Brilliant Idea: Manitou Springs Seed Library

Some things are just so cool that they must be recorded. This is one of those things.

If you’re not familiar with the 3.03 square miles of wonder that is Manitou Springs, let me bring you up to speed.

Manitou Springs, which climbs the mountains just west of Colorado Springs, is home to the world famous Manitou Penny Arcade, where the Wonder Hub and I had our first date. (I schooled him at Skeeball. He killed me at everything else.)

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photo credit: springs bargains.com

 

Manitou Springs is home to the Emma Crawford Festival and Coffin Races, in which I got to participate last year.

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This is the only thing I will ever (ever, ever) have to do with zombies.

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My zombie BFF

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Manitou Springs is home to Kinfolks Mountain Shop, where you and your good dog can get a beverage and snacks while listening to live music.

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Molly Sue making friends

 

Perhaps most famously, Manitou Springs is home to the Incline, on which you gain 2,000 breath-taking feet in elevation during an .88 mile climb.

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Oh yes we will!

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Top ‘o the Incline. From left: Moose, Bubba, Moi, Monkey

 

As you can see, I have a fair amount of experience with Manitou Springs. I thought I knew all that this gem has to offer. When Katie Sanders*, instructor extraordinaire from the North American School of Clinical Herbalism, told me about the Manitou Springs Seed Library, I was intrigued. A library? Of seeds?

Yes, friends. A library of seeds. Check it out.

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The library building was given to the city by Andrew Carnegie in 1910

From manitouseedlibrary.org:

“The purpose of our project is twofold. We want to promote the development and preservation of landrace heirloom seeds and varieties that are well adapted to the arid growing conditions and short growing season that are typical of Colorado’s Front Range and in conjunction, promote the development of an equally well adapted body of local knowledge on how to save and pass on those seeds to future growers.”

 

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A card catalogue of seeds!

“Seed libraries work by creating a relationship with regional growers. The seed library offers free seeds and a means of regional seed exchange while teaching people how to save those seeds successfully. In return, growers commit to bringing back a portion of the seed produced by those plants at the end of the growing season. The returned seed enters the library catalog and becomes available to more growers the following season, who will in turn, borrow and return even more.”

 

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My next adventure!

This is the list of seeds I chose. I wanted every. single. thing. I did. Seeing as how I need to return twice as many seeds in the fall, I forced myself to stick with seeds that were marked easy to harvest, except in the case of the peppers, which I couldn’t resist.

It is my understanding that the library will have a class on planting and growing this month, and then another in the fall on harvesting seeds. I will endeavor to attend, bumble my way through, and report back to you.

See what I mean? Some things are so cool that they must be recorded.

 

*You can follow Katie at Garden Fairy Apothecary on Facebook and http://farmgirlschool.com

 

My Bedside Table (Seven!)

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It’s a short stack this time around, but I’m actively reading each of these wonderful books.

(Note: I usually edit out that blue desk lamp. I didn’t this time around because I decided it is a mark of honor. When we retire from the military, I will get a beautiful bedside lamp–maybe even one that doesn’t sear the Wonder Hub’s eyeballs–but until then, this is the only thing that survives our moves.)

So without further ado (Such a great word, ado. Let’s all work together to bring this back to the modern lexicon, okay? Okay.), from the top down…

Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. I received this as a going-away gift from a sweet friend in Virginia. It is a book of short, daily messages, written in the first person voice of none other than the Son of God. To you. Each day’s note includes the scripture references upon which it is based, and the tone is so tender, so personal, and so spot on that it frequently brings me to tears.

Today is February 14, Valentine’s Day. Being me, I read the note dated Feb. 15. Here it is: photo

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. The Wonder Hub gave me this book for Christmas. I first read about this, the latest of Gladwell’s books, in The Costco Connection, one of my favorite monthly book mags. Next, I noticed that Relevant magazine had an interview with Gladwell entitled, “How I Rediscovered Faith.” You know me, and even if I hadn’t already been an avid Gladwell fan, I would have grabbed this book. It’s been a fascinating read, as Gladwell lays out an intriguing argument for questioning our assumptions about from where power and strength truly come. Parents and teachers of kids with dyslexia will want to read this, as well as those of us who are preparing children for college. Fascinating.

Left to Tell, by Immacullée Ilibagiza. Someone dear to my heart sent this for my birthday. I’ve only recently dug into the meat of the story, although I read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s foreword immediately after opening the package. I have to be honest and tell you that it left a sour taste in my mouth. I know I’m writing about the book here, and not Dr. Dyer’s foreword, but I hope you’ll permit me just a few lines to explain why I do not agree with his view of the universe.

1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3

2. ”I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Galatians 1:6-9 (emphasis mine)

So. I put the book down after reading the foreword, in part because it credited Ms. Ilibagiza’s “Inner Beingness” for the impossible details of her survival, rather than giving credit to the Lover of her soul (Isaiah 25:4, Psalm 62: 1-2, 1-8). Another, larger reason for setting this book aside was simply this: it’s a book about the survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust. There is no way around heartache here. And friends? I’m staring at a plate full of heartache just now. I didn’t think I could swallow Ms. Ilibagiza’s in addition to my own.

I have started the story. It’s written with a sweet innocence I would imagine was Ms. Ilibagiza’s birthright, long before the onset of the genocide that killed her entire family. I will finish it. I will.

This Star Won’t Go Out, by Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl.

Gosh, people. I saw this at Costco one morning while I was wandering around bored out of my mind. The tire dudes (seriously, dudes) were putting much-needed snow tires on the Wonder Hub’s vehicle. I was not in need of one hundred rolls of toilet paper, or an all-beef hotdog. It was too early for the sample stations and the place was eerily quiet. Generally, I can spend a good half hour picking idyllically through the books before choosing one to take home with me. On this day, it took seconds. Being a John Green fan (that is, a lover of YA fiction who is taking in and expelling oxygen), I knew of Esther Earl, to whom he dedicated The Fault in Our Stars, but I did not know of this book. THIS book.

Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking? Do you know (as I did) that Esther is dead? Are you wondering why I might have trouble reading one book because of its proximity to heartache, but not another? I’ve given it a fair amount of thought myself, and I believe it is this: if this were a book about a girl with cancer, written by her parents, siblings, and friends, I would pass it right over. Ack. My heart couldn’t handle it. This, though. This is Esther’s words, Esther’s life (as well as the words of people who were touched by Esther). Esther was a writer. Posthumously, her words are reaching people, changing lives. What more could any writer ask for? What writer could pass that over?

Not this one.

That’s it, friends. Go forth and read!

Karen vs. Crafting

I bought some burlap on December 5, with plans to make one of these, and also three of these.

I know some of you are on the floor right now. Those of you who spent years trying to get me to be crafty with you (Julie)..and possibly those of you who attended church lady craft nights during which I sipped coffee and ate goodies and talked my lips off but refused to even acknowledge that craftiness was taking place. I know it’s shocking. Karen? Crafting? What?? All I can tell you is this:

I have no idea.

So. My bag of burlap sat on the bench in the front entry. It sat on the floor in the corner of the dining room. It sat on the dining table next to the unopened sewing machine. In each of these places, it stared me down like a schoolyard bully.

I mostly ignored it.

I did have a deadline, though. I wanted the house decorated before the big boys arrived. When that deadline passed, I knew I wanted the table runner done before Mel and Pat arrived. When that deadline passed, I knew it had to be done before December 29, when Chris brought her new beau over for dinner.

When Chris brought her new beau over for dinner, I took the dang burlap out of its dang bag and folded it in half. Then I laid it on the table with the extra burlap trailing off the far end (and into a burlap puddle on the floor) where I hoped nobody would notice it. I added another, narrow, Christmas-y runner and a large Polish Pottery plate with candles, red placemats with napkins, and called it a day.

It was, if I do say so myself, ridiculous.

And then. Sometime after the dawn of the New Year, I found something with a higher procrastination priority (maybe packing up the Christmas decor?), and I got down to business. And I did it!

I, Karen Klasi, crafted.

Really.

 

Ready??

 

 

 

 

 

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Isn’t it pretty? It mostly hides the military-and-kid induced scratches and dents. It’s not frilly or girly or otherwise un-Karen. It’s kind of wrinkly (like me!) as it is nearly impossible (with my attention span) to iron burlap completely flat.

It’s got the fringy stuff on the edges, which I dig.

 

 

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(For the record, those pictures are no longer on the floor.)

I will admit to a little struggle with the photographs, based on the facts that, a) I missed the great light that transforms this room in the early afternoon, and b) I was too lazy to change camera lenses so, c) had to back myself up the first landing of stairs and then get on my stomach to take these shots.

 

 

 

 

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I was very into it, this photographing of my most excellent accomplishment. I wanted to show you what I’d done, how I’d conquered, all I’d overcome. In the end, I must have taken over two dozen shots. Of a table runner. What can I say? I was absorbed. I was engrossed, perhaps even consumed.

I was, apparently, not meeting someone’s needs..

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The end.

 

Random Thursday

1. It’s Random Thursday 33! Whaaat?

I have a theory. I think that 33 is the number of Randoms with no subtitle. I think that when they have a random subtitle they get classified differently.

I had a subtitle in mind. I started typing it in but then I thought up my theory and had to test it. It wasn’t exactly a double-blind experiment, but for the purposes of this particular theory, I believe that’s okay.

In answer to your question, no. I no longer have any idea what that subtitle might have been.

2. In my wee little brain, there are rattling around numerous unfinished posts. Some of those I need to hold onto, but others are best used here, where they will (at least) get some oxygen, and (at most) entertain you. One of those posts bears the following title:

BLAME IT ON DOWNTON ABBEY

and goes on to detail (although the details are murky, hence the ‘unfinished’) the epidemic use of the word “very.” In my head, this post tells about how every time I read that someone is “so very glad” or “so very sad” or “so very fill-in-the-blank” my reading voice switches immediately to that of Lady Mary.

And I giggle.

3. One of the greatest problems the military wife will ever face is finding a new hairdresser.

Yeah yeah, our husbands deploy. That’s hard and all. But they are still our husband while they’re gone. Our hairdressers, on the other hand, cease being our hairdressers when we relocate.

Oh. My. Heart.

(OMM, puh-lease don’t report me to one of those hateful military spouse-haters Facebook pages. It’s satire, people. Geez.)

But seriously. Hairdresser/hairdresee relationships are not a dime a dozen. They don’t manifest themselves out of the clear flipping blue like…like teenage love in the months leading up to prom. They are rare and magical happenings the likes of which Nicholas Sparks can only dream. They are hard won, and forged in the fire of absolute dependence.

When one must leave her beloved to brave a new path, heart broken and mane amok, she will survey the bleak landscape with nary a hope that there might be another spirit akin to the one from which she has been torn. It can takes weeks, nay, months, to secure a new and satisfactory union.

It is, dare I say, so very trying.

4. I had planned to write this earlier today. Not early, earlier. (Duh)

(Aside) I could write a hundred thousand unique posts on my epic and daily battles with early.

Before I could write, some things had to happen.

A. Coffee
B. This:

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5. And then it was time for the girlie rigamarole so that I could go do this:

(Aside) I could write one single post on how I resent the time that must be spent on the girlie rigamarole.

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This. This is what my heart needed today. A trusted friend from days gone by (Germany 2004) and her precious little tutu girl. When she crawled up on my lap (the tutu girl, not the friend), I understood what happened to the Grinch’s heart. Mine was simultaneously two sizes larger and ten pounds lighter.

This. This is grace.

Happy Birthday Month, Lyndi Sue!

6. See #5 and then see # 3.

I am now in my tenth month of Colorado residency. TEN. MONTHS. I have spent ten long months looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many..hairdressers. My last cut, which took place just days before Thanksgiving, was in South Dakota. It was a good haircut, too. The best I’d had in all the time I’ve been wandering aimlessly through this desert. The one before that had me seriously considering homicide. It was that bad. Now I’m too afraid to get back up on the ol’ horse, so to speak.

Pray for me.

7. When all the boys were home for Christmas, I took my new lens out to photograph a basketball game. I got down in the grass and tried (and tried) to frame the game with the yard flag bearing a red and green wreath surrounding the first letter of the family name. Because how cool would that be? I sat there, and then lay there, in the dead, scratchy grass for forever, trying to get a shot with all four males, the basketball, some action, and the dang yard flag.

I was about to keel over with despair when somebody sensed my pain and wandered over to help me out. My favorite child plopped down right in front of my camera lens, and proceeded to give me her best poses.

 

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Forget the boys, I’ve got this.

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This is my thoughtful pose.

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And this one is shy.

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This is either, “It’s such hard work to be a model” or, “Man, do those boys stink!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thursday

1. -There are five update notices pestering me from the top of this page.
-There are 2,929 comments awaiting my approval. (Most of them for Viagra/Tramadol/Gucci purses.)
-Every Random Thursday post says it’s random-thursday-32.
-The mobile version of this website is ridiculously ridiculous.
-There are 1,529 unread emails in my work account. (Although to be truthful, I mostly keep them there to make the Wonder Hub twitch on the rare occasion he glances over my shoulder and sees them.)

2. In other news, I made this fabulous dairy-free hot chocolate this afternoon. It reminded me of the hot chocolate we had in Milan on Thanksgiving of 2004. It was quite a bit of work, considering I had packets of Swiss Miss in the cupboard, but it was more fun than, say, trying to conquer my various technology woes.

That hot chocolate, the hot chocolate in Milan, was the best hot chocolate in the whole, wide world. This one, the dairy-free hot chocolate, is a fair second.

3. Remember the socks and underwear debacle? Well, since having that little conversation, we have moved. Moving presented the perfect opportunity to readdress the situation. To fix it once and for all. To overcome. (cue Mandisa)

So I stood in front of my dresser and thought it through. After a relatively short period of time, a lightbulb went off. (On?)

Socks. And underwear.

Socks.
Underwear.

Right? It totally makes sense! So now..I’m batting a thousand. I stand in front of my dresser and say to myself, Socks…and underwear before opening that top drawer, and thinking..

Who puts on socks before they’re wearing underwear??*

4. Molly Sue the Timid Rescue Pup has come into her own. Her journey started several years ago with the Foot Stomp, a move during which she would (and will) place herself directly in my line of vision and stomp her left foot periodically, generally meaning, “Take me for a walk!”

Next came the Woof?  I applauded the Woof? because, quite frankly, a dog who will sit patiently outside the sliding glass door, rain or shine, waiting for someone to remember she’s out there, is cause for a lot of guilt.

(Aside) I’m going to talk about guilt in random point number five, so please kindly pretend that Molly-guilt is the segue.

Segue: (n) an uninterrupted transition from one piece of music or film scene to another.

Next came the Dinner Time Stalk, which, while demonstrating growth in the area of self-advocacy, still rates fairly high on the passive-aggressive scale.

Tonight, though. Tonight our girl came full-circle. She’s self-actualized! It’s been a long, hard road, but check out what she did at 6:01pm.

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5. I had a massage today. It was brilliant. It was glorious! It was lovely, in the loveliest possible way.

I also had guilt today (remember: segue), which is ridiculous. Who feels guilty for taking care of herself? Who, when her neck’s mobility is reduced to, say, ten percent, feels actual guilt over doing something to regain the capacity to safely check her car’s blind spot?**

6. I love commas. In my opinion, a sentence can hardly have too many commas. A professor attempted to take me to task for this once, but my retort stopped her in her tracks. She even, dare I say, offered up her grudging approval. It was one of those brilliant moments I will remember forever and always for being one of fewer than a handful of times I came up with the brilliant retort immediately, instead of two hours later.

Do you do this? Do you replay a conversation in your head long after it does you any good to replay the conversation, and do you, at this late hour, come up with the most brilliant responses ever to be never heard by another human?***

7. The response? It went like this:

“Well, Dr. So-and-So, one might say that my writing is somewhat Dickensian.”

Right!? Because who could put together a sentence with more commas than Charles Dickens himself? And more importantly, what British Lit prof worth her salt is going to criticize Mr. Dickens?

 

 

*Rhetorical question, people. Please don’t tell me the order in which you put on your undergarments.

**Not a rhetorical question. Please answer.

***Please say yes.

For Mothers (Matthew 15)

IMG_3686To be sure, this is for all parents. However, I am a mother. I write from that perspective.

The Text: Matthew 15:21-28 (New International Version)

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Again, The Text: (this time in the New Living Translation):

Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

Context: Jesus had just left a discussion with some Pharisees and teachers of the law (all powerful Jewish religious leaders) in which he had called them hypocrites. He went so far as to say that Isaiah prophesied about them, and he quoted scripture they would have well know: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13)

After this confrontation, he left the Jewish territory and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon, where he was met by the pleading Canaanite woman (whom we will call the Canaanite mother).

History: Tyre is the region in Phoenicia from which the infamous Jezebel came. Tyre and Sidon are often grouped together, perhaps because they lie just a few miles apart. By calling this mother a Canaanite, Matthew indicates that she is a descendent of those ancient and bitter enemies which Israel had conquered.

Language:

1. By crying out to Jesus and calling him, “Lord, Son of David!” she indicates her understanding that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of Israel (as prophesied in II Samuel 7:14-16). It is clear that by this point in His ministry, Jesus’ reputation had spread beyond the borders of Jerusalem and the Jewish territory. She knows Jesus holds the power to heal her child, and she is desperate enough to beg Him to do it.

2. The Cananite mother is a Gentile, an ancient enemy of the Jews. Jesus clearly states that He was sent to the Jewish people. He has a mission, and she is not it. And yet..

3. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (v 26) The children indicate the children of Israel. The Greek words that are translated “their dogs” paint a picture of children at a table, while their small dogs, puppies even, wait at their feet. When I learned this, it changed the whole story for me. Jesus is not rebuffing her. He is not telling her that she is unworthy of His time. He is not calling her a dog (as actually would be common from Jew to Gentile). Instead, picture Him gazing down as she bows at His feet. He speaks sweetly, almost teasing her with his words. How will she respond?

Lesson: The Canaanite mother boldly approaches and, perhaps from the outer edges of the throng of surrounding disciples, raises her voice to beg Jesus for mercy. He appears to ignore her, although she is loud and persistent enough to irritate the disciples (v 23). With Jesus, every single thing has purpose, so we have to wonder why he ignores her. It is certainly not for His benefit. By waiting, by seemingly ignoring her, and then by giving her the unsatisfactory response, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” she is forced to either turn away, or to come closer to Him. The NIV says she then, “knelt before him.” The NLT says, “but she came and worshipped him.” He didn’t answer her cry, but still she worshipped Him.

And then, out of her sheer desperation, she continues to beg Him for help.  She perseveres.

She worships Him for Who He is.

She perseveres.

She worships Him for Who He is.

She keeps on asking, even begging Him, to help her child.

She draws close.

She perseveres.

Remember this, friends. Remember that when you approach the Messiah, begging for his help, He may very well tell you no. He may repeatedly tell you no. If He does, please remember the Canaanite mother. Remember that no matter who you are, no matter what your background, even your long-standing position as an enemy of His kingdom…remember that when you draw close (draw close!), and worship Him for Who He is, and persevere, He will look on you with kindness, with tender love. And, I do believe, He will honor your faith.

 

 

Random Thursday: Will You Take Five Instead of Seven? Edition

1. Before we left Germany (2005. Wah.), I purchased a set of 12 Coca Cola glasses from Gianni, the purveyor (purveyor? note to self: look up definition of purveyor) of our favorite Italian restaurant. I wanted them because they say “Trink Coca Cola,” and I wanted mementos of every single thing in Europe. Don’t tell the Wonder Hub, but I think they are one of my most favorite mementos from our time there. (note to self: write post about favorite mementos from time in Germany) I think I paid Gianni all of twelve Euro for them.

So the other day, I was drinking my daily glass of water (Ha. But kind of not.) from one of the last four Trink Coca Cola glasses whilst (note to self: use cool words like whilst more often) tidying the kitchen. I set my glass on top of a hand towel so I could wipe down countertops, and forgot that I had set one of the last four Trink Coca Cola glasses on top of a hand towel and so grabbed the hand towel to dry the countertops, and then watched in horror as one of the last four Trink Coca Cola glasses went spinning and flying and shattering to its death.

Did I mention that out of twelve Trink Coca Cola glasses, there were only four remaining?

So yeah. I spent the better part of 30 minutes kicking myself while sweeping and vacuuming and dusting and mopping shards of my poor, beloved, dearly-departed, Trink Coca Cola glass from a three-county radius, and when I stepped back to survey my kingdom, I thought, “Man, am I thirsty,” and spent the better part of five minutes searching for my Trink Coca Cola glass of water.

2. The coffee cup shot. The one from the Birthday Month post? The whole point was to capture the steam coming off the coffee. The problem was this: books, socks discarded midway through the night, random and sundry hoodies strewn about in the background of the picture. I wanted to keep it real and all, so I scooched them out of the frame one by one, until, well, you were given the impression that my bedroom is, uh, something it’s not. And I’m sorry for that. I’m very, very sorry.

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But not as sorry as I was to drink less than scorching-hot coffee.

3. A month or so back I was at my local library. It’s a nice one, with nice librarians. (note to self: write a post about all your libraries/cards/librarians) So I’m there. It’s nearly closing time. I’m racing through the stacks, looking for, a) authors I like, b) titles that speak to my soul, and c) eye-catching book jackets. (note to self: write a post about book jackets) (note to self: write about new book-reading philosophy) When I leave the library, it is with the last librarian, the one with the door key. (note to readers: how cool would it be to have the key to the library???) I have seven books. The last two were grabbed based solely on their pink and green covers, which remind me of leg warmers I had in the very early 80s.

Man, I loved those leg warmers.

Several nights later, I’m in bed and reach for a book. It’s pink. 80s pink. The author is Laura DiSilverio, and the little blurb on the back compares it to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I’m intrigued. I begin, and other than a bewildering capitalization of the word Dumpster (twice!), it’s good enough to keep reading. So I do. The thing I find most interesting is that it is set in Colorado Springs, a city in which I lived for more than ten years of my young-adulthood (note to readers: I had a particularly long young-adulthood), before the Wonder Hub married me and whisked me off to Germany. When the protagonist describes her office, I know precisely where in the city she is. When she takes off to interview witnesses, I know her route, the landscape, the socioeconomic implications of where those witnesses live. It’s fascinating.

But wait. It gets better.

At the end of the workday, Private Investigator Charlie Swift heads home. I’m cruising along with her, brain on autopilot, until she mentions a restaurant that rings a bell. And wait. That road..

Tudor Rd.

I know that road!

PI Swift pulls into her drive on Tudor Road, and before long is sharing a beer (a scotch?) on the back deck with her friend (and possible love interest?) Dan. Father Dan is priest at Saint Michael the Archangel Episcopal Church and lives in the rectory next door to Charlie.

I know that church!

I know that rectory!

I used to live in that rectory!

4. Early in my wayward 20s, my friend Courteney’s wonderful parents took me in. Courteney and I lived with them in the basement of the rectory of St. Mike’s for about a year, during which time I learned the beauty of the Episcopalian liturgy, that Episcopal priests drink (gasp!), and quite a lot about repartee from the members of Courteney’s very witty family.

They were good to me. I am thankful.

5. I think a lot about legacy. I want to leave a good one. I think about legacies that others have left. I think about Frank Sinatra and wonder about, “My Way” as a legacy. I do many things my way, but I’d rather be remembered for the things over which I gave up my way. Things I did for the good of others, especially when it would have been easier (and more fun) to do it my way.

I was thinking about John Newton, who wrote the poem, “Amazing Grace,” and William Walker, who set it to music 56 years later. Talk about a legacy!

“Amazing Grace,” in its original form, is estimated to be sung more than ten million times per year.

Chris Tomlin “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Todd Agnew “Grace Like Rain”

Phil Wickham “This is Amazing Grace”

That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave. No, not one that involves singing (note to self: write about the Klasi Family Singers), and you’re welcome for that. One that encourages. One that lifts up. One that points you toward the source of Amazing Grace.

 

 

 

Tutorial: The Fine Art of the Birthday Month

I wish I could remember just how long I have been celebrating my Birthday Month. I do know that since the advent of email I have not failed to send Mel the following reminder:

Today is the first day of my Birthday Month. Please act accordingly.

Facebook makes it all the more fun, because while Mel generally ignores my reminders, many of my friends are happy to take up the cause and celebrate with me. This year, though, I’ve noticed some confusion in regard to my Birthday Month. I’d like to set things straight.

Birthday Month Tutorial

1. If you were born in my Birthday Month, it is also your Birthday Month. Make no mistake, my friends. I am not a celebration-hoarder. There is plenty to go around, and the more we celebrate, the better life will be.

(Now that we’ve cleared up that little misunderstanding, let me help you make the most of your Birthday Month.)

2. It is best to announce your Birthday Month ahead of time. You may need to do this more than once. People are busy; they appreciate the reminder. Start at least ten days out with a little note posted on your social media medium of choice. Something like:

PSA: There are ten shopping days remaining until the start of my Birthday Month!

Like I said, your people will love this.

3. Don’t forget the all-important day-of reminder. Mine always, always ends with “Please act accordingly.” It frees up people to lavish you with attention, gifts, caffeinated beverages. When it comes right down to it, it’s just good form.

And who doesn’t love good form?

4. Now I would like to address your responsibilities during the month-long commemoration of the day of your birth. Because so many of you are visual by nature, I’ve developed a little picture show of sorts to help you grasp this crucial concept.

Ready?

Okay. It works like this:

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Let’s say your true love brings you a steaming cup of hot coffee. Even though the slight possibility exists that the message he’s trying to send is something like, “Put down that book and come join the real world, for Pete’s sake!” the message you receive is, “Happy random Saturday of your Birthday Month!”

See? It’s Birthday Month coffee!

 

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And here. You’ve just swept the wood floors when your pup comes in, having enthusiastically rolled yet again in the grass out back. You reach for your phone so that you can record the fact that she has (ever so thoughtfully, I might add) brought you Birthday Month gifts from the great outdoors.

Is it starting to make sense?

 

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This. This is a Birthday Month gift, hand-delivered by the UPS dude, posing as a down comforter you ordered to replace the violently odiferous one on a teenager’s bed.

It’s all about perspective, people.

 

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This. This takes the cake. This is a sweet (and sassy!) little piggy, ready to take you for your first-ever Build-A-Bear experience. Birthday Month celebrations don’t get any better than this.

 

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And finally. This encapsulates so many things about the Birthday Month experience. This is a Birthday Month hike with some of your people and your good dog. This is drowning your senses in the glories of God’s creation. This is the inaugural outing of your brand-new Birthday Month camera lens. This is good.

5. And so. In summary:

Your Birthday Month

-There is plenty to go around.

-Share the month, share the love.

-Announce it to the world.

-Announce it to the world again!

-Celebrate every little thing, because

-You deserve it!

Happy Birthday Month, my friends!

 

 

Random Thursday: Back in the Saddle Edition

1. Well, hello there. It’s been nine months and two days since last we met. Quite a lot has happened in that time.

During my absence, I have:

-left my home in Virginia.

-spent months separated from my beloved WH*.

-spent more than four months in relative homelessness.

-slept in no fewer than 14 different beds.

-laughed and cried, mourned and rejoiced.

-been debilitated by depression, and succumbed to fits of hysterical laughter.

-grown.

-come to a new understanding of John 16:33, and I Peter 1:5-7.

2. Colorado is my new home, and although I have lived here before (and actually, spent more of my adult (term used loosely) years in this state than in any other), it has taken much adjusting. Because of the prolonged bout of homelessness and the myriad difficult circumstances surrounding this move, I did not even begin to grieve for all I left behind until just recently, when the Aspens began turning and my heart ached for the unrivaled beauty of the Virginia landscape in autumn.

(Aside: the unrivaled beauty of the Virginia landscape in autumn is the steadfast Virginian’s reward for surviving the unrivaled misery of a Virginia summer. That, I do not miss.)

My lovely marina. I miss it so.

My lovely marina. I miss it so.

My lovely path, I miss it so.

My lovely path, I miss it so.

 

3. Colorado, though. Colorado has an entirely different kind of beauty.

Vail, seen from Red Sandstone Trail

Vail, seen from Red Sandstone Trail

Pikes Peak, seen from Devil's Head Fire Tower Lookout in the Pike National Forest

Pikes Peak, seen from Devil’s Head Fire Tower Lookout in the Pike National Forest

 

Red Sandstone to Son of Middle Creek Trail

Red Sandstone to Son of Middle Creek Trail

 

A Boy and His Dog, on Red Sandstone to Son of Middle Creek Trail.

A Boy and His Dog, on Red Sandstone to Son of Middle Creek Trail.

The beauty of this landscape serves to remind me that life is filled with both dark and light, pain and joy, mourning and rejoicing. Life has been hard these last months, so hard that there were times I thought the darkness would swallow me whole. Even in the midst of that, on the dark days when I could clearly hear Job’s wife telling him, “Curse God and die!” there was always light. There were always moments of joy. There was always cause to hope, and therefore, to perservere.

4. When I fell off the face of the planet back in January, I told myself that I just had to get through this.

I thought God would bring me through this, and then I would tell you all about it. You know, like, “Hey! I’ve been through the fire, but now I’m out! Let me tell you what God did!”

(deep breath)

Instead, I’ll be telling you what God is doing in the midst of the fire.

5. Yesterday, He did this:

 

Photo Shoot!

Photo Shoot!

 

6. I want you to know that I’m still fundamentally Karen. Let me demonstrate.

Molly Sue had an appointment with her new vet today, so I threw on some clothing that might fool her (the vet, not the dog) into thinking I am a functioning member of society, and raced out the door. Then I raced back in, grabbed the dog, and headed to where I was absolutely certain the new vet’s office was. Only it wasn’t. So of course we were late, which is the ridiculous and never-ending story of my life. I apologized profusely, and then apologized profusely again when asked for Molly’s medical records, the one thing I had been told to bring. Things went more or less smoothly after that, with the exception of the scale, which seemed to run about five pounds heavy (much like mine at home) and the glare I received as Molly got the shot I promised her she wouldn’t be getting, and the purse I couldn’t find anywhere when it was time to pay the bill.

I headed for home, thinking that no one, no one understands how hard it is to be me.

And then I realized I was wearing just one largish, dangly earring.

7. I do realize I haven’t actually told you anything. I promise I’m not pulling a high school drama queen move on you. It’s just that while I know I want to bring you with me on this journey, I haven’t exactly figured out the right way to do it. The story isn’t all mine to tell, and discretion is the better part of valor, or something like that. I hope you’ll be patient with me. I hope you’ll come along. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when God is involved, it’s bound to be EPIC.

 

 

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

I Peter 1:5-7 “You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (HCSB)

*Separated, as in I moved to CO ahead of him, not separated as in separated.

Dinner Time! (Or: The Stalker)

5:01pm

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“Seriously? It’s 59 minutes ’til dinner, girl.”

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5:16pm

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(Deep breath, while doing math) “Molly. It’s…44 minutes ’til dinner.”

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5:33pm

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“Nope. Not yet. It’s still 27 minutes ’til dinner, pup.”

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5:43pm

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“Molly! Quit pouting! It’s only 12 minutes ’til dinner.”

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6:00pm

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“Yes, girl. It’s dinner time. Why aren’t you excited?”

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“Are you sticking your tongue out at me??”