Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!!!

Homemade Cinnamon Buns, bacon, yule log on TV and a very small dog.. what more could you ask for ?

Have a very merry everyone!!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas is coming..

So you guys must think I have been wallowing in my misery for the last few weeks.. not so. I have been super busy with holiday jazz - parties, shopping etc. The weather is finally clear and beautiful today. I have been suffering with a weather related migraine since Friday night.. yuck. Well it's gone today and I can't wait to get outside and move around!

I am surprised I haven't put pictures of our tree up before this. It has been up since Mary, Larry and David came to visit! Trees never look as pretty in pictures as they do in person .. but you get the general idea I think. Our tree is super colorful and we just added a bunch of Stephen's childhood ornaments that Mary sent up - which makes it that much more special this year.

This was my craft project for the season. I made this tree skirt, by hand, out of the sleeves of a bunch of old sweaters we had lying around. Not bad for several hours with a needle and thread :)

Those are buttons from my button collection and the edging is gray felt. I was so excited with the way it turned out. I think it looks like something you might find in Anthropologie, which is what I was going for so - yay! Maybe next year I will try my hand at stockings.

Santa came a little early this year in the form of my friend Carol!! She really outdid herself this year. Little bird note cards that I had been eyeing, beautiful coasters, a penguin ornament and depression glass!!!! The candle sticks are reproductions but they are not only perfect, they are actually our first set of candle sticks! I can't wait to try them out on the table.

This beautiful little treasure is the real deal. A depression glass candy dish!! It's so amazing that it actually matches the candle sticks. Makes me want to plan a dinner party :) Thank you Carol.. they are perfect!!

I hope everyone out there is ready/getting ready for tomorrow with a light heart and happy spirit. See you tomorrow!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Horrible Bad No-Good Person...

This one of those posts that I may regret but in the spirit of being honest on this thing ...
I am in a foul mood this morning - super cranky and grumpy and just plain annoyed. How could one be annoyed on such a morning ? It's cold outside and rainy and warm indoors.. the perfect day to stay in bed late and hang out around the house. It's also Sunday and Tim is teaching today. We woke up a little late and Stephen jumped up and took his shower, dressed and ate his breakfast. I laid around in bed trying to decide if I wanted to attempt to get ready for Church in 15 minutes - completely doable if I skipped the shower. What I really wanted to do was stay indoors and watch Pride and Prejudice, or similar, with some coffee and Ollie curled up on my lap. I did not want to go out into the nasty 30 degree rain and leftover sleet to walk to the train, ride the train, then walk the 10 blocks in Manhattan to Church...in other words I am a self centered, selfish little jerk. I pouted and checked the weather on the computer, felt the window to see how cold it was.... asked Stephen a million times if he thought I was being a bad person if I stayed home - to which he consistently replied that he thought I would be missing out but he was not going to give me a hard time about it - appropriate response. Guilt was seeping out of my pores. With 10 minutes until he was to leave to catch the train, I started pulling on clothes, brushed my teeth and promptly had a meltdown. "I am cold, I am tired, it is icy and RAINING out there.. I don't WANT to go!!!" Of course no one was forcing me to go.. I could have very easily made the decision to stay in a calm and adult manner, but I chose to be a complete baby about the whole thing, leaving Stephen to head to the train with a deep sigh and (I am sure) a bad taste in his mouth. I am such a jerk. The truth is I NEED to be there, I NEED to hear Tim's teaching, I NEED the fuel and the encouragement of being amongst fellow believers, but instead I am a selfish girl who decided to have a temper tantrum because (rightfully so) no one would help me justify my staying home this morning. Now instead of just feeling guilty about staying in.. I am also feeling angry at myself for being such a horrible mean person. I can't even enjoy my "quiet morning indoors". I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed anyway...now I just feel terrible inside.

Last night, we decided to stay in, instead of going out to eat for our anniversary. It was so nasty outside and our neighbors were throwing a dinner party so we decided to attend that instead. The party was amazing. Just 10 of us including 2 little boys and the other couples were friends of theirs that we were acquainted with as well so I wasn't as shy as I normally get at these things. We sat talking and listening to everyone talk about their kids and their lives here in the Slope and community involvement (everyone belongs to the co-op), their familiarity with Brooklyn artists and writers and the galleries they are working with currently. The longer I sat there the less I had to contribute to the conversation. I know of no Brooklyn illustrators.. I didn't even know that it was much cheaper to own a house in Brooklyn than in New Jersey ($1200 a year in property taxes as opposed to $12,000 across the river). One couple talked about how when they first moved here they figured they would try it for a year and if they went broke, they would just go back home. Everything is still working out so they are still here. They own a house in Carrol Gardens (I think) with an apartment that they rent. They have one little boy and another baby on the way. I am sure they sort of got it together as they went along but ... sitting there.. I just felt like such a stinkin' loser. I am not involved in the community, I am not even really involved in my Church (other than my spotty attendance) .. I just feel like I am floating in midair with no roots and no attachment, even though I love everything about Brooklyn and the people here... I am so afraid that we will have to leave when we have a baby that I think I am afraid to get attached...I don't see any way we could stay. I can't imagine putting my baby in daycare here and trying to continue working ...I am afraid I would be bitter about it.. but since I make the most $$ right now.. and Stephen is still working on finding full time work.. it seems inevitable. The thing is... most people around here do that. It's pretty normal for both parents to work and for kids to be in daycare and pre-pre K...Why can't I/we make a choice in where to lead our lives ? I think that I want to move home to the South to be closer to family and to reduce our cost of living so that Stephen would have more of a chance to actually be able to support us... but I am afraid that once I got there I would hate it. Afraid I wouldn't fit in again - I never fit in growing up there. Afraid I won't find like minded people to be friends with...there are so many things that I dislike about the Southern mindset.. there are also many things that I love about it.. Why can't we just decide try to stay here ? .. Why can't I commit to that..? I hate myself for not having a real direction in my life and for failing to be invested in my surroundings... I am content to keep within my own small circle of acquaintances and normalcies. I hate that about myself. I feel like I don't have the energy to be really involved but I also don't feel fulfilled in my current state so... I am here so that I don't have to lead a plastic, cookie cutter existence and that is exactly what I am doing. Stephen and I have talked about this entire topic so much that I think I might explode if I have to discuss it again.. the end result being that we will "stay the course" until we feel that we should take a different path. We pray constantly that the Lord will direct our path and give us clear signs as to which direction to take... I am 29 years old for crying out loud!!!!! Why do I feel like I am still 23 drifting through life, waiting for some direction to descend on me. I don't even have a baby on the way so I can't even let the choice be made for me... how is it that so many of our friends got pregnant by chance without really having to choose to start trying and we have been married for 6 years and have never really had a serious scare..? I just feel like I am wasting my time...going to work, coming home, falling asleep only to have to wake up and go to work again... and now that I have fully worked myself into a depressed frenzy.. I am going to lie on the couch and watch P&P and soak in my guilty conscience :*(

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Six Years

Worry free hippie kids..

Six years ago in the early summer of 2001, Stephen and I were relaxing by the New River in Todd North Carolina, getting ready to head out to Montana for the summer. I had just graduated college and we had been dating long distance (NC and FL) for about a year.

Me on the eve of our engagement (right) Swimming at Fire Hole Canyon (left)

In August, two days before I had to drive Stephen to Cody for his flight back to Florida, we decided to go on a hike to Lionhead Mountain. The mountain was our backdrop at the campground where we worked and it had been taunting us all summer. We got up early (7am to beat the heat of the day) and packed our day pack, ready for a good 2-3 hour hike on the loop trail we had heard so much about. A friend of ours from the campground, Katie (who lived in upstate NY), came along too. We all piled in the Volvo and headed off for the trail head. When we got there, we realized we had forgotten the map. Not wanting to delay adventure, and figuring the trail would be clearly marked, we started up the mountain. It was beautiful. Rippling brooks and gigantic ancient trees creaking in the wind. Once as we were approaching a clearing, we heard what sounded like chewing. When we reached the edge of the woods and started into the field we saw him. A huge bull moose, munching contentedly in the meadow. The acoustics of the surrounding hills were such that we could actually hear him chewing. We moved as quietly as we could, continuing on the trail. When we were almost out of earshot, we heard a snort and turned to see a female moose and her calf joining the bull. This sounds like it was made up, but it happened. It was so unreal that we all had to remind ourselves that it was actually happening. As the day wore on, we started to get a bit tired. We stopped for lunch. Rested our feet. We seemed to be actually crossing over the mountain instead of going around it as we had planned. Had we missed the loop trail ? Impossible. It must be our imagination. Should we turn around ? Never! The weather was perfect, the scenery incomparable, we forged ahead in good spirits. Besides, we had already been walking for 4 hours, if we turned back now it would mean 4 hours back to the car. The loop had to be around here somewhere, maybe we were already headed back and just disoriented. We continued to be amazed by our surroundings. We stopped for water breaks and to rest our legs. A few hours later, all three of us were pretty exhausted. It was now about 4 o'clock and we were starting to feel concerned that we weren't back to the car yet. Hiking in Montana is not like hiking in North Carolina or West Virginia. You don't hang around in the woods at dusk or after the sun goes down. Why ? Grizzly Bears. Paranoid ? Well it just so happened that the area we were hiking in was also the "Grizzly Recovery Area" aka "Where Grizzlies from Yellowstone are dropped off when they start becoming a problem in the Park". Not such a big deal during the day, but not something to mess with in the dark. We had already been warned about the threat by our boss at the campground, earlier in the summer (he told us a lovely tale about a former employee who went missing one summer and all that they found was a small piece of his backpack). It didn't help that we found several gnawed up "animal" bones near a stream we crossed. Soon we started to panic (a little). It was actually starting to get dark and we had been hiking for hours, our feet were numb and our legs felt like Jello. Each time we came to a bend in the trail or a clearing up ahead we were sure this would be it - the parking lot. Nope. Just more trail. The sun was very low on the horizon and the shadows were lengthening. Katie and I shed a few tears as we thought of ways we could hide for the night just in case we didn't make it back before darkness decended. We were now stopping more frequently because our feet hurt so bad and were were almost out of water. Just when we thought we couldn't go on, we saw it, off in the distance, the trail head!!!!! We had made it!!!! We all hurried towards the road with sinking hearts, our car was gone. What?!?! Had someone stolen it ??!?? The parking lot looked a bit different from the one we remembered parking at in the morning. We flagged down a passing Ford Bronco on the (practically deserted) dirt road at the end of the lot. The man inside informed us that we were on the other side of the mountain from where we started, about 18 miles from the car. In shock we let the man drive away without even asking for a ride. Openly weeping now, Katie and I walked ahead of Stephen, praying for another car to pass so we could hitch a ride. This was out in the middle of nowhere folks. After 15 minutes or so, we heard another car headed in our direction. We tried to flag the driver down but he ignored us and kept driving. It was twilight now. Not long after the second car disappeared from sight, the Bronco returned. He came back to check on us thinking we might need a ride! The man was a saint. Turns out he was a fire jumper, from Virginia, out to fight the wildfires of the season. The three of us piled gratefully into his vehicle and thanked him with broken voices. We were saved, rescued by an angel from the Park Service.

Dixie Classic Fair - Fall 2000

Waterfall in Yellowstone (see Stephen on the far right)

The next day, while recovering from our hiking adventure, Stephen asked me if I wanted to go for a bike ride in the Park (Yellowstone). I was so sore I could hardly walk, and told him as much. Thanks, but no thanks. How about we drive out to our favorite stream and sit on the boulders, it is, after all, my last day here, he reminded me. That sounded more my speed, so again we piled in the ol' Volvo and headed out. We got about a mile out of town when the car suddenly died. Just.. died. Stephen pulled over to the side of the road, practically hyperventilating. Relax, I urged him. It's an old car, I am sure it's something minor. We will just have to hitch back into town and get a tow. "This can't be happening! This can't be happening!!!" was his only response. I found it very curious that my laid back, chilled out boyfriend was freaking out over a broken down car - that was normally my role. Anyway, a van came by seconds later and offered to give us a ride into town. Montana folks are super helpful like that. Once in town we hired a tow truck and set about getting the car looked at by a mechanic. It was soon obvious it wasn't just a small problem - the engine had actually blown up. Funny, we didn't hear any explosion. Stephen suggested that we leave the car there for the night and I and my Dad (in NC) could figure out what to do about it tomorrow, when I got back from my airport run to Cody (4 hours one way). The same van stopped by at the mechanic's to see how we were getting along (see what I mean??) and gave us a ride back to the campground, where I assumed we would just hang out for the rest of the day. Not so. Stephen borrowed a car from one of our friend co-workers and off we went for another drive. This time headed for the Idaho border, only 7 short miles away. Just over the border, was a beautiful lake surrounded on all sides by towering mountains. Stephen pulled off of the road. He suggested we get out for a better view. As we stood by that fence, in the setting sun, Stephen asked me to be his wife. My engagement ring was (is) has a yellow Montana Sapphire that he bought from a miner/cook/cowboy that we worked with. A silversmith in town made it into a ring. Obviously, I said yes. We headed off for dinner, he had made a reservation at the Old Faithful Inn in the Park. I hardly remember what we ate, I was so excited about spending the rest of my life with my best friend. The next day I tearfully watched him leave for Florida. I spent the following few weeks working on getting the car fixed so I could get home (my sweet Dad had an engine shipped out from NC, and a mechanic in Bozeman - the only mechanic within 300 miles who worked on Volvos - changed out the motors). My parents came to see me at the end of the summer, and we spent several days touring around the area in a rental car while we waited for word that the Volvo was fixed and ready to be picked up. Finally, my dad had to head back to work and my mom and I stayed to wait for the car. Once it was ready, we drove back together, arriving home on my birthday, September 10th. Our trip home is another incredible story that will have to wait for another time. Three months later, on December 15th, 2001 Stephen and I were married. He was still in undergraduate school, I had no job and no money. All we had was a lease on an apartment (with a co-signer) in Sarasota and a car with a brand new engine. Here we are, six years later, it's hard to believe just how far we have come. The Lord has blessed us mightily. We have been through hard times and struggles, but we are still together and as cheesy as it sounds, the struggles have only made our marriage stronger. I don't really know how to describe just how much this relationship means to me, without sounding horribly mushy. I am so proud of where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed. I couldn't have done any of it without that curly headed kid that I had such a wicked crush on at camp.

Super Cheesy Freshman Year Art Student Photograph of Two Friends Madly in Love at Sunset in Winston-Salem - Fall 2000

I love you best friend...

Belated Family Visit..

Mary Larry and David were here visiting last weekend. For some reason I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should have and consequently.. this is the best one of the lot (aside from those of us decorating the tree.. with me in my PJs..) I always find myself wishing I had taken more pictures after these family visits are over. At any rate, this picture captures the visit pretty well. We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone. Most of us were either sick or getting over a cold so we spent plenty of time indoors resting and relaxing as well as outside walking the streets of Park Slope. Thank you guys for coming to see us...such a blessing to have 2 sets of incredible parents. Love you guys.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Day

A Winter Surprise
Solveig Paulson Russell

Last night while I was sleeping
The snow came softly down
And slipped on all the shrubbery
A shining snowflake gown.

I guess that every little bush
Felt startled with surprise,
To find itself a cotton plant
On opening up its eyes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The News from Lake Wobegon

I was feeling under the weather yesterday so I took the day off to stay indoors and rest. Stephen and I had tickets to see A Prairie Home Companion live at Town Hall last night. Garrison Keillor and his old time radio show are the zenith of nostalgia for me. I remember riding in the back of my parent's station wagon looking up at the stars on the way home from Elkin from visiting my grandmother, Nanny. The soundtracks to the Eldridge family car trips were usually something blue grass or whatever was on NPR, but on Sunday evening, no matter what was playing, we tuned in to Garrison's show. His stories and the news from Lake Wobegon became interwoven with my childhood memories to the same degree of permanence that Mister Rogers and Andy Griffith had. I always wondered why we didn't buy Powdermilk Biscuits (in the red and white box). Once, before I could read, I remember asking my mom if, what turned out to be a local State Farm agency, was the Powdermilk Biscuit store - the sign had red and white ovals that looked like biscuits to me. To this day when I think of my Dad, I think of conglomeration of Mister Rogers, Andy Griffith, and Garrison Keillor. It's funny how you draw from your environment as a child to create and understanding of another person. Of course I have other memories and impressions of the man himself, but somehow these 3 fictional characters wove their way into the fabric of my memory of my father. Sitting in the theater last night watching the performers put on their show, hearing Keillor's familiar nose whistle as he recounted stories and anecdotes from Minnesota, I felt so at home that I didn't even feel much of a thrill seeing him wandering on and off the stage in his red suede shoes and bright red socks. I just felt like I was back in that station wagon zipping through the mountains watching John sleep on his side of the back seat. Hands thrust in his pockets he bantered with the sound effects man during a bit about what a tourist could do to start to look like a true New Yorker and fit in with their surroundings. He had a wonderful jazz singer and guitar and accordion duet from Texas that blew the audience away. When the show was over, we wandered back outside and strolled to the subway in the icy air. Completely content, I was ready to crawl right in bed.

Once in back home in Brooklyn, Stephen and I were walking past the corner Mobil store when we noticed a man in a blue jacket laying on the pavement by one of the gas pumps. A woman walking her dog was staring at him and two young men filling up at the pump across the way looked in his direction with mild interest. We wondered aloud to each other if he was ok, and Stephen went right over to check on him. The man was not responsive and stared out at Stephen from blank confused eyes. He smelled very strongly of alcohol. Stephen pulled the man to his feet, continually asking if he was ok - no response. He decided to help him over closer to the store to sit on the curb. So Stephen half carried the staggering man as far as the air pump where he settled him against the air canister in a sitting position. The guy just slumped over and was still unable to speak though he seemed to be trying to say something and tears and snot were running down his face. We went inside the store to let them know that he was out there and that he looked like he was in trouble - they told us to go outside and tell the gas station attendant, it was not their concern. Confused, we went back outside to tell the gas station guy. He opened the door to his Plexiglas cube and stared out at the man. He then said that he was sure an ambulance would stop by soon, since they park there periodically during the day and that he did not "need to have to be answering questions for the Police!!" "As long as he doesn't die here it will be Ok." Excuse me..? We kept asking the guy to call 911 and restated over and over that that guy looked like he was in trouble. I have seen seriously intoxicated individuals but never someone who could not speak and had their eyes wide open like this guy did. He looked scared to me. None one seemed to care. We debated whether or not to call 911 ourselves and finally saw the guy in his box pick up the phone and call for help. Satisfied that help was on the way, we headed home. For a city that I have always found to be mostly friendly and helpful, I have to say I was sort of shocked to see these employees try so hard to ignore another human being who was obviously in serious distress.