… and it’s even better.

The thing nobody told me before the wedding is that moving to a different city, changing jobs, and becoming a wife are enough to make your newly married head spin.  The past year has been a veritable blur!  It’s been a blur of learning how to be a wife to my husband, and how to re-shape family relationships and friendships as a married lady.  I thought it would just be a matter of filling out my change-of-address and change-of-name cards, but it’s been so much more than that.  Learning how to be in the world as a part of a new family is something I did not expect, and something I’m learning to relish.

This blog has been a casualty of the blur… not sure if I’ll keep it up or not, as I’m not sure anyone is reading!  (c:  It’s still fun to write, and we’ll see what happens.


s+kwe got married. we actually. really. got married.

i love it!

our wedding day weather was absolutely perfect, and the food was good (so i hear), and the coffee was strong, and our friends were happy, and we… we were over the moon. i am settling in to the nest, now – which is in a different city, incidentally – and getting used to a new ring on my finger and new words in my mouth: husband. wife.


I keep thinking of all the songs about getting married… “I’m gettin’ married in the morning!”  and “Goooooin’ to the chapel and we’re (pause) gooooonnna get ma-aa-aarrrried” are running through my head right now.

I just had my first stress dreams about the wedding.  One was that i got to the church and realized that I had never told my musicians what songs I wanted them to play for the ceremony (I say “I” because wedding music has been my responsibility – just like the cake has been Shaun’s).  Now, my musicians are pretty awesome, but it would, in fact, be good to give them more than two hours’ notice as to what they’ll be playing at our wedding!  So yes, must get on that.

The other version of that dream (both in the same night) involved the flowers.  We’re planning to do our own flowers (ordering wholesale and doing the (very simple) bouquets ourselves), and all of them will be creamy white with green accents (it’s more economical to buy a lot of a few kinds of flowers, so we’ll be buying everything in the same color or two to save $$).  So how in the world, in my dream, did we end up with a purple iris altar arrangement?  It was a big, elaborate thing, sitting up on the altar as we said our vows… weird.

oh!  That was the other thing – in one of the dreams, we got through the wedding, and i could remember none of it.  I had zero memory of the ceremony, and it made me super-sad.

So!  Here’s the takeaway from last night’s dreams…

1) figure out music choices soon and communicate those to musicians (who also happen to be friends. we would like them still to be friends with us after the wedding, so the sooner, the better).

2) be very glad that we are not using purple irises.  i’m sure they can be used to good effect, but in my dream, they were not.

3) soak up every moment of that ceremony!  without it, none of the ribbon detail on the table runner or script on the invitation or color of the shoes makes one iota of difference.  i want to remember the promises i make to my husband, the words that are read to encourage us, and the homily that’s written to direct us as we begin this amazing journey together.  i want to remember, always, where we started.

4) I can’t wait to be up there starting everything!!  with him!!!    We’re down below the 7-week mark….

Wow – almost a year has passed since I posted… in (not-so) brief, here’s my excuse-story:

The day I bought the tomatoes from the last post, I had coffee with my friend Kristen, who told me that a random brunch at her house the week prior had actually been a setup. ! So emails ensued between the setters-up and the settees-up (are those valid terms?? you get my drift, no?) and a two-person hike in the Wissahickon was planned for Labor Day.

We both intended to hike until about noon, figured it was a very warm day, we each had other folks to visit with on the holiday – a couple hours would do for a first “date” (?) … then suddenly, it was after two before either of us remembered to look at a watch! hmmmm…. When he dropped me off that day, I knew one thing, deeply: when you meet someone who makes your words and your silence so comfortable, it’s worth finding a way to share as many words and as much silence as you possibly can. So that’s what we did…

A long-distance courtship between Baltimore and Philadelphia officially began on September 20, 2008. I have recently been informed, though, of its termination, effective September 19, 2009… when it becomes our marriage.

(i didn’t know it could be this good, people! i had no. idea….)

I promise I’ll be back to the blog – in the middle of wedding planning. But I had to at least stop in to update the ridiculously long absence, in case there’s anyone (anyone??) out there! see you soon!

*this fellow I’m marrying… I wonder if he knows that I can never pass up an opportunity to reference Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Shhh – that’ll be our secret until after he’s said “I do.”… (c;

how about four varieties of heirloom tomatoes?

I went to the farmer’s market last Saturday to pick out ingredients for gazpacho that would accompany me to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and I found this!



and it had friends…


The gazpacho was tasty, but i think I had more fun gathering and slicing these beauties open than even eating the soup!


I love you.  I know it’s popular to hate on you, like when ten trolleys (#36, anyone?  how bout #10? #11? #13? no?) go past before one comes through with my number (and whoops!  that one was full?  weeellll, sure, i was hoping to hang out underground a while longer!).    Or when your trains strand commuters in the burbs because of a problem with the power lines (i don’t quite get that – everyone else has power, but you?  noooo…).

But I have to say, you’ve been there for me.  Six years ago, we met for the first time – I wanted to go to New York, for cheap, and you were there at 6:00 AM, ready and waiting to take me from Delaware to Trenton (Jersey Transit took over for you there).  When I moved to the edge of the city, you were my neighbor, and now that I live in the middle of Philadelphia, you’re my best bud.  In fact, things betwen you and me are going so well that I’ve completely ended my relationship with that sweet little Honda I was seeing for the last three years.  Now, occasionally I do make a date with those cuties over at Philly CarShare, but you know you’re my number one. 

This morning, for instance – I stepped out the front door and there you were, my trusty #xx bus, ready to take me to the train.  I even got a seat! I pulled out the ipod, the knitting, and chilled out for fifteen minutes.  Thanks!

Y’know, you’ve got that whole discount program for monthly pass-holders – “Pass Perks” – but one perk you forgot to list was your lovely station… I’m a huge fan!  I’ve been known to hang out at 30th Street and just people-watch (okay, I was actually waiting for a train, but, y’know… i really was glad to be there!).  Just walking through your main terminal can stir my latent wanderlust… Harrisburg!  Chicago!  New Haven!  Miami!  Who could hear the “now boarding at stairway six” and not (at least briefly) be tempted to skip work to explore the Appalachians in the dining car?  (Okay, so I know this is actually your housemate, Amtrak – but you’re the real reason I’m there, SEPTA, honest …  I just have to walk past Amtrak to get to you). 

**sigh** SEPTA, you’re a little dirty (i think i’ve seen every kind of litter known to man beside your tracks and tunnels…  sorry, but it’s true…), but you work.  Your busses get me to Old City; your trolleys run me to Trader Joe’s; your trains make my paycheck-inducing day job possible.  You run, and you get me where I need to go, (mostly) when I need to get there.  Sure, you’ve got grit, but we seem to have an understanding. And though nothing could be more old-school than some of your trolleys (seriously, 1960s?  charming!), you make my modern-green-artsy-urban-wannabe life possible, and for that… well, what’s a little litter between friends?

love ya,


i was born a sports fan.  i spent the first fifteen or so years of life in denial.

in a town where local team scores often outweighed international affairs in the local paper, I rebelled against the constant sports coverage. on summer Sundays, when my family would come home from church, grill hot dogs, and settle down in front of the Cubs game, I would hang out in the family room with them (after all, i was hungry), but i would bring a book along and read the innings away.  i would perk up, usually, for Harry Caray’s famous seventh-inning stretch, but not for much else.

Though I couldn’t care less about the RBI of Andre Dawson and Mark Grace, i was outfitted, along with my brother, in Cubs tshirts, and I knew where my loyalty was supposed to lie.  We occasionally took family vacations to Wisconsin (it was an easy drive, pretty, and not too expensive), and since Milwaukee is infinitely friendlier to non-city drivers than Chicago was, my parents chose County Stadium for our first major league game, watching Paul Molitor and Robin Young play for the Brewers.  From those trips, we had a secondary allegiance to Milwaukee’s team, and by sheer geographical proximity a warm fuzzy feeling when the Twins won the series for Minnesota in 1987, but the Cubs – the Cubs were always our family’s team.

Sometime in high school, I started to take an interest in basketball, football, and the actual mechanics of baseball.  Home from college on holiday, I admitted to my parents that I occasionally turned on ESPN in my dorm room and watched a game, independent of familial coercion.  I think their jaws dropped. 

Now, in my late twenties, I am a confirmed sports fan living in a city that boasts teams for MLB, NHL, NFL, and the NBA.  Aside from Chicago, my adopted home of Philadelphia may house the most tortured yet intensely loyal sports fans in the US – the Phils, the Eagles, the Flyers, and the Sixers have all avoided winning a cup, ring, trophy, or title since 1983, I think, and yet the town bleeds Eagles green, Phillies/Sixers red, or Flyers orange, depending on the season.  But I have not forgotten my roots!  Wearing my Cubs cap, I have boldly trod into Citizens Bank Park to cheer on the Cubbies for the last three years, finally and reluctantly missing their visit this year because of unavoidable work commitments. 

my favorite hat

my favorite hat

Last weekend, I finally got to the park to see a game.  The Phillies have had a pretty good season, but they were up against Randy Johnson and the D-backs, so … well, they lost.  But it was fun, because I was there with friends visiting from England.  As the resident Philadelphian among us, I was really beginning to feel like I ought to represent my adopted city properly.  I’ve never had anything against the Phillies (their only fault is not being the Cubs!), and they’re such a part of the city I love, so…. I bought another hat.

a new hat

a new hat

It’s been four years now since I moved to Philadelphia; two since I moved into (nearly) the heart of the city.  It’s about time I started to show some local pride, I think!  I felt quite Philadelphian at the park, and on the Broad Street line, crammed against other Phillies fans, after the game.  But when I got home, I almost felt the need to apologize to my old Cubs hat – to reassure it that my loyalties would always, ever, lie foremost with the boys in blue.  So Phillies, I’m enjoying my rookie year as a proper fan.  But forever and ever (amen), my loudest cheers, my deepest allegiance… well, you just can’t go against the way you were raised…

the natural order of things

the natural order of things

As a little girl in Iowa, I was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biggest fan.  I devoured her books; I nearly memorized every article I could find.  Heavens, if Google had existed in 1990, I would have read every teensy bit it could have dredged up on Laura and her family.  There was Pa and his twinkling eyes, Ma and her china shepherdess, Mr. Edwards and his unruly bachelor appearance.  Even the color of Laura’s hair ribbons infiltrated my memory: I avoided wearing pink for years because I remembered that Mary, the blonde sister, wore the pink hair ribbons while Laura (brunette like me) looked better in the blue.  And where else would I have learned the difference between a sleigh and a cutter, or what in the world a what-not was?

From the Ingalls and the Wilders, I also learned that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, grasshoppers will come and eat your crops.  A creek will rise and threaten your dugout.  A blizzard will come and exhaust every bit of fuel you can find.  I learned that Nature has power, and all the optimism and determination in the world can’t stop her. 

In college, I majored in history – not least because I learned to love stories of the past through “Little House” and other historical novels – and I read about floods, dust storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.  I read about how agriculture, economy, and domestic life were affected by natural disasters, and I read about how people recovered.  Always, though with great scars, they recovered.

I’m holding onto that right now as I watch my hometown begin to scrape off the slime of the river.  That river that powered the mills that built Cedar Rapids flowed through its streets into City Hall last week.    I’m catching my breath each time i hear of another family left homeless, unable to imagine how it must feel to see your house standing but to know that you can’t go back inside or it just might crumble on top of you.  I’m telling myself that people recover from disaster – history is full of recoveries – but I’m having trouble reconciling that with the moment of despair that must be hitting the farmers whose land looks more like misplanted rice paddies than those verdant cornfields that make all Iowans swell with silent pride.

Right now, the thing making me swell with pride is the quietly determined attitude of Midwesterners.  With their hard work, recovery will come, slowly – that’s what happens after disaster.  But in this moment, it’s still so very hard to see the deep hardship that has come to the place and people that I know.

Change flummoxes.

 It is slowly occuring to me that i am entirely turned up by transitions, from the cosy-bed-to-hot-shower transition to the you-were-my-single-friend-and-now-you’re-a-married-mother shift.  Today, it’s spring, and the changing weather has me standing in front of my closet staring dumbly from sweaters that are too warm to light blouses that aren’t warm enough.  i must have changed clothes four times (or five…) trying to find two pieces that kept me warm/cool and actually matched.   (Actually, i’m still not sure that everything goes together, so if you see me tonight at church shivering in ill-suited clothing, pay no mind…)

Even worse is when i sense transition but can’t quite tell what shape it’s taking.  I am a planner, and I like to control things more than i ought.  If i can see the nature of the change, i can prepare myself for it.  Like a good Girl Scout, i will have all necessary physical and emotional equipment in place to deal with whatever it is – just hand me those binoculars so i can see it coming, will you?

Right now, though, there’s something that’s afoot… and I don’t know what.  For a while now, I’ve thought about what might be next – where I might live, whom I might know, where I might work.  Those questions are all still on the table – in fact, more options look concrete than before – but I sense a greater fog than i’ve seen roll through in quite a while. 

Like getting out of bed, like changing clothes for the weather, there’s some action that’s required of me.  I’m just not sure what.  Pardon the direct, obvious metaphor, but i keep remembering Romans 13:14 –

“…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (NIV)

I keep thinking of this, and thinking of the things i need to take off to be able to put on Christ.  Am i actually ready to get undressed?

Am i ready to sift through the things in which i’ve wrapped my self?  It won’t be easy… it means I have to sort through this closet to find out what’s really inside.  Some things obviously need to go – directly identifiable as selfish… but what of the things that depend entirely on my heart motive?  What of the tasks that look like service to the Church, or like good use of resources, that are motivated instead by my pride?  They have become my holy grail of “productivity,” that i pursue to justify myself at the end of the day (i cooked!  i made things!  i helped people!  i earned my rest!)?    What of the threads of my career, the ambitions that i horde to wrap myself in when storms pass overhead?  All these things, these are what i used to make my garments, the layers that identify my self.  But their substance makes nothing more than the emperor’s new clothes, and i know it.  I can’t keep warm, i can’t stay cool …  i feel like i’ve tried to weave denim from fishing line.

On the looms all around me, though, i see women weaving well, making fabric that warms, covers – even flatters the wearer.  I watch daughters of God as they receive their warp and their weft from Him and follow His pattern, by which all their cloth is easily identified.  The fabric they weave could be none but His, and yet, draped in its length, they are more themselves than ever before. 

these women i see – friends from my church, mainly – they have put on Christ.  in everyday life, i watch them persistently get rid of old clothes, old sins, for the new garments that the Son is helping them to weave.  By His resurrection, He drapes them in His righteousness, received by grace through faith.  He would drape me, as well, if i would just stop flipping through my closet for clothes i will never find – if i would stop trying to weave silk from kitchen twine. 

In this season of spring, of transition, comes Easter.  In the middle of that unknown, fog-filled change that frustrates me so, the certainty that always comes is this remembrance of His walk to the Cross.  Smackdab in the middle of my unsure season comes the holiday of His triumphant exit from the tomb.  And oh! what a gentle Teacher He is! As I come reluctantly, wrapped in sin, to meditate on His rising, He reminds me that when His disciples looked for His body in the tomb, all they found were the grave clothes He took off.

You know our pain.
Stubbornness and grief!
this mud has smeared Your glory.

We groan,
as the daughter-mother groaned to push the Son of God from her body,
into the sludge of afterbirth and stable-dust.
We wait,
as creation waits heavy with the prophesied untenable, carrying agony
in a dust-sifting of already and not-yet.
We watch,
as a midwife watches to spy the crown that portends a final release
into the earth-bed of Lambs and Lions.

You keep Your promise.
O Creator and Savior!
this mud will bear Garden-fruit.

The city is a discourse,
and this discourse is truly a language:
the city speaks to its inhabitants;
we speak our city,
the city where we are,
simply by living in it,
by wandering through it,
by looking at it.

- R o l a n d B a r t h e s


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