Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love God and Your Neighbor, Be at Rest.

This song captured my heart from the moment I heard it on WNCW several weeks ago. Since then, it has been playing on repeat on my computer and in my mind. And it gets more powerful every time I hear it.

I give you: Rest/Yes Indeed by Bobby McFerrin

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Rain

If you walked up to me on the street and asked me if I liked rainy days, my answer would be a resounding "NO."  Gray skies, cold damp air, dreariness - all weigh on my chest like a ton of bricks, making it hard to breathe or smile.

But, the past two days, the rain we've been getting has sparked a memory.  A piece of my past that I forgot existed.  That of summer rain showers.

This rain is not oppressive - it is renewing.  It is not dark; it brightens the air like a prism.  It's the kind of rain that makes Southerners say that the devil is beating his wife.  That brings cool breezes through the warm, moist air, letting you feel both temperatures at once.

I remember this rain from my former life in Florida.  In the summertime, we would get it every afternoon - usually just for a few minutes.  When it arrived here this week, it snuck up on me.  I was surprised to find it.  And yet, it is comforting; like an old friend with whom you can pick up right where you left off, no matter how many years have passed.

Which, in this new place where everything and everyone is foreign and strange, is just what my soul has needed.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

For the Beauty of the Earth

Spring is in full force in the garden!

Baby cherry tomatoes

Roma tomato blossoms

Soon-to-be blueberries!

A bountiful kale harvest
In addition to all the lovely things the garden is producing these days, we have also seen the arrival of our first pests!  I discovered yesterday that one of our pepper plants was covered in ants, and today it was covered in aphids.  Boo.  After doing some research, it seems the ants may have put the aphids on my plant, because they like to eat the sweet aphid excrement.  The little jerks.  Needless to say, there's lots of cornmeal, peppermint, and hot sauce surrounding our pepper plants now.  I hope it works!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Peace Up High Among These Hills

There is an outdoor chapel not far from our home.  It has a name, but nobody knows it.  Everyone just calls it "Pretty Place."  Because words can't do it justice.

Pictures can't do it justice, either.  We made the drive up to Pretty Place after work on Monday, and it was just what we've been needing.  Pure, soul-satisfying worship.

The words in the poem above have been haunting my mind ever since.  They speak so deeply to my heart, and remind me that we are right where we belong.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Snippets of Spring

Surprise reunion with old friends

Dyeing Easter eggs with my BFF

Tulips in the park

Bok Choy Harvest

Homemade blueberry oatmeal pancakes on the back porch.

Tomato blossoms!

Our in-house chef, with her delicious creations.
The last picture has a cool story behind it.  Ever since we had moved here, we had been a little bummed out because Ben's school has a policy that teachers and students aren't allowed to "fraternize" outside of class.  We had been looking forward to having students in our home, and were disappointed to meet this roadblock.  However, we found the loophole!  Once students graduate the program, all bets are off!  This past Friday, we hosted our first international student gathering, with Taiwanese food supplied by our friend Yina.  It was a blast!  We're looking forward to making this a tradition.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden Update

Our garden is growing!!!

Our herbs:
...and Dill.  I can't believe how tall it is getting!  It's outgrowing its stakes!
(we also have basil, not pictured.)

Our carrots came up,

...and we added a bunch of new pots!  Thanks mostly to my granny, who sent us some cuttings from her garden.  Now we have kale, peppers, and tomatoes.
Our garlic is growing!
Remember what our spinach and bok choy looked like last time we updated?
This is what it looked like a few weeks ago...
And this is what it looks like now, after our first spinach harvest!
Big Bok Choy!
Our first harvest!!!!!  Doesn't everyone harvest spinach in their pajamas?
Tonight, as we were harvesting our spinach, Ben couldn't have said it better:
"Holy Crap, I love gardening!"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Girl's Weekend

One of the first things I did when we moved here was to promise my Kinmenese friend, Yina, a Spring Break trip to Charleston.  It has been wonderful to be able to reconnect with her here in America, and repay a bit of the hospitality and kindness that she showed me back when we were co-teachers in Taiwan.

Our weekend was lovely and filled with wanderings.  We had no real set plan, which made it very relaxing and low-key.  And in my opinion, we got to see all of the best things the city had to offer, while hardly spending any money (beyond our hostel fee).

The first day was our self-guided walking tour of the historic district.

Pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park

Rainbow Row

Walking the battery

The azaleas were in bloom.  They're my favorite.

Accidentally discovering a historic graveyard

Charleston is nicknamed "The Holy City," and if you ask me, the absolute holiest thing you could see there is the Angel Oak.  It used to be believed to be the oldest living thing East of the Mississippi.  Though that statistic has since been refuted, it is still a thing of magic.  We spent an afternoon there with a picnic blanket and Norah Jones.
Pictures don't do it justice.

The next morning, we went for a taste of the only tea grown in North America.

The next closest tea plantations

After filling up on 6(!) different varieties of tea, we spent the afternoon hiking around Caw Caw Nature preserve.
This area used to be a rice plantation.

Part of the preserve goes through a swamp

We capped off our weekend with a meal of Shrimp and Grits at the Hominy Grill.