Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Picking

Last weekend we went apple picking with friends at Behling Orchards, the same orchards we went to last year. Once again, the kids got carried away with the excitement of it all and we carried away an obscene amount of honeycrisp apples. Which, of course, happen to be the only expensive ones. They're worth it, though.

These apples are so big and rosy it was like picking sweet-tasting jewels. I get a lot of satisfaction from apples. They seem like such a common, almost boring fruit. They're such a staple. An apple a day. Oh, it's as American as apple pie. But there's something deep about an apple, too. Cut it right and find the star. We bite into their crisp flesh and the juices run out onto our hands. I think of Sunday school days, the priest telling us again how it's Eve's fault. How wrong to want, how wrong to long. We smile as we eat. We don't fall over like Snow White to sleep like death. We're the dwarves, we scurry away and we store these jewels for the winter. We don't have time for princesses. We're not afraid of snakes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quotable Sunday

"Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."

~Samuel Butler

I'm jumping on the bandwagon I've seen on some other blogs. I like the idea of quotes on Sundays.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One of the soldiers in our battalion was recently killed from an IED blast. He had a 9 year old daughter. My own daughter told me yesterday that one of her classmate's father was injured in a blast in Iraq and had to relearn speech and movement. She said, "but even though his brain wasn't working right he still remembered his son." Yesterday her classmate left early to go to Niagara Falls with his family to celebrate his father being better.

Oh please don't let these little examples pass you by as we are bombarded by timetables and analysis and budget talks and all that other stuff. I think it's so easy for us to forget the details of the picture when we don't have a loved one caught up in these wars. It's natural. We have no concrete idea here how war looks up close. But there are children dying in these wars,too, and civilians. Please look, and please remember.

There is no such thing as a good war.

I'm not enough of a pacifist to believe that military action is never necessary. But it's never glorious or good.

There is no such thing as a good war.

And I hope that if we all remember this, despite all the yelling and the fear mongering and the flag waving, we'll all be more careful. We'll insist that our governments be more careful.

I think we could all stand to be more thoughtful and careful with each other.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Over the weekend the kids I went to the Burrville Cider Mill, which is such a wonderful and fun old place. It's also about 5 minutes from our house. We checked out the process they use to make their cider, watched the beautiful water fall behind the place (that used to turn the water wheel) and left with some cider and also some hot cider doughnuts.

Apple mashing.

You can feel Autumn coming here. Actually, we've been feeling it for over a week now. I drug out the flannel sheets and put the down comforters on the beds during the suddenly chilly nights. I made a big pot of chili on Friday night, the first of the season. I made pumpkin bread. The leaves are turning.

Oh, and I have a new pot to make that chili in, and more besides! I finally broke down and bought one of the Le Creuset dutch ovens I've been wanting for awhile now.

There's the chili.

And here I made roasted lemon garlic chicken in it. I have to tell you I'm impressed with it so far, which I had better be for the price of the thing. But it's so versatile... the cast iron can be used on the stove top or in the oven. In fact, I browned the chicken on top of the stove before popping the while thing in the oven to roast.

Yes, it's love. And yes, I have become one of those bloggers who photographs meals.

Friday, September 11, 2009

10 Years

I've been with that man for 10 years as of today. He's not here to celebrate with me, but I've been mindful all day long of how grateful I am to have taken a leap with him, to have him in my life. We were never supposed to be together. There was too much against us, too many reasons it wasn't a good idea. We both risked a lot when we decided it was worth it... he even more than I.

I never, never forget that.

The past 10 years have NOT been easy. That doesn't make our partnership any less precious. It is my firm belief that almost anything truly worth it is hard. And marriage is hard. Marriage that has often been conducted long distance? Even harder. But I knew this man was meant to be in my life. I felt our connection. I knew it was good and right. And that is why I chose him when everyone and everything else was against it.

He's still my best friend. He knows me better than anyone else in the world. He makes me laugh every day. I think we've both seen the absolute best and worst of each other. And we still choose each other.

I've ridden away in a car in the dead of night with this man. I have a box of love letters in my bedroom. But the real heart of it, the real magic is that we fight and we struggle and we are sometimes bored and we often forget to appreciate the other, but at the end of the day it's only him. And it's only me. And I would still jump in that car with him. We've got two kids in the back seat now. I'd still choose him, I'd still choose this life, over everyone and everything.

And that is the most wildly romantic thing I can think of.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Thirst

We found a neat globe on sale at Target last week. The kids have been twirling it around, placing their fingers over one place and then another. (I do the same thing.) We found Afghanistan, traced the route Clint traveled to get there. We found South Korea, where he was stationed for what felt like such a long time a few years ago. We found Germany, where our good friends are from and who brought us back things from their visit there this summer. We found Ireland, where Clint and I went together.

It's funny, the more the world seemed to shrink as we found places we had some connection to, the more it actually expanded. Because there are so many more places we know almost nothing about. Places we want to know about. Places we want to see and discover. Places we will never get to go. Places we hope to see as we follow that dream.

The thing about moving around a lot is that it shrinks your time to enjoy what you go to the trouble of finding, over and over again. Friends. Family. Special places. That great diner, that perfect ice cream stand. But actually? As you see more and more of the world, as you meet more and more people, make more and more family wherever you go? You are really expanding. Our hearts and our minds and our special people and places... they all open up as wide as a big sky, as big and as never-ending as a globe on the table in our little house.

It's the same when you open yourself up to learning. I realized this early on. The more I would read, the more I would realize how much was out there to read, and that I would never get to all of it in my lifetime. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know. Sometimes I think this is the difference between a small mind and an open one. This humility coupled with thirst.

I'm grateful to have a partner with the same thirst. I know we'll manage to take our kids overseas, to see as much as we can, because we both value that. I'm grateful the military will provide us with that avenue. And I'm so glad to see my kids awakening to that great paradox, that sweet thirst. Right now we're touching the map of the world and we're writing letters to send far away. We trace the way it will travel, over an ocean, over countries with languages and histories we don't understand. But we want to. We want to understand. And as everything shrinks, it will all expand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We're back!

Today is the first day of school here. Benjamin is now a 1st grader and Sophia a 3rd grader! They've started at a new school this year (because of our move, they're in a new district) and I'm really happy and impressed with it. This morning went pretty well. I took them myself since it was the first day in a new school and they weren't sure about finding their classrooms. They both looked nervous and shy, and it's always hard to walk away from your kids when they look like that! But I know they'll come off the bus full of themselves and full of news.

We saw Clint off the end of July. We miss him so very much but we're doing well. He's doing well, too. I'll be writing much more in this space but right now I'm going to go get some things done without kids!