#21: Give

Now that I’ve been working my new job for three weeks, I know that my first paycheck should show up any day now– but which day is far beyond me. (At training, the pay schedule was explained something like this: bi-weekly… on a two week delay… when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars.)

Something that has suffered since I’ve been a poor graduate student has been my giving. So, with the hope that I would graduate and find reasonably gainful employment before I turned 30 (please, God!) one of the items on my 30 Before list is to simply “give.”

This is two-fold. And here is how I will know I was successful.

First, I need to put my money where my mouth is and contribute a regular, weekly offering to my congregation. I do a lot of grumbling about commitment to the church when it comes to people spending time and talents, but as for spending treasure I am one of the worst. (Hello, Kettle! My name is Pot!)

My goal is to fill all of my offering envelopes from January 1, 2012 to May 31, 2015 (my 30th birthday). If I miss a Sunday, I’ll have to catch up the next week. I didn’t want to set a weekly amount because I have no way of saying how my income will change in the next few years, and that’s not the point, anyway. As long as I’m faithful in filling the envelopes, it will be an improvement.

The other half of this will be my giving to Lutherlyn. This does have a baseline amount, because to remain members of the Trinity Pines Club (Lutherlyn’s core donor group), Ty and I need to donate $100 to camp each year. Hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to send more. Who knows.

Now, hurry up, paycheck!


30 (Weeks) of Indie Travel: Jane’s Post #3

Prompt #3: MUSIC

Music and travel memories often go hand in hand. A song can inspire our explorations, or it can take us back to a specific place and time. Tell us about your travel playlist and what it means to you.
Tours with the Genevans put me on an airplane for the first time, took me to Dublin and Disney World, and gave me the chance to see the country (and the world) right through the bus window– or more accurately– through Oliver’s head and the bus window. I’d estimate that I’ve sung at about 50 concerts, in 15 different states, 6 countries, and 3 continents.
All of that is to say that almost all of my traveling has been musical in nature. Here a quick tour of my top musical moments on the road. (In no particular order.)
Singing with the Taize Community–  With minimal instrumentation, chanting, long silences for individual prayer and meditation, and no charismatic “frontman,” worship with the Taize is everything that people seem to think needs to be changed about church in order for it to be appealing, these days. And, yet, tens of thousands of young people from all around the world travel there to spend a week in their community.
(Had to take this photo from Wikipedia because all of my Taize pictures are being held captive on my old laptop.)
Driving Down Abbey Road- Why couldn’t we stop, bus-driver? WHY?
Didgeridoo– My first successful drone on a didgeridoo was SO cool. My Australia Studies Centre (ASC) classmates and I were spending a weekend in the “bush” for a more intensive study on Australian Aboriginal culture. Our Aboriginal teacher had a “source” for inexpensive, handmade-by-an-indigenous man didgeridoos (as opposed to the cheaply-made-in-china, marked- up-200% tourist ones in the city). Here we are by the train tracks (seriously) choosing our didgeridoos.
Bush Trip Campfire-  I’m not sure how musical this moment really is, but this stands out to me as being an important bonding time for the ASC. On the bush trip, we were taught an Aboriginal song and sang it while we danced around the campfire. I even remember the song, but I will completely destroy the spelling if I tried to type it, so you’ll just have to trust me (or ask me to sing it to you in person, sometime). Dancing and singing around a campfire is nothing new or novel to me; but dancing and singing around a campfire, faces painted, giggling under foreign stars is something that I’ll always remember. (The gang signs are “W’s” for “Wallaby.”)
U2 in Sydney’s Olympic Park– This. Was. SO. GOOD.

Ceilidh- On our Europe tour, the Genevans were invited to a traditional Ceilidh (pronounced like Kay-lee). We performed, they performed, there was folk music and dancing and I don’t have a digital copy of those pictures, either. Sad.

Australian Idol- Please, let me explain. I have been known to be a diehard American Idol fan, and I will maintain that it has less to do with the actual show than it does with the fun of watching the show with other people– cheering for favorites, trash-talking, predicting what will happen the next week. When I think about it, I guess I enjoy Idol for the same reasons that I enjoy football. Community. Competition. Conversation starters. (I’m sure somebody is really judging me right now.) Anyway, my 4 roommates and our Aussie mum had very different schedules, and it was nice to know that we would all spend at least one hour a week together for Idol. And, it didn’t hurt that our favorite (Damien Leith) WON! (And I just found his third album on Spotify! Good on ya, Damo!)
Impromptu Concert at Red Rocks- When we traveled west, the Genevans stopped to check out Red Rocks Amphitheater  and ended up singing a song or two to this audience…
Concerts, Concerts, Concerts-  I had a laughing fit in a church on the Isle of Iona. I started crying while we sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” during a concert in Australia. (Granted, it was September 11, and I was at the peak of homesickness.) I got a nose bleed halfway through a concert in Colorado and had to step out until it quit. Our whole Aussie choir had a meltdown when the director asked us to put our music away for a song we didn’t have memorized. A lot of what I remember from all of my Genevans and W.I. Choir concerts are myself and one or two others (Oliver!) just trying to hold ourselves together until it was all over.

#20: Take a Pottery Class

I’ve never really done pottery, but I always thought I’d be really awesome at it. I’m not sure why, but it might have something to do with my art teacher putting my clay corn-on-the-cob whistle in the display case for the high school art show.

It doesn’t whistle, but nobody has to know that.

Anyway, ever since then, I’ve wanted to try my hand at pottery– you know… just in case I’m a potting prodigy and I don’t even know it. You can’t let such a talent go to waste.

Before I started graduate school, I even registered for a pottery class at a local community college, but it fell through because I was the only one who signed up. Lately, I’ve been waiting patiently for our town’s art center to open their brand new pottery studio. (Saying we have an art center makes O.C. sound SWEET.)

Well, the time has come. The studio is open and they are accepting registration for classes.

Let’s hope my skills don’t disappoint.

Game On, or Game Over?

Welcome to “Game On, or Game Over” where I will document the most recent gastronomical adventures from the kitchen of the Ty. (Since he hasn’t been blogging it, himself…) This fall– as a result of some prodding from our friend Jake, and out of a desire to…umm… get to know his food a little better– my boy donned a bright orange hat and took to the woods with a license to kill.

And, he did kill one of these five critters. The others were shared experiences with our dear (deer?) friends, Jake and Julie. They grew the rooster and the quail. The groundhog, deer, and squirrel came from the wilderness.

Groundhog– When I lived at camp, I shared my mobile home (oooh yeaaaah) with a family of groundhogs. They lived on the ground-level and I lived on the “second floor.” We peacefully co-existed, and it never once crossed my mind that they could be dinner. But, alas, when you are invited to someone’s house for groundhog stew… you eat it. And, it was tasty stew, too. If I didn’t know better I would have guessed it was chicken meat. Nothing earth shattering, but… GAME ON.

Rooster– One of the ingredients in Coq Au Vin (rooster…and..wine?) is mushrooms. I cannot staaaaand mushrooms, but you know what, this was tasty. Good job, boys. GAME ON.

Deer– Okay. We’ve had deer in various forms: deer stir fry, deer liver, deer with lentils, deer steak. Each time, I was reminded  of the very first time I ate deer. I was in high school, maybe junior high, and I ate delicious deer at a friend’s house. At one point during the meal, someone inevitably said something about Bambi, to which my friend’s dad immediately replied: “If God didn’t want us to eat deer, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat!” I know that statement doesn’t hold up in all instances, BUT it cracks me up, AND I’m pretty sure when it comes to deer meat, God knew what was up. YUM. Except it gives me really bad gas. (Was that too much?) GAME ON.

Squirrel- This squirrel was Ty’s kill, so I ate him out of principal. (“If you kill it, you have to eat it.”) Thank you, squirrel, for your life, and I’m sorry that you had to die so that I could learn that I will never eat any of your family members. Blah. GAME OVER.

Quail- Quail was another in the “it tastes like chicken” category. Ty cooked them whole and we ate them with tasty tiny  potatoes and green beans. The meat was yummy, but picking it off the bone made it just slightly less appetizing for me. (Watching Bones at the same time probably didn’t help.) I’d eat it again, though. GAME ON.

What’s next? Are there any woodland critters I haven’t consumed?!

Thirty+ (Weeks) of Indie Travel: Jane’s Prompt #2

Prompt #2: Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives.  But it can present challenges that frustrate or annoy us.  How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now?

Alright. I don’t know about Oliver, but this prompt kind of has me stumped.

At first, I wanted to make the excuse that I haven’t traveled frequently enough or far enough in the past year to really have an effect. But, that’s not true. I volunteered at the National Seashore in Mississippi, had a front row seat at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, spent a week at “Lutheran mecca” (Holden Village) in the mountains of Washington, crammed three people in my Beetle and drove south to North Carolina, and relaxed with my family at Deep Creek Lake.

I would be a brat if I said that I didn’t do much traveling in the past year.

One self-awareness nugget that I can find in all of these trips– and one that Ty sometimes reminds me about– is that I am a bad decision maker. Or, to put it nicely: I am an option giver rather than an option chooser.

Rather than saying I want pizza (even if I do want pizza), I’ll throw out a list of options. Well, it looks like there’s burgers, tacos, pizzaaa… 

Apparently, this is not helpful.

I guess, then, to answer the prompt: I am resisting this change rather than welcoming it.

So everybody’s just going to have to DEAL.

Well, we can go LEFT or we can go RIGHT... (This was on a trail at Holden. I thought that it should have been labeled TRIAL instead. The snow was deep and I neglected to wear snowshoes.)

Hellooo, 2012!

Two posts in two days? I must be unemployed!

Over the last few weeks, two similarly-minded list-making friends and I have been “talking” (via Facebook messages) about our short term “bucket-lists”– as opposed to our long-term shared bucket list in the book “2001 Things to do Before You Die”– things we want to do, see, make, learn and consume in the next 2 months to 2 years.

In the spirit of a New Year, and with that conversation in mind, here are a few things I want/need to do in 2012. (Notice that I didn’t put “find a job” on this list, because that supersedes all lists.)

-Travel to San Francisco for Andrea and Jon’s wedding.
-Take high schoolers to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans.
-Go to NYC with Ty! (And maybe stop by Long Beach Island to see The Rev.)

-Run the Pittsburgh half with Ty (and Oliver!!).
-Run a 5K in 30 minutes or less.
-Try Yoga. (Julie… interested?)
-Finally backpack somewhere with Ty. (Maybe hike all of the Gerard Trail at Oil Creek.)
-Make an attempt at a 500 mile summer… again.

-Make and send  my “Pay-It-Forward” crafts from 2011.
-Finish a “commissioned” t-shirt quilt for a friend.
-Sew a very over-due wedding quilt.
-Finish robots for my thesis…um…”investors.”
-Finish quilting UFO quilt.
-Finish Ty’s Advent calendar before Advent. (Sigh…)

-Finish Anne of Green Gables series.
-Read and study one photography book.
-Read Man’s Search for Meaning.
-Re-start (and finish!) Catch 22.
-Read and return The Last Child in the Woods.
-Catch-up on House.

-Finish my thesis well (and with a good attitude). Which leads to…
-Finally graduate with my Master’s degree.
-Take (and pass) the National Counselor’s Exam.

Well, I better get busy! What are your plans for 2012?

Bye-bye, 2011!

I should have done this yesterday, but in honor of the end of another year, here are 11 things I loved about ’11! (In completely random order.)

1. Ty’s 30th Birthday. The boy turned 30, so I surprised him with a room full of good food and good friends. (And cupcakes with his face on them!)

2. Weddings. Compared to the last few years– and the upcoming one– 2011 was a light year for us as far as weddings go. The two weddings we did enjoy in 2011 were lovely highlights of the year. Both were opportunities to catch up with dear old friends like these…

3. Spring Break. A week of volunteering in Mississippi was a great way to break the monotony of my spring semester, and to get me out of my own head and into a piece of the world in need. (Mardi Gras was fun, too.)

4. Deep Creek. One week at the lake with the family. Do I really need to say more?

5. Clam Bake. Eating tasty, tasty seafood from a hole in the backyard was definitely a fun first for me. Here we are trying to decide if it’s time to dig it up!

6. Holden Village. A plane, to a car, to a boat, to a bus, to Holden Village!

7. Engagement. We really need to get a picture of US and this thing…

8. Raegan. This baby showed up in 2011. With that face, how could she not be in my highlights? Someday, she will be my niece.

9. Josh Groban. This night was ridiculously awesome. We were SO CLOSE!

10. Camp. I estimate that I spent about a month of time at Lutherlyn in 2011. Two weeks of Rocketry camp and 3 weekends of quilting with my mom.

11. Girls on the Run. This is a wonderful program that I got the opportunity to volunteer with at my internship site. At the end of the program, the participants ran a 5K in downtown Pittsburgh. I got the chance to be a running buddy for one of the girls. I wasn’t comfortable posting a photo of a student, so here is a picture of Steely McBeam’s giant head, instead.