Monday, August 31, 2009

little minister

Today, I've been a Presbyterian minister for one year. It's my ordination anniversary! That's plenty of grace for today. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

powerful grace

-An impromtu trip with the housemate to Ikea. Oh, how I love Ikea. The cheap hot dogs, show rooms, awesome lighting, kids''s a blast. I got a few much-needed essentials: ironing board, wine glasses, candlesticks etc, but the best thing I found was this amazing rack with circles in it to loop scarves through. I'm in a phase of making the most of my tiny space, and this was just perfect! Plus, my ridiculous collection of scarves look lovely all draped together.

-My idea of a perfect Saturday: St. George's + live music. There were poetry readings and a couple of bands at the Black Box as part of Dukebox, and it was great to stroll in out of the rain to warmth and creativity.

-I'm facebook friends with Bruce Reyes-Chow, the moderator of the P.C. (U.S.A.), and he always has the most thought/faith-provoking ideas shared there. Today his status was, "Bruce Reyes-Chow thinks that if you mistake graciousness for weakness, you do not really understand the powerful nature of grace itself." It's a gift to have such a prophetic and compassionate leader.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

that's me

-Having a theological discussion with my co-worker in which he said, "If I had three words to describe you, they would be 'liberal, heretical and apocalyptic.' " Why do I take this as a compliment? :)

-Reading a text that made me laugh out loud.

-A lovely quiet evening spent at a quaint bohemian bistro pub, where I sat perched by the window surrounded by colorful cushions and candlelight reading a book. Everything about the atmosphere was perfect, especially the music that included Frank, Nat and Billie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

once upon a time...

-Making brownies with decadent dark chocolate chips. I know I glimpse grace in food a god's not my stomach, it's just I see God in food a lot. :)

-Going to a local charity furniture shop in search of a little cupboard for sweaters and finding not only that, but a cuppa tea and a friendly conversation as well.

-Watching Once for the first time since my Glen Encounter at the same time that Catherine was also watching it at her house. We kept texting excitedly about how awesome the movie is and how whimsical it was to have met him. Just like Under the Tuscan Sun will never be the same to me because I've been to Cortona, Italy, Once will forever be richer and part of my own story now.

-Talking to Maggie after entirely too long and feeling so grateful for her friendship.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


-The rich, stirring notes from a cello underlying the folk-rock sounds of the Lowly Knights. They're one of my favorite Belfast bands.

-Finishing Wilbur Smith's Blue Horizon in all of its 777 1/2 page glory, and feeling that great mixture of joy and loss that comes with finishing a really good book.

-Feeling a bit tired, a bit cold and a bit hungry and going to that staple of Texan comfort food: beans and cornbread. It was delicious (almost as good as my Dad's), and hit the spot on so many levels. (Incidentally, I left the beans on the stove--which was turned off, but that doesn't necessarily mean a lot--while I finished Wilbur and came downstairs to find them still steamy. I tasted a spoonful and discovered that the cumin, chili powder and garlic had intensified lots, making them even more delicious!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

C is for Coffee

I'm really not sure how to top Glen Hansard, but I'll give it an aul lash.*

-This is the week of impromptu coffee catch-ups: Mo rang the office seeking a coffee companion and found me. It was one of those great "Ok! See you in five minutes..." split-second decisions. I mean, does one really need to think twice about coffee?

-Standing in the kitchen with a mug of warm, nudge-me-awake coffee and discussing poetry, bouldering, work and blogging with Jonee.

-Whistling my whole way to work.

*Irish for "old go/try." My new vocab of the week. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

well, ain't that swell?

-Meeting Sandra for coffee at Avoca and her greeting me warmly with lovely flowers and a card thanking me for "all you do in Fitzroy and for the wonderful way in which you do it." It's always a great thing to be given flowers and was so encouraging. We had a lovely chat and she loaned me a great Catholic theological journal. She shared a particular thought-provoking writing from Peter Fisher:
"As each of us, baptized once, is being repeatedly bathed in the gospel, being rehearsed in the art and practice of living as receivers and givers of grace, so our lives, our personal aspirations and difficulties, are changing day by day. We may be seeking to play the same tune every day of our Christian life ('Love the Lord your God, and your neighbour as yourself'), but we keep on being given different instruments to play. The intimate spheres of personal relationships, our own places of work and leisure, our own ailments an pleasures, keep throwing up new challenges and openings that compel us to rethink and re-act what it means to be a receiver and giver of grace."

-Going with Catherine to Derry to see The Swell Season, one of my absolute favorite bands. They're the folks from Once. I love the drive to Derry...just gorgeous.

-The funniest thing happened when we got to Derry. We didn't know how to get to the concert venue, and were heading up a main road, when Catherine suddenly shouted, "There's Glen Hansard!!" We pulled over and I rolled down my window to call him over. Over he came, even though he was on the phone, and I proceeded to babble "We're seeing you tonight! We're so excited!!" and then Catherine reminded me to find out where the venue was. I asked him, and he said in his velvety Dublin accent, "Well, I think it's up that way, but as you can see, I'm not from here." He then grasped my hand to say goodbye (!!) and we went on our way to park. Realizing that he was probably still there, we walked back down to where he was in search of food and Glen. He was still there, and we took a picture with him! I look really pregnant (love you, Sista!) because the wind caught my blouse, but I don't care. He was lovely! What a thrill. The rest of the night, every 5 minutes, Catherine and I said to each other, "I can't believe that really happened!" During the show, he mentioned the "lovely people" he met earlier. I'm still smiling from it!

-Having time before The Swell Season went on (after the amazing Glen encounter) for a glass of wine and yummy salmon cakes (which we gulped down in between gushing about meeting Glen).

-What an amazing night!

Monday, August 17, 2009

morning, noon & night

-Drinking coffee out of the beautiful bright hand-painted coffee cup I brought from Texas. My Grandmother gave it to my Mom, and she gave it to me to bring across the pond. It makes me smile.

-Walking outside and being surprised by a balmy breeze and sunshine.

-Talking to the friend-of-a-friend who's also a minister and her admitting that she was still in bed because it was her day off. I added that I was in my pajamas still because I was also off today, and we laughed.

-Creamy red wine risotto dotted with fresh green peas and thick shavings of parmesan.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

going absolutely ape

-Lazily meandering through my favorite Belfast streets and shops and stumbling into a bohemian boutique that was so quaint, I had to go up a narrow spiral staircase to try clothes on upstairs. When I did, the owner of the shop was up there re-designing a vintage gown to wear to an awards event in which she was being honored for her fashion designs. She asked my opinion, and then I tried on a lovely top and she gave me her opinion. It was all so casual and comfortable that I felt like I was shopping with an old friend. I ended up buying a gorgeously gathered one-shouldered brown and white polka-dot top that I love (and it was on sale!). It's perfect with a scarf for upcoming gigs. It reminds me a little of Julia Robert's dress for the races in Pretty Woman.

-Ri hosting a little dinner party that was a refreshing and entertaining night. I made some new friends (they're bloggers, too!) and enjoyed yummy pasta and a conversation that spanned the topics of gizebras (think zebra + giraffe), pirates, gnomes, the emergent church and women in ministry. Now if all that put together doesn't make a wonderful story, I don't know what will! ;)

-Watching Paris When It Sizzles, the last movie I had yet to see in the Audrey Hepburn box set that my neighbo(u)r gave me for Christmas. There's a brilliant dialogue that I found myself jotting down:

William Holden: "Wow, you really love it, don't you?"
Audrey Hepburn: "What?"
WH: "Life."
AH: "Every morning when I wake up and see there's a whole new other day, I just go absolutely ape!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

wafting and waving

-Swirling steam floating up off of my cup of tea.

-Saying hello.

-After a run to get more free craft materials for our Bible Club from Play Resource Warehouse, we were unloading things into the church. Chris decided to put two huge cardboard tubes (we'll be cutting to make a 3-d cross the kids can collage on) on his arms and run across the street to the church waving them awkwardly above his head. I had one of those moments where I was trying to talk but was laughing so hard only squeaks came out. I love those moments.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

hello there

-Having 15 Roma children show up at our Holiday Bible Club, most of whom I knew, and feeling relief that they were still here. I was encouraged when I saw a little girl from church and a Roma girl sitting side by side, playing and smiling.

-Being invited to the Mulholland's for lunch and enjoying delightful conversation, warm, fragrant soup, wheaten bread and apple pie.

-Going to Common Grounds yearning for community and a good read and getting both: while reading an old Wilbur Smith favorite, I heard someone say "Whitney??" and looked up to see Carrie in front of me. We were both leaders for a cross-community trip to South Africa five years ago, and I haven't really seen her since. It was great to catch up and discover that we live and work near one another.

Monday, August 10, 2009

my day with the Duke

-Being welcomed back to Belfast by St. George's and an impromptu Duke Special gig. He was supporting an upcoming concert/festival and so was playing at various places in the city centre. He used a little antique portable organ that he had to pedal contantly as he played. After a few songs and some information about his upcoming gig, we all walked, portable organ and all, to the next place. Some of us handed out flyers, and I actually got to chat to Duke a bit. We talked about Austin, where he had played for the South by Southwest music festival. He was just as fantastic a few feet away without any amplification as he is filling a concert hall with his voice.

-The butcher's shop that has painted above it, "Meat to please you. Pleased to meet you."

-I didn't think that I would be here when Marie and Liz came back from their Eurotrip, but I was! We had lunch today at the quirky, fabulous Made in Belfast and enjoyed catching up and hearing about all of their travels.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's official...

I'm obsessed with my niece. Home was so wonderful: ridiculous amounts of Mexican food, reunions with good friends, being brought coffee in bed, playing ladder golf, preaching and seeing first pres folks, hanging out with ash & clay, moonlit conversations with my mom with the warm breeze on our faces and starry trees over our heads, my dad's corny jokes, hanging out with family at mo ranch, soaking in the guadalupe river, watching the food network, reading an entire book on the plane*...and my niece takes the cake. What an intelligent, beautiful, sassy little gal she is!
Happy Summer, y'all!
*The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Just wonderful! Thanks for the suggestion. :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

O dear

I am having a fabulous time at home in Texas, and am sad to say this is my last full day. Once I'm back in Belfast, I'll be sure to put some pictures up from my great time here. The purpose of this blog post is very specific, though. I have lost a bet with my mother. You see, we were watching the Food Network, which we're pretty much obsessed with, and had a little debate over the name of one of our favorites. I insisted his name was Michael ChiarellI, and she insisted it was ChiarellO. Big talk ensued, a bet was named and a handshake firmly shared and then I went to the mother of all things correct, Google, to find out the answer. Well friends, I was wrong. So, losing our bet, I am now proclaiming with gusto in all of blogsville that I was wrong. My mother was right. It's settled. :) I'll be back soon...Whit