Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 19 - Something Orange

This little guy came back with my parents from Mexico. He mostly hangs out on the computer monitor in the living room...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 18 - Your Shoes


30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 17 - Technology

The definition of technology (courtesy of
1. the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area
2. a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
3. the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor
I practically applied my knowledge of coffee and various brewing methods, and accomplished the task of cold brewing coffee, a specialized aspect of coffee brewing which endeavors to reduce the acidity of coffee and allow the coffee consumer to enjoy iced coffee without needing to add ice to hot coffee. My method involved the use of 2 glass pitchers and a reusable coffee filter from a regular coffee pot.

Step 1: Measure coffee grounds & water into glass pitcher using a 1:4 ratio. 
Step 2: Cover the pitcher and leave the grounds to soak for about 12 hours.
Step 3: Pour the contents of the pitcher through a coffee filter into another pitcher.
Step 4: The coffee produced is a concentrate and should be enjoyed using a 1:4 coffee to water/milk/ice ratio.

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 16 - Long Exposure

Long exposure to summer sunshine has Mane turning brown...
Long exposure to books and stories has her motivated to do the library reading program...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 15 - Silhouette

This is the avatar I use for MidnightCafe everywhere...

It's a photo of Mango & I at Lake Michigan the summer before Mane was born. We camped at a campground, the name of which I can never remember, that was cheap and right on the Lake. We used the self timer on our SLR Nikon, and the camera was perched in the rocks. Strange the things we remember as though it were yesterday...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 14 - Eyes

Guest photographer...Mane took this photo of herself...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 13 - Yourself with 13 Things

The things that have been multiplying in my house since Mane was born...and me walking around and scooping them up!

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 12 - Sunset

It isn't sunset, but the baby niece is sleeping...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 11 - Something Blue

The sling I used to carry Mane for years and years...and then T.'s daughter, and now my little niece...and every once in a while Mane uses it for a baby doll...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 10 - Childhood Memory

I have found myself marveling lately at the way life brings us around, how we come full circle, how we feel at peace when we come back to a place, revisit something, bring it back around... I mentioned this in my post on Day 4 of the photo challenge. It was interesting, both unsettling and comforting at the same time (if that's possible), that we ended up camping at Spirit Mountain so soon after Gabe's death, when the last time T. was at Spirit Mountain was with Gabe. I chose the destination without knowing that, but it was as though something was calling us back to the place. And the night that we finally walked out to the chairlifts there was a glorious lightning storm with a purple sky and great crashes of thunder. It was quite satisfying really. There was plenty of pain in the moment but, also, a certain the same way that we all felt the need to visit the scene of the accident while we were in Colorado. We just had to go back to the place.

I have an entirely different feeling about spending Shabbat evening with our friends, and, yet, there is this one piece of similarity. It brings back childhood memories of Bible Study at the first house where I lived, before I was in Kindergarten. It brings me full circle in a way I didn't expect. What I've been longing for in a spiritual community for so long is something true, something free, something natural. When I was a very small child, Bible study was simple, full of simple songs and a certain fresh openness that the early hippie Christians had back in those days. Something happened later that turned the church more rigid, more controlling, more arrogant. But back then there was an eagerness to learn and an openness to whatever might come. And we sang these same song that we sing now on Friday nights for Shabbat. It astonishes me every time I am brought back to that old comforting feeling, that childhood memory of being 4 years old and surrounded by new faith. And then I know that I am home. And this is right. And this is where I belong.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 9 - Someone You Love

This is me...and someone I love...

We'll be celebrating our 13th anniversary on Monday, and things only get better. It's been a year with a lot of bumps and snags, but it's also been a year of tremendous growth and depth. And love is a word that just keeps evolving. Just when I think I know what it is to love, it gets to be more...deeper, stronger, more powerful, more evocative. It requires more of me and also covers over and protects me, this love. My love, Mango's love...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 8 - A Bad Habit

Staying up too late because I can't sleep if Mango isn't sleeping...Mango does homework, I read books, write blog posts, research all the things I've been wanting to research...and get no sleep...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 7 - Fruit

This painting by Ellen Eilers has hung above our dining table for years, probably since year 2 of our marriage or so. It came from Mango's parents, who own a number of other Eilers paintings. When we moved to this new house, almost 3 years ago, it was a moment of great weight when we unwrapped it and hung it in its place. Once the painting was back on the wall, it didn't matter than the rest of the house was in complete chaos. These fruit trees with all their jumbled mixed fruit made it home.

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 6 - From a low angle

Leif Erikson Park in Duluth

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 5 - From a high angle

We're always looking down at these little people. In their world, we are always coming from a high angle. Everything is so much bigger. It's hard to see where you're going. 

This little guy was also on our camping trip. We trekked into Duluth on Sunday, and, in the time it took all 6 adults to blink, this little one stepped out into the street. Mango called his name and ran after him. His daddy got there first and swooped him up into safety.

Later, I mused with Mango over the close calls in life, the "might have beens" and the "what ifs." You see, not only did my high school friend, Gabe, die in a horrible and completely unforeseen car accident two weeks ago, but his 2yr old daughter came within inches of losing her life. And then there's the phone call I received Monday morning, while we were still camping, letting me know that the teenage daughter of a friend of mine attempted suicide Saturday night.

So little separates us from what might be and what actually is. We are so fragile and so strong all at once. We never know what might actually be from one moment to the next, and yet, we are called to live deeply and fully, in a strong, steady, and even fearless kind of way.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 4 - Something Green

I wasn't thinking about the photo challenge on Sunday...when I managed to catch such great clouds shots. I discovered, though, that by focusing on the green in the forefront, I could get the sky to show up in the photo the way I wanted it. So, here's my something green...

What a beautiful night it was. The lightning was flashing across the purple sky, the wind was cool and fresh, the hills were covered with tall green grass and wildflowers, full of life. ...and we thought of Gabe, our dear friend, tall as the truth, his memory full of so much life, and his life gone. The last time T. was in this place it was winter and she was skiing with Gabe.  We ended up camping here this weekend because of the government shut-down. Our plan to stay at a state park fell through, and I made reservations for this place. Strange how life brings us around sometimes, without us really intending it.

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 3 - Clouds

The whole sky was clouds on Saturday, and our campground was entirely engulfed in cloud. So, I took a picture of clouds through the trees in order to give your eyes some relief from the sheer white.

There were actually a number of better cloud photo ops over the rest of the weekend...

Friday, July 08, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 2 - What I Wore Today

Since I'm not all that interested in fashion, and I can't tell you where most of my clothes come from because I bought them all at Savers, I'll tell you about this one little item that I'm wearing today, and I wear it every day, and I've worn it for the last almost 13 years. Mango designed it...with a rose for my birth month and a thistle for his family's homeland of Scotland and a cross in the middle and a diamond in the center of that. It's a symbol of us. It's a symbol of who we were, who we wanted to become, and what we are slowly becoming. The vines grow together with a deep and shining faith at the center, a guide for our tumultuous life on the edge. If everything else changes day by day and hour by hour, we cling to these 3 things that remain: faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 - How's that for some unlucky numbers, but the way? Lets you know you'll be living on the edge if you follow this path. And our 13th anniversary is just 10 days away.)

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned." (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 1 - Self Portrait

I wanted to leave yesterday's post at the top a little a tribute, you know...but I also wanted to get started on this 30 day photography challenge and invite the rest of ya'll out there to join in. For me, it'll be a chance to channel the emotional energy that currently surrounds me into something creative. Strange how I find that I'm most creative when I'm tired, sad, grieved, depressed, angry...pretty much anything other than happy. I find that I pay more attention to my internal self when there's dissonance. And I'm more motivated to work it out on the page when there's something that needs working out.

Day 1- Self Portrait


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A great man is gone...

Two girlfriends and I packed up in one of their cars and drove out to Colorado this past weekend to go to the funeral of a dear, old friend...except he wasn't old. He was way too young.

In week before we left, I was handling all those high school memories of him gingerly, like old parchment, afraid it would all crumble between my fingers. Maybe I would crumble. I strained carefully at those faded memory pages, through the blurred lines and found him all over the place, the places where our lives intersected, where he knew my other friends, where the things I learned from him are written into the rest of my life.

You can't go to school with someone for years and years, with only 5-7 people in your class, and not have them be part of the story of your life. He is written into my story everywhere. That smile, that mischievous grin, those overalls, the red hair, basketball games, bus rides, camp, Mexico,'s all there. And there he is.

I once said to someone that I will forever be grateful to my guy friends from high school for teaching me what I wanted in a man, for teaching me that men with wonderful qualities were really out there in the world, men who could be trusted. I knew I wanted the depth and conversation of P., the faith and integrity of E., and the adventure and steadiness of G..

Yes, Gabe. On June 25th, the Gabe, who taught me adventure and steadiness, went out of this world. All week I had this e.e.cummings poem running through my head:

 a great


Tall as the truth

was who:and
wore his(mountains


like a(now
one sweet sun

in it,now with a 

flaming billion kinds
of nameless


His parents described him as a "mountain man," and when we were in high school his favorite catch phrase was, "Let's talk about the forest." He was a man connected to the earth, who saw the wonder of creation and reveled in it. He was outfitting his SUV with a bunk in the back to take his little girl camping. So, I'm glad we went to his farewell in the mountains, in a place that seemed full of his spirit, though he is no longer there.

When we left the funeral home, the clouds broke apart and the sun shone down on us like a gift, and cold, wet raindrops fell from the sky.  Heaven's tears. Heaven's healing sun.

We visited the scene of the accident, where he was hit and run off the road by a drunk driver, and I was struck by the peacefulness of the scene. It was so pastoral. So surreal. So unbelievable. But it had his name written all over it. And, again, raindrops splashed on our toes as we walked the length of road.

A great man is gone.