add up faster than you can say "free food." I fell more in love with whole foods, and further out of love with any food that has a mother. Perhaps it was the 6 months of chicken noodle soup that I made for my dying dog, or just the gag factor of running gears on a chicken, but I could count on one hand the number of times poultry has crossed my chicken lips this year. I Twit-pic'd my way through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as through a minor finger amputation, my daughter's New York Marathon finish and a spectacular field in Iowa I never knew existed.

I walked my favorite labyrinth more times than I can count 

I stared into mighty Mississippi waters at sunset

And biked into sunsets on land

I got lost in the woods more than once

But continued to meet new friends in the process

We buried two things in the back yard, Lucky and St. Joseph

We don't plan on digging up Lucky since his perfect healing, but have high hopes for Joe.


My resolve for the New Year?
  • Study more.
  • Rid my life of clutter and junk, including toxic habits, people, and stuff.
  • Fertilize, nurture, and prune every fruit of the Spirit
  • Spend more time with my family, taking wisdom from my friend Ginny's post to "Never treat your friends better than you treat your [mother, father, sister, brother]."
Thanks to all tens of friends who stop by here and  comment regularly (I love you!), those who lurk (family), and for those of you who landed here with the Google search "ate his testicles" (who ARE you, anyway?) and found this post (most hits ever) or if you were searching for other oddities like "expensive feet," "waiter fly soup," or "cool steele."

This whole blog thing has taken on a life of it's own. For that, I am blessed. Happy New Year!
Image: Schiaccia