31 January 2010

Birthday Weekend

I have such great friends.

As my mom reminded me earlier last week, sometimes the things we plan don't turn out, but then the things that happen instead are better than anything we could have thought up.  I wanted to have a big group of my friends get together to go out to dinner, or dessert, this weekend for my birthday.  I feel weird thinking up plans for my own birthday, but people aren't mind readers, you know?  Long story short, my original plans didn't happen, but what did happen was even better. 

Kasey and Meredith and I completely dominated Madhuban on Friday night.  We had mango lassis (yogurt drink with mango), two kinds of naan (flatbread cooked in a clay oven), papadam (crisp lentil wafers), coconut rice that looked nothing like coconut (it was every color of the rainbow) but tasted exactly like coconut, navratan korma (vegetables in a creamy sauce with cheese, nuts, herbs and spices), lamb curry (boneless lamb cooked in a blend of onions, tomatoes, and spices), and white rice (which hopefully doesn't need explanation).  It was a feast!  Exactly what I was looking forward to, and I got to celebrate it with two of my best friends.  We shut them down at 10pm.

But we weren't done yet (discussing life that is... we probably didn't need any more food, but...), so we headed over to Applebee's because they stay open until 12am.  And whaddaya know, they have some pretty good looking desserts! heh heh.  Meredith and I shared the chocolate chip cookie sundae and Kasey tried out a dessert shooter. Amazing stuff there.  Perfect way to top everything off.  Eventually we closed the doors at midnight and headed out to Kasey's car... where we proceeded to continue discussing everything from college to boys to mysteriously missing gum until 2am.  I am still feeling the effects of staying up that late, proving that I am indeed getting old.  Or just more sensible when it comes to bedtimes. I take the latter stance.

So I think that whole shebang would rival any other birthday I've had, but I had to keep the party going yesterday morning when Lori and I headed up the mountain for some snowshoeing.  And yes, it's still my favorite winter sport.  Here are a few (more) reasons why:

Perfect illustration of one of my favorite poems.

The sun peeks through.

And the snow rolls in!

Saturday afternoon I got back home from snowshoeing just in time to take a quick shower, get dressed, return my gear to REI, and meet up with my brother and sister-in-law, her parents and brother, and a bunch of other friends!  Brian and Monica and Meredith helped us celebrate birthdays - it was Lisa's birthday on the 28th, her dad's birthday yesterday, and her mom and I share the same birthday on Monday, February 1.  They were all in town from Nevada for a friend's wedding, and my niece Katie was excited to show everyone her new dress, which she had worn as flower girl.  And I just realized the picture I took of her doesn't even show it! 

Tomorrow night I'm looking forward to watching Chuck (every Monday!) and hanging out with Meredith.  We both love that show.  She thinks he's cute, but I will be withholding my opinion on that matter forevermore, since he bears a striking resemblance to my cousin.  And that would just be wrong.

Happy weekend everyone!

25 January 2010

One of my favorite poems...

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

17 January 2010

Stayin' Alive

Stayin' Alive
Stayin' Alive
Stayin' Aliiiiive....

Ok now that I have that out of my system.

Yes, I am alive.  My internet connection, however, was not.  Until now.  Clearwire internet service was the bane of my life for the last 9 days but I'm happy to report all is well and I've got connections, baby.  I will be asking for a refund though. Clearwire customer support, beware!

So I went skiing on Friday night, downhill night skiing at Bogus Basin.  The last time I (snow)skied, I was 9 years younger than I am now, and apparently those 9 years were long enough to prove that snow skiing does not come back to you the same way biking does.  I felt like I had never skied before.  Ever.

Thankfully, my friends Cory & Katie are exceptionally patient people, and Cory spent an hour teaching me to ski.  An hour.  After an initial run on the bunny hill (yes, the run that was supposed to bring back all that knowledge from 9 years ago), we headed up a "blue square" run called simply "Ridge".  Blue squares are typically the intermediate ones between green circles and black diamonds.  Which means they should be reasonably manageable, right?  Right.  Wrong.  I came (slowly) around the first corner of Ridge and stared down the mountain about 300 feet in front of me, beyond which I could see... nothing.  This thing was so steep, I couldn't see the rest of the hill!  Needless to say, with my only ski skill being "snowplowing", I was scared stiff.  It scared the pants off of me.  I froze, almost literally. 

Poor Cory had to convince me that no, you don't need to take off your skis and walk down this insanely long hill; yes, you can do this; no, you will not die; yes, it will be ok.  Cory enjoys teaching wimps people how to ski, obviously.  Pretty soon, between frantic rapid glances at the steep slope in front of me, I was following Cory's instructions to "turn your ski this way" and "lean into the hill" and "pick up your left foot".  He taught me to cut across the mountain in a zigzag fashion so I didn't just plummet straight down to become a puddle of Ri at the bottom, minus the purple coat and green beanie.  By the time we reached Katie, who had been waiting near the lift the whole time, it was obvious that I should stick to the green circle runs, even though Cory had done a great job teaching me how to turn.  With the exception of one kerplunk later in the evening, in which I lost both skis (!), I was able to criss-cross my way down the Silver Queen run (green circle) by myself, twice!  Cory is officially the best ski instructor ever.

P.S.  Snowshoeing is still my favorite winter sport.

03 January 2010

Ali's African Adventures

Before signing off for the day, I have to tell you about Ali.  More specifically, about her African Adventures.  I found her blog through Carolyn McCulley, I think, but I can't quite remember.  Ali is a Canadian-American RN (neonatal and pediatric ICU) who has been serving with Mercy Ships for the past two years, more recently in Benin, Africa.  My sister-in-law is an RN who also used to work in NICU (and also from Canada!), so I knew a little (uh... tiny!) bit about the work she was doing.

From Ali's intro:
"I work with... Mercy Ships on board the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, the M/V Africa Mercy. We've got six state of the art operating theaters, an intensive care and ward bed space for up to 78 patients. Following the example of Jesus, Mercy Ships seeks to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed more than 32,500 surgeries. We've removed cataracts, straightened club feet and reconstructed faces. I spend my days supporting the nurses in the middle of a delightful whirl of crying babies, cast-footed kids, and even the occasional grownup."

Ali is an excellent writer and once you read one entry, you will want to keep following along as she and her husband start their third year aboard the ship.  The stories she tells about the little babies with cataracts seeing for the first time, and the 9-year-olds with debilitating scar tissue from burns finally being able to move their arms and legs in a normal way, and the women with cancer tumors on their necks coming out of surgery looking normal (and therefore acceptable again to their villages, not having to starve on the outskirts anymore), are amazing and show the work of God in a country far away.  She chronicles both the funny and the heart-wrenching moments, and I can't wait to see where the Lord leads them next.  I'll leave you with an excerpt:

"After finishing up rounds today, I headed over to B Ward to give report to the nurses working there. I was standing by the desk when I noticed the little boy in Bed 11 staring at me. It was still early in the morning, but he was clearly ready to go home; he and the brother caring for him were already dressed in matching outfits of printed cloth. I moved towards his bed and stuck out my hand in greeting. He grinned and grabbed it, shaking it hard, looking up at his brother who smiled down at him with a look of pure joy. I couldn't figure out why saying good morning was making those two so out-of-their-minds happy, but happy is better than sad, so I shrugged and turned to go. As I walked away I caught sight of the card above his bed, the one that carries all the important info about the patient.

Date of Surgery: 28 September
Type of Surgery: bilateral cataracts

My heart caught in my throat and I looked back down at the little boy, still smiling up into my face, and for the first time I noticed the telltale marks on his face where the tape had held the protective eye shields on overnight after the operation. The eye team nurse had removed them just minutes before I came into the ward, and that little boy was getting his first look at the room that had been nothing but cloudy darkness before.

For me, it was a handshake. For that little boy, it was the world."

The Helpless

“Suppose, in the encounter between doctor and child [in an abortion], the child won half of the time, and killed the doctor in self-defense—something he would have every right to do. Very few doctors would perform abortions. They perform them now only because of their absolute power over a small, fragile, helpless victim.” - Stephen D. Schwarz

Via Between Two Worlds (Justin Taylor)


That's been me for the last 2 days, but I slept 12 hours last night and now I feel like a new person!  It always seems to be the weekend when I get sick, which I suppose is a good thing in terms of needing to take time off work, but it's bad when you have things you want/need to do over the weekend.  Such as doing that fabulous (heh, heh) twice-a-year deep clean of your house, or going to the movies with a friend you haven't seen in a while, or going to church.  These are all things I'm missing this weekend.  However, sometimes I don't mind getting sick, because it's a great excuse to sit around all day doing nothing except drinking tea, eating toast, listening to the radio, and reading blogs that educate, encourage, or inspire you.  These are all things I did get to do this weekend. 

A toss up.*

*Something that will NOT be a toss up is the Bronco-TCU match in the Fiesta Bowl (Arizona) this weekend.  6pm MST on Monday night!  Just had to get that Bronco plug in there, because if you saw the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, you know Bronco fans have a reason to cheer!

02 January 2010

2010 Goals

Warning: This is not terribly original.

Everyone, it seems, makes a list at the beginning of the year of things they want to do, including "be a better person", "make more money", and "save the world".  "All in one day".   This is not that kind of list.  While I could wax poetic about the more personal goals I have for myself this year, life is ultimately not about "achieving your goals in five easy steps!" nor about checking things off a list.  And I highly doubt you would finish reading this post if I did list those types of goals.  Heh heh, I doubt you'll be interested enough to finish this anyway, but I like to think well of my readers. ;-)  Here are some of the more hands-on things I plan on doing this year, and I write them down mainly to remind myself.

1) Use everything in my CSA box.  (CSA = community supported agriculture)  If you aren't familiar with CSAs, it basically means that the food the farmer grows comes straight to you, either by way of the farmer himself or by a delivery service, instead of buying it at the grocery store.  Often the produce offered through CSAs is organic, and while that is nice, it's not my main reason for signing up with Direct Fresh.  I have found that straight-from-the-field delivery allows for riper, and therefore more nutritious and tasty, produce.  Which means I will actually want to eat it, as compared to... that hard, bitter yellow rock the grocery store here calls an orange, or the 3 pieces of See's candy I call a snack.

2) Blog on a regular basis.  Starting now! :-)  Thanks to a little surprise income at the end of the year (and the flexibility of my parents), I was able to finally purchase a new laptop, which has been on my mind for... years.  I got an Acer 5738 from Costco (this is where Mom & Dad's membership card comes in) and so far have been very happy with it.  The only snafu I've run into is an inability to connect to the wireless network at my parents' house, but we may look more at that next time I'm there.  There are so many valuable or interesting or funny things I run across on other people's blogs that I want to share with you all, and this space is a great venue for that.  I also blog to keep in touch with family and friends in other places, because I love reading their blogs and it's a neat way to share pictures.

3) Sell something in my Etsy shop. Yes, I do actually have an Etsy shop. I just haven't sold anything yet, so my existent Etsy shop is non-existent for the moment. Or month.

4) Continue the regular devotional pattern I've had going for the last year.  I've been reading C.H. Spurgeon's daily devotionals, as well as making my way through the New Testament; I read the Old Testament last year.  Before you start thinking well of me, let me tell you I'm sorry to say I have never read all the way through the New Testament at one shot. (!)  There's a difference between simply reading the Bible through and actually stopping to examine and study a particular passage, and while I'm confident I have read the entire NT at some point, it has been in pieces.  Both are profitable, but you pick up on different things by each method.  Anyway, the focus here is daily consistency. 

5) Continue the regular exercise pattern I've had going for the last few months. Cycling, baby!  I have really enjoyed the cycle classes I've been taking at the Y, and I hope to continue, with some running thrown in, probably more towards summer.  I got a handy-dandy running log from friend M for Christmas, and I can't wait to start using it.  It will be more of an overall exercise journal for me, I think.  Exercising helps me sleep better, think better, have more energy, and have a better attitude.  It's something God gave most of us the ability to do and it's a stress- and pain-reliever that doesn't require drugs.  Imagine that!

6) Keep my house organized enough that I can have people over at any time.  Notice I didn't say "clean" enough, since the term "clean" in my mind invites thoughts of spending hours scrubbing the tile floor in my kitchen and wiping down every baseboard (don't forget behind the bookcase!), which can become counter-productive to actually getting to a point where it's clean enough to Have People Over.  The minute I walk in the door with wet snow boots, my place is not clean.  So "organized" is what I'm going for.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

I think that's a good stopping point.  I'm a big list person, and it's easy for me to get caught up in writing down every little thing I "need" to do just so I have the satisfaction of crossing it off.  So I'll stop with 6 and keep it manageable.  What are your goals for 2010? 

What Rachel Barkey Knows

In early 2009, Rachel Barkey was diagnosed with cancer; this was a repeat for her since she had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few years prior, but this was also something new - it was more severe and it was terminal.  She was given approximately 4 months to live, and in July she passed away and left behind a husband and two young kids.  Before she died, Rachel spoke to a group of 600 women about the things most important to her.

"Many people have asked Rachel, 'Why? Why is this happening to you? To Neil? To Kate and Quinn? To your family and friends?'  'I don’t ask why,’ says Rachel. 'Because I know.'"

Find out what Rachel knows:  http://deathisnotdying.com/fullvideo/ (55 minutes... well worth every minute)

(via the Girltalk blog)

01 January 2010

Happy New Year's!

It's quite appropriate that my foray back into blogging should concur with New Year's Day, and that it should also coincide with my 200th post! Happy Birthday little blog!

Tell me what you did for New Year's Eve!  Did you stay home and relax on the couch watching the ball drop on tv?  Did you go somewhere loud and crazy?  My celebration last night was definitely the latter.  I went to T&C's house, where other friends were waiting and so were two big tables full of food. Including.... an old-fashioned rotating hot dog display case that T had set up.  Very fun.  We all ate our fill and enjoyed random YouTube selections projected on the widescreen, then played Apples to Apples, and Taboo, which C caught on video using the new Flip camera she got for Christmas.  We were LOUD.  Very loud!  I'm sure the neighbors heard us. 

I'm ready to be starting a new year and it feels very exciting this time around.  Today, New Year's Day, won't be particularly exciting, but that's ok - I have a lot to catch up on after being gone for Christmas and I have a lot of fun features to discover on my new laptop!  Oh, I'm so happy to have a dependable computer.  It's really great.  This laptop has a card slot on the front that allows me to load any memory card, such as the one from my camera.  Which I will try right now...

So here's what I'm going to do today.

Enjoy a hot cinnamon latte!

Get all the labels and goop off of these bottles, so I can refill them with ingredients and either use as storage or give away to others as presents (think chocolate chip storage, homemade cookie mix, limoncello, etc.)

Read this book before it's due back to the library on Monday.

Look through all the Christmas pictures, cards, and letters I received.  A few of these will be staying on the fridge for a while, I'm sure.  Some of my relatives' kids are just so cute!

And lastly, I'll be trying to stay warm all day and night... unfortunately my heat has gone out for the second time since Christmas and maintenance can't fix it until Monday.  Don't feel bad for me though - at least I have space heaters.  And, well... the oven.  Which you know will be used today.  :-)

Cheers and Happy New Year's!*

*somebody eat an ollie bollen for me already, will you?!

The Weapons of War

Last Christmas (2008), my parents gave me a set of Charles H. Spurgeon's Morning by Morning and Evening by Evening devotionals.  Although it's written in a daily format, I haven't kept up with it, and so I found myself on the June 11th entry in the Evening book a few days ago!  No matter what time of year, it is still applicable and I thought these words may encourage some of you as they did me.  Italics mine.

The introductory quote from the Bible:
"There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war."  Psalm 76:3

And Spurgeon's thoughts:
"Our Redeemer's glorious cry of 'It is finished' was the death-knell of all the adversaries of His people, the breaking of 'the weapons of war.'  Behold the hero of Golgotha using His cross as an anvil, and His wounds as a hammer, dashing to pieces bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned 'flashing arrows,' trampling on every indictment and destroying every accusation.  What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more powerful than the fabled weapon of Thor!  How the diabolical darts break in pieces, and the infernal swords are broken like old clay pots!  Consider how He draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dreadful sword of satanic power!  He snaps it across His knee as a man breaks dry sticks and throws it into the fire.  Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow bringing death, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, and a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety.  Who now accuses?  Who now condemns?  Christ has died, yes, has risen again.  Jesus has removed the weapons of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and has broken the head off every arrow of wrath; the ground is covered with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell's warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger and of our great deliverance.  Sin no longer has dominion over us.  Jesus has made an end of it and put it away forever.  Our enemy's destructions have come to a perpetual end.  Declare all the wonderful works of the Lord, all you who make mention of His name; do not be silent, neither by day, nor when the sun goes down.  Bless the Lord, O my soul."

Another Year Is Dawning

I've always liked this hymn, and it's a little sad to think that we only sing it in church once or twice a year.  So, I often sing it to myself throughout the Christmas/New Year's month.  This is the version from the blue Psalter Hymnal, 1959 edition, given to my parents in 1980 and given to me several years ago.

Another Year Is Dawning
Written by Frances R. Havergal, 1874
Arranged from J. Michael Haydn, 1737-1806
Tune: Salvatori

Another year is dawning!  Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting, Another year with Thee;
Another year of leaning Upon Thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting, Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of mercies, Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of progress, Another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of service, Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training For holier work above.
Another year is dawning! Dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven, Another year for Thee.