month in review: 10/14

When’s the last time I did a Month in Review post? Why, it was January 2013!

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and in it she cites research that indicates that those who are acutely aware of what they’re grateful for are more contented. That makes a lot of sense to me, but often I’d rather not “waste” time contemplating the good things; I’d rather distract myself with activities or blogs or online shopping. But I’ve been feeling awfully restless and discontent for no real reason, so I think it’s time to give this another try.

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In October, I (often with Daniel in tow):

  • coordinated the thrift shop’s anniversary sale
  • attended a beautiful wedding
  • partied it up at a friend’s birthday party
  • visited with college friends who came to visit
  • picked apples at Carter Mountain Orchard
  • ate delicious, home cooked apple pie thanks to the friends who came to visit
  • sight saw on Skyline Drive on a foggy day
  • sang a solo part in the church choir
  • moved my fair trade blog over to Blogger (and got 1,070 views in the first month!)
  • wrote about lessons learned working at a thrift shop
  • went on my church’s 2nd annual hike
  • helped secure funding for the thrift shop’s maintenance fund
  • watched Fright Night with friends on Halloween
  • started reading Silence by Shusaku Endo
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this is it

“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.”

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

a beautiful day in the neighborhood

This fall is the best fall. Today is the best day.

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I went on a meandering walk through my neighborhood this afternoon and discovered the loveliest views. It’s 65 and sunny. Neighbors are raking leaves, listening to music, and taking walks. The roads are quiet and the squirrels are out in crowds stocking up for winter. I was under the impression that most of the houses in my branch of the neighborhood were built in the early ’60s, but a few steps off the main road I discovered a Free Will Baptist Church and houses that must have been built around the turn of the 20th century.

summer roadtrip

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After our car broke down, my grandparents graciously offered to sell us one of their cars. The only problem was that it was in Florida. So, within a week, we booked our one way flight to Tampa and prepared for a week of travel through the south.

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We spent a relaxing few days in Bradenton at my grandparents house, enjoying Grandma’s beef with Amish noodles and watching a documentary about Florida on TV.  On Sunday, we headed up to Orlando to attend church with Daniel’s mom before caravanning up to St. Augustine to be tourists for the afternoon.

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A pirate ship!

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After spending the night at my sister’s house in Jacksonville, we traveled up to Charlotte, NC. After a day of driving, we were fairly well exhausted, so we ordered takeout and watched trashy television into the evening.

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The next day, we took a self-guided walking tour through Charlotte, admiring the Painted Ladies and modern downtown architecture, visiting a local Episcopal church, drinking delicious coffee, and eating at a local Greek restaurant.

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It was the sort of trip everyone should take in the summertime. We paced ourselves and managed to see lots of friends and family as we snaked our way back to Charlottesville. I’m grateful that fate forced us to get down to Florida this year. Being with people who have known you forever is quite grounding.

shrinemont weekend ’14

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In the beginning of July, Daniel and I headed out with friends from church to attend the annual congregational get together at the Episcopal campground that borders the George Washington National Forest. It’s taken me forever to get to posting these, because on the way there, our car broke down (RIP) and the rest of July was spent either car-less or in Florida to buy my grandparents’ car (thanks, Grandparents!).

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I had a most relaxing time despite the stress of losing a vehicle. We played literary games, sang gospel songs in three parts, read on the covered porch, ate s’mores, and went on a very educational hike thanks to the presence of an ecologist and a former geology major. I fell in a creek, got bitten by a horsefly, and overheated a bit, but that’s part of the joy of summertime!

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The weekend could not have been better.

 

2nd annual Canterbury hike

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I spent Saturday in the mountains with my church’s college group. You may remember that I went on the same hike last year and really enjoyed it.

We read Psalms, closed our eyes and listened to the gentle shhh of wind through leaves, and had Eucharist on the mountaintop.

Focused breathing up steep paths is a special sort of meditation. It’s so very rare for me to be able to let go of daily stresses and live in the moment for hours at a time, but something about Shenandoah does it for me. I was distracted by panoramic views, new friends, and the marvelous way the body adapts to uneven terrain. It was a lovely and exhausting day.

 

humanity

I first heard of UVa student Hannah Graham’s disappearance through friends on facebook who know her personally. Later Monday evening in the Women’s Prayer Group offered through my church, a couple of students who are acquainted with her spoke of the difficulty they were having processing the incident.

We lit candles as we prayed for her life and the lives of others. And that visual image of light – of lives alight with concern and hope – shattered the safety net I’d placed around Charlottesville and around my life even as it helped unite us. It hit me hard. I’m not sleeping very well.

It’s every feeling, all at once.

It’s the what-ifs of a young woman who vanished, it seemed at first, without a trace. The uncertainty of what dangers await every young woman in this quiet town. The realization that our houses and our buddy systems and our routines create only a semblance of control. We have so very little control.

It’s sheer terror mixed with anxiety mixed with the desperation of hoping for her safety and fearing the worst. I feel for her and her friends. I fear for myself living in a world where someone can somehow stop being so quickly.

 

two post it notes

Someday, when the world begins
to darken, I’ll
walk in the silence
of early morning, peering
into empty shops with
cataract gray eyes

And I’ll remember being
young, moving fast, skin
smooth like a new bar of soap,
and wondering when I would
make it.

I’ll know then, there
is no making it.

Child, you’re already home.

At 4:00, I’ll eat my
dinner, just the basics –
salad, potato, tea.

And I’ll look out the window
near the garden and watch
the early robins feast
until my eyelids flicker,
slowly, closed.

The final act, not a drama but a lullaby.

skyline drive with mary

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Mary and I have been friends for nearly 10 years. We met our junior year of high school, attended college together, and were roommates for a year and a half. She came up to visit last month, so naturally we went to Skyline Drive. It’s one of the most impressive parts of this state and I’m lucky to live so close to it. I especially love the foggy haze and flash storms that visit the mountains in summertime. It’s like exploring a primordial rain forest.

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Hobby Lobby pro-life?

I already talked about the Hobby Lobby case in various corners of the internet, but I realize it’s something I should address here because I take an approach few critics are taking, and it has a lot to do with the topic of my blog, Style Wise.

If you haven’t already heard, the Supreme Court exempted Hobby Lobby from providing certain types of birth control believed to act as abortifacients (basically, birth control that keeps a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall). While I’m ideologically pro-life, I think it’s better to regulate the market and make safe options available to women than to restrict more invasive types of birth control. But I’m not all that disturbed by the immediate repercussions of this particular case. What scares me is that the court had to argue that Hobby Lobby is protected under rights normally granted to individuals. Corporate personhood is a slippery slope!

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All that aside, Hobby Lobby represents a type of Christianity prevalent in America that so heavily favors capitalism it can’t see the plank in its eye (that’s a Bible reference! Matthew 7:5). I should know because I worked there for a year. Because I helped set up a local store, I got to see the first boxes of products arrive. I had a lot of time to read the labels and scrutinize the products. As it turns out, the majority of products are made in China. And this isn’t artisanal stuff; it’s sweatshop quality. Even the custom frames are shipped from China. It doesn’t take long to realize that Hobby Lobby, a company that plays Christian elevator music over its speaker system and donates to Texan homeschool organizations, is making profit – a lot of profit – on goods sourced from sweatshops.

There have been several articles that point out the hypocrisy of buying product from a country with a one child policy, but I don’t think this approach goes far enough. It’s not just about abortion! If you’re going to be pro-life, that should extend to everyone. Everyone deserves a chance at life, even poor people in China, even non-Christians, even people who don’t like Americans very much.

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What kills me about the Hobby Lobby case is that they had the resources to revitalize their production chain and provide better wages and better protections to the people who toil to make cheap shadow boxes and “handcrafted” garden statues, but instead they directed their time and money to the petty task of trying to prove a point about the shortcomings of universal health care.