Stars

September 30, 2007

Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love, but human belief misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens,–all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity. Suns and planets teach grand lessons. The stars make night beautiful, and the leaflet turns naturally towards the light.

– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 240

The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.

– Ibid, p. 70

If you want to be conscious of the presence of God, a good place to start is in the inky blackness of a clear New Mexico evening.

Ron and I went from Tucumcari to Albuquerque this afternoon to have a look around and enjoy a few more hours on our beloved Route 66 before we head back to Tulsa tomorrow. On the way back, New Mexico’s dazzling cobalt skies gave way to a velvety night with thousands of stars scattered across it like glitter.

I’d fallen asleep while Ron drove, but as he pulled off I-40 at the Montoya exit, I woke up just enough to mumble, “The stars!”

“That’s what I’m pulling off to look at,” Ron said. He parked the car in front of a cattle guard at the entrance to a ranch, and we got out and looked around. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. I didn’t know that many stars existed. I tried to find constellations but got lost in the profusion of tiny lights glittering above me. Ron pointed out the Milky Way streaking down the middle of the sky like a soft giant cloud. As I turned around to look at the stars sprinkled across the northern skies behind me, the world — not I — seemed to be moving, and the illusion was so dizzying, it took me a second to regain my equilibrium.

I didn’t have the right kind of lens to pick up all those stars, and the moment was too beautiful to ruin with a lot of fussing over shutter speeds and aperture settings. There are some things even the best camera won’t pick up … you just have to experience them.

Hope your weekend was as beautiful as mine.

Emily


Tucumcari tomorrow

September 28, 2007

I will have limited (possibly nonexistent) computer access this weekend, as we are leaving for Tucumcari in about eight hours. Expect a barrage of photos when I return.

I just signed up for the Route 66 Half Marathon. I originally planned to run the full marathon, but things came up this summer that interfered with my training, and I just haven’t earned 26.2. With three out of the next four weekends booked solid with other commitments — and early November looking awfully dicey — I don’t see a lot of opportunities to make up the lost mileage between now and then, either.

I am, however, planning to do at least two half-marathons in November, including the Race Across Kansas, which is my all-time favorite course … and I definitely want to keep up this habit of jogging sections of Route 66 here in Oklahoma every chance I get.

Maybe I’ll have a chance to jog in New Mexico on Sunday. That would be nice….

Emily


Quiet

September 25, 2007

It’s a rainy evening in Red Fork. I’ve got a clean office to work in, a pot of Irish oatmeal simmering on the stove for supper, and a mug of hot cider close at hand. The dogs are quiet, and so am I. Feels like a good night to shut off the phone and settle in with a stack of magazines.

Hope your evening is as peaceful as mine.

Emily


Busy evening

September 24, 2007

I finally got around to doing something this evening that’s needed to be done for months: I reorganized my office, rearranged the furniture, and replaced some big, clunky wooden shelves with a sleek little chrome shelf.

When I was done, Ron treated me to a fun new piece of furniture: a $20 fold-up rocking chair that sits directly on the floor and doesn’t take up a whole lot of room. I also got a small plush cushion, which Ron hates but I love. It has bright purple, blue, and green stripes. I like it ‘cos it’s very soft, and it makes the chair (which is just the right height for my makeshift “computer desk” — visible in the picture) more comfortable, too.

While I was cleaning and reorganizing this evening, I decided to sweep the carpet — and I mean “sweep,” not “vacuum.” About three weeks ago, I got an absolutely wonderful tool from the Lehman’s Non-Electric catalog: an old-fashioned carpet sweeper. The design is a little bit different from the toy sweeper I had as a kid. Rather than attempt to explain it, I will just suggest that you click here to take a peek at it. I will also note, just for the record, that this was probably the best $55 I ever spent, because it picks up lint and dog hair without wasting electricity or making a lot of noise. I love it.

If you aren’t familiar with the Lehman’s catalog, their Web site is a great timekiller — lots of cool gadgets that don’t require electricity to work.

Emily


12 miles on 66

September 23, 2007

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

– Steve Prefontaine

I jogged down Route 66 from Kellyville to the east edge of Bristow this afternoon, logging a distance of 12 miles. The weather was nice and overcast for most of the run, and it rained lightly several times, which felt good — nice and cool. I had some good intentions about going 16 miles, but by the time I hit 12, it was starting to get dark, and we wanted to get to Arcadia in time for dinner at POPS, so I cut it short. I felt great, though, and I’m sure I could have gone another four miles if I’d had time.

Today’s run included the Tank Farm Loop (pictured in the two above photos by Ron), which is an old alignment of 66 that was bypassed many years ago. “Tank Farm” is a reference to the clusters of oil storage tanks next to the road in that area. A big thank you to the Mother Road 100 organizers, who marked the pavement for an ultramarathon that some friends and I helped with last fall. Their shields and arrows survived 10 months of crazy weather and came in handy today as I was trying to follow the old alignments in that area. Brought back some nice memories, too. :)

I like running on old alignments, because they tend to be quiet and interesting. Several friendly dogs joined me on today’s run, including an enthusiastic Border collie mix that bounced around in circles, bowing and wagging its tail and trying its best to get me to play. It was beyond cute. I love farm dogs. They are seldom aggressive and frequently hilarious.

It was a great run. I capped it with a dinner at POPS that included two cane-sugar-sweetened sodas (Bubble Up and Dad’s Root Beer) and a chocolate cupcake for dessert.

Hope your Sunday evening was as enjoyable as mine.

Emily

Box score:
Miles run today: 12
Total mileage: 82.15 (including 37 miles on Route 66)


Sleepy

September 22, 2007

This is how Scout spent her Friday night:

Oi. What a day. 

I told Mommy we should have gone to bed early last night instead of waiting up for Daddy to get home from work.

Thank God the rest of the pack has sense enough to stay off my papasan.

I just wish the paparazzi would leave me alone. Go away! Can’t you see I’m trying to rest?

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Scout and I hope you’re having a nice, relaxing weekend, wherever you are.

Emily


Details and touchups

September 22, 2007

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

I Thess. 1:3

Because of their sheer scale (not to mention the frequently less-than-ideal textures of the surfaces they cover), murals can be somewhat overwhelming projects — but they’re uniquely satisfying, too.

Detail work is especially satisfying — and, quite often, especially frustrating. The satisfaction comes in seeing the finished, professional look the lines give your work. But the frustrating part comes from the fact that detail work brings out everything about the project, including a seemingly endless stream of flaws that need to be corrected: drips, brush marks, holidays, etc., etc., etc.

I think the reason I like murals so much is that in my experience, they aren’t so very different from metaphysical work: You start out by roughing in the shape and color of your thought — the ideas and beliefs and impressions that make up your particular point of consciousness — and then you come back, and through extensive prayer and study, you start making the connections and filling in the details that clarify what you’ve learned.

In the process, some flaws in your thinking come to light. You start to notice inconsistencies, errors, mistaken beliefs. And when you find those flaws, you have to address them, because if you don’t, you end up with a life full of ugly brush marks, holidays in the paint, and holes that didn’t get spackled.

I seem to be spending a lot of time on metaphysical touchups lately. What I’m finding is that it’s a demanding process that takes an awful lot of patience and discipline to get through, but — as with mural painting — it manages to be immensely satisfying, despite its incessant demands.

Emily


Watering hole

September 21, 2007

The duckweed we put in the pond last week has had an unexpected benefit: It’s rendered the pond safe for insects to use as a watering hole.

Before I put it out there, I found a lot of drowned wasps in the pond, and the bees didn’t really spend too much time hanging around there. This afternoon, I came home from work to find a half-dozen of our girls out there, using the duckweed and a struggling lily as a sort of aircraft carrier to support their landings and takeoffs. The duckweed is perfect for them, because it’s dense enough to give them a safe foothold, thus preventing accidental drownings, but spaced far enough apart for them to reach the water when they need a sip — which I’m sure helped them a lot this afternoon, as temperatures stretched into the 90s.

I took several pictures before a big red wasp decided I was too close and made a few passes in my general direction to let me know I was wearing out my welcome.

My pond is pretty, but that’s not the real reason I installed it. My primary motivation was to attract and support local wildlife, so it’s always heartening to see it serving well in that capacity.

Emily


Chocolate

September 20, 2007

The other night, I indulged a sudden impulse to test-drive a couple of recipe ideas I’d had. Both were inspired by things I had in restaurants. They got good reviews from the people who sampled them, so I thought I’d post them here.

The first is a cupcake “recipe” (I’m using that term loosely) inspired by some truly amazing cupcakes I had last year in a great little Albuquerque shop called Cake Fetish, which sells nothing but gourmet cupcakes:

Get a box of your favorite kind of cake mix (I used yellow, but chocolate should work just as well) and mix it up according to the package directions.

Get a bag of chocolate chips (I like Tollhouse Mini-Morsels) and use the recipe on the back and your math skills to make half a batch of cookie dough.

Half-fill paper-lined cupcake tins with the cake batter, add a generous spoonful of cookie dough to each cup, and bake at whatever temperature the cake mix calls for. I had to bake mine for about 45 minutes to get them to cook all the way through, but that might just be my oven, which tends to be a little temperamental.

Frost the finished cupcakes with your favorite icing and garnish with miniature chocolate chips.

If you do it right, you’ll come out with 24 cupcakes and about another cupcake’s worth of leftover batter and dough, which I recommend eating straight out of the bowl with a spoon.

The second recipe is equally simple and was inspired by the killer peanut butter balls at Hank’s Hamburgers here in Tulsa.

Peanut Butter Truffles

Half a carton of whipping cream
About three-fourths of a jar of peanut butter
About half a stick of butter, give or take
About a teaspoon of vanilla
About a pound of powdered sugar
Half a bag of chocolate chips (the mini-morsels melt really quickly, but you could take it up a notch with some of those Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips)
About a tablespoon of canola oil (or whatever other flavorless vegetable oil you have handy — the big thing here is just to make sure you don’t use olive oil)

Bring the cream to boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and butter until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of soft playdough. All the amounts listed above are approximate; feel free to adjust the sugar and peanut butter as necessary to get a workable texture.

Let the peanut butter mixture cool enough to handle comfortably, then form it into one-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.

Nuke the chocolate chips and vegetable oil for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, stir, and nuke for another 30 seconds. Repeat this process until the chocolate chips are completely melted.

Dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate (a good dipping fork helps with this process, but a regular fork or spoon will work in a pinch), place back on the waxed paper, and set the whole thing in the refrigerator or freezer to let the chocolate set up.

Store in the fridge in a sealed container. These taste best if you let them sit out for a few minutes before serving. Not quite as good as the ones from Hank’s, but I didn’t hear any complaints from anybody who tried them. :)

Emily


Mural update

September 17, 2007

lorax5.jpg

lorax6.jpg

Not a lot of dramatic changes, but I roughed in some more of the sky, second-coated the “rippulous pond,” and second-coated a few Truffula tufts over the last couple of evenings. A few more days, and I should be ready to break out the paintmarkers. I think my favorite part of doing a mural is watching the transformation from indiscernible blocks of color to pictures. Stay tuned … this should start to look cool before the week is out. :)


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