Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Snowy Silence

There's something sacred about the way snow falls, and I can't quite place my finger on it.

Perhaps it's the profound sense of silence that accompanies each falling flake (no matter what noise there is in the background).

Perhaps it's how a pristine blanket of white transforms an otherwise dull and barren landscape into a winter wonderland (at the risk of sounding cliché).

Perhaps it's the almost spontaneous feeling of joy the sight of snow arouses in me (particularly when there's someone nearby to throw a snowball at - playfully, of course!).

Perhaps it's the way snow seems to bring out the kid in all of us (but just the fun parts).

Perhaps it's none of the above and should be chalked up to one of those mysteries inherent when encountering the Divine and should remain unexplained (which I am perfectly comfortable with).

I know a lot of people detest snow...and a lot of people have never truly experienced it. Snow to some people means shoveling and hard labor, an increased potential for roadway accidents, drab and boring scenery for four months, and so on and so forth. I, on the other hand, am immensely captivated by snow.

One of the strongest images I hold on to from my childhood is of the snow falling above my window. Whenever it snowed at night, my parents would turn on the spotlight over the deck and our backyard. My room, being on the first floor, had a perfect view of the light illuminating the falling snow and on those evenings as I drifted off to sleep I watched the snow dance down to the ground - sometimes lazily and sometimes in a chaotic frenzy subject to the whims of the fierce wind. Those nights were some of my favorites (not just due to the prospect of a snow day); the snow swirled about in intricate patterns that never repeated and I found myself fascinated by the ever-changing motifs: perpetual variations on a snowy eve.

This is one of the biggest things I miss about my old room at home (a note to my sister: you better be enjoying the view!). During those evenings watching the snow fall while I was warm in my bed, I was thankful that I had a safe and secure place from which to watch the magic happen. In those moments, I really appreciated a lot of things...warmth, a house, a loving family, life in general...and God.

I guess snow just reminds me of God's presence: the deep silence and the joy that it brings. The beauty of watching it fall. The whole package, really.

Now if adults just had more snow days, we'd all be set!

PS - I took that photo earlier this evening...taking pictures of snow is hard!

Monday, January 29, 2007

I apologize for not keeping up with posting; Drew Telecom has not yet made internet service available in my bedroom, and so right now I’m sharing the connection with two other lovely people. I’m sorry to say that this whole moving experience has not been entirely a positive one. Rather than meaninglessly rip on Drew’s sub-par administrative network, my hope is to express my concerns in a constructive light by means of a letter (sent to Facilities, Residence Life, Housing, the Deans of the Theological School, and the Provost). I’m not the only one who has had a…difficult experience with the first three departments (or more to the point, the first two).

Anyway, the last half of that above paragraph is not the intention of my post. Because the past couple days have eluded me in terms of subjects to write blog posts about, I submit for your consideration two blog posts by others that have sparked me to think.

The first is actually a series of two posts from D. S. Mike, who is a D.S. up in New England. He gives us a challenge: why are you a Christian in 100 words or less (using no religious jargon!)

The second is from Steeple Soapbox, who is none other than my adorable and loving fiancé. He wrote a post called "Why Doesn't the Church Ever Change?"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I pride myself on being able to change a spare tire. I'm a Maine girl, and like to fancy myself as being more familiar with tools than most other females my age (but that really isn't saying a whole heck of a lot). My dad taught me how to do it a few years ago and it really is rather simple. Jack the car up, take off the bolts (in the all-important star-shaped pattern), take the tire off, put the new one on, put the car back down and presto! The spare tire is good to go. Assuming, of course, that you can get the spare tire out of it's hiding place.

This was my issue yesterday. I was already frustrated with myself for having backed into the chain-link fence around Ben's house...and now even more angry and upset that it gashed my tire. Unfortunately, the adrenaline rush that you get from these emotions did not translate into super-strength, and so even though I managed to pull back the carpet on the trunk, take out the jack kit, and unscrew the plastic bolt - I couldn't for the life of me get the tire out of the trunk. To do this, one really needed three hands - one to hold back the carpet far enough and two to coax the tire out of its lair.

So I called Ben, sniffling (because of the old and my general upsetness). He, like a good, loving fiancé, came over to the ShopRite parking lot to help me. Together we got the tire out, and he figured out the jack and jacked up my car...but he couldn't get the lug nuts off. I tried. I couldn't get them off either - even by stepping on the wrench.

By this time, we are both frigidly cold. And so we did the next logical step - called AAA.

The guy came and he had it changed in 10 minutes.

As it turned out, even if we had managed to get the bolts loosened, we wouldn't have been able to take the mangled tire off of the car (the AAA guy needed to apply some tricks to get it off).

If we had managed to figure out how to get it off, we wouldn't have been able to put the spare tire on because the bolts were having difficulty lining up with the holes (the AAA guy performed another trick to get this to work).

AAA saved the day. But the next time I need to change a tire on a car...it's all mine.

Monday, January 22, 2007

On NPR yesterday morning, I heard a story about The Crafty Chica (or here for her website) that piqued my interest.

Kathy Cano-Murillo is a Latina woman who makes her living by being...crafty! She draws on the resources of her culture to make her crafts (and after perusing her sites, they are quite beautiful - and they do feature a lot of glitter!). She talks about the importance of being crafty because it can lead to a happier existence. It's a form of self-expression. As she puts it, "We all have glitter inside of us."

Being craftily-inclined (though I do not wield a hot glue gun, but rather knitting needles and other such pointy objects), I can appreciate her statements. Crafting is a powerful form of self-expression, and one that largely is absent from church life, unless you are talking about a prayer shawl ministry or Sunday School crafts. What does it say that we claim to serve the Creator God and yet we, ourselves, do not take the time to create for the pure pleasure of it?

This is one of the reasons why I love expressions of church in the emerging conversation. Art and the act of creating is finding a new place within the life of the church community (and not just for the UMW Christmas Fair). Creating something tangible (be it art, music, or crafts) is considered a form of worship. Creating (and crafting!) allows us to get in touch with God.

So where is the Church's "inner glitter"? I, for one, plan on finding out.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ugh!

*groans*...wake me when it's next season...

The Pat's really did give that game away on a silver platter...*shakes head in disbelief*...

[EDIT]: I consider it a little sad that last night I actually dreamed about the Patriots - and that in my dream after we had turned off the television (right after that game-ending interception), they had actually won the game. I woke up and drifted back down to reality.

I realize that the Colts going to the Superbowl really is a lucky break for them. If we hadn't beaten the Chargers last week (who were clearly the better team), the Colts would have had to face them last night and frankly, they would have been crushed in that meeting.

Honestly, I don't know who I'll root for in the Superbowl. Perhaps I'll just try to enjoy some good football (and a few commercials)...and secretly wish the Colts would be steamrolled.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

For those of you who don't follow this strip (or read it occasionally):

Rob - the owner of Bucky (the cat) and Satchel (the dog). Red Sox fan, computer tech guy, D&D nerd...your basic gaming geek (and much less pathetic than Jon from Garfield).

Bucky - the conniving cat, who is always working on one scheme or another. If it isn't exploiting the dog, it's trying to make beaucoup bucks. He considers himself to be the master of the apartment, and is obnoxious, arrogant, and hysterically funny. Is also a Yankees fan.

Satchel - the sweetest dog. He's pretty stupid, but very lovable, good natured, and cheerful. He is often the butt of Bucky's antics, though occasionally he's pretty clever.

In this light, I present to you the past three strips from this week:




How sad is it....

...that I am half-way through hand-writing one thank you note and my hand is already cramping up? My hand-writing also isn't as good as it used to be, though my penmanship was never anything to marvel at. I always envied my mother's handwriting. She said it was the product of grueling (ok, I'm stretching that a bit) classes back in elementary school. I want to say that they took it up until high school, but maybe I'm remembering that incorrectly. Then again, penmanship classes never really worked for my father (no offense, Dad), although I am somewhat enamored of his very distinguishable (if illegible) style of writing.

I think this is what disgusts me about my hand-writing. It's not very stylish, kind of ugly, and very inconsistent with itself. Some "l"'s are cursive, others are print. "S"'s in the beginning of a word are a hybrid of print and cursive (though some lean more to one end of the spectrum than the other), and "s"'s in the middle/end of words are more cursive. And this is only the beginning.

I know that hand-written samples, when analyzed properly, can tell a lot about a person. I wonder what it would say about me?

In any case, perhaps the ucky (there's no other word for it), penmanship and the alarming hand-cramping after six written sentences just means that I should practice a bit more. After all, there is a sort of art inherent in hand-writing and I don't want to lose it (if...I ever had it in the first place!).

EDIT: It doesn't help things any that I've had two cups of coffee this morning, and my hands are shaking from the extra caffeine...whee!!!!

Many thanks to John of Locusts & Honey for the tips on how to get a picture up in the header. The rest I'm figuring out as I go, so we'll see what happens. :-)



At long last, snow has fallen on New Jersey (a pitiful half-inch, but at this point I'll take it). I awoke yesterday morning to a winter wonderland.


We even got a sprinkling of more snow later on in the evening. It was nice, thick, wet, snowball-making snow.

But, who am I kidding? It'll all be gone by Monday as temperatures climb back into the unseasonal mid-40s. (At the very least, it's unseasonal for me...perhaps not for New Jersey). However, while it is here I plan on enjoying it. There's not quite enough for a snowball fight, but at least it's pretty to look at.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

...to spiff up this blog a bit. I've decided that since I've used this blog as my primary thought repository for a few months, it needs a new look. I have a couple pictures that I want to use as a header. So does anyone have a good reference for me for templates I can use that are customizable, or is anyone talented enough to give me a quick tutorial on how to make my own?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"So what do you have to say for yourself?"

I peered up at the man in the booth as I forked over my sixty cents. A bit dumbfounded, I smiled at the kindly old man who took my change.

"Nothing?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I'm headed south. That's about it. Can't say I'm excited about it."

He laughed and smiled and wished me a good day. I did the same to him, rolled up my windows, and continued straight ahead to get onto the Turnpike South to make the long journey back to Drew. I thought about that conversation for quite a few miles. It was seemingly insignificant, but it highlighted to me the many differences between my New England and New Jersey.

Something about New Jersey has always made me cringe just a little bit inside. Ok, I'm lying. Many things about New Jersey put me on edge: the drivers, the hordes of people, the number of cars, the tangle of highways, seeing shopping center after shopping center loom on the horizon...and I could go on.

The lack of nature here really bothers me. Let me be more specific - of course there's nature in New Jersey. There are beaches galore, trees, meadows, and flowers. However, I look at the nature here and it's...tame. The beaches are built up, the forests looked planned (even if they aren't), and flowers grow here and there as if they were planted with the precision of some town planner. It's not really nature.

There's no "wild" to it, like up in Maine or Massachusetts where areas of land remain unscathed by human hands. Even in the more built-up parts of Northern New England, the trees and flowers don't look planned - they act as if they belonged there by right. New Jersey nature, on the other hand, bows in service to humanity, as if it was ashamed to be there.

There's more to this difference than nature's demeanor. People are also very different here in New Jersey. As Ben likes to put it - you can tell by the people who check you out at the grocery store and by the people who take your money at the toll booth. My interaction with the Maine toll guy was so different than my encounters with the toll-takers on the GSP. Half the time, they won't look at you. The other half of the time, they silently stare. On the rare occasion you do get someone to speak to you, it's a mumbled "Thanks" as you drop your coins into their hands. I always make it a point to say "hello" and "have a nice day" and "thank you" - but it just doesn't seem to get through. I am having a small victory, however, with one toll person who apparently is starting to recognize me as I come through week after week.

People in New England are much more friendly. Having conversations is more of a natural occurrence in Maine; down here, people would more than likely look at you strange if you tried to strike up a conversation with you. I suppose it's the influence of the New York attitude, but while New Englanders appear cold and gruff on the outside, they are more genuine and friendly on the inside.

I do realize that this is a gross generalization. There are nice people from New Jersey; I've even met several. There are beautiful spots in nature; I've seen them as I go whizzing past on the highway. But truth be told, New England feels different. To me, it feels better - and much more like home.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Resolution #2

In some respects, this relates to my resolution about losing weight. However, there are deeper issues in play here that I want to take a moment to talk about.

I want to eat healthier and more ethically.

To me, this encompasses more than just eating "right" - getting enough fruits and vegetables, cutting down on fat, scaling back on the carbohydrates. It's also more than just eating smaller portions and taking a vitamin supplement. I want to know where my food comes from, and trust the company's practices when it comes to how they handle their workers, their food products, and business dealings. Generally, organic products are also more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.

I want to buy organic fruits and vegetables so I know that my food doesn't have any nasty chemicals or harmful pesticides. Plus, organic produce just tastes better to me. In an ideal world, I'd like to grow a lot of my own food and eat seasonally, but right now that isn't an option.

I also want to purchase organic meats and dairy. I've joked about this on and off with my mom - about the fact that I want to eat "ethical chickens." It just bothers me that many companies will mass produce their cows and pigs and chickens, locking them in cages for their entire lives so that they can never see the sun. Some are even locked in their pens and not able to turn around, and don't have any space to move about. Plus, I don't want the animals I'm eating fed a lot of junk and chemicals and hormones just so they get nice and plump. It makes me so sad...I don't want to support these companies, because these animals are God's creatures too and deserve better treatment (even if we are just going to eat them). Since organic meat is expensive, it'll mean that I'll have it less often (and buy a lot of it when it goes on sale). Similarly with the eggs and milk. Organic milk just tastes better to me, and it doesn't have any of the growth hormones in it. And I like my eggs from cage free hens.

I also want to start making more of my own bread. Ben and I got a breadmaker for Christmas. Right now, it's in his apartment but we've already made a few loaves and they are delicious!

Since I got a coffee grinder for Christmas, I also want to start buying fair trade coffee.

I know switching over is going to take time (and money). But I think it'll make the world a better place.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolution #1

I feel like I need to make a New Year's resolution to post more on this site, as well as on my livejournal. The truth of the matter is that last semester was awful, and general Life Happenings prevented me from posting more frequently. (Or to be more honest, Life Happenings sapped me of any desire to write and or reflect on any thoughts I may or may not have had during this past semester.)

Part of me wants to start anew: New Year, New Blog, New Site, New Resolve, New _____ (you fill in the blank). However, I'm just too darn lazy.

So, in 2007, I plan on being more intentional about my writing habits - about jotting down a few passing thoughts and zipping them off into cyberspace, about sharing interesting tidbits I come across on the world wide web, posting interesting photos (this is something I also need to do more of, for my own sanity!).

Basically, I'm still in recovery from the stresses of last semester, and am slowly putting my life back together. Blogging more will be an important step!

Also, I'm resolving to lose weight -- I've been a member of Sparkpeople for awhile, but last semester shattered my summer progress. If you've got a similar resolution, check out the button below (soon to be posted on my ever-growing sidebar). Another resolution, which I always make, is to keep in better touch with people. A fourth and final traditional New Year's resolution is to change the calendar on the appropriate day/month. How I'm going to manage this along with everything else I'm already doing (or...not doing) is beyond me, but we shall see how I will fare!

SparkPeople.com: Get a Free Online Diet


...which is part of the reason why I find this t-shirt hysterically funny.

"Johnny was a chemist's son,
But Johnny is no more.
What Johnny thought was H20
was H2SO4."

Another favorite science shirt, especially because on the back it says "Schroedinger's Cat is Not Dead." Bonus points to the non science person who gets the reference! (Darling Fiance...you don't count!)


At right is the most awesome of them all (and the one I got for Christmas)! 4493 digits of pi....mmmm....pi....



Although not science-related, this shirt does reveal my raging inner-geek! This one I think I shall purchase with my Christmas money... :-)



Basically, thinkgeek.com is an awesome website!