Sunday, March 27, 2011

Breaking New Ground

I grew up watching my parents spend countless hours during the spring and summer tilling, hoeing, planting, watering, weeding, and picking in their garden.  There were always fresh tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and peas available straight from the garden every summer back home in Broadway.   I would say that I definitely enjoyed the rewards and bounty of the garden without ever putting much into it.  I left that to Mom and Dad, and they seemed to enjoy it.  And over the last ten years of living in numerous apartments or townhouses without much of a yard to call my own, the closest thing I've had to a garden has been a basil plant or two on my deck...

Well, the days of basil plants on the deck are over!  Given that the BVS house has a good size back yard, and that we think it's a great idea to actually eat food that comes right from our very own soil (no pesticides involved, no energy expended on transporting it to the grocery store....what could be better?), we have decided to start a garden.  And when I say start, I do mean start... as in put a garden in where yesterday morning there was a grassy lawn.  Jon and I spent about 4 hours yesterday afternoon digging and moving sod, and wah-lah, a garden was born! 

Now, it is true that our beds are not actually ready for planting yet...there's still a lot of work to do (put a border around the beds and cover them with some more topsoil for starters), but we've broken ground, and that feels good.  I hope that I will still be able to say it feels good after spending many hours in the next few weekends and during the coming months doing all of those things that my parents spent countless hours doing in their garden: the hoeing, planting, watering, weeding, and picking.    We'll have to have a party when we pick our first produce....I have a feeling it will be worth celebrating!
- Heather

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some R&R- Running and Retreating

So, it's official...all four of our house members are runners.  (Jon ran three miles non-stop last week, so I think that classifies as official.)  And it's also official, that our ultra relay team for the Portland to Eugene Relay is complete!  We actually have six members now, which is ever so pleasing to Ben and I!

This past week Chelsea and I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago, well actually Dickson Valley, which is a camp near "Sandwich" (Yes, that's actually the name of a town) for the BVS mid-year retreat.   We had various sessions, with one focusing on "vocation".  This is a topic that always intrigues me, because I'm still trying to figure out what my vocation is meant to be.  The definition of vocation that I liked was "it's the place where what makes your heart sing and what the world needs of you intersect".  One suggestion for trying to figure this out is to highlight some things in each day that you are grateful for and some things that you aren't grateful for....and hopefully over time a pattern may start to emerge.  My grateful and ungrateful list for the week:

This week I was grateful for...reconnecting with friends from grad school, running on rural roads, watching a pink sun rise above the fields, afternoon naps, Ben's new job in California- even if it takes him away from the house until June, being challenged to think about what the bible means and doesn't mean to my faith, sunshine and 60 degree days, my housemates and the fact that they take seriously this idea of living simply and trying to tread lightly on the earth, the start of the NCAA basketball tournament (I love March Madness!), daylight till 7 in the evening!

This week I was not so grateful for...white bread (I prefer wheat), oatmeal packets (I prefer real oatmeal, not oat dust), and gray clouds over Portland upon my return (an obvious one- I prefer sunshine!)

And I'm concerned about...the people in Japan and the situation in Libya.  Because we don't have a TV in the house and we didn't have much access to news coverage at the retreat, I feel a little out of touch, but I've heard enough to know that there are a lot of people suffering in both places.   That makes white bread, oatmeal packets, and gray clouds something I shouldn't ever complain about.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where I come from

Portland is a pretty cool place.  Even with it being sorta rainy and kinda chilly a good bit of the time since we arrived I'm still digging it out here.

While Nokesville, Virginia is still "home base" more or less, I haven't lived there except for in-between times in the past four years or so.  Generally I'm completely fine with this.  Nokesville is on the edge of some icky gross suburbia sprawl and it never looks quite like it did the time before whenever I get back to visit.  Most of my friends from high school don't live in the area anymore.  However, there's enough that stays the same that it's still "home" when it comes down to it and that's good.

Sometimes I wonder if I should still be out in the great wide world of non-Nokesville.  I think it's good for people to experience life beyond what they knew growing up and it's okay to come back home.  Whether or not that's for me, I don't really know yet.  I don't particularly fancy myself as someone who'd stay in Nokesville anymore; it's become a bit more of an uppity area.  There's also the fact that I doubt I'd be able to afford housing in the area, especially with Nokesville proper having hardly any apartment-esque living options.  Throw in a mildly conservative mindset and it just doesn't seem terribly appealing.

On the other hand, I miss out on a lot of stuff.  I don't get to visit with Grandpa, the great-aunts, Memee, or any of the other Beahm and Bear clan on a regular basis.  I've missed all of the cousins getting hitched in the past few years; there's another one happening this weekend.  The pregnancy epidemic sweeping through my home congregation is just now showing up as a blip on my radar and all of them are due by early May.  Our family dog, Roxie, is not doing so well and I'm not there to be sad and eat ice cream with my sister when Roxie goes.

I guess this is my version of being homesick if there is such a thing.  I don't think I actually get homesick really.  At camp growing up I could never understand the kids that missed home so much they got sick.  Seriously?  You're at CAMP!  "C'mon, let's go look for salamanders and then I'm gonna eat that plant over there!"  (Note: I never would've said this; I would've done it by myself.  They could join if they wanted to.)  The same is true for the college kids who just wanted to go home.  Unfathomable.  Obviously I like my hometown well enough, but I don't long to be there every waking moment.

Yet every once in a while, I wonder about how things are going back in Nokesville.  After all, the majority of my life thus far was spent there.  I may be familiar with the roads in Alamosa, Cincinnati, Frystown, Middleburg, Mountain Grove, West Liberty, and Portland, but I'll probably always know the roads of Nokesville.

Jackie, next time I'm home the ice cream's on me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Feeling puzzled

When we first moved here back in November we were showered with gifts of all sorts from the Peace Church congregation.  Even so, we still needed plenty of other items to fill out our house so that it would be comfortable and convenient.  This generally meant patrolling Craigslist and keeping an eye out for any appealing trash, yardsales, or good thrift stores.  I love doing this kind of stuff - connecting with others and finding value in what they have deemed as excess, out-dated, or simply junk.  Even as I'm writing this I'm wearing clothing items from three different thrift stores, one box of free stuff, and a neighbor's trashcan in Cincinnati.  Ah, bliss.

Once we had secured all the furniture we could reasonably fit in our house and stocked our kitchen with the desired supplies then the search for free and super cheap stuff was basically done for the time being.  Sure, I kept my eye out for amazing finds like a pool table or ping pong table in case something phenomenally great like that showed up, but that was about it.

This past Saturday I found myself poking through the "free" section on Craigslist as I still occasionally am known to do and I came across a post for someone less than a mile from the house.  This is exciting because 1) I don't have a car, 2) most of the good finds are closer in to downtown or farther out in one of the suburbs, and 3) there's something kinda magical about finding something so close to where you live that you would have otherwise not known about.  A quick e-mail and a phone call later, Chelsea and I were out the door to check out the bounty up for grabs.

The home was in a little cluster of apartments set a bit off the road behind some other houses; Chelsea and I had never noticed them before.  The lady who had posted was moving with her son to North Portland and had extra stuff she wanted to get out of the house and maybe save herself the trip to Goodwill later.  The one item I found most tempting was a lamp with a matador figure as the base.  It was more than four feet tall.  As appealingly tacky as it was, we couldn't imagine anywhere it would fit in the house.  On the bright side, there were some books and puzzles that looked promising.  We scooped up what looked interesting, stuffed it in our backpacks and bag, and wished the family luck with their move.

Later that evening I caved in and walked down to the closest Goodwill store to poke around.  Combined with a mosey through Target on the way back, I didn't get home until after 10:00 that evening.  When I did I was greeted with the sight of Jon diligently working on one of the puzzles we'd picked up earlier in the day.  Chelsea and Heather had been helping but had maxed out their puzzle patience after an hour or so.  Just like a really good cookie "hits the spot" sometimes, the same can be true for a good puzzle.  Even better is when Jon happens to have gluten-free double chocolate chip cookies hanging out on the counter from when he made them earlier that evening.

The puzzle was a photo collage of paraphernalia from when Halley's Comet was visible in 1910.  The pictures were cool to look at and the puzzle pieces weren't all traditionally shaped without being too off-the-wall.  Jon and I worked on the puzzle until we finished it some time after 4:00 that morning.  I don't think I even stayed up that late for New Year's this past year.  It was definitely worth it, though.  The two of us got to eat way more than our share of the cookies and we had some good conversations, too (beyond "Hey.  Where the heck does this piece go?").  I didn't think to get a picture of the completed puzzle before it went back in the box but I did find a picture of the box courtesy of a quick search.

I actually kinda wanna do it again.  I guess I'll just have to wait until the next time the puzzle bug strikes.