Friday, December 28, 2007

Final 2007 Friday Five

Singing Owl writes: It is hard to believe, but 2007 is about to be history, and this is our last Friday Five of the year. With that in mind, share five memorable moments of 2007. These can be happy or sad, profound or silly, good or bad but things that you will remember. Bonus points for telling us of a "God sighting"-- a moment when the light came through the darkness, a word was spoken, a song sung, laughter rang out, a sermon spoke to you in a new way--whatever you choose, but a moment in 2007 when you sensed Emmanuel, God with us. Or more particularly, you.

1. In January, I spent a long weekend in Dallas with old friends from college. Many of us lived together in the dorm and were a part of Kappa Phi, a Christian women's service organization, and many of them have had kids, gotten married, etc. It was a fun time with lots of talking and reminiscing. It just so happened that it was the just a few days before Trouble got home from her final deployment to the middle east. Her plane was delayed and there was bad weather, but our friends jack and Kristin were awesome to put us up and help with transportation until everything got sorted out. Trouble officially got out of the Air National Guard in February after more than 6 years.

2. In March, Trouble and I went to Louisiana to help rebuild after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This was my second trip to Louisiana for rebuilding (the first time I went with several seminary students, including Hipchick). We were actually over in Rita territory and I was amazed at how much STILL hadn't been rebuilt after all that time. I posted about it earlier in this blog, including some pictures.

3. In May I graduated from seminary. It was a very strange experience to have accomplished something significant but not know what came next (when many of my classmates were moving on to full time church job appointments). My family came from Rhode Island and New Jersey, I got to meet my brother's girfriend (who is now his wife), friends drove up from Oklahoma, and a large bunch of us had a dinner after the ceremony.

4. In August I once again became a member of AmeriCorps. We had a week of orientation at a 4H camp in rural Georgia before coming back to KC and starting my job at Habitat for Humanity Kansas City. It's long been a dream to work for Habitat - a great non-profit with a mission I believe in and respect among people everywhere - and I love being a volunteer coordinator there. I'm hoping to learn as much as possible in my term and then see where it leads next July.

5. In September, Trouble and I moved into our new house. This was our first ever home purchase and I'm still adjuting to all of it - the mortgage, maintenance requirements, paperwork and taxes. It's a cute house in a cute neighborhood and I still wake up every morning looking around the room and reminding myself that this is OUR house! We can paint the walls however we want and not hear the music playing next door late at night.

Totally as an aside to the above post, I want to take a moment to remember a friend of ours, Kyra. She was a great friend to Trouble when she joined the Air National Guard, showing her the ropes and helping her survive her first deployment to the Middle East. Kyra had several tumors in her brain and went through years of chemo, radiation and surgeries. She was always one of the strongest (physically and mentally) we knew and she was loved by many in and out of the military. We last saw her at the end of October and knew it was likely our final goodbye. On Christmas Day, Kyra found eternal rest, and while we know that this is better for her, we can't help being sad for ourselves, her partner and her family members. Hers was an amazing spirit and she will be greatly missed. With prayers for comfort and strength as we move into the New Year...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Friday Five

I haven't been doing Friday Fives much lately (mostly because Fridays tend to be busy at Habitat), but it's the last day before the holiday break (we're closed all next week, until January 2nd), most people are already gone and I can't stand to do any more work on our database today. :) Here are the five questions as posed by RevHRod:

What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave?
This questions specifies childhood, so it's hard for me to remember anything really great. My mom used to always have to help my brother and I shop for my dad - there were a lot of ties and tie tacs I recall! I think maybe the best thing I can think of right now was baking my dad's favorite dessert - Whoopie Pies. I have no idea where the name comes from, but they're bascially cakelike chocolate cookies that you pair up and fill with a fluffly marshmallow based frosting. They're messy and time consuming to make but even as a kid I was always into baking and knew this was something I could do for Dad (with only a little help from Mom).

What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us. Aside from Whoopie Pies, which I don't have memorized to share with you all here from work, I love to make pumpkin pie (but it HAS to be made with sweetened condensed milk - the recipe is usually on the label of the can if you buy Borden's Eagle brand). I also bake an assortment of Christmas cookies with an old favorite being Magic Cookie Bars (also a sweetened condensed milk recipe) and a new favorite being cashew cardamom shortbreads.

What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.) There are a ton of traditions this time of year, but I think one of the most fun is that Trouble inherited a horn that he mom had always used as a Christmas decoration. For the first couple of years it had a big bow on it and we hung it on the wall each Christmas, but as soon as it came out of the box of Christmas stuff, Trouble would have to blow it (usually several times before the sound was anything remotely musical). The bow has long since faded and the horn is tarnished; we don't use it as decoration anymore but it's always on the top of the Christmas box when we putt the stuff out and it always gets played - a signal that the season has begun in our house!

Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place? Ha ha ha! This is one of the reasons I'm glad I'm not a pastor. I don't think church could possibly be the same if it was my full time job. Since my calling and seminary education have led to a different path, I don't feel like my work really impacts the holidays so much. However, as someone who worked several years in emergency services and having a partner who always works in emergency services, one or both of us often end up working on the holidays, so we end up being very flexible with dates. The traditions stay the same (cookies, fancy meal, tree, gifts, etc.) but they often get split up among different days as it fits around work stuff. It's often times that much nicer because Christmas can be split up among three or four days rather than a gluttonous one day event.

If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be? Hmmm. I really like the traditions, and am generally not good at unexpected. I'm afraid I'm not good on this question. Instead, I'd like to reinstate one of my family traditions from when I was growing up. We always opened one gift on Christmas Eve after coming home from church, then opened gifts from relatives and friends on Christmas morning, but saved all the gifts to and from each other (just our immediate family). Then we'd open the gifts from each other 1 per night for the 12 days of Christmas, saving the biggest/best gift for January 6th on Epiphany/the 12th day. It spread the season out and reminded us that Jesus' birth was only the beginning.... Since Trouble and I have been together we haven't done this (although we spread out the holiday in our own ways -see above) mostly because giving each other 12 gifts would be WAY too extravagant!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

7 Random Things

Once again, I've been tagged (thanks, Hipchick) to give 7 random things about myself. So here they are:

1. I love to bake, so every year I prepare to make dozens of Christmas cookies, and every year I get sick of doing it before the task is completed. Big thanks to Trouble for her help in the cookie endeavor this year. It's so good to have her home for the holidays!!

2. Sadly, I appear to be having blood sugar issues again. My family has a huge history of diabetes and I've had problems in the past with my blood sugar (although I've never been formally diagnosed as diabetic - I take it that I'm like my mom and "borderline" depending on stress, health, etc.)

3. I've always been overweight and always felt is was a problem. I've been on a number of diets and "programs" but none have ever stuck for very long for a variety of reasons. Now that I'm getting older and having more problems, the time may be here to REALLY do something about it. I just don't know how to find the motivation that will make it stick (but I'm open to ideas).

4. I LOVE Christmas - the music, shopping, decorations, food, and the way people tend to do more nice things for each other this time of year always brings me joy. Since my dad died 6 years ago 2 days before Christmas, that joy seems to have a shadow and I sometimes wonder if that's ok.

5. My favorite color is purple, especially a dark, rich eggplant kind of hue. Trouble's favorite color is orange and I find that no matter what hues we work with, there's not a good way to make orange and purple look good together. Good thing we're both willing to compromise with other colors in our house!

6. My wedding day was definitely one of the happiest days of my life. It was sunny, we were outside in a beautiful public park surrounded by roses that a friend had actually tended and most of my close friends and family were present. Someday I hope to have a renewal of vows that makes this marriage legally mean something.

7. I'm getting commissioned as a Deaconess in the United Methodist Church this spring, if all of my paperwork and final process stuff goes through ok. Part of me is very excited and part of me wonders if that's really what I need and want to do with my life.

These were probably more deep and serious than was originally intended - sorry about that! Now to pass it along, I tag Big Unit, Rachael, Rachel, and Scott Sharp (mostly to see if you guys will actually post!).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Just look away...

First, I have a quick update on the pit bull scenario from an earlier post. The dog is currently back at the house, on a shorter leash, and looks fine. I don't know how long the dog was kept by the city or what the owner had to do to get the dog back, but I'm glad to know that the dog is alive and well and there haven't been any other problems - at least thus far. The house we're building should be done in another week or so, and then the family will move in with three kids, so I hope they will all get along.

Now, before I get into this other story, I want you all to know that Trouble and Hipchick have alaready done their entries on this same situation. I have not read either of their entries before writing this one, and they didn't read each others either, so you're getting three distinct views of the same scene. This should be interesting....

The three of us try to meet for lunch fairly regularly and we have our favorite places to go. This particular afternoon we met at Bollywood Indian Bistro in Independence, MO. Indian food is a favorite for all of us, and this particular place not only makes good food, but they do a reasonable costing lunch buffet and have a big screen tv playing Indian movies and music videos while you're eating, so you really get immersed inthe culture. I love it!

Trouble and I got there a couple of minutes early so we went inside to get a table and wait for Hipchick before we got our food. We sat down at the table and immediately got sucked into the music videos (which is easy to do), trying to determine which American artist the particular singer on screen was most like (for example, a skinny, punk looking guy dancingaround with a variety of women was likened to Prince or Robert Palmer). All of a sudden a horrendous noise erupted from the next table, and when we looked over, an elderly "gentleman" (term used loosely here) was basically gagging and spitting up into his napkin. Now, I'm not faint of heart or dainty or anything, but I really don't like the sound, sensation, or anything else associated with throwing up. I have to leave the room when Trouble gets sick - all the love in the world doesn't overcome my aversion to puke. So this old guy is going on for like a minute, and I'm just trying to block it out and look away at something - anything - else. Fortunately for me, there was a very cute baby girl in a high chair who was easy to focus on (or the tv) but the sound was pretty loud and, come on the guy is right next to us! He never got up from the table or took a drink or anything. Finally I leaned over to Trouble and said, "I think you're going to have to go save this guy." Good thing she's done all those clinical hours to get her paramedic certification. Right about then, the guy seemed to pull it together and calm down. I thought that meant everything was going to be fine. I was wrong.

Hipchick arrived and we all went up to the buffet to fill our plates with wonderful food, but when we sat down to start eating, the noises from the next table started up again. Hipchick isn't much better about getting sick than I am (and she has three kids, so I don't know how she manages except that her hubby must be great), and her face about made me drop my fork. I was just trying to ignore the guy untilI heard him fall to the floor or something. Just look away... just look away... focus on the music. Hipchick was facing the opposite direction of the tv so she didn't have that lucky distraction. Since I did, I missed out on al of the guy's antics - apparently he popped his dentures out to clean them at one point - but I know I heard gross noises a few more times throughout our meal. When he finally got up to leave, Hipchick had the most relieved face I've ever seen!

Now I know that this guy may have had some kind of medical condition that made things more difficult or there could be some logical, sensible reason why he kept gagging thru the meal, but is there a line where common decency requires someone to pack up their doggy bag and leave a public place? Everyone is entitled to eat good Indian food, but I don't think most people appreciate having to hear or see that kind of behavior. What do you think?