31 August, 2011

In Which I Resist the Urge to Kidnap

This afternoon there was a young man playing traditional Irish fiddle tunes by the Millennium Bridge. He was doing such a beautiful job and it was such a pleasure to hear, so I dropped a couple quid into his case as I walked by and said, "It's beautiful music, thank you!" As I passed he began to play "The Butterfly." Now, there is of course no way he could have known that it's one of my favorites, but I let myself think it for a split second...

While waiting for the Clipper I chatted with an unbearably cute little boy and his grandmother, who were sitting beside me on the bench with his baby sister. "She is zero-and-a-half already," he proudly declared to me. Then, "These boats are the FASTEST on the river!" His eyes grew enormous as the #11 boat approached, as a higher-numbered boat MUST obviously be even faster than the #4 he'd ridden earlier.

Sometimes I miss being four, when every half-year and quarter-year and eighth-year mattered, and little commuter boats could garner uncontainable excitement. ...But ponderings aside, the main point of this post is to announce, dear reader, that I successfully resisted the urge to steal an adorable British child. Whew.

30 August, 2011

In Which I Cope With Being Casual

Today R and I rode the Thames Clipper down the river to go to her play rehearsal. Now, I admit that I rather pride myself on being able to navigate and survive the Tube – but a bit of that glutton-for-punishment instinct is melting away, unable to withstand the dreamy allure of the Clipper. Not only does it dock literally right outside our door, it is also extremely comfortable, warm, and equipped with a Costa Coffee counter to add that vital vip and vim to your morning commute. Also, very few people seem to know about, or take advantage of, this service. The Clipper is the transportation equivalent of the Civil Wars: I want every single person on the planet to know about and benefit from it, but I also don’t want every single person on the planet to know about it because then it would become all popular and common and stuff. Hmph.
Anyway – so we floated down the Thames (in luxury – oh did I mention that already?) at a pace leisurely enough to allow my eyes to feast, FEAST, I say, on all the architecture. Many of the old warehouses of Dickens’s day have been converted into residential flats, office blocks, restaurants, etc., though there is still the odd tiny, rickety pub nestled amongst them. I imagined Rogue Riderhood, “wa’erside character,” straggling in for a drink at Miss Abby’s between sessions of scouring the muddy Thames for lost bodies. …But on a lighter note, with no Dickensian villains to be found we alighted near the Globe Theater and strolled across the Millennium Bridge. It was then that I began to notice something. I was out and about in a city during the morning rush hour, but for the first time in several years I was not heading to an office and not wearing professional clothes. I was in blue jeans, and that was okay. I am working, but not from 8-5 at a desk. It’s going to take me a little while to get used to this.
While R was rehearsing, one of R’s friends and I popped out for a coffee (Again: It’s 11am on a Tuesday and I am in blue jeans! I don’t have a Blackberry! We are sitting down to drink our coffee! What is happening?!?). For much of the day I read Steinbeck while R rehearsed. This was a little strange, at times. I would be chuckling and Aw-shucks-ing at Steinbeck’s pithy observations on New Englanders, when suddenly from the other room would come screaming and cursing and fake stabbings, triggering great distress and concern in my little heart. My emotions were very confused about this day. Nothing that a quiet sojourn back down the river at twilight couldn't cure, though.

29 August, 2011


I am now in London and am settling into the beautiful flat on the riverbank. This morning was clear and bright -- for once, London boasted better weather than DC. My flatmate "R" had arranged for a driver to pick up me and my luggage at the airport so I didn't have to bother with the Tube or an expensive cab ride; I was very, very grateful for this. The driver was a 40-something Turkish immigrant who seemed to think that traffic lanes are just suggestions...It was an exciting ride! He asked me about Hurricane Irene, and said, "See, America sticks its nose in the rest of the world, so God sends you a huge tornado." Well...Nice to meet you, too...

I couldn't resist a brief nap this afternoon, but then walked to the pharmacy to pick up a few things and to explore my new surroundings...

24 August, 2011

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

I'm packing up all my belongings in preparation for moving overseas for several months, and I'm making all sorts of fun discoveries. At the back of my closet, hidden under bookshelves, and buried in old purses are all sorts of things I'd forgotten about that are bringing back good memories. Highlights so far include $40, a Celtic cross pendant from Ireland, and mementos from various trips overseas. Today I unearthed some old notebooks and came across some thoughts I scribbled down shortly after I'd moved into Blake House two years ago. I wanted to share them here because they are full of hopes that God definitely fulfilled -- and reading them again has renewed my gratitude for the opportunity to live in, and open up, this beautiful home with my beautiful housemates.

I recently moved into a house with my older sister and two good friends. It isn't new or glamorous, but as our separate lives spill out of boxes into shared space, it is becoming home. We spent much of the weekend in the kitchen, as if in unspoken agreement that that room simply had to be settled first. We silently gloried in the newfound freedom of a big kitchen. Every task seemed elevated - even grating carrots and slicing mushrooms were actions filled with celebration when performed on gleaming granite counters and destined to feed dear folks. In this new home, basil smells more nuanced, fruit tastes sweeter, coffee is supremely rich, for they are defining our hope for the way we will eat and drink and fellowship in this place. This weekend's meals were our first offerings to those who partook of them -- Be comforted around this table. Be known. Eat much, eat well. Come often, and linger. I look forward with great anticipation to the lively gatherings or uplifting conversations that might take place here as friends old and new pass through.

Thanks to all those who came, ate, drank, lingered.

06 August, 2011

Ode to hand-me-downs

This summer my parents marked the 28th anniversary of their wedding. I have poured over their wedding photos countless times, taking such delight in the wide smiles on their young faces. I look at their photos knowing much more of their story than they could have imagined on that day.

I had volunteered to make a cake for the big celebration. I packed up all the ingredients and headed up to my parents' house, completely forgetting to bring the behemoth KitchenAid standing mixer - a non-essential, yes, but it certainly makes life easier for this impatient girl. Thus, arriving in my mom's kitchen, I pulled out her little tan and brown hand mixer. I should see what these things are going for on Ebay, because this mixer definitely qualifies as "vintage" by now; it was a wedding present to my mom and has been well-used over the years. I remember using it to make chocolate-chip cookies with my mom as a little girl, impatiently waiting to lick the batter off of the dough hooks (which is more fun than eating the finished cookie, as 8 out of 8 kids will agree). I opened one of the dish cabinets and pulled out another relic, a metal mixing bowl that was given to my parents for their wedding. It bears scratches from many years of mixing, stirring, serving, etc. It has held salad, popcorn, cookie dough, bread dough, and may or may not have also proven to be an excellent swimming pool for toy soldiers and plastic sharks. The mixer and the bowl were once as fresh and new as my parents' marriage, and they are still here serving us well and enabling us to celebrate another year. A few more dents and scratches in us, but we're all still here.

Maybe being one of eight homeschooled kids pre-disposes me to appreciating hand-me-downs, but I do so appreciate the objects that stay with us through so much of our stories. I love having things that have played a role -- even the very ordinary role of mixing or serving -- in the lives of the people I love, the people who handed life to me. ...Except denim jumpers. Denim jumpers can stay gone. :-)