Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i'm sorry, i can't make it

so on thursday, a friend canceled for coffee.
and on friday, my friend canceled her weekend visit.
and on monday, the mid-week visit was canceled.
and on tuesday, another friend canceled for coffee.
and today, my friend canceled for lunch.

i understand. really, i do. but i don't have to like it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

really big pots and racks

so when i woke up this morning and went into the kitchen to make coffee, i lifted the lid off the apple butter. it had cooled off plenty and i decided to give it another taste. my suspicion last night was that it was a bit too sweet. well, not much you can do to take sweet out of something, and honestly, can a fruit topping be "too" sweet? but the verdict stands...too sweet.

i looked at the last ten big apples i had left from my jaunt to the apple festival last saturday and decided that the best way to solve this problem was to make another batch with less sugar and then mix the two when they are done. so the second batch is in the crock pot and i anticipate that the house will start smelling all apply here in another couple of hours.

i must say that i'm very proud of myself for conquering the Finger-Severing Santuko. for those of you who know my propensity with knives, i have finally learned how to wield the beast properly! i dont think i need to be afraid of it any more, though i still have a healthy respect for it.

now, about canning. i was planning on canning the apple butter today (before i decided to make a second batch). so while i was drinking my coffee, i pulled out the better homes and gardens new cookbook to read up on the process. i've not done it before, but how hard can it be?

the cookbook talked about filling the jars and putting them in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and boiling them. well, i have a big pot. i don't have a rack. how necessary is the rack? i thought to myself that my grandma probably didn't have a special pot with a special rack just for canning. so i pulled out my grandma's cookbook to see what i could find. the first "vintage" cookbook i checked has a copyright of 1953 and it said the same thing: use a canning pot and canning rack. moving on. next cookbook has a copyright of 1963 and it said to write the u.s. department of agriculture and get their "home and garden bulletin #8: home canning of fruits and vegetables" for only 20¢. *sigh*

i've been told that i'm ingenuitive so i headed back into the kitchen and pulled out my big pot. i usually use it for making soup. it's a big pot. makes a lot of soup. now, i just need to find a rack of sorts to sit the jars on, and it must fit inside the pot. my first idea was my steaming basket. it fit in the pot and it opened up, but it didn't open all the way so it wasn't flat. i decided it wouldn't work for boiling jars. and after looking through all of my gadgets, i realized that i didn't have a second idea.

at this point, i've decided that i Do have to have a pot and a rack to do this. off to the store.

did you know that canning is a "seasonal" activity? in my mind, it's still october, and apples are still in season, and people are still making apple sauce and apple butter. but No, it is the End of canning season, which means that the stores are clearing their stock of canning supplies. the bad thing about that was that if i need more jars, i'm out of luck, because they are all sold out. and that the racks they had left were too big for my big pot. but that the big canning pot, with rack, was on Clearance! so, now i have a new pot. it's a Really Big Pot and i have no idea where i'm going to store it, but now i can can my apple butter.

so now, i just need to perfect my grandma's biscuit-making talent, 'cause there's nothing better on biscuits than apple butter!

Friday, October 24, 2008

desert rain

even the crickets have gone to sleep, but i'm awake, as i have been often at 2 a.m. these past months. much of my wakefulness has been restless, whether it has been in the daytime or the nighttime. you wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at me...the restlessness has been primarily internal.

i've spent the past 20 months journeying through the desert, figuratively. but lately, it's been different. finally, rain came to the desert.

when it first starts raining in the desert, it touches the surface. you see it. you feel it. but it doesn't go deep. know it's good, and you know it was needed, and it is so good to feel something other than dust on your skin. but when the desert has been without rain for a very long time, it's skin is broken and cracked and dry. and while the rain calms the dust, it rolls off the surface. it doesn't soak in. it doesn't heal. it's just water. just water. just. water.

water might be what started it all. we take water for granted where i live. every home has a source of water for immediate use and consumption. most homes have many. sinks, tubs, toilets, spigots. yes, i included toilets. because the water there helps keep bacteria and disease away from us. we don't really think about why we need water at all.

in july i went to meet some people who were doing something amazing. a group of 17 people were taking the summer to ride their bicycles across the united states. they were doing it for blood:water mission. their goal? to increase awareness and raise money to help build 1,000 clean-water wells in africa. and by having clean water, it will help eliminate disease, hence, clean blood. that's when it started - when i went to meet these people.

when the desert is without rain, it doesn't change much. walking on the hard soil is like walking on rocks. you can hike for days and a quick wind will erase the dust of your footprints. when the ground is dry, it's not affected by you. and things will still grow, as they've acclimated themselves to that terrain. it's not unlivable.

the desert of my soul had become hard and cracked and dry. i'd lost my ability to feel much of anything. that's one of the beauties of the desert. not feeling can be welcome. not feeling can be a relief. not feeling is a way to protect yourself. from what, you ask? simple. from feeling. because when your soul is hard and cracked and dry like the desert, and you don't feel, you protect yourself from pain. from things that hurt. and who doesn't want that?

but when it rains in the desert, you start to feel. the rain washes the dust away. and slowly, very slowly, the rain stops rolling off the top and starts sinking in. do you know what happens when water and dirt mix? the shape of things starts changing, and you get mud. mud is messy. mud is dirty. mud is unpredictable. when dirt is hard and cracked and dry, you know you can stomp all over it without much of a reaction. but mud? squish. splash. ooze.

it's not a pretty thing, but it's been raining in my desert life since summer and now i'm all muddy and gooey and oozey on the inside. the rain has been sinking in and my life is changing, because i'm feeling again. high highs and low lows. the happy times are happier and the sad times are sadder. but that's the way it is in real life.

amazing the things you start to notice when you allow yourself to feel. and what i've noticed is people, and how blessed i am to have so many of them in my life. how necessary they are in my life. and how much fun it is to play, in the mud, with your friends! so the restlessness is part of the rain, the mud, the feeling. restlessness is not bad. it's part of the healing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…

what’s a girl to do with a half bushel of apples?

i went to an apple harvest festival today, and well, i just couldn’t help myself! somehow it took me back about 20-something years, to my first autumn in virginia. we moved to roanoke the summer i turned 14. i didn't know then that i'd end up living here longer than in any other state.

it was probably a saturday afternoon, and my parents took us to an apple orchard to pick apples. we spent the next several days peeling and coring apples, and mom made applesauce and apple butter...pies weren't really her thing.

so today, when i set out to spend this brisk fall saturday outdoors, i stumbled on an apple festival. like i said, i just couldn't help myself! i have great plans for these apples. plans reminiscent of my mom, and my grandma. apple butter and pies.

but that apple festival didn't take up much of the day, so my friend and i decided to drive west...towards the blue ridge parkway. we found the perfect campground, right next to a babbling brook. too bad the temperature is supposed to be 38 degrees tonight, or we just might have popped a tent and stayed! probably the best thing about the campground was the little cafe right across the brook that serves hot coffee and breakfast!

cameras in hand, we did our absolute best to capture the day. the trees have just begun to change. there were some amazing reds and yellow, and the colors will only intensify over the next couple of weeks. we drove down a road that was off the beaten path (hey, the gate was open and we didn't see a sign that said "authorized vehicles only"); we took pictures of moss and berries and leaves; we climbed big rocks.

we made a big loop...west to the parkway, south to the peaks of otter, east through beford, goode, and forest, and then north through lynchburg back to madison heights.

the apple pie came out of the oven about an hour ago. should be the perfect temperature to cut and eat.

so yeah, i'm done here for now... :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


i've been sitting around lately.
trying to find projects to keep me busy.

consequently, doing a lot of thinking.
that's what happens when i'm left alone with myself.

we weren't created to be alone.
and i'm not talking about being lonely. that's not it.

i was once asked to consider the difference between solitude and alone.
and the past couple of months have taught me a lot about those two things. they're not the same, you know.

my first response, when faced with the two, was that they were the same.
i like being alone. i need solitude. it's necessary for survival.
and after a few months of mostly solitude, i've experienced the difference.

i'm solitary by nature. i do need it. it is necessary.
i have not been working, which is daily contact with others, whether you want it or not. i discovered that i have gone entire days (sometimes a couple) without talking. i laugh when i answer the telephone at 3pm and someone asks me if i just woke up because i haven't actually used my voice that day yet. i've gone days without stepping outside, because there was nowhere i needed to go or nowhere i needed to be. and given the choice to stay home or go hang out at barnes and noble with coffee and a magazine, i most always chose stay home. i enjoy solitude. it is not lonely. it is contentedly being alone.
solitude is a choice.
solitude is the choice i usually choose.

and after months of solitude,
after months of being alone,
i realized that i had stopped choosing. alone had chosen me. and alone is not a choice.
alone is when you realize that there are not people in your daily life. it is when you realize that, even though you don't want to be constantly surrounded by people, or activity, there is a marked absence of people or activity...and you didn't choose this. when i had roommates, i wasn't alone. when i worked with other people, i wasn't alone. when i choose to be integrally involved with other people, i am not alone.

of course you know that you can be in a room full of people and be lonely. the absence of alone does not ensure the absence of loneliness. but i do think that alone is the opposite of solitude. one chooses you...the other you choose. and i think loneliness happens when alone chooses you.

i realized that somewhere along the way, i let alone choose me. because of the circumstances of my life, it happened quite easily. the people in my life that i am closest to do not live nearby. i haven't really tried to make connections with the people i know who live locally. and even though i am fortunate to have deep, amazing friendships, i've realized that i need people here, in my everyday, to do life with.

solitude is still necessary, but it is temporary.
i need people in my everyday.
it's time for me to move my life,
not just my home,

and i've finally chosen to do something about it...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

section 65: arlington national cemetery

this week, hbo has been airing a documentary on section 60 at arlington. this is where the soldiers from operation iraqi freedom are being buried.

it is right across the street from section 65, where my papa and mama are buried. at both of their burials, it was winter and the ground was frozen, and there was ice everywhere.

after mom died, i went to arlington relatively frequently. i would sit on the ground and sometimes talk, but mostly just be. sometimes papa and i went together. i know that he went a lot more than i did. but i went whenever i wanted to. and i seldom cried. i didn't need to, i guess. it was comforting somehow.

after papa died, i moved away. i've been back to northern virginia many times since then. i've driven past the cemetery many times. i've only gone back inside once.

in december 2006, papa said, "next year for christmas, i want to take a wreath to the cemetery and put it on sara's grave." in january 2007, he was buried with sara. in december 2007, i took two wreaths to arlington.

and i don't know if i can go back. being there, seeing the headstone, was not comforting any more. it broke my heart all over again.

the flag that covered my papa's coffin hangs on my wall...white stars on a field of blue. i miss him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

chloe sabine delta ludlow

yes, i'm a new aunt again. isn't she beautiful? i just love her. she was born on monday morning, 8 lb. 8 oz. and healthy as can be.

it's amazing.

so pure.
so precious.
so pretty.


"it is good to remember that we need each other greatly, you and i, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than most of the time we dare to admit." - fredrick buechner

just write . . . | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates