Thursday, July 31, 2008

Inside Outside Upside Down

When I was growing up, we had one of those easy reader Berenstain Bears books all about prepositional phrases. This title describes perfectly the last six weeks of my life. From trying anxiously to mend a sad heart, to changes in roommates and reconfiguring our little house, to trying to get back on my feet in my social life, to stumbling through the complex interweavings of preparing for my oral comprehensive exams to the meticulous editing necessary for publishing a book review--my brain and body and heart have been pushed and pulled and twisted and turned to their utmost.

I believe in straight lines. I like to sew and quilt (another upcoming post on my newest frenzy: aprons!), but I always avoid curves and circles. There's something appealing about straight lines--they are predictable, they are quantifiable (no surprises around the corner)--you know clearly when they begin and end. They are clearly marked.

The other night I was up late with an early morning ahead, trying madly to finish sewing an apron for a birthday gift. I tend to get quite impatient and just want to finish things. I know I inherit in part this trait from my dear grandmother. She, too, is always anxious to finish a task, even if she has to use whatever color thread is at hand rather than the perfect match (yes, I tend to do this, too). It's just so natural to me. I quickly hemmed the fabric and went to bed. In the morning light, I realized how crooked my straight line turned out, with valleys and dips. Not attractive. At least not on a geometric retro orange fabric. So last night I carefully unpicked those hurried stitches and recut and rehemmed. Ah... there is nothing like a nice, straight, predictable hem.

I just wish I could do the same with my inside outside upside down life. I know, I know--that removes all the excitement and spontaneity of surprise, the delight of stumbling upon a beautiful scene around the corner, the scurry of constant change. But you know, in all reality, those crazy less-than-straight lines are what make me. And one day when I can see it all rather than the uneven stitches and jagged turns that seem to define my experience right now, when I can look back over my shoulder and trace the journey I've come, I hope--and I am banking on it--that all pieces will fall into place and make some miraculous design.
Not exactly straight stitches, but it adds to the charm, right?!?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shout out to JJ

It was JJ's birthday on the 4th of July. While she suffers from holiday-birthday (and claims to need a support group!), we celebrated in a big way, first under her tutelage with a dinner at the Carlyle, then, without her foreknowledge with a grand surprise party a couple of weeks later. What fun! We waited and waited for her to arrive, and boy was she surprised!

There are so many things I love about dear JJ. One is that she is a good friend. The bait I used to get her to come to my house on a rainy Sunday night (when she is prone to washing her face and going to bed!) was that I needed a friend--that I didn't want to be alone again, and of course she came, as she always does. She calls me often to check in on me, she sends me mysterious packages in the mail with things she knows will bring a smile to my face (have you ever received a jar of fireflies in the mail?!?). She is thoughtful and compassionate.

JJ is an amazing creator. She makes the most creative baby quilts, bags, toys, decorations, and whatever else her brain can concoct with the most beautiful colors and textures. Her eye for design is keen. Not only does she create and graciously gift her creations, but she inspires others to create. I love watching people at church--Amber, Julie, Autumn, Erica--everyone is always so excited to tell JJ about the things they make and to hear her constant praise.

And JJ is always about adventure. We have ventured out to distant places to see cool things: Winterthur, the Luckett Fair (way out in Loudon County), the quilt shop in Fairfax. Plus I love hearing about her adventures in Germany, France, and, of all places, Omaha. You know. That's our Jenn. And boy do we love her and are glad she was born!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shout Out to Jessica Johnson

It's not Jessica's birthday, but she deserves a special shout out. We sadly bid farewell to Jess as she begins a new adventure in the Bay Area. And what better way to celebrate than with a barbecue in 95-degree heat and humidity? We had a great turn-out--so many people love Jessica.
Marni wins the Champion prize for manning the grill in the extreme heat.

These are the things that I have come to love about Jessica Kaye Johnson:
  • Her classy style and way of raising the bar, with fashion, food, conversation, and activity.
  • Her love of sports and her season tickets to the Nationals. She knows everything about BYU football and is so in the know in every other sport.
  • Her world-wide travel--recent adventures in Turkey, China, India, England, Thailand.
  • Pool talk, walk talk, movies, dinner, shopping, body pump... you name it, we did it.
  • Her desire to do the right thing and to be a genuinely good person.
Jess has been a grand tender mercy in my life, and I can't wait to visit her in the Bay Area! You go, girl!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More DC Summer Fun

I think one of the greatest tender mercies in my life right now is that I have so many great friends and so many great things to do. Here's what I've been doing the past few weeks:Eastern Market with Jess & Jen
Temperature: 95
Humidity: 100%
Breakfast: Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes
Purchases: beautiful silver ring, turquoise earrings, red earringsKayaking on the Potomac--Relief Society Enrichment
Take Me Out to the Ball Game....
Nationals with Jessica
(yes, we DID take a picture with George.
Unfortunately, he did not win the race around the bases--Abraham beat him out.
He did finish before Thomas AND Teddy.
Orioles at Camden Yard... a trek to Baltimore with a bunch of folks

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer on the Eastern Shore

Summer in Washington, DC, offers some fantastic opportunities (beyond heavy humidity!). I'm a huge believer in taking advantage of geography. So here are a few photos from my latest adventures (the first is not actually in Washington, but near. Sort of. Kind of a long drive with Bay Bridge traffic.):If you look closely, you can see the porpoises swimming in the water.
At first I thought they were sharks and I had Jaws music racing through my head.

On the fourth of July, Marni and I drove out to the beach in Delaware. It was a most delightful day--perfect temperature, delightful water, fresh fruit & veggies galore, the #1 Ladies Detective Agency, beach umbrella and chairs. We sat and read and rolled over and walked into the water and ate and soaked in the sun. Then on the way home we stopped at the outlets (I found a new swimming suit for $5!) and made our way back to DC in a torrential downpour with lightening. We did find a dry place to eat with delicious steak and crab cakes.
Last night Mauri and I rode our bikes out to Iwo Jima for the Marine Corps Sunset Parade. They marched to Sousa of course and then did a Silent Drill. It felt so Washington. It was another delightful evening.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I looked out the window and what did I see?

My flowers are blooming--even the mystery seeds we planted. Every day I tip-toe out onto the back patio to check on them. I've noticed shoots and stems (not chutes and ladders), and I've been anxiously waiting to see which are weeds and which are actual flowers. Granted, some flowers have died, and some have thrived from the nursery plants I bought. But it's the seeds that are intriguing me right now. And some of them, I'll be honest, I have no idea what happened--if the squirrels dug them up or if they were bad seeds and didn't sprout at all.

Sometimes I am learning you have to just wait and see. Thank goodness for the crazy rains and sun as of late. I'm learning a lot about patience and the power of time and nurturing, even when seeds don't turn out the blossoms you thought they would. But sometimes they are a big surprise, like the purple cosmo-type flower that looks like it's coming out of a carrot plant. Do you think I could find a carrot if I dug it up?

These blossoms are so delightful to me... I need my little wilderness to blossom... and I CAN make things grow... beautiful things...