Friday, January 30, 2009

a wee treat

-Going to see Methody's version of Guys & Dolls. Some of the teens I work with were in it, and others were helping with it. It was really impressive talent-wise, and I just loved hearing all those Norn Irish kids put of their best New York accents. I get really into plays, and don't really care if they're a broadway production or a school's.

-Roberta buying my ticket for Guys & Dolls, and when I tried to pay her back, she replied, "No, no, Whitney. Really. It's a wee treat."

-Coming in out of the cold rain, putting on warm flannel pj's and curling up in bed with a good book, a hot water bottle and a big steaming mug of hot chocolate. The rain was so soothing to listen to once I was cozy and dry inside.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

flight of fancy

-Attending the older ladies' Bible study and being given earl grey tea, homemade scones and biscuits. Our hostess circled the room no less than four times offering more and more rivaled Southern hospitality!

-Jill sending me a lovely purse that belonged to her Mother. It was so thoughful to receive something with such history (and style!). Thanks so much, Jill!

-About a week ago, I emailed some seminary friends, dreaming of meeting up at Jessi's lakehouse in Georgia for the weekend. What began as a flight of fancy turned into reality: it seems that four of them will be in or around New York at the end of April for a conference and Jessi can get there easily enough. I was able to take a week off of work around the bank holiday weekend in May, and yesterday I found a great deal on a flight direct (oh, the joy!) from Belfast to Newark. My friends Sarah and Chris live in Princeton, NJ--just a bus from the Newark airport and an hour-long train to NYC--and we're all going to have a big slumber party there for the week. It's going to be wonderful to catch up with my best friends, be uber-touristy in NYC and just relax.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

serendipitous spontaneities

-Going to St. George's Market in the morning and enjoying two hazelnut lattes, perusing the varieties of breads, cheeses, crafts and antiques and talking to people.

-Getting hopelessly lost on my walk back from St. George's and wandering through an area I don't think I've walked through before. It was cold, but (finally) sunny, and I discovered new charity shops, lovely peeling walls and old doorways as I munched on the fresh loaf of Irish wheaten bread I'd bought at the market.

-Veronika coming over for a spontaneous visit which included catching up, nibbling on wheaten bread with raspberry jam and brie and watching Sex & the City.

Friday, January 23, 2009

inventive and punctual

-Finding an old gold picture frame at the charity shop and giving it personality with some turquoise paint and a picture from my backyard in Texas.

-The package I sent my Dad for his birthday (it's today!) arriving on time.

-Walking in the kitchen as youth arrived and finding two girls giggling while "roasting" marshmallows with...a hairdryer. After I stopped laughing and they explained how well it worked, I told them it was the most hilarious and inventive thing I've seen in a while.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


-Barack Obama being sworn in as President.

-Perfectly timed music all day long: first, Roberta and I were talking about how my umbrella broke when Rihanna's Umbrella song came on the iPod. Then, when I was walking to my dance class and stopped to get a bottle of water, the Killers song was playing saying, "are we human, or are we dancer?". Later, I went and got an Indian takeaway for dinner, and as I sat to wait, a song from Lord of the Rings started playing in the restaurant.

-Really enjoying my contemporary dance class. I left tired, content and happy to have had an hour-and-a-half respite from the cold rain to move, stretch and dance.

Monday, January 19, 2009

please do sit down

-Finding an old telephone table and seat at the Oxfam shop for a bargain and putting it in the little space going up the stairs by my room. I love the swirly dark wood and bold gold fabric. I picture a very stylish woman (probably wearing gloves) sitting on it and talking away on her telephone.

-Being able to wear my sunglasses because it was such a lovely, sunny afternoon.

-A little old man on a bicycle with a shopping bag and a broom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

cookie, church and a chat

-Making dark chocolate and hazelnut cookies to cheer me up after getting caught in gail-force winds and rain that broke my favorite umbrella. The warm, rich chocolate and toasty hazelnut flavor with a cold glass of milk cheered me right up.

-Doing the Kid's Talk at church titled "The Sinful Woman", which incidentally ended up written right next to my name in the bulletin. So, the bulletin said "The Sinful Woman Rev. Whitney..." Before inviting the children foward, I made a point to tell the congregation that we are all sinners forgiven by God and that the sinful woman is not, in fact, my new nickname. We all laughed, and people came up to me all day saying "hey sinful woman!" It was really amusing.

-A great long conversation with Jessi where, continents apart, we both told each other exactly what we needed to hear and felt encouraged.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

cake, bizarre, relaxing

-Sitting in a coffee shop with good friends, chatting and enjoying ridiculously large pieces of cake. My friend Sarah left for D.C. today to participate in all the inauguration festivities, and her excitement added extra joy to the night.

-Looking out of the window to see a butter yellow and soft grey sunset. Bizarre colors, but lovely.

-Getting curled up in bed with a fleecy blanket and my laptop and watching a couple of episodes of Sex and the City at the end of a long day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

collage days

-Continuing my collage creativity by decorating a little side table. I found the table at a charity shop and replaced the moss green surface under the glass with bright, fun patterns and colors. I used some of the left over paper from my painting, so it kind of matches!

-A great day off spent being intentional about relaxing: meeting friends for breakfast and lunch, doing a bit of shopping, taking myself to the cinema for a matinee and, finally, signing up for contemporary dance classes.

-Being brought a cup of tea.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

a peace piece

-Finishing an art piece I've been working on. Inspired by the "Love Too" needlepoint by Paul Smith (see above) that is in Carrie Bradshaw's apartment in the Sex and the City movie, I decided to make my own version. I've been working on it into the wee hours of the morning the last few days, which has proved a very productive way to cope with jet lag that keeps me up. I can barely sew on a button, so needlepoint was out of the question. Instead, I used acrylic on canvas and paper collage. The "A" in my work is made up of various images of political murals in Belfast. Love is a great word, but if I had to pick my favorite word, it would be peace.

-While standing on a stool to hang my painting above the art deco wardrobe I inherited from my old housemate (it even has a skeleton key!), I glanced out my one window in the ceiling which usually only shows a cloudy sky. Perched higher up, I could see dozens of chimneys and hills in the distance.

-A Roma kid asking for more juice after playing hockey at our youth club and his friend tipping half of his cup into his.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

there and back again, again

I'm finally posting some pictures and glimpses from Christmas at home. I had a wonderful time, the highlight of which was of course seeing my adorable niece. From visiting family to Mac County to the beach, it was a perfect holiday.

-Watching Natalie play with a ribbon on one of her Christmas presents. We all abandoned our stashes and watched her with delight as she opened her first Christmas present: a teddy bear all the way from Belfast from her Aunt Weeza (the name is sadly sticking). :)

-Going to visit my cousins in Brady and enjoying ranch life--complete with copious amounts of food, antique shopping, sunny days and glorious sunsets and Christmas cheer all around.

-Sunlight streaming through holes in the clouds, shining hopeful rays down while two horses grazed placidly beneath it all, like it was an ordinary, everyday occurence.

-Going to Mac County, our family land, to rest and appreciate nature in all its beauty, away from running water and electricity and back to life in its simplist form.

-More South Texas sunsets.

-Camp potatoes fried with onions on a gas stove. These are a tradition at Mac and are so delicious (especially with venison steak, pinto beans and cream gravy). I later found a cast iron skillet similar to this one for $3 at an antique store and have brought it with me back to Belfast.

-Sitting in a rocking chair, enjoying the breeze and reading.

-Can you read this? It says a bit over 80 January.

-Being served breakfast in bed on my birthday on the "you are special today" plate that we always reserve for birthday celebrations.

-A huge festive wreath made out of Christmas ornaments.

-Going to Rockport for my birthday and enjoying delicious bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp and leisurely shopping the beach town.

-Shopping a great antique shop in Rockport full of lovely shabby chic, colorful things. Most everything I saw was really my style and I loved it. I left with an adorable turquoise jewel-toned wine glass, perfect for a sip of pinot or a tealight candle.

-Watching a cold front blow in over the gulf. The temperature dropped 20 degrees as soon as it hit.

-Having a farewell meal at the Hobbit Cafe in Houston, the place where I've celebrated so many milestones in the path to ordination and joureys ended and new ones beginning. The highlight had to be Ash sitting down while clutching Natalie tightly, only to find that her chair had been accidentally pushed in. Even as she hit the floor, she looked around in bewilderment, as we all erupted into tear-filled laughter. Momma and baby were fine--and we were all amused. I kept picturing the event on my flight back to Belfast and laughing bizarrely to myself. It was a perfect send off.

-Seeing Ireland again and feeling peace, joy and awe at being here again. I spent the bus ride from Dublin staring out the window as trees alight by a golden sunset whizzed by, thinking that I live in a magical (hobbitish, even?) place.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

a birthday wish

Hello! I'm still gonna catch you all up on my glimpses once I'm back in Belfast with my laptop, but today's my birthday, and I thought I really should think of graces in my life. I'm so thankful for my great friends--near and far--who continue to support and love my nerdy self through facebook, calls, visits and just being there. I'm also really thankful for my family. We've had a great time together (which you will hear all about soon) over these past two weeks. It's a wonderful thing to know that home will always be special, no matter how many other "homes" I discover. So, on my 27th birthday, I wish you a great day, too. Have an extra cup of coffee. Call a friend you've meaning to be in touch with. Take a minute to look up at the trees and think of how big and small you are. Maybe say a little prayer. Look for the grace all around you. And be thankful.