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marvelous vegetable, the zucchini. y’know, i never had really eaten it before this past year. this summer has been the summer of the great green squash: it’s my new best veggie friend…(c:
i never used to enjoy summer. It’s always been, for me, the time when people leave -or when i leave people. for a girl who craves and savors stability, summertimes gained a very bad reputation as the season of shuffling: first, older friends left for college. then i left for college. for years, good-byes in may and new good-byes in august bookended warm months and disallowed any settled pattern or community. first it was just moving 100 miles back and forth from my hometown to my college town (go cyclones!), but then I moved 1000 miles away from home, and summers were far from home and filled with studies, then with a new job…
but last summer was a golden summer: a steady group of folks settled in the same neighborhood, and i began to think warmth was not so bad. community was in place.
beyond the people-factor, silly as it sounds, my love for a season hinges heavily on the aesthetics that season presents. what kind of food can i cook? and (yes, i am this shallow) what kind of clothes can i wear? autumn has always claimed the yearly throne in this area: what can compare with a pot of homemade applesauce bubbling on the stove and a cosy corduroy jacket or warm, deep-colored scarf?
but this year, i discovered (read: was introduced to by loving friends) summer clothing and summer vegetables.
before, i have been happy to slog out the summer in winter layers (that is, i don’t buy any short-sleeve shirt that i can’t wear under a winter sweater later on — nothing bright and sunny-colored; mainly black, white, olive, dark blue, and brown. eek.). my roommate, lover of sun and warmth, tried to help me devise a summer outfit before we went out one night and ended up delving into her own closet to help me find a top that didn’t make my summer skirt look like winter. So i took myself to macy’s and, with much deliberation, bought a light-weight eyelet blouse, lightweight shorts, and a pale orange polo shirt (short sleeves! not remotely layer-able!).
even more remarkable… i actually shopped for and bought a cute, bright green 2-piece swimsuit and beach towel this year and, with the company of aforementioned Roommate and lovely friend Joy, went to the shore two or three times. previous visits to the beach involved the swimsuit i purchased in eighth grade. i’m now twenty-seven. while it’s nice that the suit i bought back then still fit well enough to work (when paired judiciously with a pair of shorts), it was time to retire the speedo one-piece that was hardly fashionable even then. so in the new suit, with trusty, sun-lovin’ friends, i even managed to get a little tan this summer! for a pasty-white girl of german-irish descent, that is a very major accomplishment. thanks to the lovely Roommate and Miss Joy.
my other discovery was summer vegetables. my marvelous local farmer’s market (and my friend Ben, who’s the master of garden-based cooking) introduced the wonders of the zucchini, simply sauteed with tomatoes and other sundry summer veg. amazing! for very little oven output, you get a bright-tasting, nutritious, and cheap dinner. i made a variant last night and was happy all evening … sauteed onions and garlic, cubed a zucchini, and added a gorgeous heirloom tomato. when everything had softened a bit, i tossed it all with whole wheat couscous and was happy as a summer-lovin’ clam. thanks, Ben.
so summer. i’m actually a little sad to see it go! in my memory, this will be the season i reveled in community, a community that taught me to love orange shirts, accompanied me to the beach of green swimsuits … and introduced the zucchini. long live the zucchini.
a friend of mine from south asia recently put her finger exactly on that part of my anglo/germanic middle-american heritage that has always eluded me. or rather, i have always thought i eluded it.
i don’t think i’ve done this consciously, but over the last seven years, i have systematically stepped out of my cultural upbringing. i dated an asian guy for two years. i moved to the east coast. i spent a year and a half writing my thesis on an italian-american family living in manhattan’s lower east side. i even figured out a reason to live in new york for the project. in. new. york. me. in the big city. on my own. and now i live in another big mid-atlantic city! i’ve even learned to cook everything but my mother’s recipes (just let me know when you’re coming over: i’ll either have sicilian red sauce for the penne or ghanaian chicken in the pot for you (and neither are found in the family cookbook)).
i’m beginning to wince on behalf of my background.
i’ve been so busy appreciating other places/cultures/backgrounds that i have disrobed my own of its rightful, modest significance. . . and really, in context, i struggle to appreciate any sort of significance to my own background. politically, i tend to run in rather liberal circles, and it’s not popular there to be a reasonably well-off middle-class girl who’s not only white, but also anglo-saxon and protestant (w.a.s.p.).
i just got back from a business trip to the near midwest, and i found myself in a home-like environment: the land was flat; the accents were homey (round “o” , flat “a” ). in spite of myself, i remembered how fond i am of all the sounds and tastes and sights that are home/heritage for me. it made me incredibly homesick and has made me realize how much i judge people from my own social background: how can they live with much and not do something to help those who have little? but then, how can i presume to know that they’re not doing something to help? more importantly, am i doing the thing for which i wrongly judge them?
as i was sharing all this with a globetrotting, midwesterly-rooted friend over dinner last night, he humbly challenged me to consider what i was doing myself to respond to my own frustrations. i was properly put in my place, and have been considering more pro-active ways to express frustrations. with my time and my material resources, i want to be purposeful about putting action behind words. first stop: applying to volunteer with an organization reaching out to kids in rough spots through the arts… check out http://www.buildabridge.org/. hope to be able to help out there in the next couple of months… it’s just one step, but it’s a step.
and it’s a step toward realizing that the problem is not where i’m from, or what my background is ethnically/socially/economically. God has given me all that’s in my heritage for reasons He knows and can use. He has also blessed me with beautiful opportunities to know people and places with different cultures – I love it! but He has not given those opportunities and that affection so that I could grow discontent with the life He has planned out for me. How ungrateful, and how whiny I can be!! Seriously, my heart gets quickly ugly with this sort of sin, and is so easily caught up in popular attitudes that I trip over envy and land flat on my face. Instead, may He fill my heart with thankfulness for His sovereign plan and with faithfulness to love Him by loving others!
The best wedding of the season, by far, was my little brother Kyle, who married his love, Amy, on April 21.
I couldn’t be happier that he chose her to join our family – what a blessing she is! She complements him perfectly, and their wedding was a really eloquent expression of who they are together.
Beyond the fact that the groom was my much-loved brother, this was the most beautiful wedding I’ve seen. Aesthetically, it was lovely: a mid-nineteenth century church – complete with picturesque churchyard – elegant flowers, lovely colors, gorgeous gown — even a picture-perfect spring afternoon! But it was the meaning and symbolism behind each part of the ceremony that was very, very special.
My brother and his (now) wife love Jesus more than anything. They opened their wedding by singing His praise, and they centered their vows on His instructions for their love to one another. They paused to wash each other’s feet in the middle of the ceremony, offering a vivid illustration of Christ’s service to His followers, and of their desire each to serve the other in the same way. One set of readings, from Song of Songs, was read in response by Rob and Sonia, husband and wife who are both dear friends of Kyle and Amy, and it was surprisingly fresh to hear each part read by a lover and his beloved.
I was honored to stand up with them as a bridesmaid, and from where I stood I had a straight line of sight to where my parents sat in the front left pew. We none of us kept back tears at our deep, deep happiness for Kyle. Goodness, I’m tearing up just writing this! I very much doubt that I can express how special this day was. I’ll let some pictures serve as my best attempt…
Taking a brief break from wedding posts (one more to come)…
I am so incredibly energized by people who live and move and even breathe with passion. There is something really precious to me about conversations with a person whose whole being pulses with what he/she is saying. After small group last night, I got to chat with a friend, Sarah, who I’ve just recently met. She’s in the middle of a Ph.D. in education, and is deeply moved by / moving towards real reform in urban public education. Seeing kids learn and understand on their own lights her eyes, and it was easy to see that the only thing giving her patience right now, since she can’t be in the classroom, is studying to make that classroom better once she gets back to it.
Hearing her story, the things that led her to be where she is now, was one of those conversations where, as my dad used to say, “if that don’t light your fire, your wood must be wet!” It reminded me of how many folks in my life right now are like that, and how much i appreciate them… and how earnestly I want to be that sort of person, myself.
Ahh, weddings. The last flurry of them came during my last two years of college – it seemed everyone around me was pairing up, and I think I was invited to a dozen or so over the course of 24 months (I confess, I didn’t go to all of them). That was the Midwest where, it seems to me, people have a tendency to marry younger – the majority of those earlier weddings were folks still in college. And out on the East Coast… i dunno – it seems like more folks wait longer. Anyone care to confirm or deny my amateur theory?
so now that I’m well clear of college, round two of wedding frenzy has come. Working in reverse order, the wedding that came right before Nate and Laura’s (see previous post) was Matt and Jamie’s…
I was a bridesmaid in this one, so the planning and pre-wedding excitement started way back in January, when we went bridesmaid dress-shopping…
There I am, holding it up after two other ‘maids and I had tried on numerous shiny, blue-ish, strapless sorts of outfits. in january, it’s always a bit of a shock to see one’s shoulders go bare!!
Then came the shower, planned by me and fellow ‘maid Joy. Neither of us had planned a shower before, but oh my goodness, did we have fun! put two creative, craft- and kitchen-happy girls on party detail, and, if i do say so myself, you get a pretty good party! We made some bergamot-sugar body scrub for favors (oh-so-nice for a little pampering!) and cooked up a storm, along with our friend Belinda, who graciously opened up her home and lent her fabulous party-planning skills to the event! We had a great time with minimal cheesy shower games (honestly! who invented the toilet-paper bride game?? and does anyone really, truly enjoy playing it? not me. I once snuck out of a shower early just because they brought out the toilet paper). But we had no toilet paper, only a “chubby-bunny-bride” game, where we (having quizzed the groom beforehand) asked the bride questions like “what was matt’s first car?” “how old was he when he got his first deer?” and “what was his favorite stuffed animal when he was 5?” Now, some she knew (go, Jamie!), but for everyone she didn’t get, she had to stuff a piece of Bazooka bubble gum in her mouth. You can imagine how quickly “chubby-bunny” status was achieved! But everyone had a good time, including the bride, and we all learned more about the groom!
Then came the bachelorette party (see previous post), and then the wedding. What a great wedding! Here’s some photos…
And then came a very fun party… There was cake, and dancing, and all sorts of fun stuff. Only – the Macarena – did you know it was still alive and kicking?? I thought it died a painful death back in 1999. But no, apparently its after-life is in the repertoire of wedding DJs. I was disappointed to learn this. But I guess it’s a classic now, along with the conga line (which in my opinion is sooo much more fun to watch than to join! Here are my friends Steve (glasses) and Ben (red shirt) heading up the train…. Oh, and then the swing. I know it’s not so much “in” anymore, but I don’t care – I dearly love to swing dance, and so does my friend Ben, so we had an **awesome** time of it! Then afterward, before everyone took off, our gang lined up for a photo. It was an amazing weekend. Happy Wedding, Matt and Jamie!!