Catching up

My life

Since Thanksgiving…  I’ve written my Credo part 1; got an iPhone; visited TN a couple of times; sadly said goodbye to a few housemates; celebrated Christmas with my family and The Nine; met Court’s Allie Grace; rung in the New Year; cheered Emily on at the Disney Land Marathon; played in a little snow; watched the Super Bowl; started a new semester; hosted a Valentine’s dinner; attended the seminary “prom”; made jambalaya for Mardi Gras; and…

GOT ENGAGED! [smile]

His name is Caleb. We’ve been dating since October and he’s completely swept me off my feet (which should help explain why I seemingly dropped off the face of the planet for a few months).

Caleb’s in seminary with me… in fact you may recognize him from the video I posted in October.  (Yes, he’s the guy who I was supposed to be stalking.)  Three days after filming Caleb asked me for coffee and October 1st we meet in Dupont Circle for our first date. Coffee turned into a 5 1/2 hour date that ended with a promise that we would get together again soon. October was a whirlwind of getting to know each other and in November over Thanksgiving we meet each others families… hence all the trips to TN.  At Christmas, I introduced him to The Nine.

On January 20th, he proposed in Dupont Circle… a full post about that will be published soon.  For now just know that I am so happy.  Caleb is wonderful and although wedding planning has already got me a little stressed, I’m so excited about marrying him and starting a life together.

With love, M.

October here and gone

Where did October go?

Just yesterday it felt like I was anticipating celebrating my birthday with my family in Georgia and now its November 2nd.  October seemed to rush in and out this year with little time to reflect.  Perhaps November will forgive if I wax philosophical about October for a moment.

I’ve always thought of October as the changing month and the month of the in between.  This year was the same.  The month began with warmer, cloudy fall days and much rain.  October 1st was a particularly dreary day if I remember correctly.  [smile]  Scattered showers and lots of cloud cover.  And on October 29th we had our first snow flurries heralding the approaching winter.  The month ended on a particularly bright note and though cold October 31st was marked by bright pure sunlight.  The trees followed the weather changes and mostly green leaves turned to mostly oranges, reds, and yellows. Transition happened in my life as with nature.  Twenty seven turned into twenty eight.  Another year of my life begun with new roads to travel. [smile]

I get the feeling that we’re “supposed” to feel like these autumnal changes mark an end of something.  But how can this transition not be seen as a beginning?  Autumn’s colors are not somber, but triumphant.  And the approaching cold brings an awareness to the senses that was not there before.  Instead of calling our attention to an approaching sleep, October with her changes commands we see the world with possibility.

Last night during our worship time for our house meeting, Josh led us in a poetry writing activity.  My mind was captivated by the hope in visioning possibility.  My poem below is quite rough, but I think is appropriate as I remember October 2011.

multiple paths, multiple destinations.

How did I get here?
God? Me?
Nature? Nurture?

This is not what matters.
I am here.
Possibilities fulfilled, possibilities opened.

What’s next?

Gonna make a pie… not!

I like to bake and usually I’m not bad at it, but somethings happened to my kitchen mojo. First the cupcakes turned into con-cakes and now my apple pie crust is a disaster!

It wouldn’t roll out and kept sticking to everything.  I added flour.  No change.  I added ice water. No change.  I finally gave up and pressed it into the pan. We haven’t eaten the pie yet, but I just know its going to be awful.  It may taste okay, but there is really no way the crust is going to hold up.  The worst part is I was baking the pie for people I love and I ended up getting really frustrated with them in the process.

I totally sound like Debbie Downer. [wonk, wonk]

Time for an attitude adjustment.  I will not let this pie defeat me.  This is just the beginning of fall and I will conquer the apple pie by the end of the season!  When I do I’m going to sing while I bake it like Keri Russel in that sweet indie flix Waitress.  Its going to be so awesome.  Better go check on the pies in the oven. Burning them could totally ruin this optimism I’ve got going.

Last Friday night

I do love that song by Katy Perry.  I know you’re probably hoping I’ll write some really crazy tale of my last night adventures, but that would be violating the cone of silence so you’ll get nothing out of me today. [smile]

Friday nights at our house are big community dinner nights.  Last night’s theme, courtesy of Emily, was “Southern Casseroles.”  Comfort food… yum.  Em perfectly orchestrated the entire operation.  In place of a music stand she stood behind her computer and literally pointed to one of the many people around our kitchen’s huge island directing them to stir a pot, mix ingredients, and pour into casserole dishes.  It was quite the feat!

We were all complete gluttons and that’s part of the reason I’m surprised we ate almost the entire pan of Congo Squares I made for dessert.  All in all it was fun night!  Recipe for Congo Squares is now under the “From the Kitchen” tab if you’re interested.

Systematic Theology, Biking Take 2, and a Baking Mishap (aka my week)

Sitting at my desk looking out onto the city as it winds down, I need to process this week.  Exciting, busy, packed, and at times overwhelming this week was like all other first weeks I remember from my academic career and yet it caught me off guard.  No panicky dreams of being late for a class or forgetting an assignment the week before.  I didn’t even make time to shop for school supplies beforehand.  Tuesday afternoon arrived and I felt surprised to be in the middle of my first week of classes already.  Even now after a full week I’m finding it hard to shake the summer malaise.  Still this was an eventful week and I thought I would share some of the highlights.

Systematic Theology with Dr. Soulen… I’ve reached the point in my degree that I have only one class that I must take to fulfill a requirement.  Systematics… hmmm… where to even start?  Well since the thought of the class still makes my heart race a bit lets start by naming those parts of it that are intimidating.  I have to write a 40 page CREDO over the entirety of the year.  The point of the assignment, you wonder?  Oh only to state what I believe.  No biggie.  [smile]  In form of a credo, here’s what I have so far:  I believe in self-doubt.  Articulating a system of beliefs in written format just seems like an impossible task.  Our professor suggested we start out small, writing after each class a reflection on what we thought of the theological topic on the agenda for the day.  Still I can’t help feeling like I’m going to get to the end of the year and only have four or five pages of articulate text and all the rest will be filled with circular logic and absolute nonsense.  I mean what if I [gasp] believe the wrong thing?

On the plus side I will say that the professor gave out good vibes.  He seems as intelligent as he is passionate.  Though it wasn’t the first time I have heard it said in seminary he reminded all of us that by virtue of proclaiming a faith of any kind we are theologians.  I have a feeling that he’ll be very inspiring.  His goal for the class is to guide us toward being better theologians as he too continues to refine his personal theology.  So I can almost forgive him for the CREDO and the two essay exams… almost.

In addition to Systematic Theology I’m also taking Journaling in Nature (in which I’ll have to actually draw… dum da da), Counseling Skills for Pastoral Ministry (hoping I’ll be able to adapt this to my non-ordained plans), Women in the Letters of Paul (with one of my favorite professors from my intro classes), and UM Polity.

Now to Biking in the City, Take 2… Sunday through Wednesday evening I was housesitting for my cousin John and his wife Greta.  They have two sweet puppies:  Magpie and Madelyn.  For the final walk on Wednesday evening I took out Emily’s road bike to head the few blocks over to their home.  Only my second time biking in the city I was surprised how much more comfortable I felt.  I’m so excited about getting my own bike.  Something about cruising through the traffic is so liberating.  Also happy to report no accidents or near accidents this time.  Although I couldn’t avoid getting grease all over my leg from the gears. [smile] I’m going to have to try to figure out something that will either keep the grease off my leg or something that can quickly remove it.  I suppose I could just work on being a better biker.

Finally, tragedy struck last night when I was baking cupcakes for our first community Friday night dinner of the semester.  My cupcakes turned into “con-cakes”.  Instead of rising, they collapsed.  [frown]  I was slightly redeemed by the taste.  Everyone loved them.  The problem I think was a problem with baking soda instead of powder.  I was loosely following a recipe, but diverted it just enough that it failed.  I forgot to even say what kind of cupcakes they were… orange cake with cream cheese frosting.  I will conquer them.  This I resolve and luckily I have 15 housemates who don’t mind being guinea pigs.

Overwhelming and hectic as my week was, I can’t think of another road I’d want to be traveling on.  I’ve decided thus to change my blog’s title.  I only ever intended it to be a holding place and I think it makes sense to alter it now.  While I still love that “Standing at a fork in the road…” embodies the choices that I daily encounter, I hope my new title “The road we’re traveling on” will suggest the joy I feel in the journey of discovery that this final year of seminary will entail.  This is a line from Paul Simon’s American Tune, a song that I rediscovered this week.

Many’s, the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
But I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away Irom home

And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassunngly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

Though it may seem slightly depressing or morose, the dreams Simon write of are hopeful to me.  Acknowledging that blessing and challenges are a part of life, but through it all we still travel together on the journey toward revelation.


Baking Lessons

As I was hoping I spent some time baking today.  Is it appropriate to say in celebration of the end of the raw food diet?  I’m not sure, but lets just go with that.

With the world of exciting cakes to choose from I decided to fall back on one of my favorite tried and true creations:  Grammy’s Sour Cream Pound Cake.  It has been so long since I’ve made a pound cake I’d forgotten how delicious they are.  Its the simplicity of the cake that makes it so unforgettable.  The perfect pound cake isn’t overly heavy or dense, but light and springy.  My grandmother’s recipe calls for almond, lemon, and vanilla extract and I love the smell and taste of the three flavors together.

There I go waxing philosophical about cake when what I really wanted to tell you was that I gave my first baking lesson today.  My pupil was David, a friend from seminary who I’d been spending the afternoon with.  After stopping by the grocery with me for a few needed ingredients, we went home for the lesson.  David was a willing student… though on second thought I didn’t give him much of a choice.  We were having this conversation about how he doesn’t cook and I was beginning to gather what I needed for the cake when I just ordered him to wash his hands so I could teach him how to make this cake. [smile]

It was quite fun actually and he really did make the cake himself… no matter what he says to the contrary.  [smile] The whole process reminded me of several years ago when my grandmother and I were in her kitchen having a similar lesson.  I still have the recipe where she had me write extra notes about when exactly to add this or that… all those particulars that make her cake a unique creation.

Memory… reason #89 that I love baking.

Birthday cakes

This love of baking that I’ve discovered over the last year can be in large part credited to my awesome test subjects… ahem, I mean housemates.  Living with seventeen people means birthdays happen almost every month.  And with every birthday we have to have a birthday cake.  Because I’ve wanted to practice my baking skills everyone gets to pick their favorite cake.  My motto:  there is no cake I won’t tackle.  [smile]

I thought I would post some of the highlights from the past few birthdays.  Luke’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake is the current favorite in our house, but its also my latest creation.  You’ll find all the recipes under the Cakes link on the From the Kitchen tab.