Since my last post ...

I'm not going to apologize (sorry!) for the lack of posts since March. I've been at 125 percent in my real-job life. Since this blog has been about love and relationships and the marriage journey, I felt it was more authentic to make my husband, home, and puppy the priority. Sigh. But, dear readers, I've missed writing, and I've missed you all.

Rather than post an insightful reflection on this idea, I'll give you what you want. Quick-and-dirty updates in the life of Sarah since March 25:
  • I literally jumped for joy while slopping the first long stroke of primer on our living room's knotty pine paneling. Bye, bye dated lumber.
  • New, big projects at the office. Long hours. See intro.
  • The Midwest's evil pollen counts + allergies = massive sinus infection. Intense antibiotics. Blah-dom.
  • We planted our second official vegetable garden. New this year: eggplants, cucumbers, arugula, jalapenos, heirloom tomatoes, and wax peppers. I still love watching Patrick tend our half-acre patch. He has farming in his soul, so focused and gentle with the plants. And still amazed at the seeds and how things grow. We're taking photos of the garden as it progresses, so you can see it as things bloom and get bigger.
  • One of the most influential teachers I've ever known passed away of cancer. I did not go to her funeral, and I think I'll always regret that. Some people leave an indelible mark.
  • First anniversary celebrated! Can you believe it?! This deserves it's own post. I know: how on earth could I NOT have posted about this on my blog about my marriage?! Epic failure.
  • New living room rug purchased may seem a small feat, but if you only knew the number of rugs considered and the indecision over which one to buy, you'd give me a few pats on the back for just committing already!
  • My little brother walked the stage in a cap and gown. The last high school graduation in our little family (for a long time anyway). Not surprisingly, I cried more than I did at my own watching him move his tassle from one side of the cap to the other.
  • Pine paneling still primed ... waiting for paint. Still. (Oops!)
Thanks for the encouraging comments, everyone. See you in a few months. Kidding! Some things are worth making time to do, and I think this blog is one of them.


Spinning, spinning, spinning

I've been reading (keeping my creative promise!). Now. Usually, when I pick up a book to read over a vacation I know just what I'm getting into, but this time I was completely surprised.

I must have read the book jacket hurriedly. I saw the National Book Award insignia on the cover and "check," off I went ... or something ... because I missed the book's major themes until I was deep into the story.

Let the Great World Spin is fictional, but it's based on a tightrope walker who teetered over Manhattan in 1974, crossing from one World Trade Center tower to the other. It's about the human desire for hope and recovery, about many characters' unique experience of a certain moment. And in the end, it's obvious that we're all balancing some kind of highwire. It's a human condition to do so.

Maybe a little heavier than I normally go for a beach read? Um, yep. Worth the surprise? Uh huh.

I'm a word junkie, but I won't bore you with cool phrases I circled in its pages (e.g. "Revolving doors pushed quarters of conversation out onto the street." Sigh. Yes, nerdy). But I will share this excerpt from the author's afterword. I'll share it because I think it's beautiful and true and because it makes me want to read another book, tell another story:

"A book is completed only when it is finished by a reader. This is the intimate privilege of art. In fact, it's the intimate privilege of being alive."


Real conversation

Me: I just can't believe it's almost been a year since the wedding.

Patrick: Feels a lot longer than that ...

Me: ... and a lot like it was just yesterday.

Patrick: Yeah.

Me: (Sigh, smile.) Yeah.


Pretty thing of the day: Small but mighty

Looking for a gift for a friend who is stronger than she knows, I found this pretty, simple necklace by Turtle Love Committee. I love the way the towering Elm's branches reach out, stretching beyond what you can see inside the silver circle. I'm all about gifts with meaning. The description of the item is a little story, and this phrase sealed the purchase: "You must place your hand on her trunk, and you'll feel the mighty power behind her bark."


Monday Moment: That unnoticed, that necessary

When two lovers first meet, the goal is to get noticed, to be interesting. A plunging neckline. A funny joke. The best date ever. The most thoughtful greeting card.
Spending a week with my husband on a beach, nearly one year after we said our vows, I realized why I so quickly fell in love with the poem, "Variations on the word sleep," by Margaret Atwood:

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
and that necessary.

When two people actually inhabit love, the noticeable stuff is largely novelty. You're so necessary to one another that even the most private of all actions (sleep) is eased by your presence. Yet, you're also the unnoticed sweep of a hand at the small of a back. You're the in-out drum of breath beside the other person, sitting in silence, noticing only the crash of waves on sand. 

Ah, yes, this is home.



Sorry I've been such a slacker this week! Mayday.

Unfortunately, loyal fans, you will need to stay tuned. I'm heading out for a week of vacation. Our first real R & R together since the honeymoon. Sigh.

Happy spring, people!


Pretty thing of the day: Frame collage

I know my posts were sparse, and it may be lame to end a sparse week with a pretty picture. BUT I've been dying to have a collection of pretty framed things in my home.

AsI established last spring, I am not a crafty gal. And as with crafting, I struggle with implementation of design ideas. Most of the walls in our house are barren. Yes. Not just "bare." Barren, as in blank. This photo (from the sadly folded Domino magazine and posted last week by Young House Love) was an "ah-ha" for me. I love the mirror. I love how it's odd and geometric all at once.

But do all the frames have to be black? And do I like it because of the stripes? Hmm. Either way, it's going in that folder I promised to make.


Monday Moment: Dancing

I haven't posted a "Monday Moment" about the wedding in a long time. Nearing 10 months from the wedding, the moments in time feel more like memories. Our photos are growing more precious. One thing I am so glad that our photographer was able to catch is the dancing. It is so happy and free and celebratory! All ages and stages of love, all skills and styles of dance. The reception was a freaking awesome, sweaty, loud dance party.

I love to dance. I am not good at it. I do not claim to be coordinated (and seem to become more out of touch with the rhythm as years go by). But I love me some dance party. I love to watch people dance. I feel the joy of moving, of pumping fists and shaking hips and twirling skirts.
And these ladies breaking it down in their bare feet are women I grew up dancing with -- square dancing, jazz dancing, first-time slow dancing. With them, I learned to appreciate ballet and modern dance. There are so many fun photos. Among all of them, this shot of my Great Aunt Mary (who is in her 80s) is one of the most breathtaking. There are several photos of her dancing. She twirled and two-stepped and boogied with the youngest of us that night. Look at her eyes shining.

After last week's post about age, I think these photos confirm that youth is in the soul.

I can only hope Aunt Mary's true joy for living is hereditary. It's fitting that last week my mom commented on the "A tiny drop" post, "Growing older is, I will agree, something you can't stop and you shouldn't worry about because you can miss so much trying to be something (younger) that you are not. The best we can do is enjoy every day, laugh, love the people around us, try not to complain too much and sort of roll with it."

When you spend too much time worrying, you can miss all the good dancing music, all the things to celebrate.

P.S. I know I'll catch some crap for posting some of these photos, which are not at all flattering but altogether wonderful anyway. Stop worrying people!


Cohabitation: Let's play the quiet game

Remember that request? On long car rides or above a fit of rowdy shouting, parents and babysitters coo,"Ok, now, let's play the quiet game."

This Friday, I'm thankful for a spouse with whom I can be silent. Even after a good day, there are 15 minutes after returning home from the week's work that I do so enjoy the quiet game.




I laughed so hard at this post on An Inch of Gray about the lost art of the kiss. I was just thinking the other day about making out, and about how long it had been since we did (make out, I mean).

As blogger Anna writes, "What I didn’t realize is that once you have sex, kissing slips from entrĂ©e status to lowly appetizer. It gets demoted from flank steak and mashed potatoes to soggy mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce. It becomes a means to an end. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m just too tired, or bloated, or cranky to order an appetizer anyway."

Ha! So true! Lenten promise to savor passionate kisses and comforting good-night smooches with special appreciation? Well, ok, that wouldn't be much of a sacrifice.



Magnolias & possibilities

{photo via lovely morning}
This stunning photo of a budding magnolia tree jumped off of the computer screen, grabbed my little heart, squeezed it, and made it happy. I actually sighed out loud when I saw it.

Having spent a teeny-but-important time in Alabama fresh out of college, I reserve a tender place in my soul for the South -- for the magnolia and crepe myrtle trees, for kudzu climbing over everything and smoky-sweet-spicy brisket, for buttery drawls. It's a tad romanticized, but most nostalgia is.

Such affection have I for the magnolia's waxy oval leaves and large white blossoms that I actually gave my groom a tree as a wedding gift. It saw a rough little Midwestern summer and fall, but we've been nursing it back to life indoors this winter.

And that blush of a blossom you see may just be the reason I gasped so at the sight of Lovely Morning's gorgeous purpled branches. What is to come, little tree? Oh the possibilities!


'A tiny drop in the bucket'

{adorable image by rocpaper}
At a birthday dinner for my father-in-law last month, our niece asked Grandpa's age. "How old do you think he is?" we prodded. She guessed a low number, and so we started to move around the table playing the very fun game of seeing how young a second grader might think the adults around the table.

My turn: "How old am I, Maggie?"

"35!" she said with resolve.

A swell of laughter engulfed the table. A little high. To my niece, age is not really something tangible. Until recently, growing older felt outside of me, distant, like something to worry about some other time. Commercials, creams, wraps, bras, and all of the other hullabaloo hype about staying young-looking or anti-aging -- I've always scoffed at them.

"Wrinkles are just part of life," I've said, "So what if you laughed, got a sunburn, or furrowed your brow at some point in your life? Why pretend that all that living never happened?"

Patrick turned 30 this winter. My husband had no great panic or crisis about achieving a new decade. We celebrated in style with a weekend getaway, a surprise dinner, and couples massages. It was a lovely and sweet day. I, however, may have been a little freaked.

Naturally, watching loved ones and close friends reach milestones, it begins to seem possible that these same milestones will (gasp!) happen to me. When Maggie guessed "35," I admit I thought... "Do I look 35?"

I've started to notice myself noticing changes. I "found" a negligible line between my eyes that may or may not be a wrinkle. My mother laughed. Patrick squinted to try to find the offending crease. It bothered me.

Changes aren't just physical. Sometimes lately I catch myself imagining life goals in age-ranges. By 30, I'll do xyz. By 35, I'll be blahblahblah. It's strange and somewhat unfair to arrange these ultimatums with oneself.

I work at a Big Ten university and see students pretty regularly. I have siblings who are not yet 20, not yet 21. Some days, the clock ticks very, very loudly. The difference between 27-year-olds and 20-year-olds is acutely obvious.

However, it's an acknowledgment different from the feeling of "never wanting to go back to high school." I yearn for the freedom -- to study abroad, to skip a class or go to one, to eat every meal with friends. Yet, not one ounce of my soul longs for the insecurity and uncertainties that fade with age. I don't feel older. I don't feel "old." I just like knowing who I am.

I don't like my one wrinkle. (Yes, I swear it's there!) But I'm not content to stop growing. I don't plan to grow old or make myself promises in five-year increments. I just want to keep filling up the bucket with more precious drops, remembering that "young" is relative and intangible.


A word on Valentine's Day

I’m a little tickled. Much as I hate the commercialism of Feb. 14, I must say it was thrilling to be browsing the troves of pink- and red-enveloped cards, and then stop on the word “husband.” Lightbulb. I realized that I'm now able to choose a card for my HUSBAND for Valentine’s Day. Sweet.

Last year we were buying our wedding bands. On the front of this year's card are dorky pink, red, and purple hearts and just one word: "husband." Inside -- well, that's between us.

Have a "love"-ly weekend, readers. I hope your hearts are full and happy.


P.S. Meet Mr. & Mrs. Herb

A tiny postscript following yesterday's big reveal. One reason I adore my new windowsills is that they are the perfect width to accommodate these two little gems that I received as gifts this year. One holds parsley, the other basil. And, with the help of hubby-green-thumb (that's Patrick), I'll soon be seasoning suppers with fresh greens. Yum! Creative goal achieved, check!


DIY reveal: Operation Kitchen success!

It is my pleasure to share with you today the finished kitchen! As with most big projects, there were surprises and decisions made during operation kitchen (a la lost cabinet hinges, new oven hoods, and cabinet re-locations). But, in about 6 weeks (and just in time for the holidays), we transformed our country kitchen into a bright and cozy, traditional-modern space. You'll remember the OK-but-not-great "before" ...
And it's hard to imagine that the situation is improving at all when all of your pots and pans and pantry items are loaded on the dining table and the rest of the room looks like this.

But, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel soon shone down upon us. Now, I'm contemplating curtains (?), a table makeover, and maybe accessorizing with a few accent colors. Also, we're working bit by bit on painting all of the trim in the house the same color as our white cabinets, Behr's warm white Swiss Coffee. But, first things first. The reveal.Here's the rundown of new materials.

New countertops: Home Depot stock laminate in Butterum Granite . We didn't want to over-improve the house with a solid surface top that was too custom or high-end.

Painted original cabinets: Deep brown lower cabinets in Behr Sandwashed Driftwood and upper cabinets and trim in Behr Swiss Coffee.

Backsplash: Home Depot's subway tile in Bone was the best and most neutral option.

We traded the dingy off-white hood for a sleeker stainless look with a dimmer light and fan that goes with the (original) oven and spanking new dishwasher.

While we didn't update every appliance (a.k.a. we still have a white refrigerator), if we want to upgrade later, we'll now be able to go stainless without a mismatched dishawaher.

The island got a facelift as well, with beadboard and new baseboard trim to make it look more sturdy. I'm so lucky that my husband is a whiz at home improvement with the tools that you need to do things right. He has a gift!
For example, he outfitted each of the three kitchen windows with new trim and windowsills to match the style of the rest of our house. It's (strangely) my absolute favorite of the updates we did. The trim makes the room feel finished and less like an afterthought addition to an old home (which is how it looked when he originally inherited it). Oh lordy. How I wish I had "before" photos of THAT mess.

We also now have added storage over the fridge in the form of a restored cabinet (for which we lost the hinges for a few weeks... uh oh!) and a pair of deep storage baskets that hold linens and conceal the "junk drawer" of yore. We gained some utility as well, by trading out a pair of lower cabinets when we added the dishwasher. Those moved to the left of the stove, where a more narrow cabinet previously stood.

Speaking of the dishwasher. I must confess. I lied earlier. My HANDS DOWN most fave part of the kitchen is my dishwasher. Oh how I love thee, automatic washer of dishes. I now come home to clean sinks and clean dishes that only need putting away. With a long commute to and from work, I now gain back the time I/we used to spend cleaning up the kitchen. Glorious dishwasher! Hallelujah!

So there it is, folks. Accessorizing is next on the agenda. Maybe I'll buy some fake limes after all.


Pretty thing of the day: Springy sitting room

Ah yes, a bright and cheerful little room, courtesy of Newlywed Diaries. I love the botanical prints and the symmetrical grouping of six in the matching frames. You may have guessed that it's blizzard-ing again here today. Well, ok, not a blizzard. But it's really snowing again. Blah. For some reason, this little photo I had stashed away seems like somewhere in sunny So-Cal or another blessedly southern destination.


Monday moment: Honeymoon memories

Last night, Patrick and I had one of those inside joke laughing fits. You know the type. After the lights went out and we were almost asleep, I started with, "Remember when ..."

And we went back and forth laughing about our trip to the Bahamas and all of the crazy and awesome and funny things that happened that week, about how tired we were at first, about the romantic meals, the beach vendors, and the beautiful landscape. It was a warm set of memories to revel in as the biggest snowstorm of the season (so far) swept a white blanket over the state.


Heirloom love letters

It's snowing here. So a little online window shopping is in order this weekend. I stumbled on these really precious hankies from Anthropologie by Bird & Banner. Embellished with the phrase, "when this you see, this think of me," they are meant as Valentine's greetings. So sweet. Only thing about these is the pricey pricetag (duh... it's Anthropologie).

The darlings would have made absolutely perfect tokens for my something blue ladies last spring. Remember the hankies me and my mom had embroidered (below)?The Bird & Banner variety has that unique and antique look I was going for, and would be great for one or two special people. For a larger group, though, I think you could go a sweeter and cheaper way: google "vintage hankies" and find some cheap options for bulk orders. Then affix a fabric or paper tag with a similar "think of me" message using safety pins or a few quick stitches. The significance of the hanky becomes intrinsic, rather than obviously written on the material. For the something blue hankies, we found a local small business to stitch them for about $2 each.

Now, back to my browsing! Happy Feburary!


Pretty thing of the day: Gorgeous

I'm such a sucker for a boquet. I think 90 percent of my "pretty" posts are buds of some variety. Those peonies with the white speckling, though. Ugh ... just so pretty! I love peonies. The ghastly admission I must make is that it is pouring fat snowflakes and we still have a few more months of cold. Mr. Groundhog said so just this week. Blech.


Sh**ty first drafts

So, as part of my creative energy inititative, I'm reading again. I'm reading books and magazines that are not about marriage or weddings, but I found this particular chapter in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird to be absolutely hilariously and poignantly about marriage and weddings and life and perfection getting it "right" the first time.

In her chapter "Shitty First Drafts," Lamott writes: "In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts. ...The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later."

Ohmygosh. Oh. My. Gosh. If this isn't a sentence worth saving, I'm not sure I've read one. Patrick and I have been married 9 months now (holy matrimony!), and this first year is everything like a crummy first version of something wonderful. Lots of energy, excitement, let downs, etc. We're letting things just romp around and pour out. We'll figure them out later.

This is where I feel kind of sad for couples (and brides) who get so focused on the idea of the "perfect" day and the "fairytale" of finally marrying the love of your life. Now, friends, I did have that day and do feel like I scored the "happily ever after." But, I never thought any of it was going to be flawless. That's where a "child's draft" kind of fairytale seems pretty perfect.


'Kneading' things

At our house, new recipes don't always fly. (Think taco soup or the burnt-breakfast fiasco. But God bless Rachel Ray and a friend who really gets my hubby. I tried an awesome recipe for a beef-and-cheddar pot pie that knocked our socks off. The recipe calls for homemade biscuits that sit atop the casserole-like beef mixture (Delicious! You should try it!).
{photo from www.rachaelraymag.com}
I have also mentioned before that I'm no pastry chef. Baking terrifies me. But, I SO enjoyed kneading the dough for these biscuits. It felt motherly and comforting. Punching the floury goo into a ball, then pressing it out with my fingertips and palm was stress-relieving.

Now, I'm sure I wouldn't feel as fondly if I had to make homemade dough all the time. That lightning-quick Pillsbury dough is too ready-at-hand. But the flour all over me and the counter got me thinking: what are we missing in our modern kitchens with our pre-made biscuits and brownie mix? What else has gone away in favor of convenience?

I remember reading a snippet from a chef in a recent Real Simple magazine who "can't believe people don't make their own brownies any more." I thought to myself that day, "well, what's even in a brownie?" I hope that homemade won't one day be just for niche bakeries and old ladies.

OK, I confess: don't plan on finding me slaving with yeast or my rolling pin any time soon. At least I know how to make biscuits!


Monday Moment: All grown up

I traveled southward last weeked, but the Midwestern snow followed me. Tennessee got at least 6 inches of snow, and we spent an afternoon tubing and sledding. Because this part of the country rarely sees snow deeper than an inch, a sense of wonder settled over those Southerners as the snow fell .. and fell, and fell.

For the most part, I wasn't really amused or amazed. What amazed this lady was all the fuss. At one point during our snow play, I thought: "I am nearly 30 years old. I am a grown woman, giggling in the snow." Later, as my friends mother ladled homemade hot chocolate into ironware, I remembered snowdays spent sledding, hot bowls of chili and steaming cocoa, and frozen-red cheeks stinging from the heat of the indoors. Kind of like I wished for that gloomy Thursday last week.

Who says adult, married women can't whoop and belly-laugh and scream as they plow forward on a steep hill? Nobody.


I'm off!

Spending this weekend with some favorite people, just talking, drinking wine, and spending time together. Reflecting, this is the first time in over a year that I've traveled to see friends just to see them -- no bachelorette parties, showers, holidays, or weddings. Just being together. Sigh. See you Monday!


More than ...

Super-awesome buddy of mine posted this on her blog today. I was inspired. That's cool because that was the title of her post. Read on and be inspired, too:

“Lord, as I get older I would like to be known as available more than a hard worker, compassionate more than competent, content, not driven, generous instead of rich, gentle over being powerful, a listener more than a great communicator, loving vs quick or bright, reliable and not famous, sacrificial instead of successful, self controlled rather than being excited, thoughtful more than gifted, I want to be a foot washer, I want to finish well.”
– John Maxwel


Rainy Thursday

winter warmth
Craving warm stuff on this wet Midwestern day. Foggy mist is raining down, making everything the color of a black and white photograph. I've always secretly loved antler chandeliers. I find them a little mystical and adventurous. Today seems like a lodge-y kind of day -- for cuddling and sipping and sharing something warm with friends.



This blog was born as an outlet for my wedding planning life, stresses, and reflections. I'm lucky that it's become more like a virtual column. Having this creative outlet has been such a gift, and I've been doing some thinking. I want to give my life the same creative attention as my wedding received. And so, I give you my 2010 "creative outlook."

- Read at least one book every month (see "currently reading" at right)
- Paint knotty pine paneling in living room and hallway to lighten up my life.
- Grow herbs on my kitchen windowsills (post on this coming soon!).
- Get rid of fake greenery and replace it with the real stuff.
- Act on instincts about my home – just be true to what I really love. Don't be afraid to commit to a color or fabric.
- Jot thoughts in journal twice weekly (post on this too!)
- Stick my neck out: write
- Blog.
- Spend time with the ultimate “creatives”: kids
- Keep a binder of inspiration, drawn from loose pages and anything that moves me.
- Fresh flowers. Love them. Once a month, even if they’re weeds from the yard.
- Make my laundry room enviable (see last week's pretty).

What are you doing to fulfill your creative soul this year?


Mental health day

Thankful for a holiday in the middle of chilly and overcast January, I spent Monday meandering through some outlet stores. When I say “meander,” I mean walk very slowly through every store you wish, touching fabrics, and trying blouses or trousers out in the dressing room. I mean standing in front of a display of scarves deciding on one, only to put it back and decide “no” after all. I mean carefully considering rather than lunch-hour-impulse-buying-because-I-really-need-a-new-white-shirt.

I drive an hourlong commute to work on winding, hilly roads, and I live in a small town. This kind of shopping is a luxury, this time. So, today at work I'm grinning around the place. I'm typing away in a fantastic blouse (which I love!) that I bought for a fantastic steal. And I’ve decided I love meandering, slow, mental health days in the middle of January.

In the grand scheme, this is no great revelation for mankind. But I think when you make the married switch it’s easy to forget to spend days alone, in the company of your own likes and dislikes, slowly considering them. It's important to do things without "permission" from anyone but your own self.

(Ahem, one caveat: No credit card abuse or skulking around with secret purchases. That's just bad form. Budgets = necessary.)


Monday Moment: Dreams

I’ve written here about dreams several times: literally, about strange or slightly psychotic wedding premonitions, and more figuratively about the kind you write down or hold deep in your soul.

As a young girl, I dreamed I’d be a famous writer or painter. New York City was a dream. I dreamed of authoring children’s books. My dream was to have my own house, to have money, to one day to be a mother. There was a dream, too, to do something important.

I think I’m honored to check off a few of these things, but oddly, I feel a little empty with check marks next to them. Life is so much fuller with big things out on the horizon.

Years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said some words about dreams. Here’s to never giving in to dreams, to keeping them out there bobbing in the distance.


Something on my bulletin board

A friend tore this page out of a magazine for me way back this summer. Looking back on 2009, it was the absolute perfect thing to have hanging on my bulletin board.

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct... Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is." - from Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tucson

Listening to news of Haiti's incredibly devastating earthquake, the "glorious debris" seems so tangible. CBS news featured one newlywed couple who moved to Haiti to work just two weeks ago. The husband found his wife trapped under the concrete walls of their home -- her waving fingers through a crack his only hope to cling to as he literally dug her out.

We watched this story together in silence, holding hands. The newscast ended, and we hugged. Yes, 2010 is the year to "take life for what it is." High tide!


Pretty thing of the day: Laundry room envy

Whose basement laundry room looks like this? Well, apparently somebody's over at A Country Farmhouse. Encouraging, yes? Yes. Happy Tuesday!


Grown up money

Patrick and I have still not merged finances. Sigh.

This all goes back to a post earlier this fall -- about the
name change and about how I am processing "married life." I love being married and I love my husband. But after so many years of managing my own paycheck and being the only one privy to the literal "ins and outs" of my banking world, it seems like invasion of privacy to allow another person to be part of all of that. Patrick and I have talked, and I think he's felt the same way (maybe less protective than me, but similar).

We do have a joint account (that's so far seldom used) and we still have a budget that we are very responsible about. We've read the Dave Ramsey book. So by December our separate accounts at separate banks were starting to feel a little silly to both of us. And now I've read this
-- on the NEST Web site of all places. The linked post is about being a "grown up" about money. And I have to admit that it really resonated.

(We're trying not to think of our resolutions as "resolutions," rather joint goals. And setting up our direct deposit, organizing our important papers, and becoming "one" financially ... that's definitely on the 2010 list.)


Monday moment: Saying goodbye

This week, many blogs are reflecting on the past year and the things that ended up mattering. Many writers and talking heads are helping us dive into the new year with resolutions and wishes.

Over the holidays, I rested and wrapped and cleaned and thought often about the year that was 2009. So much happened in the world and in our little life together. We spent the first four months wrapped in the bliss of our wedding (probably the happiest day of my life so far), with parties and planning and happy things that made us feel blessed and charmed in life. Beautiful things, a tropical honeymoon, plans and hopes for how things will be.

But new things must be unswaddled and used. For Patrick and I, these first months of marriage have been some of the most trying -- and most binding -- of our many years together. We've really tested our vow to support one another in good times and bad. We've used our bond to climb out of depressions, to deal with loss, to overhaul a kitchen, to vent frustrations, and to find comfort.

This Monday, we said goodbye to Patrick's grandfather. Grandpa Combs struggled and finally was at peace the morning of Dec. 31. Patrick's paternal grandmother was buried in June.

So, what ended up mattering, as the ball dropped "2010" and tears burned in both Patrick's and my exhausted eyes was pretty clear. It had nothing to do with deaths or bad luck. It had nothing to do with a perfect wedding day, either. It had to do with people, with love and the person with whom we'll spend every new year.

In the end, life is a lot like the Jewish tradition author Elie Wiesel writes of,
"...celebration of life is more important than mourning over the dead. When a wedding procession encounters a funeral procession in the street, the mourners must halt so as to allow the wedding party to proceed. Surely you know what respect we show our dead, but a wedding, a symbol of life and renewal, a symbol of promise too, takes precedence."

So long, 2009. May 2010 be filled with life and rewnewal, and may peace and warm memories take precedence over all else.