Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thinking, living simply

Christmas is over, the new year is about to begin. I was reading about the New Monastics yesterday, in particular the organization known as the Simple Way, and found something interesting.

"Action must be accompanied by reflection, and reflection by action."

Not only is it true, it is something that has been on my mind lately. I have enjoyed this December period of reflection and am beginning to recognize the great cycle of rest, reflection, and planning which leads one back to action. Rest and reflection seem particularly necessary to the work of an artist or visionary of any type. When one is deeply entrenched in the thoughts and actions of the work at hand, the struggles of the day, it is extremely difficult to "think big," or draw those abstract connections necessary for substantial innovation.

It's always nice to go away for a while, get some of that "mountaintop" perspective on your life. That's what generally happens when I go to Kentucky with my family to visit my aunt. Every year we spend Christmas together, and every year not only do I get to know my family better, but myself as well.

This time, the realization that came as a shock is that lately, I have been behaving of a citizen of Spartanburg. No offense to Spartanburg, but I only have one citizenship and that kingdom is not of this world. I haven't exactly learned to balance my life in this world with my role in the Body of Christ, but lately, the balance has been heartily skewed in favor of the former. This is me acknowledging the problem as a first step toward correcting it.

I'm so glad to be going to Atlanta this weekend. It's hard to explain the sort of perspective one gets when completely immersed in the local expression of the Body of Christ, but it's beautiful, and it's real. And the beauty of it all is, the closer one is with the Spirit of God, the more perfectly all other facets of one's life are handled, including one's responsibility to one's neighbors, country and planet. Jesus is panacea. Of course I'm not talking about knowing, talking, or preaching about Him, I'm talking about the Person Himself, and actually being one with Him. It's not like He's not here with me in Spartanburg, of course He is. But the link sometimes feels...tenuous. And we need to be shored up occasionally.

I've been experimenting with cooking a little more lately. Today I made pasta with a mushroom-garlic-shrimp cream sauce. There's a certain appeal to my sense of adventure in the challenge of creating a delicious meal from whatever is at hand. Dad has this great cookbook called More-with-Less. It's not just a collection of recipes, it's a presentation of an entire perspective on cooking. Mennonites wrote it. Something tells me that the New Monastics would get a kick out of it too. It basically holds to the premise that we Americans expect, and give ourselves, too much. Too many choices, quantities larger than we need, overcomplicated, exotic ingredients replacing what grows in our back yard. And of course, convenience foods, regarding which I am the queen of sinners. This book teaches how to apply your mind and creativity to create meals that are healthier, kinder to the environment, cheaper, and tastier all at the same time. I highly recommend it.

One piece of wisdom I took out of the book today is that a beautifully prepared meal can be a gift, showing your love to family and guests. More than that, there's this powerful idea of connectedness, an idea that cooking can be not only a manifestation of love, but even spirituality. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, but I'm sure Brother Lawrence would know exactly what I'm talking about. Approach everthing with prayer and attentiveness, that's one thing that God has been trying to tell me lately. And it's so foreign to the modern American way of life. Sometimes I just want to back out of life entirely and spend a few years learning how to live properly.

Which kind of reminds me of a friend's blog I read today. (or doesn't really, but I have to segue somehow) Tim and Hannah were true mentors to me before they moved to Austin. Lately I've been following their blogs and it's almost as good as soaking up the Diller goodness firsthand. Well Tim wrote an excellent post about bicycling as therapy. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't as much as looked at my poor Bike E since gaining a car in October. But Tim's very accurate description of the reflection, pleasure and feeling of connectedness that goes with riding a bike made me want to dig it out and give it some love. I've got a few reams of Root to deliver as well as a few other errands so I've decided to make an outing of it tomorrow. I've got my camera back now (HALLELUJAH! It shows up after a whole year missing!) so I'll take a few pictures. Then you'll finally get to see where my blog's funny name comes from.

Oh yes. We watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed today. I had some misgivings about it, but I was actually pretty impressed overall. (not that it didn't have its shortcomings.) I would encourage anyone with an open mind, who supposes that the scientific community is an open-minded place, to watch it. One interesting thing I learned (really it was only incidental in the movie but I found it fascinating nonetheless) is that the founder of Planned Parenthood (I forgot her name) was a leader in the Eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Doesn't surprise me, really.

Hmm. I should go to sleep now since I'll be rising early for my adventure tommorow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Skate, art, and a job

Hey, it's a Greer-based arts zine:
(haven't really looked at it just noticed the ad on facebook...)

Today as I was driving home, I noticed several cars parked in the big empty lot next to the abandoned gas station next to my house. I looked closer and saw a bunch of kids on skateboards. A sign read "Sk8 Contest Today!" I've never really had much to do with skateboarding, but it was interesting and rare enough that I had to stop in for a closer look. Turns out, it was a fund raiser / party for the soon-to-be started skate park coming to Union Street. That's cool. Especially because, from what I understand, local skate kids had a big part in designing the park and making it happen. I'm not much of a sports spectator but it was fun watching all those skaters all the way from tiny six-year-olds to high school and maybe a few beyond.

Caroll Foster, a photographer I've seen a bit around Hub-Bub, was the MC today and has been one of the players. I'm pretty sure Will Barnet, the mayor's son, has been involved too. Caroll said it's taken 5 years to get it all together and get the approval, funds and support, but they've pretty much gotten all the money now and will be starting early next year. Here's the website with more info.

Way to go, guys! Can't wait to see the skate park in full swing!

Oh yes, I also wanted to mention, they've created my dream job. My application's in and I'm waiting for a call. Woohoo! Now I have to get all professional and stuff for the interview.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chicago, Drinks and Clothing

Can't believe it's been nearly a month since I was here. Just been busy.

Read about this chica in Fiber Arts at work today. And this one. Way cool. And how about this fashion label. Slow fashion...what a concept! I feel new years resolutions brewing...

I went to Chicago. In a van. With my friends. lol. Normally I would want to spend an entire afternoon chronicling the epic journey, but unfortunately, the storytelling impulse has been exhausted on friends and parents. Didn't get to the blog soon enough.

It was marvelous, and I suppose to make up for not saying much I will repost a few photos from friends' facebooks. Maybe I will ask their permission first. In the meantime, I will share the facebook note I wrote:

A Collection of Tasty Drinks
So I decided I would begin a list of unusual non-alchoholic beverages to inspire the palate and quench the thirst of the adventurous teetotaler (or designated driver). Feel free to add to this list.

Boba / Bubble Tea

A pan-Asian treat. Frequently fruit- or coffee-flavored, often smoothie-like but whose distinguishing characteristic are the tapioca balls ("bubbles") which add a unique chewing experience. I recently had an avocado-flavored boba - it was actually quite tasty.

A Latin American rice milk drink. Generally enjoyed iced with cinnamon and vanilla.

Mango Lassi
A thick, rich Indian yogurt drink. Pale orange in color, It's got a great taste and texture and is perfect for cooling your tongue after some spicy papadomes and chutney.

Chicha Morada
A brilliant purple Peruvian drink made from purple corn. Very sweet, tastes a little fruity, a little like bubble gum and cinnamon.

Thai Tea
A sweet, smoky, milky beverage from (you guessed it) Thailand. Opaque amber in color, very rich and usually enjoyed iced.

Grass Jelly Drink
One of many unusual sweet herb-flavored Asian beverages. Contains dark-green jelly cubes. Tastes...herby.

Basil Seed Drink
Another Asian herbal oddity, real basil seeds in their little jelly sacs are suspended throughout. If you can get past their striking resemblance to frog eggs, it is actually, a pleasant, refreshing beverage.

The last three can be purchased canned or bottled at your local Asian grocery. Horchata can be purchased in powder or bottle form at just about any grocery with a hispanic foods section. For bubble tea, chicha morada, and mango lassi, your best bet is to visit a restaurant of the appropriate ethnicity.Will post more as I find them. Please respond with your favorites. I'm particularly curious about any savory drinks out there.

Ooh that reminds me:

Avocado Soup
A chilled pureed soup with many variations. My dad and I make it from avocados, chicken broth, soy milk, garlic and green peppercorns. Frothy and delicious. I drink it from a mug so it counts.

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