Monday, April 27, 2009

My Evening Book...

"When evening arrives-- no matter what happened during the day, whatever "sturm und drang" occurred, whatever challenges were unmet, whatever disappointments and regrets-- people have a universal desire to find a serene place where they can put all the parts of the day together in some tranquil way. Given the spirit of forgiveness of the prior hour, at Vespers we are free to let go of the day and to luxuriate in the quiet beauty of the evening. The serenity of Vespers, wherein we gather together all the day's contradictions, is truly healing, since healing essentially involves a knitting together of what is apart, what is broken."

~David Steindl-Rast in The Music of Silence


A cold wind blows hard, bringing in clouds and making dramatic the sky that was clear earlier today. A mix of rain and snow is expected tomorrow, so we're having our typical, temperamental, high desert spring mix of weather. I wouldn't say it's as bad as the author of Letters of a Homesteader Woman put it about her Wyoming climate: "We have three seasons here. July, August, and Winter." It does seem that way around here sometimes, but I love our unpredictable weather.

Everything is turning green outdoors. Perennials and herbs are growing more quickly every day. There are now some harvestable herbs in my humble little fenced garden area-- tarragon, marjoram, lemon thyme, and oregano (and maybe something else), and I need to remember that they're ready to use!


I continue to build a fire in the wood stove most mornings because even on really warm days, our nights and mornings are cold and frosty. It was down almost to ten degrees yesterday morning, and it was somewhere around 20 degrees today when I awoke. And, once the fire is rumbling and crackling, I stand beside it with my mug of black coffee and a little stack of books. Once the warmth of the stove moves further out into the room, I sit on the chair or at the table for a bit of quiet time.

Boxes are everywhere, and it seems I've hardly made a dent in the packing. Today I was hit by a renewed wave of desire to get ruthless about getting rid of things. Who wants to pack and store or haul them? Things can be so encumbering, and since I tend to eagerly shake off whatever becomes entangling and burdensome, I'll take advantage of this current mood.

The hardest thing, by far, to pack has been my books. 7/8 of them are going into storage for a good year, and it gives me great pain to tape shut the lids on the book boxes. The rest of the stuff has been easy.

This evening, another fire has been built, and light is playing on the dining room furniture as the lowering sun shines through the wind-blown trees. It's quiet in the house as I'm here alone.

In the Kitchen...

Which happens to be inside (like everything in the description above) but deserves its own special category... I'm always happy when I'm working in the kitchen. When I settle in and embrace the rhythm and importance of the work and enjoy the process, it's satisfying, nurturing, therapeutic, and enjoyable on many levels. We've been having simple things to eat. I'm attempting to eat frugally without sacrificing nutrition and yummy food. I made whole-grain blueberry pancakes for everyone for breakfast this morning. Later when I was feeling really "snacky", there was an extra avocado sitting around, so I made my good old avocado-based chocolate mousse to share with Michelle.

For dinner, I was here alone, so I had a salad I put together from whatever was leftover in the fridge and available in the cupboard (pickings are currently thin). I mixed a vinaigrette consisting of lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and a squirt of agave. I tossed chopped romaine leaves with a bit of the vinaigrette, then I mixed some cannellini beans with minced red onion and chopped tomato and tossed that with some of the vinaigrette, too (if I'd have thought about it, I would have added some chopped fresh herbs from my garden). I spooned some of the bean mix onto the greens. The salad was fresh-tasting and enjoyable, and it looked bright and pretty in my clear Pyrex mixing bowl. I sat at the counter by myself, eating slowly and perusing a cookbook.

Pretty much everything in the kitchen is packed for storage except for what is going with us when we move. We'll be living small in our new place, and I'm determined not to have clutter around me, so I'm making a point of keeping things as simple as I can. And I'm really liking this!


Oh, I'm not reading anything that is overly demanding of my intellect because my mind is currently being pulled and stretched in a few different directions, but I'm reading (in some cases, re-reading) plenty that is thought-provoking and worthy. The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. A few Deborah Madison cookbooks (I've always loved her good, simple food). Detox4Women by Natalia Rose.


I'm not even going to scratch the surface of this! I'm thinking about many things-- Simplicity. Service. Different ways of giving. Frugality. Community. Church. Growing and learning and developing. Family. God's goodness and provision. Making do. Recycling and "repurposing." Different types of hospitality. Caring. Frugal creativity and beauty. I guess I'm thinking about what it means to live responsibly as a Christian today. You know how it is. When hands are busy with routine and rhythmic manual work, like packing boxes, the mind is free to wander and contemplate.

Currently and until bedtime...

Just a few minutes ago, I stepped outside for a bit and was met with a bracing wind. I'll exchange my flip-flops for socks and warmer shoes, bundle up in a winter coat and gloves, and go back outdoors to stack firewood on the deck, to put the outside dog into her kennel for the night, and to bring in some things that were left on the deck this afternoon when Michelle, the boys, and I were sat out there together (it was warmer then).

Then I'll move around the house to do some tidying, drink some green lemonade, and sit down for some quiet reading time. I'll think over my day and count my many blessings and thank the Lord for them. Likely, I'll talk to at least one of my kids on the phone-- a welcome evening pleasure.

(I keep forgetting to turn off comments. Maybe I'll just leave them alone for a while longer.)