Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Sermon

I know you think that I'm going to give you a sermon right now, and I admit, that is something I've been known to do - from, oh, time to time - but - no - in fact - instead I'm going to summarize the best part of last week's sermon in church, because it has stuck with me all this week - and it's worth all of us going into the weekend together, thinking about it.

The title of the sermon was, "And the Greatest of These is Love." If you're like me, you sort of cringed just now. Your body tightened. You thought of all the weddings you've been to where Corinthians was read... love is patient, love is kind, love is not boastful... you know the bit. Needless to say, lovely as these sentiments are, this was not in my wedding ceremony and I always find it a bit, mmmm, ambitious, for a young couple. Maybe for a new parent, it makes sense as a parental vow. But at the outset of wedded life? Hmm, I say. Hmm.

So Reverend Bill read the familiar lines to us, and mentioned that they were, many years ago, in HIS own wedding ceremony. Then he stopped. Never insists on its own way? Endures everything? He admitted to falling short of those standards, and who doesn't? But that's not a description of human love, he went on to explain... that's a description of God's love.

Whoa. Hold the phone.

I bristle at the phrase "God's love" - but I work hard to translate it. I hear "the love of the universe" or "the love of the infinite" instead. Because if the language, and concept, of a knowing, or patriarchal, or authoritative God/god is troubling to me, I still can't un-know that someone watches the watcher. Some part sees the seer, and observes even the most conscious of my behaviors and actions. I mean, how can I observe my own thoughts? How can I sit back and see myself? I only do so from the perspective of... yes, a soul. A spirit. A calm, content, wise and loving center within me - within each human being - that is infinite and unaltered by the tribulations of any given day.

So Reverend Bill, what you're saying is that within each of us is a love that can bear all things - even the accidents and deaths we think will break and kill us - and endure all things - even the endless madness of polls, politics, people voting against their own self interest - and hope all things - even if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, the world might change, and so might my family - and believe all things - even that my mind might not be the Very Best Judge Of All Happenings Planetwide, and there might be things I don't understand, or even things that contradict each other but are simultaneously true.

So of course we read this at weddings. Of course we want our partner to be perfect, and for the holy sacrament of commitment to make the new "us" perfect - for the reading to infuse guaranteed success.

But what we forget is that it's already within us. Heavy stuff, to be sure. But remember that that love is within you this weekend, while you're out there in a rather mean, cold, dangerous, unlucky world. Because if you forget it's there, you might get way, way, scarily, off the path. And even if only one other person in the world loves you, they'll miss you on the path with them a whole lot.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Bleak Out There

So I was out this past weekend and I was the wingman. Being happily married means you can't give one speck of advice about how to approach a cute guy at the bar - heck, you can't even give advice about how to tell if he is cute enough to approach, but not so cute he's going to be a douche. This wingman business, clearly, is not my area of expertise. In fact, I prefer the "be dead honest" approach, be it with a lot of charm and humor and snappy, broad jokes... but I now am seeing that's not exactly how this flirt-at-a-bar thing goes, at least not typically. Being married means you get to be fearless... and I don't think that's the hallmark of a successful interaction at 12:30 AM for the wingee (or whatever you call the woman on the prowl who has a wingman in tow).

And after talking to exactly three guys - only three! - I came home exhausted. This is a lot of work.

So three things kept running through my head as I made my way home.

First, the guy who said he works in financial services and only when pressed with numerous questions finally told me he manages an emerging markets mutual fund, requiring odd hours to do business in different time zones... hey plaid shirt dude, why say financial services? Why make me dig? Why not just say what you do instead of talking down to a dumb girl? And what's with the resume keywords?

Second, when your name is typical, easy to pronounce and probably familiar to people, as mine is, you never, ever, ever, not one time, think about awkward it can be to start an interaction (not to mention all three) like this:

"Hi, I'm Josh, what's your name?"



"No, Jenae."

"Like Renee?"

"Sure. With a J though."

"OH! JUH-nay?"

Sigh. The name is accented on the second syllable, so actually, it is more like Juh-NAY... but the point is that it shone a light on how when it is loud, and dark, and late, if your name isn't Megan or Jennifer or Elizabeth, it can be tough to start the witty, funny, flirty fun part of the night, full of the banter you're seeking, when instead it skids and stutters over name pronunciation at the start.

And finally - third - perhaps answering Point #1, is when Mr. Financial Services, with too-close a shave and too-popped a collar, walked away and said, "I'm a registered Republican," I laughed and said, "I know, I could tell." But I SHOULD have said, "I'll forgive you."

If I'm gonna be a wingman, I have sharpen my claws wit.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thanks, Ina!

I made sole meuniere this week - based on Ina Garten's super-easy version - and it was wonderful! I'm sure the fresh-never-been-frozen Oregon sole was doing most of the heavy lifting, as great ingredients are wont to do, but it made me think... I should make a list of 50 things I'm too scared to cook and then cook my way through them. This one was pretty dang easy, all things considered (if a little sloppy and hurried to get it all not-over-cooked and still warm when set on the table), and inspired me to tackle some other recipes.

What did you make this summer for the first time? And was it a success?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another One

Another serious, depressing, heavy-hitter dramatic film to add to your queue - behind Blue Valentine and Take This Waltz - is I've Loved You So Long. I'm sure you saw it back when everyone was talking about it, five years ago, but if you kept putting it off like me - don't! Take an early Sunday evening to yourself, when you've got the Sunday blues anyway so who cares if something is very serious and very dark, and watch this film. It deserves your attention.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In the parking lot...

... of the Fred Meyer this weekend, I watched a man move his groceries from cart to truck. His truck was parked two spots away from the cart corral - and two spots away from a median. What did he do with his cart? He dragged it up onto the median, precariously perched there - which was the exact same distance away from him as the corral.

The point here is that I'd like to be a little less observant. I'd like to see fewer things going on around me. I think it would be better for my blood pressure and the world overall if I was spaced out more often, in my head, wandering along not noticing things. Any tips?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On the other hand...

Alongside the cherry bullets, I now have a half-flat of blueberries, perfect little BBs of frozen Oregon sunshine. (Incidentally, I read somewhere recently that 'Oregon Blueberry' is one of those things that can command two or three times the price in China as any other kind of blueberry, American or not. Good taste, across the Pacific.)

But I wonder, as I happily fill up the new freezer that resides in the garage, and feel a sense of making good use of a long summer night, I stop. I wonder. Am I being 100% an ant - working hard, thinking about and planning for bad weather, studiously saving up - but failing to have any of the grasshopper in me - playing music, enjoying berries now, savoring the short NW summer?

A good friend recently pointed out that one of my "triggers" is listmaking. (A good "trigger", of course, is something that sets us into a spiral of patterned, unconscious and unhealthy behavior.) A very good observation, and reminder that I have to be careful to not put too much effort into the list, to sticking to the list, to prioritizing the list instead of the truly important people, needs, and moments around me. So today, I am happy to have a gallon of frozen blueberries.

And rather than think about getting more to wash, freeze and bag up this week, I'm turning back to my current book (My Antonia) and finishing off the last bit of Chardonnay (Rock Horse Ranch). A little ant. A little grasshopper.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year...

Is here, but almost complete...

It is the time of year where I eat an average of 1/2 a pound of cherries per day. And while we have a beautiful and stuffed gallon bag of "bullets" in the freezer for wintertime baking (perfectly pitted, whole, round, red frozen Washington cherries), I still bought another three pounds on Tuesday for a second bag o' bullets.

Alas, here we are Saturday morning and three pounds are gone, nary a one frozen. Will I have the discipline to buy and bullet another few pounds? But it's time for peaches! The Sauvie Island Farm Wife blog says peaches were ready as of 7/31, and last only two weeks.

To eat or to freeze, to eat or to freeze... my most wonderful time of year.