Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moon Beam

I think one of the most wonderful feelings is being able to sit outside under the moon without a coat. Last night was one of those nights. It is en exhilarating feeling, basking in  the moon's deep glow. The sympathy of crickets provides the perfect backdrop music.  All over the city people go about their lives, under the watchful eyes of the stars. Sometimes I look up at the moon and I feel like it is casting it's glow directly at me. When I was a child, I felt sorry for the rest of the world because I thought that the sun chose only me to shine on. The moon chose me to watch over. Oh, the egocentric thoughts of a child. 
  But  even still there are times, times like last night, under the moon, out on my back porch, with a few friends, a bottle of red wine, that I still feel like the moon is only shining on me. Or perhaps I now recognize that feeling to be not the moon, but God;  blessing me with life and friendships and laughter. As a child, I sensed that God was watching over me. Now I know He is. And I smile at the thought of that.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Perfect Saturday: Breakfast and Urban Hiking

This morning I woke up to most most splendid blue sky. I love opening my eyes on a Saturday morning (often times after the persistent prodding of my cat) and looking up to see the blue of the sky peeking through the curtains above the bed. It is back-BLUE-after weeks now of the grey and rain of fall. I sat up and realized that the whole day was before us. So, we decided to forgo cleaning out our car or the basement and instead have breakfast downtown at the Stepping Stone Cafe, a place I've been wanting to try for awhile now. They are known for their "man-cakes," super-sized pancakes featured on an episode of "man vs. food." We hopped into our car and headed out into the magnificent day. There is no better place to be in the world than a nice day in Portland. The sky is a perfect backdrop to the green hills. And, there is nothing more stunning than the pristine white views of Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams protectively watching over the city like my cat watches me when I sleep. I never get tired of seeing them. We pulled up to the Stepping Stone Cafe, a place as charming as its name. It is nestled on the corner of Quimby slightly off of NW 23rd. It has a diner like feel, but with decorations a bit more quirky and unique. After a short wait, we were seated at our cozy red vinyl table. Our server welcomed us with two mugs of rich dark coffee, softened with a bit of cream. Although tempting, I decided to forgo the "man-cakes" and instead ordered something unusual for myself-cheese blintzes. Yes, three delicately folded crepes cradled a slightly sweet cheese filling; adorned also with fresh bananas, blueberries and a cloud of whip cream. John had some sort of egg dish, but I honestly don't remember what it was because I was so excited about my own! We enjoyed out dishes, sipping our coffee, slowly taking on our day-even though it was nearly noon already. Afterwards, we decided to do one of our  favorite activities on a beautiful day-urban hike. One of our great loves are the neighborhoods and houses in Portland. Living in the 'burbs, you just don't get the stunning views or the ornate porches and decks like you do in the city. Every house is so charming and unique; I feel like I'm walking in a cluster of little gingerbread houses. I walk by each one, just imaging what the people are like inside, what they do for a living and how they spend their Saturdays. I know that might sound creepy, but I am a dreamer, and although I am happy and content with my life, I can't help but wonder about the lives of others. I especially like the big windows in some of the houses, letting in the light of day. I try to picture myself cuddled up under a blanket under that window, drinking a cup of coffee, watching someone like myself wandering through my neighborhood. We meandered past the adorable Chapman school where kids played on the park equipment, couples basked in the sun on a blanket, and dogs pranced around chasing sticks. In the distance we could hear the cheers and shouts of a little league soccer game. Oh what comforting sounds! All the parents, cheering on their boys, visiting in the noon sunshine. It warms my heart to see community within a city and families enjoying the day together. I tell John that I can't believe some people live like this!; some of the views of the city and the mountains right outside their family room windows are so breathtakingly stunning that I can't believe they actually see that everyday. We often dream about the future and will talk about where we'd like to live someday. I have to say, NW 23rd area is my choice. It has the location, the views, the community and charm. I am in love.
I never want to come across discontent with where we live, but it is so fun to dream. We are silent for a moment, John and me. I think we are both pondering what could be someday. I turn to him and smile, grabbing his hand in mind. I am happy for just this moment. The moment in between what could be someday. The moment we are enjoying together on this beautiful Saturday day. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Joys of Pumpkin Season!

Ah fall... we have such a love/hate relationship you and I.
I resent you because summer is over and the days are darker, and I know your evil cousin "winter" is approaching fast just around the corner. The rain starts to fall again, and it's so difficult to crawl out from under the warm covers and step into the chilly air when the alarm clock sounds. The rigor of school and schedules start again, and football holds the television hostage.

However, I love you because there is a crispness in the air that goes perfectly with my coffee. The morning light reflects off the changing leaves and creates a soft glow. And I don't feel guilty for spending an entire evening curled up on the couch with a book. But I think perhaps the reason I really love you  is because of pumpkin!
Yes, pumpkin season officially started for me last night when I purchased my first two cans!  There is only a very small window during the year when pumpkin is a wonderfully satisfying treat. It's one of those flavors you pass over throughout the rest of the year, but is so comforting when the weather begins to turn. A pumpkin spice latte in April? Pumpkin soup in July? Nope, that doesn't sound appealing at all. But when the first tip of a leaf begins to soak up red or orange, I suddenly have a taste for it.  It literally makes me giddy to see the many varieties of pumpkin infused food that begin to pop up all over...including in my kitchen! Last night I cracked open my jars of pumpkin and went to work. Every year I make the mistake of trying the pumpkin on the spoon. If you haven't done this, pumpkin without sugar or spices is not the best taste. It has the texture of baby food and the taste is earthy and bland. By the end of pumpkin season, I have to say that I have usually severely o.d on it. Oh what joy my pumpkin brings! Do you have any great pumpkin recipes that you bring out this time of year???
Creating joy from pumpkin!
The finished masterpiece...pumpkin biscotti! Perfect with a pumpkin spice latte on a chilly pumpkin day,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Girls on one end; boys on the other

I always have to smile at the profound differences between male and female bonding. For example, last night my husband and I met some friends downtown for happy hour to celebrate a friend's birthday. Sitting at a high bar table, all eight of us were arranged by couples. All of a sudden I notice that all the male eyeballs are simoustainiously tracking something behind us, like a cat stalking a ball of yarn. It turns out that the enticing glow of the mega TV has snagged all their attention.
Meanwhile, the females are shouting at each other from across the table, trying to penerate the sudden outbursts of cheers. Finally, I suggest that perhaps we rearrange our seating-girls at one end, boys at the other, like "Jr. High" style. Sidenote: Isn't it interesting that in high schoool and college sitting next to the same gender would be our last option at a bar?! The chase is over I suppose. :) Anyhow, Once we resituate ourselves, communication becomes a lot easier (or atleast until a touchdown happens...) We talk about work; we talk about the probelems at work; we talk about the people at work; we talk about working out; we talk about the problems with working out; we talk about the people that we see working out; we talk about the Today show; we talk about the problems featured on the Today show; we talk about Merideth Vera's choice of shoes that morning...
Meanwhile, I turn to the guys, and now all six of them are completely turned around, transfixed on the movement behind us. They cheer. They groan. They yell something.
Two hours later, we leave the bar. Both my husband and I feel satisfied with the social interactions and bonding that has taken place among the table. Now don't get me wrong, I have to say that my husband is more of a natural extrovert than I am. But it is amusing to me that men can bond without words and women, well, let's just say "movie nights" are rarely times for silent viewing. I guess its good that God made us this way though. Could you imagine the schedules if two people tried to make weekly coffee dates? Actually, doesn't that make you smile thinking about walking into a Starbucks and seeing a table of men, sipping their skinny vanilla lattes and talking excitedly about the new book club choice?! Or how about a bunch of girls gathered around a TV, not saying a word except to the TV? I suppose that could happen with a bunch of girls, but I think someone would at least comment on the sports commentator's shoes!
Nonetheless, my husband is still my best friend and I'm glad I'm married to him. However, I am thankful for my gals too!!!! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Moments in Between

Sitting at dinner the few weeks ago, my husband and I started talking about what we were going to do after dinner. We decided to walk about downtown and perhaps get some gelato. Eating gelato, we discussed what tomorrow held. The appointments. The plans. The agendas. The schedules. "Why don't we just enjoy this last bit of Sunday before we tackle Monday," suggested my wise, wonderful husband. Hmmmm...that made sense to me. Why should we give up half of our carefree weekend thinking about the stress of next week, when we can't do a thing about it right now anyway!
I guess I have always sort of been like this, but I don't think I am alone.

"Happy 29th Birthday, sweetie....Just think, next year, you'll be 30!"

"Only two more weeks until vacation..."

"If I could just get through today, then everything will be easier..."

I think Americans are particularly susceptible to "living for the weekend" mentality. We are planners, schedulers, producers. We have appointments to make, goals to attain and people to connect with. Luckily we have our smart phones to remind us that we need to be doing and thinking about something else than what we are currently doing and thinking about at this moment. I can't even being to tell you how many times I've been at dinner or in between sleep and consciousness when an electronic ding suddenly reminded me that I should be thinking or doing something else!

Why are we always looking to the "next big thing?"

I certainly think it is responsible to plan for the future. I think it is exciting to have dreams and goals. But, what I really realized recently was that life happens in the moments in between our big plans, goals and seasons. I think that often times I put my life on hold until "that big next event" or "that next season" in life. I do trust that God has a plan for me and my life. I believe that we need to be responsible stewards with the resources and jobs He gives us. However, I do believe that God's gift to us is simply living in the moment, lingering in the now, and enjoying the small joys he places before us.
Furthermore, this blog is being created to help me do just that. This is a blog dedicated to life-the moments in between our big plans.
These moments are when life actually happens.
The moment in now.
And it is passing quickly.