Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Giving Thanks









Things to be thankful for:
1. Being married!
2. Mom and Dad coming out for three days filled with food and Seattle sightseeing. Tim and I got to host our first Thanksgiving together!
3. Turkey and all the fixings, including chestnut stuffing and a special butternut squash chowder with crispy bacon. Many firsts this year on the menu.
4. Comfy new living room chairs.
5. Awesome new stove that works (plus a third little IKEA kitchen cart).
6. Antique buffet for the dining room--finally, a piece of furniture we fell in love with! It was worth the wait, and I can't stop staring at it.
7. The newest addition to our family: the ficus tree!
8. That mysterious green concoction in the Pyrex bowl. Yes, friends, that is the famed pistachio pudding--crushed pineapple, marshmallows, Cool Whip and all. I made it for Tim's office Thanksgiving potluck (I was wondering if Microsofties cook and the answer is no; apparently it was a dessert buffet) at his request; his sister Jane made this one Thanksgiving when I was at Tim's house. I certainly didn't grow up with anything like it. In fact, I think there are two kinds of households: those with Cool Whip and Jello-O pudding, and those without.
And I am thankful most of all that Tim and I are getting to live out our adventure together in the place God has put us. We celebrated--that is, noted, and my mom bought us a jar of yummy mulling spices--our four month anniversary last Wednesday. I am thankful for good health, a nice place to live, good food to eat, the new friends we are making, and the way the Lord is leading us as we settle into life in Seattle. It's still a process of adjusting, but if I sit back and take a look at all the wonderful parts of our life, it's a pretty amazing one.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bye bye, Wegmans



Yesterday I used the last of the Wegmans coffee filters I brought with me from Ithaca. Sigh. I suppose I'll just have to live vicariously through the folks on The Office who get to drink W soda in the breakroom.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bagels


I make bread in the bread machine. Tim makes bagels from scratch! They're pretty simple from what I observed from the sidelines--mix the dough, let it rise, form the bagels, let it rise again--and pretty fun when you get to the exciting part: boiling the bagels and then baking them. Yum!
I was thinking this morning as I spent some time in prayer how easy it is to get sucked into a routine of laziness. I've never been in this position of having "unlimited" time before; that is, time that no one but me gets to schedule. I have always been fairly motivated to use my time wisely and get things done, because since high school I've had a lot of demands on it, like class, sports, extra curriculars, etc. In college I was so strapped for free time that whatever I did with it needed to be "worthwhile," you know, producing the most fun possible in the amount of time I had. That made it really hard to relax because I was used to thinking I should be studying instead of baking a pie or going for a walk.
Once I had a full-time job, I had a different external schedule. I was motivated to get up in the morning and slog through my run, whether it was still dark out, windy, rainy, or icy, because I needed to be at work at 8:42 am and that was that (due to the strange way of calculating my hours). I admit I had some slipups here and there, but it was easy to prioritize when my schedule left only a few free hours a day and I was planning a wedding.
Now I have the opposite problem: too much time! I am a big believer in the fact that when you are busier you are more productive. I have a schedule taped to my wall, with blocks of time marked out for running and working out, reading, writing, checking email, etc. The free hours are supposed to be for the "life things" that need to get done, like cleaning the bathroom, going to the grocery store, and planning for Thanksgiving dinner. But it all gets muddled together when I've seen Tim out the door and it's still dark outside, and I'd rather waste some time on Facebook or find some other way not to head out into the damp world. I've realized that, in not working full-time, I've been enabled to pursue my own comfort instead of being productive, which was actually surprising to learn since I'm so type-A. At church we've been talking a lot about how we steward the resources we have, and they have a nifty alliterative phrase they like to use to describe those resources: "our time, talent, and treasure."
Early on in our new life in Seattle I would wake up, go for my run, and come home with a prayer in my heart that God would show me what to do with my day. I was actively giving my time over to Him in a new environment where I didn't have a lot of distractions yet because we were still in transition. Now we have a house and a routine, and I am much less likely to say that prayer, preferring instead to pad around in my PJs until I can muster the discipline to start checking things off my to-do list, including spending time on my writing, which isn't all fun--it's a lot of work!
This morning a storm blew strong gusts of wind and slanty rain into Puget Sound, so when Tim left I turned on the Today Show because Keri Russell was supposed to be on and I did not feel like getting soaked. Two hours later--which I rationalized as "productive" since I checked email, wrote a shopping list, and researched where to create our photo Christmas cards--I dragged myself into the bedroom to get changed for my run. When I came back, cold and wet, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I know would have meant more had I done it when I was supposed to, at 7:00 this morning. Now my whole day is pushed back and I am left feeling guilty about laziness and wasted time. I crave action and accomplishment, but the truth is it's a lot easier to be lazy.
It's an odd thing to be in this position of trying to use my time well when that's what I used to be good at. But I'm starting to see how it's necessitating growth in my life, calling me to be more disciplined, and ultimately to be a good steward of what God has blessed me with: my free time and my talents, both in the home and in my writing. I'm sure there will always be at least one day a week when I will falter and pursue my own comfort rather than my responsibilities, but I am grateful that in spite of that God is drawing me closer to him and showing me how to glorify him with each new day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A little help here

Okay, so I'm going to come right out and say it. I want to be a novelist. There. Maybe that explains why every job I look at isn't quite right, and why I inwardly cringe when I see the descriptor "full-time" on job listings. I have always wanted to be a writer, but I've never really said it, because that means I have to try, which means I could fail. To be completely honest I've been pretty good a lot of things, namely school, which is why I'm kind of like a fish out of water here. But I have always had stories in me and I've always breathed in stories like air; anyone who knows me well knows that. The question now is what to do about it.

Since August I have worked on my new novel five days a week (of course missing some here and there) and I now have more than 70 pages. I'd say that's pretty darn good since I have no external motivation. But before you ask me what it's about let me say that there are only three people who know, and I told them by accident, and I will kill them if they reveal anything. You know who you are.

My dilemma is that I cannot write ALL DAY. Maybe Jane Smiley can, but not me. You all know me. I am not the hermit writer type. My veins don't flow black with coffee, I have more than two sweaters, and I don't smell bad. I'm not that kind of writer. I can be disciplined for several hours a day but beyond that I need society, action, challenge. So this is why I am going to shamelessly beg for comments to this post because I am in serious need of something else to do. I am not sure a full-time job is it. Volunteering helped for a while but I haven't found my niche yet. What can I do that will be stimulating, challenging, involving people and problems to be solved, but not including who ordered the venti latte with an extra shot?

Come on people. I give you a little entertainment with my crises. You can give me some helpful feedback in return.

(PS Tomorrow I will probably regret that I posted this and subsequently remove it).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cash & Carry


After going through many 5- and 10-lb. bags of flour (we do a lot of baking; most recently Tim has been making baguettes) we got a clue and searched for a bigger bag. Make that a HUGE bag of flour. Because we're picky about our flour (enriched, unbleached) we had some trouble, but eventually found a 50-lb. bag at a store called Cash & Carry which is one block away from our church. It's basically a restaurant supply store that sells items in enormous quantities--a 25-lb. roll of ground beef, for example--as well as professional-grade kitchen tools. It's smaller than Costco and doesn't have fresh produce, but it's definitely just as fun.

So here's our new flour storage plan. I wasn't brave enough to pour the flour directly from the bag into the bin (in our old-fashioned pantry, built for that purpose) but will definitely be retrieving flour like a pioneer from now on. If we're really crazy we might get a similar stash of sugar for the brother bin right next to it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Nostalgia

Today I met with some folks at a local publisher to talk about a potential job. It went well and there is interest on both sides, so I'm excited to see what it might turn into over the next couple of months. But even as I was speaking with them and especially as I left, I got a heavy dose of the nostalgia I've been feeling as the fall slowly turns into winter.

I compare everything to Ithaca, and how can I not? This morning when I went out to run it was 31 degrees, which I think must be just about as cold as it gets here. It reminded me of getting up in the dark in my Fall Creek apartment and checking the temperature on my computer, knowing I would have to resort to the treadmill if it was under 20 degrees, and waiting for the light to start coming through the trees, then steeling myself against the wind as I set out on my favorite routes around downtown and campus, always passing the same landmarks I grew to love. I loved walking to work in a beautiful building, even though it had bats (I admit to screaming at least once). There were ups and downs in my last job but I miss they dynamic of personalities there, and also simply having known what I was doing and being confident in it. I miss certain restaurants and things that were uniquely Ithaca, like sights on the Commons or going to Stewart Park and watching the wind whip the willow branches out toward the lake. I miss the architecture and the feeling of being on campus, and especially of knowing my place in it all. Having lived in Ithaca for four and a half years I was pretty comfortable, and I knew where everything was, even if there wasn't much to it. It's great to be able to go shopping and experience city life in Seattle, and it's been a fun adventure so far. I am glad for where God has put Tim and me to start our marriage, but it's also a challenge. I think fear of the unknown sometimes makes us look backward, but of course there are memories to be cherished. When we finally do make it back to visit I know I'm going to run Tim ragged, wanting to visit Wegmans and CTB and walk around my old neighborhood to see if the house where I lived last year is still standing. I'll want to walk up the gorge and go to Stewart Park and Purity Ice Cream, and of course to campus to see what else is being built or torn down. I'll want to see the sheep out by his parents' house and visit friends from church and work. But I won't be able to take it all in. Part of the way I measure my life is in seasons that correspond to a different running route, from a particular dorm on campus or the place I lived in Collegetown senior year, or my apartment downtown. Remembering places I used to run evokes a certain time with certain feelings, a stage in my life. This last week I've recorded my memories of all my favorite routes since junior year, which has been a great way to reconnect with specific places, people, and seasons (not to mention a great creativity-building exercise, as I'm kind of stalled in my writing). Going forward I have to remember that right now I'm making memories, too, with everything that happens in our new life. I already have some new favorite runs.