“We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment… and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.” – Flemeth
This past Saturday, my husband assembled and hung up a little shelving unit I’d grabbed at Target a few months ago. We have a cat who is a chewer of plastic and every so often he rediscovers the fact that we store our toilet paper on the floor of our bathroom and wakes us up too early in the morning with his joyful chewing. So when I saw the shelves at the store, their relative cuteness, and very attractive price tag… I didn’t hesitate. We just hadn’t had time to install them before now.
I was extremely excited when he decided it was time to assemble them. Like, really, really excited. Like, giddy as a schoolgirl excited.
It was one of those moments that said, “Yup, you really are an adult now.” (Nevermind that we’ve already been married for five years. I still have these moments.)
The next set of “You Know You’re an Adult When…” moments came this morning when I realised that I was pretty excited about our next set of house projects, coupled with the realization that we would be spending our weekend (our Valentine’s Day weekend no less) doing things like meeting with the financial planner, priming and painting our bedroom, shuffling around furniture to enable aforementioned priming and painting, and so forth. Plus the fact that next weekend I am cashing in my last year’s birthday present from my brother and he’s installing wainscotting on our master bedroom walls. Woohooo. (Hence the need for the whole priming and painting thing.)
Someday (not totally sure when) we’ll even get around to putting up some crown molding in the bedroom. That’s pretty exciting too…
I keep trying to write new posts. I just deleted four drafts that were each months old by now. I am sorely out of practice and also keep not having anything interesting to write about… So I’ve decided just to write stuff and see what happens, because I desperately need the practice.
I discovered that my blog title was weirdly prescient when I got diagnosed with ASD last year. That ended up explaining a whole lot of things, really, about my life and the way I think and operate. It’s nice to have a diagnosis because it makes things official (no second-guessing) and gives me freedom to re-order my life. It also means that there’s a reason all that advice written for NTs about productivity and procrastination and stuff don’t really help me out all that much. As a result, I’ve been working on figuring out a way to order my life in such a way that it actually works for me: meaning that I get things done and manage my energy well.
Part of the problem is that while we moved into our house over two years ago now, we never really finished organizing/unpacking it. What really hasn’t helped in that regard is that we moved into my grandmother’s house before my parents finished clearing it out properly and that my mom keeps bringing more stuff from my childhood bedroom over… We’ve been organizing and getting rid of things in cycles over the last couple of years, though, and a few months ago did another big push through it. We gave some furniture to my brother’s family (who changed their minds about wanting it now that they’ve moved into a bigger house) and got rid of a bunch of things thanks to the 1-800-Got-Junk guys. They’re pretty amazing. Not cheap, but amazing. Plus, they work to keep stuff out of landfills when possible, which I like a whole lot better than taking whatever can’t be donated to the landfill myself.
At least for me, though, that sort of work requires a certain level of mental dedication that borders almost on obsession, so it’s a pretty exhausting process, plus all the regular housework gets neglected. The last major push, though, should’ve been just that — the last major push. There are still a whole lot of things that need to get done, but I think that from here on out they can be done in smaller chunks.
Thus, my big goal for 2015 is figuring out how to balance my days. I have sooo many projects I want to do and I never feel as though I could possibly do all of them. But if I can get my days balanced out properly by learning how to transition gracefully between tasks… Well, then that might solve part of that problem.
Part of this is working through Mondays. Mondays are important days for me: they tend to set the tone for the whole rest of the week. The problem is that I am often really tired on Mondays, probably from going to church and talking to people and all that. This has the tendency to make Mondays really unproductive for me, which doesn’t set a good precedent for the rest of the week. But I finally hit upon an idea. I will focus the morning on prepping to bring lunch to my mom and husband at work, which includes deciding about any groceries I might need for the coming week as well as figuring out what on earth to bring for lunch. Then when I come home in the afternoon (usually mid-afternoon), I can focus on thinking about the coming week, making lists, and doing any small tasks that might have been forgotten or neglected over the weekend. This way I can fit in whatever rest time I need, take a slower pace through the day, and still prepare and be productive. Then, on Tuesday, I can tackle the bigger tasks, all ready for the week to come.
Hey look, I finished a post I’m moderately happy with.
I just realised that the first quarter of 2014 is already nearly over. Maybe that’s slightly premature, but when a month is hitting its halfway mark, I start considering it “nearly over”. It’s a bit hard to believe, honestly. I always kinda expected time to flow more quickly the older I got, and certainly it did quite a lot of that in seminary. It’s still crazy to think of how quickly those three years flew by. But then, when we spent a year in Illinois, time went by a whole lot more slowly. Probably because I had very little to do compared to what I had going on in, you know, graduate school.
And now that we’re more or less settled into our home, I’m finding whole new ebbs and flows to the passage of time. During the holidays, for example, it goes by super quickly. When you’re waiting to find out about the viability of your pregnancy, it goes by excruciatingly slowly…
And that’s more or less how this quarter has gone by. At times, excruciatingly slowly and others incredibly quickly. The last month in particular has gone by pretty quickly, but, then, I’ve been pretty busy.
I started this year with goals and ambitions, but those plans got sidetracked really quickly. Now, though, I’m getting slowly back into my rhythm. I’ve been really busy, making up for lost time and trying like crazy to get a whole bunch of projects done in a very short amount of time. For the most part, I’ve been succeeding, which is great. I’m looking forward to how things go from here.
December is always my favourite month of the year. It’s cold. Winter finally arrives. It’s the Christmas season. And it’s the end of the year. New Year’s Eve is probably my other favourite holiday. I love the food (yay-raclette!) and the movies and the gathering. Admittedly, I’m not even 30 yet and my least favourite part is staying up until midnight, but it’s all a really fun way to end the year.
I really like the end of the year. It always feels like a great time of year to think about what did and didn’t go well over the past twelve months. This is probably a cliche. I’d be shocked if it’s not. But I’m a list person. My favourite part of the week is on Monday morning when I get to sit down with a fresh cup of tea and a notepad while I think about what needs to happen over the next few days. The end of the year is like Monday morning only way bigger because it’s when you get to consider the big, long-term goals and make little plans. Granted, you could totally do that anytime you want to, and sometimes I do just that, but it’s just so efficient to do it there in those last few days before the calendar turns over. It almost makes me giddy to think about it.
Thankfully, this has been a pretty good year. We spent it all in one place, for starters. That’s always great. Even better, we spent it in a pretty low-key area, with a decent population density and low-stress errand areas. We got all of our boxes unpacked, even if the house itself isn’t quite finished with the whole organization thing, but we’re pretty close on that front, too. I even made a small dent in my video game backlog (a backlog that started in college, no less), which was satisfying. We’ve added a pair of utterly absurd cats to our household. We took our first ever real vacation as a couple (Disneyland!). We’re getting settled into our wonderful church, where I’m even on what is a thoroughly interesting committee.
So yes, it’s been a good year. I got a lot done, but there’s still lots left to do. I’ve already got a partially developed to-do list that will get further filled out as the months go by. It’ll be fun to find out what happens next year.
I’m into my second year now of being at home full time. The first year, we were in a temporary living situation, so it wasn’t at all a good year for getting pets, and then when we moved into a more permanent place, we had to wait until we got the house set up enough for us to move into (which took a few months), and then when we moved in, we had to be moved in enough for the cats to come. But come they did this past January. If you’re at home full time and you don’t have children, having pets is definitely a wonderful thing, even when they sleep half the day away.
My general opinion is that cats are much misunderstood. They’re the introverts of the pet world, as all the negative things that get ascribed to introverts always gets ascribed to cats, too. One person explained, though, that cats are both predators and prey, while dogs are just plain ol’ predators, and that this accounts for some of their personality differences. My parents’ cats tend to be a bit shy. They scamper when new people are about, though they eventually get used to you and will come out an investigate. When no one strange is around, they love attention, though, and prefer to be around people. Our cats are pretty similar, though they are much braver about strangers and will investigate (though skittishly — darting up for a sniff before darting back again until they are satisfied that no threat is present, and then they hang around and try to make nuisances of themselves).
Our cats come from the same litter. They’re Maine Coon mixes with some of the characteristics of the breed. They are both large with large paws and large ears. Quincy has a high pitched miau that always makes him sound as though the world might be ending sometime soon. Piper, on the other hand, is a smaller calico with a croaky miau that always makes her sound like an old woman crossed with a frog and a hint of cat thrown in for good measure. Quincy tends to announce himself and will, at times, wander all over the house miauing as though the world is ending and could someone please do something about it. Piper is a bit more dignified and only miaus when she decides it’s time to be mysterious about something. She wanders all over a room miauing over and over and over and over and over until she gets bored. She is not at all a morning cat, while Quincy comes leaping into our bedroom as soon as the door is open, miauing at us and purring incredibly loudly as though it were a great hardship for him to be away from us for the last 7-8 hours. Piper eventually joins us — blinking sleepily and generally more interested in the window and the birds beyond it. She’s good at that — the blinking sleepily bit, I mean. It’s absurdly cute.
Both cats generally prefer to be with us than away from us. Quincy prefers sitting on you to being with you. Thankfully, that trait has been tempered a bit with age since he really is very large. The other day, though, I was lying in bed on my side, reading, when he decided it would be a great idea to sit on my head, so that part of him hasn’t totally been aged away. Piper, on the other hand, just likes to be near you. She lies at your feet or next to your lap if you’re on the couch. As I said, she has the dignity thing down a lot better than Quincy does.
What all this adds up to is the fact that they’re lovely companions. They are almost 12 months old now. They’re thoroughly ridiculous and perfectly lovable. For a while, it was a lot like I imagine having a toddler is like — lots of saying “no”… But they’ve since calmed down and have routines of their own with dashes of naughtiness added in here and there to keep life interesting. I’m really thankful for them and can’t really imagine being home all day without them!
This week, my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s already been three years since we got married. By this point, we’ve been long settled into married life, though each year of marriage has brought with it all sorts of changes. Our first year, we spent finishing school together. The second year was spent in a year-long internship, and the third year has been spent settling into our first proper home (as in, we’re homeowners now and everything). It’s been a little weird how the major life changes all came right around the time of our anniversary, but it’s been good. I love my husband; I love being married to him; and I love being his wife.
All of it really just underscores, though, just how thoroughly I married the right person. It’s somewhat in vogue these days in Christian circles to say that there’s no such thing as the right person, because we’re all sinners. But I really find such language over the top and unhelpful. We knew going in that we’re both sinners. It was inevitable that feelings would be hurt, that things wouldn’t go perfectly all of the time. A high doctrine of sin, however, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to marry the right person. We are, after all, incredibly well suited to one another and complement each other just as well as could be hoped for (better, I often think). My husband is perfect — not in the ethical sense, but in the for me sense. He is absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the right person, and I’ve known that since before we got married.
Saturdays are farmers market days. The market opens at 8 am, and we generally try our best to be there by 8:30. On occasion, we’ve either had a lazier morning or had to do things that kept us from arriving promptly only to discover that an hour makes a world of difference to the crowd level and even, at times, the supply level of the farmers! On days like today, getting there that early makes a big difference relative to the heat — it was already 86 degrees when we arrived.
I love visiting the market. It gives me a whole new appreciation for eating with the seasons. We don’t really succeed at eating entirely seasonally, but it really has made a difference on our diet. So far this year, we’ve enjoyed seeing the spring onions and garlic emerge in the market, the disappearance of winter greens, and the smells of ripe, fresh strawberries. Today we said farewell to the blueberry seller for another year — we bought a pound of blueberries from him every week for five weeks, and today we bought two pounds just to be able to freeze some for later. The produce bought at the market is vastly superior to that purchased at the grocery store, since the farmers can pick the fruit once it’s ripe instead of needing to pick for transport. You can even smell the difference just walking by.
Our usual habit is to pick up a pastry from one of the bakers — they truly make the best bear claws you’ve ever eaten, so good that they’re worth waiting for the fresh batch if they’ve run out before we arrive (we’re not the only ones who realize how excellent they are!). We take our breakfast and sit on a bench at the far side of the park from the market and watching the bustling. The community the market is located in has a genuine love for and support of small businesses, and it’s satisfying to watch people put those beliefs in action. Sometimes, you can hear music from a visiting band drift over half the park. Today there didn’t really seem to be anyone there with music, but I suspect that had a lot to do with the heat — the market was full of people trying their best to finish their business as quickly as possible so they could go home or wherever else they go to beat the heat.
After the market we drive over to our co-op, which has the most marvelous bulk section. This is also why we don’t always succeed at eating seasonally — frequently we’re able to find whatever ingredients we’re missing here. Sometimes we can’t, and then we just go without, but they can usually fill the need. More and more of our shopping has been done at the market these days, though, so our shopping basket has gotten smaller and smaller. The co-op is where we tend to buy our dairy products, since this is the least expensive place to buy most of it (the raw milk is the exception — we buy that at the grocery store where it’s about 50 cents cheaper per bottle). We almost always visit the bulk section, too — the bulk section is a big part of how we manage our grocery budget, especially since you simply can’t beat the prices for spices here; it’s really amazing.
There’s a rhythm to our Saturdays because of our need to do our grocery shopping on that day. There are a few things we buy at a regular grocery store during the week, but that list is incredibly short these days. But I like the consistency. I’ve noticed, too, that we’re not the only ones who do it this way. In fact, there are frequently times when I see people at the farmers market and then see them again a little bit later at the c0-op! All of this requires thought and planning. We generally need to have a good sense of what we’re going to eat the next week by Saturday morning so that we can get what we need for the week. We don’t live in the same city as the market, either, so whatever gets forgotten on Saturdays almost always just needs to wait for the following week. I find, though, that this actually makes life less stressful, and that is definitely something I really appreciate (unless it’s Saturday and I realise that I’ve forgotten to make my list — then there’s a moment of panic, but between the two of us we get it done relatively quickly, so it comes out alright in the end). It’s a big change from before we live close to a good farmers market — back then, I didn’t really have a set day for grocery shopping, and meal plans could get tossed to wind at the drop of a hat, but it’s a good change.
I’m not a parent (yet), but since we have all this time before we have kids, my husband and I have spent the last couple of years reading a whole lot about nutrition. It’s been pretty fascinating, and in the process you see just how much nonsense is out there about food. In this case, I want to talk about the idea of “food as fuel and only fuel”. The “food as fuel” concept is supposed to be a corrective to emotional eating; it sees itself as the healthy view of food since in this case you only eat when you’re hungry and you only eat healthy things (however that ends up being defined), because food is, well, fuel, and you need good fuel for your body. The problem with this view is that it is not any healthier than emotional eating, it’s just on the other side of the spectrum.
Recently, I came across two pieces about food that I think illustrate this problem very well. The first is actually a story that is used to introduce a recipe. It’s pretty simple – it’s about potato chips. The second is from The Atlantic about meals and morale in Afghanistan. The thing that stood out about these pieces is how well they illustrate that food is so much more than fuel. Humans need to eat; we will die without it, and end up horribly unhealthy if we eat poorly. Nonetheless, throughout history, universally, food has very communal implications. For the first author, there are special memories tied up in what is ultimately a very simple food. She remembers her mother; she remembers special times from her childhood with her family. The second author brings out the importance of food for a community of soldiers:
Sleepy midnight chow became a teeming communion of comrades, and everyone from Special Forces operators to supply clerks, from privates to majors, met nightly to break bread. Even the First Sergeant seemed vaguely human for that singular midnight hour. Morale improved in ways immeasurable, and the pride John took in his work resulted in a renewed espirit de corps that lasted through the end of the deployment. He dragged a lot of people to the finish line.
It’s clear that humans bond over food. Consider the importance of church potlucks: food and fellowship almost go hand in hand. Within Scripture, food is tied to celebration and blessing (see the Prophets). The Israelites were given a meal to remember the exodus. In the New Covenant we are given another meal – the Lord’s Supper – which itself looks forward to a meal, the wedding feast of the Lamb. Acts describes the early church as gathering to break bread together. We celebrate together with feasts at appropriate times and other times we are simply going about our daily business together. Even apart from Scripture, experts today tell us of the importance of family dinners together. We are repeatedly told of the importance of parents spending quality time with their children, but few events are emphasized as strongly as the family dinner.
Scripture obviously doesn’t give us a clear cut command on how to think about food, but it is clear that we are to be thankful for it, to know that it is from the Lord, and that there are times to rejoice with feasting. The Westminster Larger Catechism, in questions 135 and 136, draws out some implications from the sixth commandment on food as well.
Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.
Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
Like any good thing, food can be abused, and the Divines wisely warn us against doing so. We should be thoughtful about what we eat. We shouldn’t eat when we’re not hungry. But we also shouldn’t relegate food to the fuel category and then mildly starve ourselves in an attempt to beat that idea into ourselves. That really isn’t healthy – not emotionally, mentally, or physically – and it’s not biblical. We also shouldn’t obsess over every morsel that passes our lips (generally speaking: in this day and age of processed, industrialized food, serious allergens can be hidden in the least likely of foods, so there’s a line here, of course). We should be thankful for the hospitality of others. We should enjoy each others’ company over a meal. We should rejoice in God’s good gifts. We should enjoy the meal.
You probably know this already, but there’s a genre of blogs on the internet that revolve around homemaking. Most of them tend to be very pretty with lots of posts about organizing things, cleaning things, making things, feeding
things people, and so on and so forth. Sometimes they get into theological issues (like patriarchy and the like), and sometimes they have nothing to do with theology at all. Most of the time, I find that these blogs make for great reference tools or a great repository of ideas. The best ones, though, probably qualify for a different genre, as they’re really more about the stories than the ideas and suggestions. The best ones have more to do with life than with the theory of life, and my hope is to work more in that direction. After all, at the end of the day, I’m really just too much of a Type B person to have a whole blog dedicated to the theory of life.
So very briefly, me in a nutshell (so you can figure out whether you want to stick around or not…!): seminary trained, masters degree holding, stay-at-home wife, who really likes traditionally geeky things, including dead languages and video games, with a penchant for strongly held opinions on things like nutrition, politics, and theology. Oh, and the keeper of two very sweet, very naughty kittens. Any of the above subjects are fair game for posts, so I figure they’re all worth noting here.