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Archive for the ‘Amazing friends’ Category

I spent Columbus Day making grape jam with my friend Sunshine. She had picked mountains of Concord grapes at a local vineyard, and since I had already been through the jam-making process once before with Industrious Betsy, I was up for another batch (actually 5 batches…). The kids had the day off of school, and Sadie is good friends with Sunshine’s little girl, so I packed up two kettles, picked up a borrowed food mill, grabbed some snacks for Sadie, and we were off.

My favorite kind of day is when I get to live life with people. Making jam by myself couldn’t be NEARLY as fun as working with a friend. We pulled the grapes off their stems, rinsed them, and put them in a big kettle to cook down and get mushy. Then we ladled the slurry into a food mill–the kind with a hand crank (I’m sure Caroline Ingalls used one just like this–it hooks right on to a kettle) and mashed all the juice from the seeds and skin. So in case you weren’t counting, the number of kettles used so far: 2. Then we measured 5 cups of juice into a THIRD kettle, mixed that with a box of Sure Gel, and waited for it to come to a full rolling boil. At that point, we added SEVEN cups of sugar all at once and STIRRED CONSTANTLY until it boiled again for EXACTLY one minute. After that it was a race against the clock: get the hot jam into the jars stat (a big funnel helps) and one pours while one screws the lids on, and it has to happen while it’s hot or the jars won’t seal. So in the middle of the crucial get-it-into-jars-time, of course, the kids need something immediately: we want to paint, we need a snack, can you get me down from here?, I have to go potty…

After we finished the 5th and final batch, Sunshine and I sat on the back porch and complained about all our aches and pains from working so hard all day. See, I always thought I would like to be Amish, but after ONE day of Amish-y work, I was SPENT. How do they do it? Churn the butter, milk the cows, make the quilts?? The one thing I know is that they understand the power of Community. And I think that’s what makes their lifestyle so attractive to me. (That and the bonnets…)

Since I quit my job and started my domestic career (ahem), I’ve felt very alone and lonely at times. Which is interesting, because I know so many people who stay at home for various reasons–and we’re all in the same boat, doing the same things at pretty much the same time. I think I could be a good candidate to live in a commune–then we all could all fold clothes and unload the dishwasher together.

All this to say that I’m experiencing Community here, and I feel like it’s Christmas morning. Life together is one huge present to me from God.

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I’m feeling a little better today. Although Dan has been telling me for YEARS, and every book on depression mentions EXERCISE, I finally have begun a routine. I have been sporadic for years with exercise, but thanks to some great motivational friends here, I have been reaping some benefits of those wonderful endorphins.

I never thought I’d say this, but I like running. Not like I’m actually RUNNING per se…more like jogging reeeeallly slowly, but enough to get my heart going and give my mood a kick. My friend Betsy won’t let me run any more than a mile right now (even if I feel like running more…)–I’m amazed that God gave me a friend who seems to know that I have a teensy tendency to over do it at the beginning.

So we’ll be side by side on the treadmills (she runs FOUR miles…) and I’ll see that I’ve hit one mile, and I keep going and try to block her view of my numbers, yet she still somehow KNOWS and says “Shelley, are you sure you shouldn’t be WALKING right now???” Yes, I mumble with my head hanging because she caught me. “You can run more NEXT week.” she promises me.

Oh, goody, can I?? ūüôā (You bet I will…)

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Roller Coaster is so cliche, but it fittingly describes my summer. When we first arrived in NY I felt this sense of home–a comfortable familiar even though we we’ve been away from this town for 11 years. I was in wonderland–a cool breezy land of green enchantment. The trees, of course, but also the people. The extrovert in me was 100 percent GO–meeting new people everyday, reconnecting with old friends, barbecues, play¬†group–where am I Heaven? People dropping cookies off on our doorstep, coming home to a gift of homemade bread; feeling so embraced, so welcomed. Top of the coaster excitement.

Then Dan actually has to go to work. Oh. So this isn’t Playtime Summer Vacation? I have to readjust to planning meals and keeping the house in order and wrangling an extremely social and extroverted near 6 year old–you know, do my part to contribute to Team Noyes. But now I have to relearn everything because I keep opening the wrong drawer when I want to grab a spoon, and my shopping/meal planning system doesn’t work here because I live out in freaking nowhere now, and Sadie is asking me four hundred times a minute: what are the plans for the day? I miss my friends in Arkansas–the ones you could pop in on, or call and say ‘we’re comin’ over, get the coffee on (Where IS¬†my coffee, Shannon!?) And it dawns on me that I really have to start all over again with all my background because lots of people here don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, and these things take time. So I feel all lonely and wonder where I fit in, and¬†worry that people are just being nice to me because they feel sorry for me because I’m really that annoying person who is¬†totally intense and shares too much the first time I talk to someone. So my insecurity makes me all irrational and ¬†tight faced, and I’m sure I’m missing out on everything EVEN THOUGH I have been invited to many things.¬†I keep wondering why I feel random bouts of depression, and Dan reminds me that TIME is the answer, and that feeling at the bottom of the roller coaster is totally normal when you move to a new place and reality sets in.

Despite everything, though, the great thing is that I know we are supposed to be here. I feel excited and hopeful for the plans God has in store for us. For me. I don’t know yet how my day to day life is going to shake down once school starts and I can go to a Bible study and we get into more of a routine. I know that sooner than later I’ll find my place here in this community–the people here have been awesome to me, and I’m so thankful for being included so far. I know it’s going to be alright, even though I panic once in a while.

It’s about trusting, really. And letting go. Which I do when I ride roller coasters, by the way.¬† I love those wooden rickety ones that make you feel like you are going to fly right out of your seat. I purposely go slack and not hold on because I like the feeling of being held in, even when I think I’m¬†going to fall out. The less I resist the twists and jerks, the smoother the ride feels. If I’m clenching on for dear life, I get whiplash.

Holy Cow, what a ride.

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Quick update…

Three families are looking at our house today. At least one of the three is so interested they are going to the bank, and may have an offer for us. We leave in 5.4 days. Talk about the 11th hour.

Thanks, dear ones, for praying. Now I must speed to make the house BEAUTIFUL…

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So it’s just the oddest thing. The way God changes things. I have this vivid memory of sitting in Dan’s office at Houghton in 1997, digging up anything I could find about Siloam Springs, the town we would be soon moving to. I couldn’t surf the web at home, all we could access there was text only. Isn’t that funny? A little over ten years ago, images on the Internet were much harder to come by. Our home computer didn’t have enough memory or ram or the right card or whatever to see images. So I had to use the internet at Dan’s office.

Anyway, I was so hungry to see what my town was going to look like. I imagined my life here, and how much better it was going to be. I wanted to be anywhere but Houghton, and fast. Lots of things I had no idea about waited for me here in Arkansas: a psycho dog, totally cool artsy friends, therapy, graphic design, writing, having a baby, post-partum depression, a breaking down and a building up of my faith, independence, an uncanny ability to grow basil, and the realization that happiness doesn’t just appear when you move away from a place. I have grown so much in eleven years. But never did I think that we’d be heading back to Houghton. Never.

But crazy. Seriously. Even with all of the knowledge I have of that little corner of Western Ny, of the cold and the grey skies most of the time, and the endless winter, and the miles and miles of, well, nothing, I. Want. To. Go. I can’t explain it. It can only be God. And here’s the other thing. I really like my life here. It’s not like I was just aching to get away. I had plans. I really liked my job. I love, love, love my friends. I felt like I needed to escape Houghton before we came here. I wanted to run away to happiness. (Note to self: the problem with believing that I’ll be happy when is that I bring my inner blackness with me wherever I go…moving doesn’t fix the problem) (I need to remind myself of this every once in a while…)

I don’t want to escape Siloam. Truth be told, I want to go to the Aquatic Center this summer. I want Sadie to go to the sports camps at the First Baptist church. I want to see Dana’s baby. I want to be here when Ellen gets famous. I want to go to Shan’s house for coffee and laugh till I am crying at something Trish said. I want to hang out with Tab and talk about boobs and the Holy Spirit and house renovation all in one conversation, while gesturing wildly and guffawing. I want to be a girl scout leader with Deanna and talk for hours. I want to see how our Sunday school turns out. I want Sadie to go to Allen Elementary next year. I want to be around when downtown Siloam finally gets cool.

It’s hard to think about life going on with out me. But I want to feel the loss, you know? I don’t want to just think about what’s ahead, and forget about what is great right now. Because that would be the easier thing. To shut down and move on. But I can’t. I have to feel excited AND sad. Both at the same time. And grateful too–for all of the gifts God has given me here. But also hopeful for the things He is going to do in my life in this next chapter.

I don’t like to think about leaving. Every once in a while I get this flash forward of us pulling out of our driveway for the last time, and I turn the channel QUICK. But I can’t pretend it isn’t going to happen just because it is going to be hard. Sometimes I wish I could just fly to NY in a blink and not have to deal with it. Skip any kind of closure and dive into our new life–as if the last eleven years didn’t happen. But how can I? It’s pretty crappy, this moving.

But deep down, I know we’re supposed to go. And that helps.

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Since I’m beyond remembering what was significant about the post I lost, I’ll just move on. I haven’t been posting for awhile because 1) I’ve been wheezy sick. If I laugh a little bit, I sound like I’ve been smoking for 100 years (and I don’t smoke, except for that one time in college when we were around the campfire and the guys were smoking old-man pipes and reading poetry and being all literary and I took teeny puff–awful putrid stuff–but the guys thought they were so cool at the time…) ANYWAY, I looked up symptoms of pneumonia but as is customary for me, I’m jumping to the worst possible conclusion and really what I have is a lingering cold/cough that half of my town has, so I just should get over myself and stop worrying about the fact that I’ve never been able to spit. I’m serious. I couldn’t hork to save my life. I think it has to do with my irrational fear of throwing up. It is kind of in that same category to me. And I’ve heard that if you have pneumonia, you have to get all that gunk out of your lungs somehow and I’ve been wondering what on earth I’m going to do. I know this is totally gross, and isn’t your body supposed to know how to get the stuff out? Maybe it’s because I didn’t have brothers or something, but every time I try to work up to spitting, my throat closes and I swallow automatically.¬† Sorry. I hope you weren’t eating.

The number 2) reason I haven’t posted in a while is because it’s spring¬† break around here, and for this family, that means House Project Time! We have our tax refund money and are in the process of repainting, reflooring and DE-cluttering. In the past two days, Dan has painted the entire living room, dining room, entryway, and main hallway. Including primer and two colors: a lovely cafe latte/cream combo. Thanks to Trish over at Simple Pink for her mad consulting skills, we are on our way to a brand new space. Seriously. She could run one of those shows where the experts go in and look at your space and find stuff somewhere else in your house and make these simple suggestions that you would have NEVER thought of in your life, and BAM. Your house is amazing on a budget. I have long despised my hideous couch, and Trish suggested to switch it out for the cool-looking futon that we have in our spare bedroom. Why didn’t I think of that? It looks incredible in the living room. So we’re really on a roll. And the computer has been down so Dan can paint, and now since he’s done, we’re up and running again. Oh, and also, Trish found a great little computer desk in our garage. Dan had all of his oil changing stuff on this old wooden thing that we’ve had forever, and she said “hey, that would be a great little computer desk.” Oh. MY. Word. It changes the whole look of the living room. She’s amazing, that one.¬† Thanks again, Trish!!

So to sum up: wheezing, obsessing and redecorating.

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