Monday, August 31, 2009

to my dad, on his birthday

(Lough Leane, Killarney National Park)

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve gone into church early with my dad, and he is typing up some last minute additions to his sermon notes. He is moving quickly and no doubt intends to proofread later, but I am quite concerned about all the typos. I read over his shoulder and announce mistakes. My dad patiently returns to each one and corrects it, graciously allowing me to be his emphatic little third-grade editor.

It’s Thanksgiving night, and we’ve had an enormous snowfall. My dad leaves behind adult conversation to make a snowman with my brother and me. We cheer as he rolls the first giant ball of snow. In our obsession, we ask him to keep going, keep going! He huffs and puffs as he rolls and rolls; it gets bigger and bigger. My dad wears himself out so we can have our giant snowball.

My dad yells “Goooooooootz!” as I approach the back of the volleyball court. Even though I later ask him to keep it down because serving gives me trouble, I know he’s proud of me. Once I manage a particularly powerful quick ace, and he still talks about it today. My dad is my biggest fan.

(historian, aesthete, teacher)

My dad calls me on the phone, and we’re a thousand miles apart. We do this several times a year. He explains in detail the plan he’s devised to get our family all together. He knows exactly how to work the plan most efficiently, and he gets everyone on board. He’s excited about the details, because he’s passionate about his family. My dad loves his people and will do what it takes to be with them.

It’s Christmas, and my dad lounges on the couch. A dark-haired, blue-eyed little bundle of a baby sleeps contentedly on his chest. She never sleeps like this with anyone else. My dad is the ultimate Babu.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thank you for your patience, selflessness, support, generosity, and love. I love you.

1000 gifts (CSA edition)

twelve: carrots

thirteen: beets

fourteen: heirloom, cherry, & paste tomatoes

fifteen: sweet corn (barely keeping up)

sixteen: potatoes (way, way more than I know what to do with)

seventeen: cucumber

eighteen: zucchini, pattypan, & yellow squash

nineteen: green bell peppers & poblanos

twenty: basil (typing this helps me to be grateful for all the darn basil)

twenty-one: kale & chard

twenty-two: mustard greens & totchoi

twenty-three: green leaf & romaine lettuce

twenty-four: oregano & mint

twenty-five: kohlrabi

twenty-six: all that's yet to come

It was a good idea.

holy experience

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


(Not sure you recall, but way back when, my family and I visited Ireland)

Our next stop on the Emerald Isle was Galway County and Galway City, which lies north of Clare and Doolin, across a huge bay. When planning the trip, Galway was always at the top of my list for one embarrassing reason: Bodie and Brock Thoene's The Galway Chronicles, which I read with enthusiasm in high school. While I claimed to know a lot about Ireland before our trip, the truth is that most of my information came from Christian historical fiction. At least now my bluff is called.

We spent one whirlwind day in Galway, most of that time in the city, and we arrived on the inopportune final day of the Volvo Ocean Race's Irish stopover. Oh my, the traffic. It cramped our style a bit.

Still, Galway City was a lot of fun. It developed around a fort built in 1124, and you can really feel its age. I loved Shop Street, a carless thoroughfare with shops, pubs and street performers galore. I'll always regret not buying a CD from one of the bands that played--it was the most beautiful music I heard the whole trip. I was mesmerized.

The River Corrib flows through Galway, framed by wildflowers and bridges. There was an incredible amount of green in such a big, busy city.

My favorite spot of the day was Galway Cathedral (or The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed Into Heaven and St. Nicholas, whoa). I will once again completely discredit myself and say that this may be one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've ever seen. Here's the thing--it opened in 1965. So you know, it's not exactly a phenomenon of hand-hewn architecture and construction, like the Duomo of Florence, for instance. But I just like it, ok?

I loved the modern art mixed in with the Renaissance and Romanesque architecture.

(photo by Mark Grealish)

After our afternoon in Galway, we made a giant loop through the eastern portion of the greater county, in an attempt to see the Connemara. This mountainous region is windswept and wild, with numerous lakes. It is primarily Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking. Not that I would really know, because we never got out of the car, except for one fuel stop. Traveling with a baby keeps things brief and efficient! These photos are pretty close to what we saw, though.

(photo by StellaStyles)

(photo by Neil1960)

Up next, Kerry and Killarney!

Monday, August 17, 2009

1000 gifts (Detroit edition)


The Melinda crepe at Good Girls Go to Paris Creperie. Cream cheese, brown sugar, lime, heaven. Check this place out--it's on John R right off Woodward. It's just a little window.


Lunch on a shaded patch of grass in Grand Circus Park.


Free easy parking.


Community gardens everywhere you look. I'm letting myself dream a bit.


A night away. A night on the riverfront.


Incredible in-laws who love Ellary with all their might and take such good care of her. I can be completely confident in them. What a gift.


Two years. Deep love. Thank you, Abba.

(photo by Dawn Sparks)

holy experience

Tuesday, August 04, 2009



We spent our first three days in Ireland in County Clare, which is along the southwest coast of the country and home to the famed Cliffs of Moher, as well as the eerie landscape of the Burren. We actually flew over Clare on our descent into Ireland and got to see the Cliffs from the plane. That was a spectacular experience; I really did feel like a lifelong dream was coming true in that moment. Ireland from air is exactly what you would expect it to be--green, divided into messy plots by stone walls and lakes.

We flew into the Shannon airport and grabbed lunch in a perfectly picturesque little village called Ennistymon. A funny little woman named Mary sat at a table next to us and chattered our ears off the whole time. I found her quite charming, and she set the precedent for the rest of the trip. It's true what they say about Ireland--everyone is very friendly.

We stayed in Doolin, a seaside holiday town popular among Irish vacationers.

It was recommended in the guidebooks as the perfect place to experience the Irish music scene. My dad reserved an awesome self-catering cottage, with this view.

Poor us.

That first jet-lagged night we ate our first of MANY meals of fish & chips and seafood chowder. I also had some minted peas that I can still taste in my mind to this day. We took a lovely walk to the end of a tiny road and watched the sunset over the ocean.

Day two was all about the Cliffs of Moher. First we took a boat ride right up alongside these sheer rock faces. They are the tallest cliffs in western Europe and a habitat for thousands of birds.

The boat ride was windy and refreshing, and I loved being able to get up close to see the stratum of rock. Glaciers are responsible for carving out and exposing layers upon layers of earth.

To get the truly spectacular vista, however, one needs to hike up to the top of the cliffs at the visitor center. This is definitely a tourist trap, but I would stay trapped here year-round, if I could. I mean, come on.

That evening, we checked out McCann's pub for dinner and some Guinness. Ellary lost a little bit of her innocence that night.

McCann's hosts awesome Irish bands most nights, so we got to experience some real pub life. I think in some places you get a Disneyland version of the pub, because they know it's what Americans want, but every time we went to a pub, there were regular Irish folks there having a ball. A pub is considered to be a good one if it has good "craic" or atmosphere/mood/conversation. My brother Evan closed down the pub that night, hanging out with some Irish fellas. I, on the other hand, headed home early to get Ellary to bed.

Our second full day in Ireland we drove through the Burren. This region of Clare is extremely rocky, because it was farmed extensively for so long that the rockbed eventually ended up at the surface. It is a slightly lunar landscape. Since we drove through the Burren without stopping we didn't get any good pictures, but I thought I'd borrow one.

(photo by Emerald Skies)

And that'll do it for our time in Clare. I'll leave you with a photo of this stunning cemetary with Celtic crosses galore.