Have I mentioned that I love, love, love SUMMERTIME?!? There's just too much good stuff for me to fit in a normal mix tape format so I give you the Mix Tape Countdown instead. Enjoy!
10. Just in this morning from the Don Miller Blog: a lovely welcome-to-the-world poem Donald Miller wrote for his friends at the very same moments they were in labor. It's a beautiful poem and the only thing I don't like about it is that I didn't write it myself!
9. And while we're talking about my favorite links from the past two weeks, go ahead and check out the radio interview my sister and brother-in-law did with the local Christian radio station. The interview features Kaley and Wes' blog, Cha-Ching on a Shoestring. I don't know how to say this without sounding sappy: I am so, so proud of Wes and Kaley. They continue to live large on a limited budget and have not yet touched their savings account since Wes' official layoff last April (2008)! He has persevered working odd jobs and temp jobs while Kaley has busted her backside learning the ins and outs of couponing and finding freebies. All this while preserving their most valuable possessions -- faith, humility and an awesome sense of humor!
8. Speaking of Kaley and Wes, check out their offspring (yes, that would be MY nephew) in his debut acting role at Union Center Christian Church. (and, oh by the way, the big guy is my dad!)
7. I finally completed the biography of the late great Southern author Flannery O'Connor. I felt like it was important for me to push through this book even though I'm not in love with her writing (please don't tell anyone!) Her life was enigmatic, somewhat sad but at the same time triumphant as she persevered with her craft in spite of debilitating bouts with lupus. I also think I needed to learn about the often-grotesque writing choices she made. This statement, quoting her, gave me some much-needed insight: ...O'Connor insisted that her own use of the grotesque was meant to convey a shocking Christian vision of original sin. "To the hard of hearing you shout," she said, "and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures." I think I can understand this. Wish I could have known the woman in person, though. I'd love to chat with her in her yard while her beloved peafowl and her sharp wit and insight into the hypocrisy of people ran circles around me.
6. I am totally digging music from Old Crow Medicine Show and John Fahey this summer. Click so you can dig it too!
5. I'm not sure I've ever included a food category in a monday mix tape (although I know I've included a losing weight category!) but I wanted to include a shout-out for the new deli my friends, Sarah and Jason Hill, have recently opened. We were able to take the family to The Director's Cut Hollywood Cafe and Fine Deli last week during our vacation and we loved the food and the space. Chris Pousseur (another friend) ,the chef, created our burgers and fries and paninis just right! When you go, I strongly recommend the Tear Jerker burger (although the Kevin Bacon would be a close second!)
4. Finished off books three and four of Madeleine L'Engle's Austin Family Chronicles. Just pure summer reading joy. The Young Unicorns is a slightly odd tale of the Austin family's move to the upper West side of New York during Dr. Austin's year of research at a major hospital. What with gangs, secret underground tunnels and evil religious zealots who wish to take over Manhattan with Dr. Austin's Micro-Ray, the plot is a little more Wrinkle in Time than the normal Austin Family adventure. Still, the characters are intact and we get insight into my favorite part of the city, the upper West side. One of the major characters of the book is the Cathedral of St. John the Divine! (see #3 below... )
As for the Newberry Award winning book four, A Ring of Endless Light, all I can say is *sigh....*
I love this book so much I want to marry it -- or at least take it with me on the ever-threatening deserted island I may be stranded on with only one book and nothing else to read for the rest of my days. I joyfully suspend disbelief as I revel in Vickie Austin's ability to communicate telepathically with dolphins. I smell the salty air surrounding Grandfather's Cove and hear the back porch screen door slamming as the busy Austin family come in and out of the house and I wait alongside Grandfather's deathbed with the family and sense that this is such a right thing to do -- to wait with a loved one as he nears Eternity.
There's more, but you'll have to discover it for yourself. For now, I keep shoving the books into my daughters' hands as soon as I finish reading...just like my own mother did years ago with me. (In fact, my eleven-year-old Natalie is sitting on the bed next to me reading Meet the Austins as I finish this post. She just rolled over and said, "I love Madeline L'Engle." Ahhhh......)
3. Girls' Day in NYC!! Our goal was to leave Binghamton by 4am in order to get in line for Twelfth Night tickets at the Delacorte Theatre in Centeral Park by 7ish. We got there shortly after 7 and got in line behind about 2,000 people!! So...
... we did this instead (Bryant Park for dinner -- Sabrette's!) ...
...walked 22 blocks uptown from Central Park to Morningside Heights and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I will be writing about this glorious cathedral in a separate post, believe me.
But the sort-of-fun coincidence is that the book I took to read while waiting in line in Central Park (and, thus, did not get to read until the next day) was The Young Unicorns mentioned above. The central location for the book takes place right in this cathedral! Apparently L'Engle attended and was very involved in this church. I read that at one time she served as its librarian. Most of our time in the mammoth vaulted nave and its seven surrounding chapels was spent in speechless awe.
By the time we left, though, we felt inspired to do this...
2. Coming soon: My kids are learning the entire choreography to Michael Jackson's Thriller. I can't wait to show you all the video!
1. My little flower garden makes me so happy. We added a perennial bed to this forlorn little spot in our side front yard. As usual, I did my research by taking out 52 books from the library, posting sticky notes on about 110 ideas and then leading Brian around the nursery with my detailed bullet list and several photo-copied charts. Driving home with all those pots of potential beauty felt somewhat like the four different times we strapped our bawling newborns into the car seat to bring them home for the first time. I craned my neck from the front seat to check their safety every time Brian made a turn or stopped too quickly. Every morning, before I even get to the coffee pot, I have to run out to my front porch to check on their progress.
I think we're doing pretty well, don't you?
About five weeks later...
The black-eyed susans are opening now. I'll be back with more pictures soon!