Monday, November 28, 2011

Punctuated with Pictures.

My weekend was something akin to insanity. Mental, slightly. Physical, absolutely.

But first, let me cover thanksgiving. Since we don’t celebrate until Friday, I went to a friend’s house on the actual day, which was great. My family had a much smaller one than usual, since the half of my cousins that usually come were over in Eastern Washington.

But Rachel was here with her family…


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And of course, we had to walk to the park afterward. Some kind of activity to work off all those calories is good, I suppose.


And on the way home, we played some walking-frisbee… and took some more pictures!


And after thanksgiving came and went, I found myself going Christmas tree hunting.

Originally, I had no clue what all was involved. Vague thoughts of snow and hiking swirled around in my brain, and those were indeed correct. However, in my mind’s eye, I had no vision of what was truly going to go on…..

The setting: Waaaaay up Forest Service Road 74, amidst quite a bit of snow. The characters: A few Smiths, several Larsons, and one befuddled Edwards. To prevent misrepresenting my level of prepared-ness, let me explain… I was quite careful to do some logistical reconnaissance on this mission beforehand. People were questioned closely about what I should bring, what all would happen, etc. Therefore, I was well armed with all kinds of wool and polypropylene layers to go under all the other layers upon layers, and thanks to some military friends, had some pretty decent stuff.

But let me warn you. If in the future, someone hands you a pair of boots with a smile, and says “Here, these are waterproof! Just pop on some wool socks, and you’ll be set!” Don’t believe it. Chances are that, like me, halfway through the day you will find yourself tromping up a hill, amazed that despite being overheated from exertion, you still can’t feel your little toe. The hypochondriac in me begins to wonder, “How long does it take for frostbite to set in?” Then the logical part of me intervenes with, “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not actually that cold up here. Your nose is fine, and that means your toes are fine.” Note that this still doesn’t stop me from cautiously querying about it, then feeling like an idiot as soon as the words leave my mouth. (this is a common occurrence, by the way.)

Getting up to where the actual trees were turned out to be quite complex. It involved…..


Getting stuck several times. Then getting dug out. Rinse, Repeat. It’s not scary, as long as you trust your driver. It’s merely time consuming. But surprisingly, fishtailing on a snowy road can be fun. Nonetheless, I was glad to be in the passengers seat or backseat, and not responsible for the wheel…

Once we landed at the first spot, I was slightly agog at the amount of snow I had to trudge through. And I do not use the word “Trudge” lightly. Let me give you a true description. Carefully I take a step. Happy to find that I am still upright, I let my weight shift a bit. Wham. That’s when one leg goes plummeting into the two and half feet of snow. Finding myself standing crooked and in well over my knees, I sigh, think of how wet my feet are getting, and try to step halfway out of the hole I’ve created. BAM. I fall on my face. Reset—This time I have my feet further apart in a convoluted attempt at weight distribution. “If I lean forward at the right angle while I step…” Smack. Back down into the snow. By now I’ve made it a whole ten feet!

That’s when I look up from my snowy mess that I’ve sunk down into, only to find myself facing a pair of these:



Snowshoes, planted lightly on the snow, not sunk in much at all. It was as if they were mocking me….  If only I’d had some…. Next year.

Anyway. A tree was successfully found, and brought back down. Not by me, but nonetheless, my mother will have a Christmas tree to decorate this year.




I’ll perhaps add more details later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In my mind, there was a lovely plan of sitting in front of a fire with a pot of tea, blogging something beautiful. The trouble is, I am quite out of tea, and there are no logs stockpiled by the kitchen door like usual. I know, the words “You are pathetic” are going through your head right now. It just might be true….. While I do realize that I could tromp out into the backyard, wrapped in one of the guys’ plaid flannel quilted shirts with extra long sleeves (to protect from spiders), and bring in wood from the woodpile, I have good reasons for hesitating. Last year, I was fearless. I pulled on gloves, chopped kindling, and brought in lots of wood. I hesitate now because the spiders have begun to take vengeance on me. I think I got bit last night, and thus have no intention of baiting them further and increasing my availability to their habitat. Therefore, having eaten a large and quite good breakfast (though I do say so myself… ;) ), I intend on stealing  *cough* borrowing some of my brother’s tea, and settling for turning on the heat instead of enjoying a cozy fire. With my current mood, this post was either going to turn out very dark, introspective, and deep, or be a light inane chattery one. Today I am settling for the latter. Consider carefully before you proceed, lest the result of reading be a strange lightheaded feeling.

I’ve gotten to a terrible place of breaking my own rules. Normally, I would never go over to someone’s house in pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Nor would I ever set foot in a store or coffee place while wearing sweatpants or workout clothes. And no, it’s not because I don’t know how to relax. It’s just that I generally do my relaxing at home. By myself. I am not the sort to be comfortable enough in most people’s homes to don comfy clothes. Generally I reserve that for my home sweet home. Sadly, I can’t live up to my precedents. Me and my anemic, low iron, low energy self (yes, I’ve been forgetting to take all my lovely pills.) have been wandering into people’s homes, borrowing pajama pants, and crashing on couches without so much as a by-your-leave. Good heavens.

I also thought I would never put chai spice into a mocha. That one has been broken about a dozen times now…. It turned out to be quite good, despite the shocked and wary looks the barista at Starbucks gave me. They have no tolerance for brilliance and creativity, apparently. Nor did I plan on making my coffee without putting vanilla or some such flavor in it. And yet, multiple times I’ve used only sugar and milk. What is my latte-mocha-frappuccino world coming to? The day I drink black coffee and actually like it will be a dark one, that will hopefully never come. I am too close for comfort already. This must stop….

One of my worst social confessions of last week? I turned on the country radio station. Heavens to betsy. I never do that. If by some freak of radio waves, I happen to catch a twangy note or two, I immediately exclaim aloud, and turn the station posthaste. But this time, I actually did it on purpose. If you know me well, you understand what an earth-shaking thing that is to do. Lest you think me too far fallen, let me assure you—I did not linger for more than twenty seconds. It was like stepping to the edge of a cliff, peering over and pondering jumping. Then, with a sudden return to sanity, being snatched away from the edge and brought back to safety.

This week I am resolved. I’ll be taking my pills, drinking my coffee, staying hydrated, and keeping it all together.

I should be going—I have a game night to plan, some Owen to read, piano lessons to teach, a dishwasher to load, laundry to put away, piano to practice, a caramel party to arrange, and an apple pie to make. I’ll save my deeper musings for another day. (or just throw them away).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I’d just like to remind you that it’s not Christmas yet.

There’s really no way to describe it. It’s one of those enigmas that may remain unexplained for an entire lifetime—perhaps even longer. Creeping up on you slowly, it then startles you with its awful strains, and if you’re the easily captured sort, it snatches you from gloom and showers you with a combination of grimacing, smiling, laughing, and cringing. If you are strong, you’ll make it through three, maybe even four minutes. I can’t make it that long. And that’s why, when my parents came home on Monday, and snuck a cd into the player, turning it up to high volume, I couldn’t decide whether to run or burst out laughing. First I heard Christmas-like bells jingling, then a voice. Sounds like a promising beginning…. Except that the voice belonged to Bruce Springsteen, and the song was “Santa Clause is coming to town.” If you have never listened to it, now is the time to do it. It is definitely four minutes of cultural education that you will never get back. But until you hear it, you’ll never understand. It’s so obnoxiously dreadful, so horrifically off-key, so severely gritty, that it almost is worth listening to, merely because it is so bad as to become entertaining. I think its appeal is sentimental for me, for there can really be no other explanation. But I’m afraid that the sentimentality can only get me through the first two minutes. Oddly enough, at the time they got home, I had been having a rather bad day, and had in fact written a depressing blog post just before they arrived. (Which will remain unpublished.) Yet something about Springsteen’s off key, skewed rhythm, and christmassy sound pulled me out of it. In the face of so much musical  discord and destruction, all you can do is burst out laughing. Then, sixty seconds later, say “Wait, are you serious? We’re going to hear the whole song?”

Thus begins this season’s Christmas music. I know, I know-- I have posted before about how much I abhor the tendency of listening to Christmas music BEFORE Thanksgiving, and I still hold to that. Sometimes, with admirable effort, I can restrain the tide of jingling bells, snowy themes, chestnuts and stockings, red noses, and frosted evergreen trees from hitting our home until after the third Thursday in November, but this year I am clearly fighting for a lost cause. Two more new Christmas collections from Costco have been tossed into the mélange of bright cheery tunes that we already have, and I’m afraid they are about to become the bane of my existence.

Just tell me one thing. Am I the last person left who LOVES Christmas music, but only in it’s season? Is there anyone else out there who understands that the glories of Christmas music are best saved for AFTER thanksgiving?

Answers/Accusations/Proclamations of shock would all be appreciated.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Some timely words from Spurgeon…

“Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God Spurgeon morning eveningwhen friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself,  He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. When “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, let us must upon it all day long.”

-- Morning and Evening, morning October 7

Friday, November 04, 2011

It’s one of those days. Those horrible end-of-the-week-haven’t-gotten-enough-sleep days. I’m sure you know the feeling—You run into one last hurdle, and it just seems to be too much to jump over. You think of all the things that have happened throughout the week that you didn’t cry over, and are just about ready to burst into tears. Well, at least I am.

This week for me? An odd conglomeration of strange happenings, social awkwardness and moments of random stupidity (on my part, that is…), and just enough sour notes to throw it all into uproar. The strange thing is, I had a ton of fun at various times throughout, and so in some respects it was a great week.

Strange happening number 1: A crisp fall walk turning into a fascinating encounter with a man of questionable sobriety. Also an annoying reminder that no matter how small the town, there will always be someone to provide creepiness.

Number 2: A giant spider attempting to take refuge under my purse and jacket on Halloween. Thankfully, it was killed by a brave soul with more fortitude than I have in the face of such trauma…. But I recovered quickly.

Number 3: (perhaps this one isn’t too abnormal, now that I think about it) One simple question leading to an hour long discussion/lecture about dispensationalist views, covenant theology, eschatology (a-millennialism, pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, pre-trib rapture)  schofield, Grudem, and MacArthur, hermeneutics, the danger of eisegesis rather than exegesis, soteriology and other things.

Number 4: Reversing into a parking spot to get a chair out of an office building may seem like an easy thing for most people, and it usually is for me as well. But this time, I backed into the rather tall concrete barrier instead. Turtle wax concealed some of the damage….

Social awkwardness moments: Too many to number, but we’ll throw out one or two of the best. Just visualize me, not thinking, running on caffeine, and slightly brain dead, making thoughtless comments that may or may not be bringing up the most controversial subjects possible. Yes, welcome to my life.

1: Buying something in QFC, thinking to myself “If I don’t have enough cash, I’ll just write out a check,” then, while facing the poor boy at the cash register, realizing that I don’t have any checks left. Enter frantic digging through my purse, a line piling up behind me, and a red-faced Em finally coming up with the perfect amount of change. I don’t turn red often, but I could feel it this time.

2. Informing the Owner of The Car about aforementioned damage. Wait, it wasn’t me who mentioned it…. It was my mother. “Honey, by the way, Em backed into something and gouged the back of the van.” To which I indignantly respond, “I thought we weren’t going to mention that until I could buff out some of the scratches! And it wasn’t that big!” At which time said Owner interjects with “So what happened? Did somebody hit you? And what kind of damage are we talking?” After explaining that words like “Gouge, crash, destroy, and crunch” are highly overstating the situation, I state that it’s merely a small scratch, and he needn’t even bother coming to look at it… Then race to the back and grab the wax and a rag to do as much paint cleaning as possible. Afraid that I can’t do much about, well, the rest of it.

3. Casually mentioning to The Papa about aforementioned drunk/crazy man. Facial expressions were quite impossible to describe.

Sour notes:

1. Literally. Sour notes. The B-flat on my piano has gone out, and therefore playing Rachmaninov’s “Elegy”, has become much less satisfying. Normally it’s the perfect soundtrack to any little tragedy, but the effect is highly lessened when every tenth note in the bass clef is silent.

2. Sore. Working out might be good for you, but I might drop dead one of these days from it.

3. Normal life stresses. They always add up at the same time! And that is why we have punching bags….

Despite all of the above, I have to say that I am thankful for friends who seem to be able to handle me in spite of all my foibles. Getting a text from someone saying that we just need to get together, is wonderful, especially when we can nail down a for sure time. Catching up with a cousin and going Swedish Meatball searching makes a day much nicer. Suggestions from other friends for an overnight getaway for five of us are like a breath of fresh air…. Autumn walks with a brother make a normal Wednesday evening into a Quite Pleasant Evening. And somehow I still get invited to fantastic comfortable gatherings that lend themselves perfectly to spiced cider, popcorn, doughnuts, card games, and grand company. The Lord provides what you need exactly when you need it! Put that way, this week is weighing in more on the “Half-full” (make that a triple grande caramel macchiato half full!) side.