well, as it turns out, life is fragile, and so is the body. we are reminded of that every now and then, and it’s as good as shadows proving the sunshine. life has such a sweet, temporal dimension.
yesterday i pulled an old book of poetry off the shelf from my college days, looking for beautiful words, comforting words, maybe even haunting words. we unknowingly gravitate toward the somber, don’t we? the best songs always have an unsettling quality to them, undertones of loneliness and longing.
it’s not always easy
to face the animal
even if it looks at you
without fear or hate
it does so fixedly
and seems to disdain
the subtle secret it carries
it seems better to feel
the obviousness of the world
that noisily day and night
drills and damages
the silence of the soul.
- jean follain [face the animal]
when it’s over, i want to say: all my life
i was a bride married to amazement.
i was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
when it is over, i don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
i don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
i don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
- mary oliver
want to know a place where love wins every time? in the eyes of a puppy, licking your face uncontrollably in greeting after being apart for five days.
it’s been said by every dog owner before me, but dogs really know how to love.
things changed in the pape household on november 17, 2012, when we welcomed winter grace pape into our lives. what’s with her name, you ask? winter resonates with us for several reasons:
1. we love winter, the season. it’s where our love for skiing is found, it’s where we remember our good friend chris rudolph, it’s where bryan proposed (whistler village, december 2006), it’s where we go to escape the seattle rain during those long dark months.
2. we love bon iver (aka ‘good winter’), the indie folk band.
3. winter (the dog) played in snow our very first day together, on blewett pass.
4. it’s better than her runner-up name, whiski. (can you imagine, our future kids telling their kindergarten teacher they plan to bring ‘whiski’ for show-and-tell?)
5. it’s unique.
(6. grace was her mom’s name.)
winter is a hungarian vizsla (pronounced veesh-la or vees-la) and is, not surprisingly, the closest we’ve ever come to having a child. a spoiled child: ‘her’ blanket is a $120 down throw from eddie bauer (at least we bought it half-off); she naps by the heater; we walk her nearly every day on an off-leash wooded trail where she can sniff and roam freely; she hangs out with bryan at his office every day, and at lunchtime they walk through seattle art museum’s outdoor olympic sculpture park or along the beachy waterfront; she sees her best friends ruby (also a vizsla) and elsie (mini australian shepherd) nearly every week, where they wrestle, sleep and repeat for hours.
i’m sure i’ll be writing a lot more about winter now that she’s such a big part of our lives. i can hardly wait for her to become my running buddy, and i’m certain at some point she will enroll me against my will in a marathon. if you care to follow along besides this blog, she does have her own instagram account @goodgirlwinter. we’ll see if she develops any impressive tricks like chuck worth sharing.
amazing how our hearts are built to always increase in love!
we celebrated my grandmother’s 92nd birthday on saturday, and you know what we did to celebrate? we hopped on the seattle ferris wheel for an epic view of the city.
have you ever been on any ride with your 92 year old grandma? (yes i’m bragging)
afterwards our cluster of family stood around a small picnic table on the pier and ate a four layer pink lemonade cake on paper plates, compliments of my mom. small gifts and cards were opened, and then i came to sit at grannie’s side and read her this. well, just about every other word i had to squeak out really, because i’m that emotional (and sound exactly like my mom when i cry-talk).
my grandmother was born on september 14, 1920, which means she has been a force of all things loving and good on this earth for 92 years. she has seen and known more than i can comprehend, from the invention of velcro to the smart phone, from recalling the “real” king’s speech (george VI) in 1939 to the nomination of the first black president of the united states in 2008.
grannie and i share a special day in common. the day i was born, she and grandpa moved to the pacific northwest, and even now, she proudly describes what a beautiful grandbaby i was. should she forget how many years she’s lived in washington, she need only ask me how old i am. should i forget how old i am … then we’re both in trouble.
we also share a few things in common. we both can eat popcorn and call it a ‘meal.’ we both married in our early twenties. we both enjoy wendy’s frostys, and the mall, though she’s more of an active onlooker, while i’m more of an active shopper. we both love to sing. grannie is a soft yet confident alto, bolstering any song, and when i have the pleasure of singing hymns next to her in church or nearly whispering silent night together at Christmastime, i am touched by her humble talent and hope my own notes can somehow honor her for years to come.
grannie also impresses me. she can dance! she’s been an elegant woman for as long as i can remember, and carries herself with poise. she never forgets a birthday or anniversary. she seemed to never miss a ballet recital or talent show. our entire family can appreciate her ability to call nearly every flower (and neighbor) by name and take interest in each. she makes a mean cheesy onion dish. and she can sew. i will always remember the entire wardrobe she sewed for my american girl doll – better than anything in the catalogue.
one skill grannie hasn’t quite mastered is bargaining. as the story has been told to me, upon selling her most recent car, her eager buyer offered $400. she talked him down to $300.
grannie is a servant. she always puts others first – by participating, by showing up, arriving early, sitting in the front row, being that irreplaceable presence. each time we greet with the squeeze of a hug, she cares to know all my latest updates, not supposing that anyone wants to hear about hers – which we all of course do. she goes leaps and bounds for her family, without asking for a thing in return. i’ll remember for a long time my dad recalling his childhood in length to us kids, when we were old enough to appreciate such things. in his adolescence, he shared, grannie worked a job purely to help pay for his college expenses. clearly this woman understands the importance of a solid investment.
and she loves. i am in awe of her unwavering ability to gracefully live into what love requires of each of us – endurance, patience, kindness, joy, service, fortitude, submission, hope. we have so much to learn from her. she has been more than a phenomenal grandmother, mother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and wife. she has been the best.
with every summer comes strawberries, and with nearly every strawberry eaten comes memories of my mom, calling me her strawberry and voicing her assuredness that i would turn into one. i would stand in her open kitchen with one foot resting on the inside of my other knee and bite into one berry at a time, with its green and red contrasts and sugary deliciousness. i could go on for days if she’d let me.
i’m eating strawberries tonight and am struck by not only how much i miss my mom in that way (i am an adult now after all), but also by how much i miss my childhood. do i long for it in these sharp moments simply because it cannot be fully retrieved? is it missed for its rich brevity or for its simplicity, where a single berry had all the clarity and charm about it that one needs?
now it’s faded and over and life is complex. but from childhood to adulthood, some things never change. mom, i’m happy to be your strawberry for as long as you’ll let me.
our five year anniversary was yesterday, and we spent it under the idaho sun in mccall (after sleeping in, of course). we rode our MiiR bikes through town to pick up fresh bread at evening rise and returned with the whole day ahead of us. the biggest decision to make is always – do i nap in the hammock? on the dock? the boat? or the beach?
before dinner, we toasted to us and all the dear friends who have supported us over this half decade with sparkling wine and whiskey lemonade. and then i opened bryan’s card:
i ponder our love
it is deeper than oceans
you are my pookie [apparently the last line should be a "zinger"]
summer, fall, winter, spring [yes, this line has too many syllables]
it does not matter the time
always i love you
and then another more “traditional” poem, complete with a “bonus verse” which i won’t repeat here but included this gem:
remember growing old together
me neither because we’ll always be
young and in love forever
i laughed to tears. the best way to laugh and celebrate.
after sunset the sky was still a sapphire and we headed to the dock, just the two of us. i had tracked down the audio from our ceremony and we reread our vows and scripture from that day (colossians 3:12-17 and john 15:5, 7-12). my favorite part:
with my body i will honor you
all that i am i give to you
and all that i have i share with you
happy anniversary babe!
for three months now we have been operating on a full blown budget. as in, the financial kind, where if there’s not money in the virtual envelope, you don’t go and buy that thing you want or think you need.
it’s uncomfortable for sure. we’re scaling back in many ways (think less happy hours, home furnishings, gadgets and gear). it can also be quite annoying and unsatisfying to say “no” over and over like a two year old. in my head, out loud, to myself, to bryan, to friends, to trips, to new shiny things. but, what i have gained is a sense of where we’re at, a sense of where we want to be and a combination of focus and commitment to get there.
i guess budgeting handed me a roadmap.
you know what is great about budgeting? lattes at home. books at the library (if every child had access to the books in the seattle public library system …) not throwing away untouched food. cashing in those gift cards you received on your 25th birthday. painting your nails yourself and actually getting all the way through vogue waiting for them to dry. finding new ways to wear and pair your wardrobe. washing the car yourself. paying off the car. driving less. calling about refinancing your mortgage, and being told it can be done.
walking away from the “stuff” because it no longer emanates happiness or status.
now, i know exactly what we spend, what we would cut first (should we need to) and where we would cushion should more cash flow in. we gained control not only because we needed it but because we first paid attention. we commanded control. control became a tool, our key, to moving smartly and together toward our list of goals.
budgeting is like a lot of things that lead to freedom – self-control, discipline, boundaries, training, routine – it is all those things. it’s balance.
i never thought i’d quote dave ramsey on my blog, but he says to “live like no one else so you can live like no one else.” which is another way of saying, budget now and suffer a little to plan for the future you want.
live like no one else so you can live like no one else – but not just financially. live simply and be rich in what matters. think beatitudes (matthew 5:3-12) …
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