Beautiful back yards

Matt and Brenda have a great yard. It is large and green and peaceful. IMG_1390IMG_1393IMG_1394IMG_1391Brenda is the Queen of Repurposing. She bought that Mary statue at an auction (which people fondly refer to as One-Armed Mary, though you can’t see her handicap very well from the angle of the shot) and then that dome you see covering her? That’s an old bathtub she found.

IMG_1392Isn’t it awesome? I love seeing what people do with their yards in Idaho. When I was up for Daria’s graduation in June, this is the sort of taxing thing you would have found me doing:

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Becky and I enjoying the yard and the 20 minutes of sun! (it was unseasonably chilly for June)

Adan and I talk about having a garden some day. For the moment, it is made up of one baby lime tree. When Adan brought it home and planted it, I joked that we would probably have college-bound children before it bore fruit.

Speaking of college-bound, I was in Idaho for Daria’s high school graduation, of course.

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her graduation party!

She is off starting college. Seems like just yesterday that she would sneak into my room in the basement in footie pajamas and steal all my chocolates. IQ9A5240 I am incredibly proud of her because she’s such an accomplished and intelligent young person. But more so because she is accepting of people’s differences and kind to others, which I think is more important. Can’t wait to see what trail she blazes for herself.

 

Carmex and I are breaking up

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I have used the lip balm Carmex since I was 16. For literally half of my life, it’s the only kind I have used and sworn by, and during this time, I could always be counted on to have two tubs on my nightstand, one rolling around the bottom of every purse as well as in the pockets of all my jackets. But, the time has sadly come for us to go our separate ways. This is my last tub of it and once it is gone I am going to see playing the lip balm field, maybe landing on Burt’s Bees or Chapstick. Why? Because I feel like my lips are always chapped despite the constant Carmex application. Surely that is not a good sign? Maybe it’s just not a good sign that it took me 16 years to figure this out.

In other breaking news, have been fighting a cold all week. Since I am well aware of the fact that no one likes to hear about cold symptoms and other people’s minor aches and pains, I will refrain from mentioning that I have moved on from the sore throat portion of the sickness to the runny nose and sneezy bit.

Death of a camera

So some sad news. My digital camera died this week. There was no drawn out and debilitating illness so needless to say I was caught off guard. Thankfully, in a rare display of prescience, Adan had captured some of our last moments together. (Yes, it is weird to anthropomorphize inanimate objects. In my defense, I don’t do it with all my possessions, just the ones that have been with me for a long time. So yes, I do it with all my possessions. Take my coffee maker, for example. Most days I tell it how much it means to me and it makes me sad to think that it might die before I do and that I would have to go out and replace it.)

(Suggested viewing method: Sarah McLaughlin “I Will Remember You” playing softly in the background as you scroll)

Look at us, so happy together.

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Weep not for the memories.

P.S. speaking of coffee makers, when I was up in Idaho in June, I was able to catch up with a dear friend whom I’ll call Kassi (names have been changed to protect the innocent). She and her husband (whom we’ll call Herbert) have an ongoing discussion around their coffee maker situation. Kassi likes clean counter tops. She is one of those people that takes out an appliance, uses it, washes it, and then puts it away (it’s like a super power), so she doesn’t want an electric coffee maker. This is the reason they own a French press and during the week, her husband doesn’t make coffee in the mornings before going to work because it’s a hassle. So the tension lies in the fact that he would like an electric coffee maker and she would like to keep her counters clean. I sat there while they debated this, carefully maintaining a neutral Switzerland face while on the inside I was literally dying. Laughing so hard. Because the last time I visited them, three and a half years ago (and the time prior to that, one year earlier), they were having this same discussion. I imagine they’ll still be discussing it in 40 years. I suspect that this isn’t an actual pressure point in their marriage and that they only bring this out when they have friends over so that we mere mortals won’t get the impression that they have some sort of perfect marriage (which I think they secretly do) and hate them for it.

For the love of pasta

Every week, I make up a meal plan and a detailed grocery list based on the menu so, for the most part, there’s no impulse buying at Walmart. We buy groceries on Saturday and if I were to take a time lapse video of my refrigerator, it would be full that day and then every passing day it would be a little emptier until there would be nothing but condiments the following Saturday morning. I like that there is very little waste with this finely tuned system. However, it does mean that if we were hit with a massive hurricane or if the zombie apocalypse takes place, ours would not be a safe house. I mean, there might be enough food to keep Adan and me alive for an extra day or two (if we got really, really creative and also very flexible about what constitutes “edible”) but beyond that, we would be at the mercy of the zombies.

The one exception is pasta. I buy pasta every time we go grocery shopping, even if we already have it at home meaning that there should be enough pasta to feed the entire neighborhood and also the zombies should they be feeling peckish for something other than zombie food (what is it that they eat again?). I mean, it would be no-sauce-no-butter pasta but it would be sustenance nonetheless. The reason for the overabundance of pasta is that I cannot live without it. In said meal plan that I make every week, I always try to limit our pasta intake to three nights and mostly I abide by it. But sometimes I have pasta for lunch and dinner, which I don’t think technically counts as breaking the rule, more along the lines of finding a loophole.

IMG_1431The above is a great pasta dish of Bekah Prager’soven roasted tomato fettuciniwhich Adan and I both really love but unfortunately, as you can see it calls for 10 tomatoes, peeled and seeded which is a lot of work. Is there a way of peeling and seeding tomatoes without having to um, peel and seed tomatoes? Yeah, I thought not. So I tend to make it mostly for special occasions.

Nerdy is the new sexy

20170801_200756Adan has been working at his job for one year. So we celebrated, of course. I firmly believe that all of life’s milestone moments are really just excuses to go out for a great burger. People often ask me what Adan does for a living. He is currently head of IT at his company, which sounds tremendously important (and it is) but he’s actually the only person in the IT department meaning that he does everything from software encryption to ERP implementation to fixing the printer when it gets jammed (yet again) or when someone’s computer is slow. Since we started dating five years ago, I have yet to have a computer/cell phone/gadget malfunction that he has not been able to fix for me. You know that moment when you realize you are falling in love with someone? Not everyone can pinpoint that exact moment in their relationship but for me, it was when Adan fixed my TV. I just knew there was long-term potential there. If there were an IT tights-wearing superhero, he would be it. Except that he doesn’t wear tights.

Most nights as we are eating dinner he will tell me about his day at the office. He will talk about how the servers were down in Texas stalling their progress and it was so frustrating. And in my mind, I am usually asking myself, “What’s a server again and what does it do? Isn’t that the person at a restaurant that brings you your food? Yes, I can see how it would be a pickle if that guy is down because who’s going to take your order?” At the same time, I can’t just ask him because he has explained servers (likewise how Twitter hashtags work; what IS Windows, what megabytes refer to and how big they are, the purpose of apps, the cloud, routers) on numerous occasions and I still live under the impression that it is fairy dust that connects my laptop to the World Wide Web.

I love how into programming and code he is and how he truly gets computers and machines in general. True story, Adan taught himself to drive (a stick shift no less!) by getting behind the wheel of a car and driving. I wouldn’t say it was safe but it worked. I’m baffled. I am scared of smart phones. I think they are creepy and all-knowing but not in the good way that God is. He is constantly taking courses and immersed in learning new programming languages and skills and though I love his enthusiasm, I am also a tiny bit jealous. The kind of jealous I feel when watching Yo-Yo Ma play the cello. At times it makes me feel like I have no career ambition because the only things I feel that passionately about are eating pasta and reading novels, and neither of those is a paying gig. Am I the only one that goes around doubting whether I am doing what I am “meant to be doing”? And is there such a thing as finding the soulmate equivalent of a job and living happily ever after?

Maybe this is just my job ambivalence talking but I must confess that I am actually highly uncomfortable talking to people that tell me they love their jobs. It’s just never a good feeling when you’re trapped in a conversation with a compulsive liar, however well-intentioned or even unintentional their lying may be. I can understand your liking your job or that you enjoy or love certain aspects of your job but no one can make the wild and completely unbelievable statement that they love their job unless they actually wake up from sleeping in on a Saturday morning sad to be heading out to brunch with friends or on a hike to the lake or getting ready to spend a day bingeing on Netflix instead of doing what they’d really like to be doing: namely, heading to the office. For the record, Adan likes his job but there are aspects of it he could really do without. So nerdy enthusiasm notwithstanding, he’s totally normal.

bread & wine

This past Sunday Adan and I visited the Presbyterian Church in town and participated in communion. Before breaking the bread, the person performing the rite asked, “Who can partake of this meal? Those that are good? Those who try hard and behave well? No. Those who have deposited their trust in Jesus and have been baptized in the faith.” Then he takes the bread and breaks it in half as a representation of Jesus’s body being broken for our sins. He raises the cup as a symbol of his blood being shed on the cross for my salvation. When I am at the table, it stirs me and the substitutional death of Christ in my stead seems more real to me here than in any other place. Even, and especially, when my faith is at its coldest, most apathetic or tired, deader-than-a-doornail breaking point.

I was reminded this morning of my friend Jess’s oldest Reagan, who has a little giraffe blanket she loves, has loved it since she was a baby. It is probably one of her most treasured possessions and though to look at it, it is ratty and nothing special, her great love for it makes it priceless. I come to the table with my ratty, deader-than-a-doornail faith and I feel that God looks on me as His treasured child, and imbues fresh life into my faith.

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Reagan and her little brother Zeke

An experiment in finances

Adan and I tried a zero spending experiment this week (just Monday through Friday). We had groceries and foodstuffs so it’s not like we were recreating famine times or anything, we just wanted to cut back on our expenses and see how much we could save in an effort to re-work our monthly budget. Turns out that living far from the city is actually a huge boon to our savings as there is very little in the evenings to tempt us into spending anyway. We cheated only twice because we ended up having to replace our iPad charger cable and also, I needed butter and apples to make an apple streusel dessert. I am of the opinion that both of these cheats are justifiable as they both qualify as actual necessities, on par with medical emergencies and oxygen (I currently only have Internet access by piping it through the iPad).

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The entirety of our purchases this week

Having made it through the experiment, I am not sure what would be more conducive to greater/easier savings: having one zero spending week a month or if we should just tighten our finances as a whole so as to spend less without putting such drastic measures in place. Truth be told, I’d like to say it was so liberating to not carry cash or have the option of handling any temporary frustration by throwing a pack of Oreos at it (Before I met Adan, I used to handle my frustrations in a healthier way: potato chips. Being exposed to his sugar cravings has increased my own, I think, which is not great because as everyone knows sugar kills.)

And yes, it was liberating but it also felt as if we were on a diet and couldn’t wait for the weekend to come so that we could binge. Case in point, Saturday morning, we woke up and drove into the city to go have breakfast at the Waffle House, then went to the movies.

I find balance and moderation impossibly hard. I think taking an actual vow of silence is easier than to always speak wisely, with words of encouragement and to not gossip or criticize or be negative. You know how John Mayer says, “It’s better to say too much than not to say what you need to say”? I get his point but clearly, it would better still to never say too much without leaving things unsaid that need to be said. I have actually found saying too much to be just as troublesome as saying too little because, as everyone knows, you can apologize for something you said but you can never un-say it. It is easy to have designated feast or famine times with our spending and I think my tendency leans towards famine times because I grew up with a mom who thought buying anything that you liked (as opposed to needed) was self-indulgent to the extreme, whereas Adan is more of a spender (she also taught me good things, like how it’s better to save money for a rainy day rather than to put it on a credit card), and hopefully, we are finding a way towards balancing each other out