Saturday, December 19, 2009

Having a Most Wonderful Holiday Season

We're sorry for the delay in up-dates but life has been a bit full lately. With Holiday gatherings, time with friends and family, preparing, presenting, planning, school finals and celebrating we continue to look forward to what is to come.

This morning we head out west for two weeks of playing, exploring and simply enjoying the mountainous woods. If you scroll out a bit you can see the route we intend to track up.

View Larger Map

We look forward to sharing our time with you upon our return. Have a most peaceful and joyful Holiday Season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hi folks,

I wanted to let you know about two special events that Jake and I are attending this holiday season. We are placing this invite up here because you are a group of people that I like to see and/or catch up with and/or hang out with. We would love it if you joined us for one or both of these events. Both are hosted by our church but I want to tell you, in a very vehement fashion, that this is not at all an attempt to convert anyone. I'm inviting you because these types of things are more fun if my friends are there.

1. Wicker Park Grace Love Feast

Every year, our church community gathers and brings our friends to our annual Love Feast, which is our special Thanksgiving celebration. We bring potluck and many of us try to donate what we would have spent on a nice dinner out. This donation doesn't go to operating expenses; it always goes to folks in need. Also, it's totally optional and only a secondary or tertiary part of the evening. The primary reason we get together is to celebrate and give thanks for a year full of friends and blessings by eating yummy food. The Love Feast this year is this upcoming Sunday at 5:00. We'll start with a short (30 minutes?) vespers service and then dig in to the feasting and fun. I'd love it if you came. We'll be at 1741 N. Western and you can definitely contact me if you want more details about types of food to bring or other questions.

Embodying the Change: World AIDS Day Ubuntu Benefit Soiree

This fundraiser benefits work being done by friends of our community in South Africa to combat the effects of the AIDS pandemic. There will be art, performances, music, food, drink and kibbitzing. It will be on Saturday, December 5, starting at 7:00 at 1741 N. Western. Tickets are a donation are a sliding scale of what you can afford ($10-$25) and can be bought at the door or ahead of time through paypal. See the website for more information:

Thanks for considering both of these events. I know the holidays are always hectic but we wanted to reach out to you because I believe both of these events will have the space to actually spend time with one another and will be much fun. If neither of them work, please email us back so that we can figure out some other way to hang out.

*Thanks Rebecca for letting me steal some of your words!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

a couple days in the woods.

: dad "hunting" - or so he calls it :
: thanksgiving dinner with family & friends :
: an evening around the fire :
: pie for breakfast :
: our cabin & lake michigan :

: a morning walk on the Manistee riverwalk :
: a beautiful walk on the Mainstee pier with friends & fishermen :
: pure delight :

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Family Times

-baked beans w/ BBQ-

-our new nephew, Malachi-

-a beautiful autumn afternoon with family-

-family (we missed you Mary!)-

-two of my favorite gals-

-for some reason i love this shot of jen & i-

-completely unrelated but very relevant, richard posted these pics of gracie & amelia + a walking house and a leashed bunny. both made me laugh uncontrollably and needed to be posted-

Sunday, October 25, 2009

:a corner with a view:

:a few precious moments from our weekend:

:the best representation of our neighborhood:

off to prepare dinner to eat with our neighbors...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

the last couple of weeks.

these past four+ weeks have really flown by! with great company by our side we have enjoyed early mornings, late nights, and weekends with both friends and family.

although i always forget to take pictures when they are around, i always have my camera as my companion when physically alone. enjoy.

a beautiful deeply colored mum for our home this fall.

filling our home with sweet autumn liquids as we prepare for an evening around the fire with good good friends.

after a 30 mile ride up lake shore drive we found a deliciously wonderful community cafe' where we feasted on a huge breakfast burrito & almond, walnut, cashew berry whole wheat pancakes + coffee. yummmm!

as Rebecca would say, "and then there was this..." what a beautiful marriage, friendship & ceremony to be a part of.

two handsome guys.

herman stretching high for the sun. he's going to have a long, long winter ahead of him.

oak park farmer's market finds.

today we're busy making squash, pumpkin, sewing gaiters, packaging packages due over a month ago, buying halloween costumes for the kids in my program and enjoying long walks in cool autumn weather.

off to see john & elaine - take care and we'll hope to touch base with you soon!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

a trip to take in the recyclables:

a. package up recyclables on the back porch.
b. get shoes out and go down the front stairs, lock door.
c. walk down a block or so to get the car, hop in.
d. drive the car to the back of the lot, jump out.
e. open the back gate and pull car onto car parking pad, park car.
f. jump out of the car, go back and lock the back gate.
g. walk around the side of the house to enter in through the front door that must first be unlocked, and then locked once more after entering and closing the door.
h. go up the front stairs, through the apartment and into the back porch.
i. take three arms full of recyclables down the flight of back stairs, out the back door, which must be promptly shut so Irene's cats won't escape (note: this looks like this - take an arm full of goods down stairs, set on staircase, open the back door, pick up the goods from stair case and walk through door, set down goods on the outside concrete slab, shut the stubborn and often times stuck door, pick up goods and take them to the car trunk).
j. did i say do this three times?
k. go up the back porch stairs one last time, lock the back door, walk up into the apartment, lock the back door that leads into our kitchen.
l. walk through the apartment, down the front stairs, around the side of the house and back to the car.
m. unlock and open the back gate that leads onto the parking slab
n. get in car and back it up off of the parking slab
o. get out of the car and go and shut the back gate
p. get back in car, drive four miles and drop off recyclables.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flula's been a buddy of mine for a few years. Check out his win at the Scion Hypeman contest here in Chicago.

Best of all, he entered the contest as a joke... and still won.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


today jake and i had a discussion. one of those discussions that you hate but find necessary to have. those kind of discussions that if halted leave one (when i say "one" know that i really mean me) often feeling anxious, hurt, wondering and a little too vulnerable.

it's one of those discussions that often starts out with a sense of innocent insecurity which when aggravated will (and does - trust me) grow, fester, bubble and turn hot - and not the kind of "hot" one wants in their relationship with their partner. am i alone here?

so jake sped ahead on his bike and i putzed in anger as we began our trek to the water (ahhhhh - never leave me fresh beautiful water). eventually catching up to him i greeted him with a "why are you acting like an asshole". note to self - that is not the best, most mature, or loving way to greet someone after a moment of anger. what can i say - i was really, really angry and hurt. i at least said it in a calm manner - does rationalizing and justifying take wrong words back?

from there we had a discussion, if you will.

one of those discussions that when you're committed to the process, is life giving, rewarding, encouraging, engaging and healing. i am assuming when not committed to the process (or the person) leaves you feeling all of those experiences mentioned above (anxious, hurt, wondering and a little too vulnerable).

three years in we are finding that we are having those discussions more often as we try to negotiate who we are as partners during this season in our relationship.

it's a difficult thing when you're running around trying to beat traffic (ahhhhh - please leave me chicago traffic), studying for the next exam, making dinner, preparing breakfast, visiting neighbors, trying to sleep and attempting to have life giving relationships with God and friends outside of marriage.

really - sometimes this marriage/partnership is simply annoying. discussions take time. showing another person love takes time (and energy and creativity that i often lack because i don't take the time). engaging in the process of love takes precious, sacred time.

this is the thing though - i have a committed partner. i have a partner who, through honesty will work (and stubbornly force me not to avoid) and wade through really "assholish" moments, feelings, and life seasons. i have a partner who is committed to the discussions and processes of learning how to be a better partner which brings me/us life, is rewarding, encouraging, engaging and healing.

so, although discussions do take time - i'm here today to say that they are worth every annoying moment of it, when working through it together as partners committed to the process.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

dirt & paint

our neighbor Elaine often shares that she is perfectly okay with her home being dirty. and it is. dust bunnies, caked on dirt in corners and untouched spaces, dust, plaque, and various pieces of collections and shit (as her husband John likes to call it) everywhere.

you would think that with this self awareness of how dirty ones home is would lead one to clean their home. if you think that - which i totally do - you think wrong. this is the deal - Elaine's mom was a cleanaholic. she cleaned everything all the time, everywhere. even places where no one would think to look (i.e. under the bedroom dressers, in the cabinets under the bathroom sink - you all know you don't often clean these space, come on!). Elaine reasons her lack of cleaning desires by rationalizing sharing that she did enough cleaning in her younger years (through force from mom) to fill her for a lifetime. reason enough i guess.

i have this thing about our nasty apartment home. there is no way i could be like Elaine's mom in this apartment. i would literally go insane. i know i've mentioned this in previous posts, but bear with me for a moment if you will.

i think the reason i have been recently fixated on our home not being "clean" or welcoming is because of it's lack of cleanliness - or should i say presenting lack of cleanliness because we clean & wash with regularity - but the crap & plaque on the walls just won't come off!. it really drives me crazy sometimes because i feel (again - please feel free to affirm the insanity here) as though our home is not welcoming because it is so, so... sticky. which in the end makes it not feel like a "home" to us.

the hot pink, peach, yellow and baby blue walls are not our own; the ready-made furniture with holes, stains, and flaws (with the exception of the computer desk) are not our own; the beds that make a ridiculous amount of noise every time we have sex is not our own; the plastic & wooden dressers that don't match, stack or really serve the storing purpose are not our own; the fake marble shelves are not our own; and well, most everything else is not our own either.

it does not represent us, who we are, what we love, or how we would live if we were to walk into an empty space and make it our own. something that defines us, identifies us, or welcomes us and others home at the end of some very long days.

now, don't get me wrong here. i know that my/our identity is not in our home and who knows if we will ever feel at home in a structure with walls. i am aware that in feeling this way there is a part of me that simply just needs wants affirmation from others that we have a cool place that represents us, welcomes them and is comfortable for all. i totally get this and the fact that i am, in fact, looking for affirmation in the wrong place.

still, our home is nasty. so - for all: we took pictures and did a little work today (after going to get dunkin' coffee).

who was this guy who lived here? did he EVER clean?

after our paint job -
we're still deciding if we really like the color or not.
i think i may be leaning toward yes.

this is the thing - Elaine & John's home is one of the most welcoming homes i have been in. you (okay - i) notice the dust bunnies floating around, the dog hair all over the couch, the dust building on their pez collection, frog collection, spoon collection, thimble collection, video collection (you get the point) - but what you really notice is the dinner cooking on the stove, your favorite snack (monga bread!) waiting for you in the cookie jar and the soda (such a treat!) in the freezer getting cold just for you.

i'm hoping that this paint job will help affirm me in my need to have a clean house and make the best of this temporary home(?) here. i will try to follow in Elaine's footsteps and not base my worth and ability to provide a welcoming home based on the cleanliness (or presenting cleanliness) of our home(?). but maybe this paint job will help me in this.

p.s. you should also know that Elaine & John's bathrooms are super super clean all the time. that's John's thing and he does it well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

one year anniversary of making a big mistake.

it was one year ago today that i took this job - Program Director (it still sounds kind of sexy to me).

three evenings ago (in the midst of another breakdown) jake and i were chatting, dining, comiserating, comforting, laughing and enjoying. then out of the blue he throws out the big idea of regret.

"When we moved here we had it right," he says. " but somewhere along the way we lost that."

now - i have to say, we haven't totally gone against everything we believe in. in taking a quick inventory (although i have been thinking about this for quite some time now) of how we currently spend our time, energy, etc. (really, who doesn't do this? - is it pretentious to ask that?) we found that when things, ideas, relationships, and energy started finding themselves headed in the wrong direction was one year ago when i took this job.

get this: when we moved to chicago we were hell bent on not working more than 5 miles from our home (we would only extend it a few miles if absolutely needed). this was (is) great! i rode my bike to work everyday, i went to work early for peace and prayer, i left work at 5:00pm and was home by 5:17pm. i was able to spend the entire day with those who i love most and was challenged most by. i spent evening with friends. i didn't do weekends. i laughed all the time. i had wonderful (& feisty) co-workers who i had growing and frustrating relationships with. it wasn't always peaches and creme but i could always see peaches growing and watch the creme churning.

on that note: i also was forced into participating (on various levels) in some unethical practices - which is why i made the decision to leave in the first place. i am all about the loving & helping & doing it in a professional manner that empowers the clients, their families and society. i am not all about manipulation, taking advantage of the poor, and not offering quality service in the name of ego and and pride. so i left.

i left for a job (with a bit more money and a bit more prestige) 22 miles away in the western burbs. i left addicts for children (whom are not that different if i say so myself) and traded in counseling for management. i went from working 40 hrs. to 55-60 on any given week. i traded an 8a-5p work day to a 7a-6:30p day. i received life and exercise from riding my bike to work and now find myself in the car over 2 hours daily commuting and traveling (and there is so much more i hate about this outside of the time commitment). we went from having friends over on a very regular basis to almost the extinction of hospitality in our home.

compared to one year ago - i am a much much more unhealthy person than i was one year ago.

this is the thing though - now i am aware. right (please affirm here)? not all is lost, this year (which is going on it's 2nd go around - gotta be the sugar mamma through June 2010) i am setting boundaries, hoping for less chaos and a lot less of people who create chaos. i have the program up and running with materials ready, management of resources and people and kids in place.

there is still much (actually more than much but i'm choosing not to make a list right now) more to do but i feel confident in this coming year.

so tonight i will drink a mike's pink hard lemonade, say cheers to a year gone by and look toward this coming year as a hopeful year of bringing myself, my relationship with others, my relationship with God, and my relationship with Jake into a right and healthy relationship once again.

so save the date - September 15th, 2010 we're going to celebrate in high style a year of healthy living. the mike's pink hard lemonade will be on me.

what can i say, i'm on a journey kick lately.

Friday, September 11, 2009

tonight's a night i wish i drank alcohol.

like really, really, drank alcohol.

from experience i can tell you it's a strong (& proven) alternative to coping with reality. sometimes alternatives are good options as far as i'm concerned.

sure, i was a drug & alcohol/addiction counselor for 8+ years.
yeah, alcoholism runs in the family.
and still - alcohol and the concept of drinking and the emotions and the feelings, experiences and sensations...
i can't help but want to run into the kitchen, grab me a Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade (i just lost all credibility, didn't i?) and drink my mind & heart into oblivion.

i've never done it before - drink myself into oblivion that is. i guess most things that are unknown (like drinking to forget and really forgetting) are sexy, even when you know the reality and truth behind that actions and have to still work with the consequences long after the forgetting has been forgotten.

tonight i came to the understanding (not for the first time and surely not for the last) that money always equals power (power being of a flexible measurement).


does that mean that when one doesn't have money, they can't have power - oh contrair' - those who don't have money can still have power, it just doesn't get them anywhere.

i think i would like to stick to the middle of the road on this one.

i don't want money - keep it, give it, spend it, invest it. it makes things too complicated.
i also don't want to be a person who feels powerful for the wrong reasons - whether that involves the spending or giving of money.

i don't want to be drunk all the time either.

Monday, September 07, 2009

i don't have an oven.

i also don't have a four burner stove. i have a stove but it's one of those plug in, quick find, hot plate stoves that colleges warn you about and sometimes ban due to their tendency to start fires.

what i do have is this: i have a rusty and stained kitchen sink. and it's not only the sink - it's the entire structure that rusty = looking as if jake & i haven't wiped it down in years leading to dripped, strained, unattended to pure neglectful rust.

i also have a brown/maroon & off-white flowered linoleum (or what use to be) kitchen floor. there really is not a word for it besides gross.

after over two years of living here and vacuuming on a quite regular basis (because although you would think that because of the variety of colors in our carpet nothing would show - everything shows) we are STILL, yes still, vacuuming up cat hair and a variety of treats left for us to enjoy from the previous tenant.


i've been ruminiating in my mind over and over again over the past month about the role of this blog and whether or not we should continue keeping it up (which if the past is any evidence of the future - we really stink at this whole blogging thing). the only times i feel energy calling me to write is when i'm in a lull or energy and/or spirit. other times i just want to keep what is circling around us/me sacred. hold it tight. not let anyone in.

this is the conundrum - i don't want this to be a dumping ground for that which is sore, sad, static, sorry. there are so many friends out there who fill their blogs with love, amazing energy, fantastic insights, laughter & connections to a bigger world. i am not one of these. but i want to be one of these. yet - that is just not what/who i am at this keyboard.

so i'm trying to figure out what to do with all of this.

i tried posting pictures of our vacation (2 weeks in Aug.) but stopped mid-way. this time away was a very sacred and important time in our marriage and i secretly (not so secretly any longer) don't want to let anyone in.

i thought about posting pictures (a proven practice - everyone loves pictures and not many like uncomfortable weighty conversations, trust me - i've been told.) of my motorcycle accident but most pictures are nude-like (although very very awesome).

i entertained the idea of sharing stories from the neighborhood (and my, oh my - are there many!) but writing about woes and others personal stories has begun to feel like exploitation to get into Heaven.

i even entertained the idea of "work talk" on this public forum - but who knows who is out there and i wouldn't want it getting back to the young and old ones alike that i can't handle it any longer and how deeply i long to quit, move to the country, grow me a lot of peaches and rest in the magnificent glory of God.

i spoke with a dear and precious friend this afternoon who was encouraging and challenging me to seek what is good, true, honest, and right with God.

what i really want to do is bake and eat my troubles away.

which leads me to the fact that we don't have an oven and tonight this is a major, major problem.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

not only are they famous - so are we!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

a couple things i have recently been reminded of:

Mr. Wendell

The Way of Ignorance.


Good Works (doing good good work).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rumi, Reshma & their Family.

Many of you know that over the Memorial Day weekend I flew out to San Diego to spend, what I have come to call, a memorable and most glorious weekend with Rumi, Reshma & their family. When if comes to finding words to describe the weekend, I have a hard time. What does roll smoothly off my tongue is this: there has never been a better fit.

There seems to be a beauty in things that fit. I remember being amazed when I was in high school stocking shelves at Kroger and watching the baby food containers (those wretched containers) fit perfectly on the shelves. Although I hate puzzles, I just love the idea of many pieces of a puzzle fitting together to make one image. I love the fit of a perfect t-shirt and the way that old jeans, even when they don't fit - fit perfectly.

I think that's actually the way I experienced the weekend with Sharon, Rumi, Reshma (aka Baby Keckma), Mark, Dani & Karla. Time spent with each of them just fit, like the jeans that fit perfectly and offer you a comfort and identity that you only find when wearing them.

So now for the pictures that each of you have been asking for. This is only a pinch of some of the
really cute ones although there are plenty more to be posted soon. Small doses and delayed gratification prolong the excitement, correct?

- sleepy Reshma -

- Sharon came well prepared for many an afternoons on the beach. Toy of choice: kites. I have to say, we were all pretty good at flying them, although Reshma was pretty sure they were more fun to touch and play with than simply watch. -

- Rumi taking over the controls -

- Spiderman and his flying turtle -

- highlight of the weekend: Spiderman band-aids. They went everywhere with us - breakfast, to the beach (where when we got up to leave found band-aid wrappers surrounding our space), out to dinner, etc. They also gave me a really great band-aid shape tattoo on my left thigh.

- proof that they went everywhere with us -
- 2 peas -

- love this smile -

- Jake has shared that this may be his favorite photo simply because of the excitement demonstrated on Rumi's face. In fact, I encourage you save it and then zoom in to see the adrenaline run! -

- somersault attempt -

- a family walk to get water for playing in the sand. Mark, Rumi, Keckma, & Sharon (L-R) -

- building castles -

- a friend on my morning walk (there will be more "morning walk" photos to come) -
- I sincerely cannot think of a better support that Dani, the family's Au Pear (am I even spelling that correctly?). She is so great with the kids, a perfect balance of love and firmness. It was such a delight to spend time watching her love on the kids so well -
Thank you Sharon, Rumi, Reshma, Mark & Dani for allowing me to join in on your family vacation. It was simply beautiful spending time with each of you. I am honored by your generosity, kindness, comfort and am so grateful for the way you allowed space and time for me to fit into your lives. We love you.