Friday, August 24, 2007

Finishing the To-Do List

There are three projects on my to-do list after the quilts:
3)Wedding album
The wedding album is 90% complete, and awaiting some tweaking from creative friends.
And today, I did 75% of #2-- the chairs. A long time ago, I saw a picture of Reese Witherspoon's beach house. She had a white table with mismatched chairs surrounding it, all painted black. When I borrowed the Shank's round table to use as our dining table, I faced a challenge to find chairs. So I adapted the mismatched idea. I purchased 4 raw chairs on craigslist, which I stained. Then I found 3 iron chairs, which I recovered and painted. The last 4 we purchased were steals from Goodwill Half-price Saturday. But they lacked good, comfortable seat bottoms. I planned to recover them with a modern take on Shaker-style woven bottoms. So, I bought off Ebay thick twill tape. In February.
The long term plan worked out.
I ran out of tape.
But I have three chairs!
And I consider that project DONE.
I'll figure out what do to with the extra chair frame later.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Taking Courage

There are so many reasons that we can be afraid in this world. This life can be full of danger, both internal and in our surroundings.

Every day in the hospital, fear is visible on patient's faces. As I do my rounds, the disbelief and surprise is the first thing they mention. They cannot belief that their enemy is internal. A few may have become numb to their routine hospital visits; but they are all still afraid. This week was another example of both: the 99 and the 27 year old female sleeping down the hall from each other, both fighting disease and infection in its various stages. There was the 26 and 51 year old men, with large amounts of unexplained weight loss, both facing new diagnosis of metastatic cancer.

In light of these daily examples, you would think I would take courage in the face of our own external trial. We found out last week that Travis will be done at his current job next Thursday, a week from today. He and the company mutually agreed that there wasn't a job for him currently with any training potential.

The internal battle to not be afraid is still strong. It is probably what it feels like to be in a hospital gown in a hospital bed. When is the next test? Where is my doctor? What did the test show? Where's my lunch? You wait. Most people don't realize that half of the time in a hospital is spent under observation. All you can do is wait.

Travis' job has been a roller coaster since before we were married. And now it is another waiting game with more upswings and plummeting drops. I am afraid at times. Will we ever find a stable job? Will Travis be able to find one quickly? Will the money run out?

Yet we have hope. Hope beyond health. Hope beyond money. Hope that is eternal. We can take courage in the promise of heaven and comfort in the love of Jesus. Even through it all, this is a test of faith, not willpower or time. It is an opportunity, as one of our friends put it last night, to think creative thoughts of God. Think creatively. What an interesting way to be reminded not to allow our minds to be limited when we think of God's workings.

We have had so many creative blessings too. On the same day Travis lost his job, I got a large bonus at work. I also found out that it will cost us nothing to be covered for health insurance through my work. I also have a job interview today to explore some private practice work for two prominent cardiac surgeons on the side. Creative blessings that show God is taking note.

Here is a promise to hold on to:
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Seed to Sprout to Bud to Flower

What is the first thing you do when you see a beautiful bouquet of flowers?
What do you instinctually do?
Most people lean in, and take that deep inhale, trying to drink in the smell of the beautiful flowers they see.
Have you ever craved that smell of flowers? The fresh cut "green" smell, the gentle scent of a opening, ripe bud, or the heady perfume of an open blossom?
I am reading this incredibly interesting book called Flower Confidential, that my brother Peter sent me in the mail. It is written about the floral industry. As a former floral designer, I knew some of its main points, like the outsourcing of all the roses to South America, and that the rest of the flowers usually come off the Dutch market. But the detail to which it all happens is just fascinating. For instance, did you know that the floral industry is a $40 billion dollar-a-year business? I had no idea. I mean, I've been to the wholesalers in Maryland, D.C. and in New York. I've seen the open warehouses jammed packed with every variety and type of flower imaginable. I understand why the business is $40 billion dollars a year. The author makes the point that it is difficult to keep money in your pocket as you peruse those artificial fields of glory. Who could resist the delicate droop of white French tulips with a gentle pink threading down each petal? Money always flew out of my pocket faster than my business sense let me on those early mornings.
One of the chapters is on the development of new varieties, like for instance, a new rose. Some of the discussion is how all the varieties are being bred for shelflife. Through that process, most of the flowers have lost their natural scent. A flower's scent is its sexual reproductive mechanism-- the smell becomes most powerful when it is ready to be fertilized. This conceptual loss is similar to the theme of the book I just finished, Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, who comments on the loss of fruit and vegetable variety in the American diet. There used to be thousands of varities of fruits and vegetables; now, we commonly see less than 50 in most grocery stores. The old hardy local indigenous varieties have died out to outsourcing, genetics and production.
Didn't you say that you leaned into every bouquet? Do we really want to forget the smell of flowers? The same goes for local produce. We don't want our industry to outweigh the natural resources of plants. For more information, visit Slow Foods. We need to be aware of our consumer habits and how they are affecting our future, our oil prices and the environment.

Friday, August 17, 2007


More quilts. I now declare myself "retired" from this gift giving...but I had a lot of fun finishing the two promised quilts to the rest of the Dinner Club girls. Hayley also had Tory thirteen days early, which motivated me to complete this summer project. Becky already had Bella almost two months ago...and I hadn't finished hers either. Bella's quilt was a "wave" pattern which I found some terrycloth to back it with, to honor her mother's swimming passion. For Tory though, it was thoroughly tradition: black, white, cream and brown, to go in her elegant bedroom.
Two quilts ain't nothing compared to the accomplishments of Janis + the awesome Mary Walsh, in from Vancouver, B.C., this week. Mary came down to help Janis finish all of her sewing projects. Who would not be encouraged to sew in the presence of this list?
- drapes for 3 large windows
- curtains for 2 large windows
- four valences (2 for summer, 2 for winter)
- ottoman out of a coffee table
- valences for a bedroom window and bathroom window
- 8 pillows
Are they insane or what? And I thought I was crazy. Mary even got Janis going until 11pm-- way past her early bedtime. But with Steve gone this week and Travis occupied with his final exam in accounting, we were grateful for the diversion. She is now the official angel to the lonely Shank (married) women.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

August Adventures

Did I miss a month here? I know you all are wondering where I went.
I was in San Diego.
With my Mom and Sister.
It was a whirlwind.
But we came, we visited, we conquered.
We went to visit our dear friends, the Lauterbachs. Dear Rachel was not able to join us, but we enjoyed the company of the rest: Rondi and Becca. (As well as Mr. Lauterbach, of course).

Our first course of action was getting there, but that took longer than we expected. After a seven hour ordeal, we arrived, albiet late, to the Lauterbach's home in Escondido, CA. We enjoyed our picnic dinner, that was supposed to be enjoyed on the beach in Carlsbad for a beach jazz festival. But alas, we got swallowed up in traffic woes on the freeway. Evil traffic, Rondi calls it.
Saturday we spent the day together in Pacific Beach, browsing thrift stores and eating an amazing lunch at an asian restaraunt, followed by a delicious frozen mocha. These are all activities my friend Becky introduced me to while we were in San Diego last year.
We visited with Joe Ward briefly, who lives near by and has been a long-time friend. That night we also got time with some dear friends, the Whites, who hosted us in France for two weeks several years ago. Rondi made a delicious steak dinner with a wonderful side salad from Fine Cooking that included oregano marinated cherry tomato halves with feta cheese, olives and a delicious dressing.
At church on Sunday, we were able to reconnect with all the East Coast Pilgrims like Jess Aveni and others as well. We were able to see the new Grace Church building and then shoot on to Trader Joe's for lunch on the fly. We then threw all our stuff together and headed for a quick afternoon at a different beach.
That night we went to see "Bourne Ultimatum". You see, my mother and Rondi, both, wanted to be spies when they were younger. That was their major bonding moment, right after "You were a dance major too? in the early days of our friendships in Maryland. The funny thing was, I've never seen a movie in my bathing suit, much less with sand still on my feet. We laughed about our general appearance, but who could complain after such a lovely afternoon at Del Mar?
And we finished off our weekend with a visit to our newly transplanted cousin/nephew, Brad and his new wife, Jane, who live in Escondido as well.
No joke.
it was a whirlwind.
But it was the first of many times to come.
We will always have memories.
And most of them come from laughter-- some of them at eachother's expense. My mom, who
has a difficult time getting over her highschool French, said at one point, trying to pronounce words as we went along the freeway, "What are we looking for? Oh... there it is: Rrrrrauncho...
At that point, we didn't let her finish because we were laughing too hard. Classic.
What a good start to memories together here on the West Coast.
And today I'm at work, waiting for my time to leave.
And they are off galavating the city, shopping up at Kierland.
Tommorrow: another conquering oppurtunity: Last Chance. Movie time with Janis and Janelle.
The day after: the Camelback Spa for the day.
Here we come.