Birds of a Feather

Friday Five January 31, 2014

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 8:47 pm

It’s been a long one.

1. Every little cafe at every place of business has one dish that is far, far worse than it sounds like it will be. Today, I found that dish in the cafe in my building (a “crispy pancetta salad” which was neither crispy nor contained much pancetta). Ultimately, I ate a few bites, and then had a chocolate-covered pretzel for lunch instead.

2. The temperatures rose above freezing today! Woo-hoo!

3. We are DEFINITELY rooting for the Seahawks this week.  And by “we”, I mean “I”.  C (as usual) just hopes it is a good game (but he’ll probably have some Skittles, too).

4. This is a crazy story.  All I can say is, please be careful when carrying a Stradivarius across a dark parking lot.

5. Major drawback to growing up in the Evergreen State – I never learned to identify deciduous trees, like this one (a sycamore, perhaps?)

Major benefit: everything else (I think “Evergreen State” pretty much says it all.  None of this dreary mid-winter…well, maybe dreary, but at least there is green!)

Name the tree with the beautiful bark!

Name the tree with the beautiful bark!

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Friday Five January 10, 2014

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 2:55 pm

Happy New Year!

1.
We are so glad to have made it through the crazy weather of the last week and a half, with just a very small amount of water in the basement. A brief recap: After a snow storm* last Thursday night that was sufficiently large to close the universities, Sunday it warmed up enough that all the snow melted. Then, on Monday night/Tuesday morning, temperatures plummeted (this was the “Polar Vortex”) – it was 3 degrees when we woke up (and -18 degrees when taking wind chill into account! Since then, the temperatures have been slowly climbing back up.

The screenshot of my phone shows the craziness if you look at the highs, starting on Tuesday with a high in the teens, Wednesday in the 20s, Thursday in the 30s, Friday (today) in the 40s, and (supposedly) tomorrow in the 50s. Wild!

*Weather is all relative. In Philly, this was considered a snow storm, but I don’t think the same amount of snow would have caused universities up in Boston to close down (on the other hand, they plow the streets up there!) And my Quebecois colleague laughed at the idea that it was a “storm”. On the other hand, this video of weather reports in California really made me chuckle!

photo

2.
All this yucky weather has been a great opportunity to dive back into quilting. Such a great rainy/snowy day activity (that it can be done while watching a movie – or football – is an added bonus).

3.
Like many Americans (or maybe this is a more international phenomenon?), we often use January as a chance to reset some habits – particularly habits surrounding exercise and eating! So far, we’re doing pretty well.

In terms of exercise, we finally found a gym that will work well for us. We’re not super picky, but had three main criteria, and this one meets them all: it’s convenient (on the way to/from work for both of us), it’s cheap, and not too smelly! C usually goes before work, and my plan is to start going on my way home from work, now that we’ve figured out my membership.

In terms of eating, we’re not going quite so hard core as in years past (Month of Salads) – but our main goal was to eat more meals at home. A week and a half in, I think we’re doing pretty well. Our favorite new recipe thus far is this surprisingly tasty tuna sandwich (which we had alongside chard, just to add some leafy greens into the mix). My goal is to try one new weeknight dinner (read: not too complicated) recipe a week.  I’ll share any gems I find!

4.
I’m headed up to New York tonight for a day-long women’s conference tomorrow, which I’ll attend with a few friends from church. A year and a half in to life here in Philly, and I still can’t get over how great it is that NY is under 2 hours away.

5.
Go Seahawks!!

 

Poetry Corner: First Snow December 13, 2013

Filed under: Poetry,The everyday — kcfeather @ 2:41 am

This past Sunday morning, we were at the Lessons & Carols service at our church. Partway through the sermon, I turned slightly to the windows and saw: snow! It was early – all the forecasts said it was not supposed to arrive until much later that afternoon. The snow continued to fall throughout the service, and then started falling heavier as we headed out (it was falling fast enough that after stopping for thirty minutes for lunch – pho – we nearly had to dig the car out before slowly driving back home). The snow in the city is not the same as the snow that Mary Oliver describes, but the first snow is the first snow, wherever you are – and the calm and (relative) silence are special.

photo(44)

Our window box, early afternoon

First Snow
Mary Oliver

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain – not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

Near the river, at 5 pm

Near the river, at 5 pm

 

TGIF (Five on Friday) November 22, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 9:01 pm

1.  Last Friday, I threw out my back.  In the past, I have had lots of issues with my neck; this is the first major incident with my lower back.  The doctor said, “This will probably be a lifelong journey” – which is slightly depressing.  But, the pain is subsiding and I have a referral for PT (and I now feel guilt-free about booking a massage). If I had to choose one of us to have back problems, I’m glad it’s me. Mostly because on a practical level, I’m weaker so of less use around the house anyway. Also because I feel relatively certain that it’s not very fun to be the person tasked with all dish-washing and cooking, not to mention always being on call to re-heat the hot pad. Thanks, C!

2.  The options for passing the time when you have limited mobility are not too many (especially when you throw in the painkillers that make concentrating on reading nearly impossible).  This is when I really appreciate Netflix.  We’ve caught up to the present on Scandal (which is very soapy, but also pretty fun to watch), and have been enjoying Friday Night Lights as well (though we’re still only in Season 1 and have a long ways to go!)  I’ve been hearing great things about The Fall, so that series might be next up in the cue.

3. Also mundane and health related: the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with a dairy free diet, which has turned out to be a little eaiser than I expected (and has had the desired effect of a less irritated stomach). I’m now going to start experimenting with adding dairy back in a little bit at a time. While I miss dairy less than I expected, it does rule out an awful lot of baked goods (probably better for me anyway), and for this reason I was pretty pumped this past weekend when I realized that our favorite banana bread recipe doesn’t have any dairy at all. And so, while I was on the couch nursing my bum back with a hot pad, C whipped us up a batch. Insider tip: banana bread is just a little bit tastier if you toast the slice before eating.

4.  We’re starting to get excited about Thanksgiving (in Dallas with C’s family) and Christmas (in Charleston with my family).  Once C leaves for Dallas tomorrow morning, I have every intention of pulling out the Christmas decorations and turning on the Statler Brother’s Home for Christmas.  I know you’re supposed to wait until after Thanksgiving, but since we’ll be gone that weekend, why not get a head start?

5. TGIF!  I realize that’s a pretty lame #5, but seriously – though Fridays are always exciting, today in particular we are both SO READY for the weekend.  Between my back pain and several late nights of work for Clayton this week, it couldn’t have come soon enough. We’re just hoping and praying that the car alarm that went off every 15 minutes all night last night will decide give us a break tonight.

 

[First] Friday Five October 4, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 7:36 pm

CBT

1. We had a great time in DC – our Saturday was full but also lots of fun. We had fun catching up with family over sweet potato home fries for breakfast (a Gaithersburg tradition), a lovely lunch in Georgetown with some soon-to-be-married friends, took in the views and snuck in a little exercise walking across the Key Bridge, got a tour of the Basilica at CUA from C’s former roommate, Brother Thomas (who lives right across the street), worshipped at the Saturday evening Vespers service at the Dominican House of Study, meandered around the Capitol as the sun was going down, and then had a fun moules frites dinner with P and L.

2. On our way home Sunday we stopped for a picnic lunch at Fort Washington State Park, and happened upon some bird watchers.  Though I would have expected bird watchers to be solitary and annoyed by rather loud novices, they were the opposite – very friendly and inviting and happy to share their love of watching hawks migrate.  They even had loaner binoculars.  I’m not sure what you call a group of bird watchers, but we learned that you call a group of hawks a kettle – although you can also use kettle as a verb to describe when the hawks all cluster together. As in, “You can see the hawks kettling just to lower right of the blue spot in the cloud.”

3. We recently learned about this couple, and are…just not sure what to think.  We may share a name with them, but hopefully not their fashion sense!

4. I’m in the middle of reading a book that I’m enjoying quite a lot – when I read it.  But it’s taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r and a day to get through it – I’ve been working on this book since July and I’m only at 20%.  It’s not particularly long, and I am enjoying it – it’s just that I only read a few pages at a time.  I think I need to mix it up and read a good old-fashioned page-turner before I return to the 80% that remains.  Does this ever happen to anyone else – getting stuck on a (good) book?

5. Both C and I had dentist appointments this week, and neither of us have cavities!  Which (especially for me) feels like quite an accomplishment.  I celebrated by eating a bag of gummy candy (oops!)  Still, woo-hoo!

 

Hi-ho, hi-ho… July 3, 2013

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 10:02 pm

…it’s off to work I go!

On Monday, I did something that I haven’t done since sometime last June – I got out of bed at a respectable hour (actually, I usually do that), showered (that’s a little more hit or miss), and left the house before 8, to go to work. I’ve been looking for a job that’s a great fit for about a year (since we moved, although I spent the first few months looking for furniture rather than for a job) – and I finally found one. Better still, it’s just a mile away from our house and less than half a mile away from C’s office, even though it’s not at the same university.

It’s been quite an adjustment schedule-wise, in that for the last year I have been able to do what I want, when I want, 24 hours a day. Also, I could wear a t-shirt, running shorts, and sneakers all day long and nobody would care. But aside from that, I am enjoying being back at the office – both for the mental/social stimulation, and also because Philly has been experiencing a bizarre hot and rainy season, which would leave me feeling quite cooped up in the home if I didn’t have anywhere to go during the day.

I am very thankful that I had the good fortune to fit in so much travel (Texas, New York, Europe, DC and North Carolina) in the last month before going back to work (and for the holiday tomorrow which makes this a 4-day work week)!

 

A Tent for the Sun June 28, 2013

Filed under: Family,The everyday,Travel Reports — kcfeather @ 12:32 pm

Ok, now we’re really back, and ready to stay put for awhile.

We both had a lot of fun in DC (including a crazy spicy tasty Thai dinner at Little Serow, a day trip out to Mount Vernon, some Dark & Stormys, and lots of good family time – mostly over food and drink). And while C had to take the Amtrak back home on Sunday, I headed south with my parents to continue the fun in the Outer Banks. A goodly portion (although only 18 of us, so by no means everyone) of my dad’s family spent the week – or half the week in my case – at a “little” house on the ocean in Buxton, NC. We enjoyed lots of time on the beach and in the ocean, but also found time for exploring the OBX by foot and by car, reading on the porch and in the hot tub, board game playing, cooking, eating, and (of course) lots of talking.

My drive home was L.O.N.G. (8 hours) – but the time went quickly as I passed through gorgeous scenery (including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which I was halfway across when my beloved Camry hit 150K miles) and guzzled unsweet tea.

Outer Banks Sunrise (Buxton, NC)

It rises at one end of the heavens… (Sunrise: Buxton, NC)

Our first morning on the Outer Banks, my uncle read Psalm 19 for the group. It was a fitting way to begin a week surrounded by so much natural beauty:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 4 -6 have remained at the front of my mind throughout the week – perhaps because of the stunning (willing-to-get-out-of-bed-at-5:45-AM-to-see-it) sunrise and the equally jaw-dropping (had-to-pull-off-the-road-because-I-kept-trying-to-see-it-while-driving) sunset I saw while down in NC – not to mention the fact that I loved the chance to soak up the sun while laying on the beach each morning and afternoon. It’s of course a little easier to remember that nothing is deprived of the sun’s warmth in June than it is in December, but I do love this image of God’s provision for us, and the reminder that nothing is out of His reach, that His glory is always present and visible no matter where you find yourself in this world.

Outer Banks Sunset (Nags Head, NC)

…and makes its circuit to the other (Sunset: Nags Head, NC)

Hope you get to enjoy some sunshine this weekend!