I've had the week off work this week for a furlough, and I must admit, it's been glorious. I needed some time to relax, create, learn, process . . . We have some friends who live in North Georgia whose lives and friendship induce just that. So I spent 3 days with them--long mountain walks full of heart conversation; sitting at the school/meal table learning side-by-side; making crafts with 3 beautiful, growing girls; sipping coffee in the morning watching the mist over the mountains; learning to crochet; learning how to listen; sharing hearts, knowledge, ideas, questions. It was so good. Today I'm happy to be back with my best friend. Looking forward to friends coming to visit and reconnecting with my community here. 



I tried to write a short post about the Inaguration yesterday, but I couldn't find the words. I am a firm believer that often, an image is worth more than 1,000 words, and these images speak loudly. I am honored to be a part of the generation that witnessed yesterday. These are a few of many outstanding photos on The Big Picture today.

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task"

(above) People gathered to watch in small Kenyan town where Obama's Father was born.
"And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more."
"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

(above) Children at a prayers ceremony for global peace in Islamabad, Pakistan.
"And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace"
Poetry also stands sometimes where prose lacks: 

The Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander
Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.


Moving things around.

If you don't read in reader, you'll notice that I'm doing a little revamping today. The old layout was cool, but less practical than a blogger template, so we're going back to old school. I'm trying to update the labels today as well.



I just ate lunch, and it was so delicious that I must blog about it right now. First of all, forget any preconceived notions you have about egg salad, because this is not just any old egg salad. What began as just a quick, something different for lunch, turned out to be just about the most delightful lunch I've had in a long time. Seriously, I wanted to lick the Tupperware. If there is one little trick I've learned about cooking this year, it's the importance of acids, especially to cut creamy or cheesy (or just plain bland), one dimensional flavors, and add something brilliant, and I really think the splash of lemon juice in this recipe makes all the difference. So here's my new favorite egg salad recipe (adapted from 101cookbooks.com--I added feta and garlic salt, and did not use chives)
SIMPLY DELICIOUS EGG SALAD (for one, Heidi has a larger recipe w/ 6 eggs, but I havn't tried that so I'll keep the proportions to what I used this morning)

2 hard boiled eggs (great tips for how to get this part right on 101cookbooks)
2 Tbs chopped celery (give or take)
1 Tbs crumbled feta cheese (also a deal maker)
1 (generous) Tbs mayo (or try plain yogurt)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 dash garlic salt
1 dash black pepper

Break up the eggs, mix everything together in that order, and viola! I ate mine on rye crisps.  (I also want to try her curried egg salad recipe)


Opera and Produce

This weekend I discovered the Alabama Farmer's Market. If for no other reason, this place is wonderful because it is a BARGAIN. WAY less expensive than the grocery store. I will promptly make it my first stop for weekly produce and enjoy a rich tradition and colorful, local atmosphere in the process.

In other news: Last week I joined the Birmingham Concert Chorale, which sings with the symphony. I've missed singing with a choir, especially a large and talented one, and I'm having a lot of fun. And, it just so happens that the work we're working on for a concert in February contains the most intense piece of music in the history of the universe. Ever. 

SeeqPod - Playable Search


Watch Out for Peanut Butter

Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking to use one of my flickr photos for a website, or something. I've even gotten requests for images used in a textbook and a church's CD cover. I think it's fun. Today's request was particularly random--one day my lovely, healthful breakfast, the next a warning for consumers to beware of deadly peanutbutter :)


I want to get better at photographing my friends, and this is an encouraging shot. I love this one I took yesterday at boulder fields of John. More here.

In other news. I made some delicious cheesy rosemary potato muffins today with no butter, and no flour. Pretty cool. The recipe is adapted from this one.


.Good Food.

So, we're a couple days into our new eating lifestyle, and I'm really encouraged. It hasn't been too hard, and once you begin filling your body with the good stuff, you don't miss the bad stuff. In all honesty, I havn't had any cravings that something we can eat hasn't satisfied. Really, the point isn't a diet, but moving towards a lifestyle of eating natural, real, and quality foods, which unfortunately in our culture takes creativity and adjusting. So far I'm still pretty tired in the afternoon, but I'm trying to pay attention so that I can see if that starts getting better. Other than that I feel great, and even if it's all in my head, I'm happy to be able to feel good about what I'm putting in my body. (Keith reports goodness as well, it's so fun do to have his partnership in this.)

As far as the details go, on sunday I cooked for about 3 hours or so, after grocery shopping. I made black bean soup, lime-cilantro vinaigrette, and ratatouille to provide for meals throughout the week when we wouldn't have time to cook. For breakfast we've been eating granola, fruit, and either organic yogurt or soy milk. I try to snack every few hours on nuts or fruit. 

And today I discovered my hero: Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com, seriously the most beautiful, thoughtful food blog I have ever seen, chock full of healthy, vegetarian, natural food goodness. 

But we have not forgotten the most important food in all of this. The kind that will never leave you hungry. The daily Bible reading plan is such a blessing, and has really been transforming my mornings. 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." John 6:51

Feliz Dia de Los Reyes Magos!

There are many wonderful things about the way that spanish speaking cultures celebrate Epiphany, or "Three Kings Day," which takes precedent over Christmas day as the day when the kings, who have become Santa-like figures bring children presents. Here are a few. The kings are named Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar (I had a friend who was crushed to discover that they are not named in the Bible.) And most representations of these Magi that I saw in Salamanca had a striking resemblance to the Burger King king from the commercials. But I really did enjoy the unique tradition, and hope to incorporate it into my family's celebration of the Christmas season. 

And now for the strangest Christmas carol/music video you have ever encountered. A popular traditional tune, "Los Peces en el Rio." English translation below.

The Fishes in the River

The Virgin is combing her hair
between the curtains.
Her hairs are of gold
and the comb of fine silver.

But look at how the fishes
in the river drink.
But look how they drink
in order to see God born.
They drink and they drink
and they return to drink,
the fishes in the river,
to see God being born.

The Virgin washes diapers
and hangs them on the rosemary,
the birdies singing
and the rosemary flowering.


The virgin is washing herself
with a little bit of soap.
Her hands have been irritated,
the hands of my heart.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Please, if you have any insight into the meaning of this song, go ahead. Until then, I will continue assuming that it is very, very strange--yet catchy.



It's here, and it is off to a great start. We rang in the new year with lots of far-away-friends-come-home, and lots of close ones too, with a NEWSIES themed party. Definitely the best theme-party I've ever encountered. I wish we dressed like turn of the century news boys all the time (hopefully pictures later.) And we spent the first day of this infantile year with our friends sharing meals, playing soccer and ultimate frisbee for about 4 hours, making music, watching the wonders of Planet Earth and just enjoying being together. It was good.

I also wanted to elaborate a little on a couple of our new year's resolutions. One, in the reading (and slowing down and waking up earlier) department, is that Keith and I have decided to do a daily reading plan (we're doing the ESV Study Bible plan) to read through the Bible in a year. I have never done this, and I'm really excited about it. With two day's reading under my belt, I am encouraged at how un-overwhelming it is. It takes me about 20 minutes to do (and would probably be less, except that I'm reading this Bible, and I just can't keep my little wandering eyes off the great notes. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially in 1 Chronicles.) I can also feel in my heart already how much I need this daily commitment and guidance drawing me to the word.

In the eating healthily category: On monday we embark on a little start-the-year-off-right detox. No, we will not reduce our diet to only things you can consume through a straw or drink all kinds of weird juices. It's a simple plan that focuses on eating whole, good foods and not eating junk and food-like substances. It goes a little something like this. Week one we will eat fruits, vegetables, natural yogurt, nuts, beans, whole oats, rice and other grains, fish, and soy. And we will avoid sugar (honey is okay), dairy, meat, wheat, processed foods, and caffine. After week one we will introduce a limited amount of lean meats, dairy, some whole-wheat products, and reasonable sweets such as dark chocolate. Hopefully we'll sustain this eating-style. I would love if this was our norm, and the crazy way we've been eating lately to truly be only on occasion. One benefit that I am really hoping for is to reduce the after lunch slump that almost daily leaves me fighting that awful head drooping, can't-keep-my-eyes-open battle at my desk around 2:00. I'll let you know how it goes. If you're interested, I'd be happy to share recipes and resources.

Happy New Year!!!