In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Sun (all day long!)

Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year, with the sun shining for over 16 hours in the Twin Cities! Yahoo!

I am a Christian, but there are still some pagan things that have incredible appeal. The solstice is one of them. I like the winter solstice, because it means that the days can't get any shorter than they already are. I also like lounging in the late summer sun on these long summer days.

I understand that many Christian holy days were taken from significant pagan festivals. Christmas is very close to the winter solstice. Easter comes very quickly after spring (with fertility themes). But we don't really have a Christian festival that corresponds to the summer solstice. Pentecost? Maybe...that's the closest high holy day.

We need a day when we thank God for filling our days with light. We emphasize light during Epiphany, when we don't have any. We need a day to be thankful for the light. Who's with me? Anyone want a Christian festival of Summer Solstice? Anyone? Ok - maybe not.

As for me, I'm going to walk my dog at 10:00 tonight (at dusk!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

End Of My Day

I'm sitting at my desk, which I would have left an hour ago, but I'm meeting with a student at 4:30, so I need to stick around a little longer.

Summer is an interesting time for my job. I have projects to do, but they are way off in the future. So I take things slowly. I also usually work shorter days. Of course, when meetings like this are scheduled all over the place, then those shorter days don't work out.

I'm hoping this student gets out of his class a little early.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eight Random Facts

I was tagged by ChurchNerd to do this meme. I don't often do them, but this seems like it's worth a shot:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3.At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. When I was growing up, we had a cocker spaniel with only one eye. He was born that way (or he lost it very early in life). You could see stuff in the empty hole where the eye should have been. Gross...but cool!

2. This is also about growing up, but it's fun to share: My family didn't have a telephone in our house until 1994...when I was a junior in high school. We lived so far out in the woods that the phone lines stopped five miles before our house. We also didn't have much television for quite a while. At first, I could only get CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) and PBS from Bemidji, MN.

3. Lest you think that I had an underprivileged childhood, we had some cool features to our house as well. We did NOT live on a farm, as you might be led to believe from the above description. We lived in an old DNR forestry station that was surrounded by woods. Our house had an 80-foot lookout tower. You could climb it and see all over the trees. When I was about nine years old, we took the little house off the top and put a windmill up there, so we could generate some of our own electricity. The windmill stayed in place until my junior year of college, when a drunk driver went through our yard and hit the tower, toppling it. He wasn't hurt, and the tower didn't hit anything. But the tower was lost to us forever.

4. Ever since I was a kid, I've felt the need to sleep with my ear covered. Even if it's really hot, I need to have the sheet pulled up over my ear. I feel very "exposed" if it's uncovered. I'm not sure what that's about.

5. I lived in Brussels, Belgium for a year following my graduation from high school. I was a Rotary Exchange Student, which, in my opinion, is the best exchange program. I base this on the fact that in most of the world Rotary is rich old men who have nothing better to do than lavish their money on you. I was in a much higher class family than I came from (no offense to my lovely family).

6. I used to be able to recite the "McDonald's Menu Song". I don't know if you remember it, but it listed everything that was on their menu (at the time). I used to sing it at the counter of McDonald's and then get a free treat for my performance.

7. I'm just a little color-blind. It's not drastic enough that I can't tell the difference between red and green. However, I do have a hard time distinguishing shades of green and brown. I've come to the harsh realization that I own more green pants than I thought I did. I kept thinking they were brown pants, and my other half tells me that they are green. He keeps forgetting that I don't realize that, so it's always an awkward line of, "Don't you realize...oooohh, you don't!"

8. I've never lived alone. I moved from my family into a floorhouse in college to an apartment with my other half into a house with my other half and a rotating list of roommates.

Oh, I don't know. I think you should all hear from my mother on this one. After her, I'll just consider you all tagged.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Because Travel is Good

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Neon Green Thumb

Disclaimer: This is NOT my garden!

I enjoy gardens. They are part of the appeal of summer. I like to see the bright colors and the smells that waft up as you are walking by. There are some beautiful gardens in our neighborhood. I like to walk my dog by them so I can enjoy their calm beauty.

You would think that this love of gardens means that I want to have a garden of my own. You would be wrong in your thinking. I have no desire to work in our yard to make something beautiful and rare grow. In fact, I do minimal work on our garden and lawn. It often doesn't get more than a mow every couple of weeks.

In part, this is because I'm lazy (when it comes to gardening). I have other things I would rather spend my energy doing than crawling around on my hands and knees, trying to get the gladiolas (or whatever) to grow. I just don't enjoy the work, and I don't think I would ever appreciate my garden as much as I appreciate other people's gardens.

Our house has no front yard. We live in a duplex, so there are two driveways that lead into tuck-under garages. That only leaves a little strip of grass between the two driveways. We've just left it grass. We have a small backyard with a little garden off to the side. There are also some terraces that lead up into the alley. It's possible that we could plant something there. However, when we moved in, there was a large tree growing out of the terrace. Eventually, it leaned too far over the house (and power lines), so it was removed. Now we can easily see eight stumps that we can't remove without completely redoing the terraces.

The first year we lived in the house, we bought a can of wildflower mix and sprinkled it over everything. Basically, we were encouraging pretty weeds to grow in our back yard. A couple years ago, we splurged and bought about 30 lilies that we put in the flower bed at the edge of our yard.

What makes this a little more uncomfortable is that our neighbor LOVES gardening. She has an immaculate yard with beautiful flowers growing all over the place. Most weekends in the summer, we can find her moving the hostas from the back of the flower bed to the front, and then back again. Needless to say, our "natural approach" didn't appeal to her too much. She tolerates it until the weeds begin encroaching on her side of the fence we share. She was elated when we planted the lilies, but she noticed that we didn't weed them as often as we should. That's when she decided to start coming into our backyard to weed the lilies. Yes, we now have a free gardener.

Another source of difficulty is that one of the stumps began growing again last summer. At first there were a couple little shoots. Then it began to look like a bush. This year, we got another tree, which was also leaning over the house and power lines. We decided that we needed to do something about it. So we came out with our little saw to cut all the branches off, but leaving three viable trees.

When our neighbor saw it, she expressed such joy that we were cleaning up our back yard. I should also explain that our neighbor is more passive-aggressive than friendly, so we tend to ignore her. As she gushed over the removal of the bush we learned that she was also attempting to trim it on her own. However, I don't think we made her very happy with the remains of the tree. We decided that this would make great firewood to burn in a fire pit. We stacked the stumps and branches back on the terrace for future use. Yup, we cut down the tree and put the dead remains back where the living tree was. That's how classy we are!

I don't ever think we will be big gardening people. I dream about having a nice garden, but I know that I don't want to put the energy into it. Instead, I derive my joy from someone else's joy of gardening. I see it has a win-win!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hot! Hot! Hot!

This temperature this week is hovering around the 90s. That's pretty darn warm, even for a cold-blooded creature like me.

I have always said that I prefer to be hot than to be cold. So I'm less bothered by the 90-degree days than others often are. What actually gets me worse than the heat outside is the high level of air conditioning going on inside! I get shocked when I walk in from a warm sunshine to something hovering around -20 degrees.

I know we are from Minnesota, but part of our beauty is that we have seasons! We don't need to recreate winter inside!

I'm going to have to eat lunch outside so I can enjoy the sunshine!

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Friend, Tony

I spent last night in front of the television. It's not something I do very often. If anything, I'll watch a movie on DVD, but last night I turned on CBS for three hours.

What did I watch? The Tony Awards.

This was my first time to watch the Tonys in their entirety. Before, I've seen pieces and snippets. Sometimes I've flipped by and seen the opening production. Also, back when Boom was open, they would show highlights of the Tonys on Sunday nights (in between other show tunes). But now Boom is closed and if I'm going to watch the Tonys, I would have to commit myself to doing it.

I didn't get incredibly hard-core. I didn't print off a ballot to vote beforehand. In fact, I hadn't seen any of the plays and musicals up for the awards. I don't visit New York that often, and we are still catching up on Tony Award winning shows from a few years ago. However, since we were just in New York in April, I had heard of most of the shows. I'm hoping that this can inform what we want to see the next time we go (hopefully soon!).

I found some great highlights, and some things that could have used some improvement.

One disappointing thing was that there was no host. Angela Lansbury appeared at the beginning to welcome everyone and then sat down until the very end of the show to present best musical and say goodnight. I know that they have had a host in the past. In fact, Angela Lansbury made a reference to when she hosted the show several years ago. I've seen clips of Rosie O'Donnell and Hugh Jackman both hosting the show with a big opening number.

Which brings me to my second big disappointment. There was also no big opening number. Correction: they used A Chorus Line as both the opening number and the opening credits. However, A Chorus Line was also a candidate for best revival of a musical, so it was doing double duty in singing at the very opening. I feel a bit cheated. From the clips I've seen, they often make up an original (or somewhat original) opening number that brings everything together. I missed getting to see that.

However, lest you think I was completely disappointed, let me say that the Tonys have the ability to finish their telecast show exactly on time (three hours!). Take that, Oscars!

If you followed any part of the Tonys, you will know that Spring Awakening was the runaway musical. It won eight awards, including best Musical. The music was composed by Duncan Sheik, so it has a very contemporary sound while being set in 19th century. It's about teenage angst and rebellion in the midst of Victorian society. After seeing some clips, I'd be interested in seeing it.

Another show I would be interested in seeing is Grey Gardens. This is about the reclusive aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy in the mid-seventies. The segment they showed on the Tonys was pretty fun, so it might be worth a shot.

When we were in New York, I was interested in seeing Curtains. It starred David Hyde Pierce as a detective who is investigating the death of a leading lady. It's somewhat of a Broadway show about the theatre (we called that meta-theatre in my intro class). We didn't go, but I was happy to know that David Hyde Pierce won the Tony for best leading actor in a musical.

There's my highlights of the Tony Awards. Next time, we need a host who can do an opening number. Then I'll be happy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Rushed Breakfast

This morning, we have some big meetings with incoming students. We've been preparing for these meetings for some time, getting folders put together and ordering food. Normally, this is not a difficult task, but we all work part time. The summertime is especially sparse, so it's difficult to get these sort of tasks done in a timely manner.

Today is the first of this series of meetings. I arrived early (I was the first one here), and I helped to prepare the room for the meeting. Soon, my colleagues all arrived. Then I left.

Where did I go?

I took off in my car for a Columbian restaurant to eat breakfast with my mom. She was traveling to Mississippi and had a layover in the Twin Cities. Instead of just meeting her at the airport for some Starbucks (the only food place outside the security area), my Other Half picked her up at the airport and they came to a place near me. I met them and ate my food quickly, kissed my mom and came back to the college.

I got back about 30 minutes before the first students were scheduled to arrive and we went into the meetings.

Why is this story relevant to anything?

I feel very close to my family, but I don't see them as often as I would like. I now live a 5-hour drive from my parents and my grandparents, and I don't make that drive very often. However, I do attempt to take advantage of any time they are in the area. My sister sometimes comes into the area, and I would like to make a better effort to come and visit her. Right now, she's spending the summer in St. Cloud (a nearby city). I hope I can see her on occasion over the summer.

I like taking advantage of these small opportunities to see my family. They are mini-adventures. It's fun to arrive, pick up my parents at the airport, eat dinner, and return them to the airport in time to catch their plane.

This morning was an added adventure, since I was the one who had to get back to work quickly!

I enjoyed my rushed breakfast.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We Bought the Farm

Lest anyone think that someone died, they didn't. Well, I'm sure someone did, but not connected to my life very directly.

I wrote a while ago that we lost our share in Community Supported Agriculture. They couldn't find a seasonal grower, so they decided to cancel their season. I was worried that it was too late to find a new farm, but it appears that we are in luck.

We have found a few farm, and we got in just under the wire. They are a little more expensive than our first choice, but that is because they have a longer season. The farm is Rock Spring Farm, and we are very excited about them. In addition to our summer share, which runs from June 15 to October 5, we can also get a winter share that gives us a lot of root vegetables and stored vegetables. This farm has quite a few add-on's that we might be interested in trying.

Last night I actually clipped a recipe from a newsletter I was reading. I've never done that before, but it was exciting to see how I might be able to cook up something as good as you can get in a restaurant.

Obviously, I'm very excited about my farm share. We are starting slowly, but if we like it, we will probably add the winter vegetable share, as well as the spring green share. This means that by next year we might get some form of fresh produce from March to December. Not too shabby.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Roy G. Biv

This weekend, we've been purging. No, we are not going back on a fast. We spent the better part of the purging junk from our house. We are preparing to have a short-term roommate. She will be staying with us until the end of the summer, at which time she will move to her internship congregation and whatever housing they have lined up for her there.

Anyway, we've been using our extra bedroom as a storage space. The closet had Christmas decorations and our suits. We knew that we would have to move our stuff out of her room so that she can effectively take over the space. I'm also on an anti-stuff streak right now. I always imagine having to move into a smaller space. What would we do with all our stuff?

This weekend was a small step toward that goal. Since we didn't know where we would put all our clothes, we decided that we should purge the clothes that we don't wear anymore. We systematically went through all our clothes, taking note of what we haven't worn and what we expect to wear. This was especially a big deal for my Other Half. He is beginning a corporate job after working from home for a number of years. He will return to wearing suits every day, after a lot of shorts and sweatshirts. He discovered that a lot of his "dressy" clothes are quite out of style. Many of them didn't have a collar (when did that go out of style...I sure liked it at the time). I also went through a big chunk of my clothes and got rid of a lot of clothes that I held onto for sentimental reasons.

Today, I have three boxes and one bag of clothes in the trunk of my car, waiting to be donated to a clothes closet. We did throw a few things away, but we thought that most were still quite usable.

Once we finished with the clothing, we tackled a corner of the garage. We often keep boxes for a while, in case we want to return or repair something. Well, after a while, the boxes start to take over the garage space. When we were done in that corner, we had a huge pile of cardboard to take out the recycling. We broke it all down and then attempted to fit it all in the cardboard recycling bin we have. We soon found that we would have to do a little manipulating of the existing cardboard to fit our new pile in. As my OH was rearranging the cardboard, it started to rain. We were a funny sight, me holding down a slab of cardboard over him as he bent into the bin. Eventually, we got it all in., right as the rain was stopping (it was a very short shower) Now we just have to hold off until Thursday when the recycling pickup occurs.

As we were walking back into the house, we noticed a HUGE rainbow in the sky. It stretched from one side of the sky to the other. And it was bright and vivid. I haven't seen a big, beautiful rainbow like that in a long time. You could see the individual colors distinctly from one another. We stared at it for about 10 minutes before heading back into the house.

I still see the rainbow as a sign of promise. It's like the light at the end of a tunnel. Whatever you are struggling with, it seems to say that God is walking with you. And God will not let your troubles overwhelm you. You can emerge from a flood...maybe even a flood of clothing and cardboard.