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Trigger warning: this post is all (mostly) about wonderful food.  Back. away. from. the. fridge.

I made peach muffins for breakfast (sorry, no picture) that were appreciated even by the non-fruit-lover in our midst (looking at you, Todd!).  Then Kent and Todd rushed off to the Pima Air and Space Museum to geek out over the planes while Iryna and I got down to business (or up to mischief?) in the kitchen.

Iryna concocted dark chocolate-almond meringue torte, while I attacked the butternut squash with wild rice and cranberries.  I had gathered the ingredients beforehand, since it’s quite far to the stores here, but realized in the wee hours of the morning that I had neglected to buy a butternut squash.  Only a main ingredient, no problem.  So I’d gotten up early (pre-muffins) and acquired a squash from the nearest venue. Eleven miles away. Sigh.

Iryna was meticulous with the meringue, and I took a break from squash to melt the chocolate and help dot with almonds.

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Yes, it was a decadent as it looks! *swoons*

I finished up the butternut-wild rice-cranberry combo — it made a LOT! and we headed off to meet our starving geeky boys.

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We had heard there was an exhibit of Frida Kahlo art at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, so we thought we’d check that out.  It turned out to be only biographical art by other people (though it was still interesting), so not the absolute win we’d hoped for.  But, not having been to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, we didn’t know about the butterfly house.

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Black butterfly open…

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…and closed.

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I thought this one looked like an old colorized photo.

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Blue poison arrow frog

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Three kinds: blue morpho (closed) on the left, don’t know the center, and owl butterfly on the right.

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Kent kept having them land on him because of his yellow shirt

We couldn’t get good pictures of the blue morphos’ open wings because they Don’t. Sit. Still.  Rather, when they’re still, their wings are closed.  And when they’re in motion, they are In Motion! Sort of like putting a bunch of preteen girls on sugar and crack and letting them loose in a Justin Bieber concert.  Like that.  Gorgeous, but we couldn’t even video them!

In the garden proper, there were cacti, of course, various exhibits relating to Frida Kahlo, and some surprises for us non-native Arizonans.

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Afterwards, we got the obligatory kombucha for Kent and Iryna, and rattled around down in Old Tucson.  I hadn’t seen all the neighborhoods around, and a lot of the houses were really cute and inviting.  Not the more warehouse-y style I usually see.

We met Kent’s mom at El Charro for gorgeous Mexican food: tamales, chimichanga burritos, and enchiladas.

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Again, we were too tired to do anything but fall into bed when we left the restaurant.  Day Two: Achievement Unlocked.

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Girl with a Pearl Earring-esque?

 

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One of the nice things about moving to a new and (potentially) interesting area is that our friends come to visit! We’ve had visits from my parents and three friends since Kent moved down here in November.  With our October break (one week! yay!) on us, two other friends from the Twin Cities made their way down for a last taste of warm weather before the polar vortex descended on them.

Once Todd and Iryna landed in Phoenix, we swept them across the desert and deposited them first at the fine establishment of Nico’s Taco Shop (a great local fast-food Mexican chain).

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With burritos in hand (stomach?), we were ready to take on Tucson.  Our first stop was San Xavier Mission, south of the city, and a 300-year-old Catholic mission currently undergoing reconstruction.  It is called the “White Dove of the Desert”, for good reason.

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It has no air conditioning, but is surprisingly cool inside the traditional adobe walls.  Todd was excited about the frescoes inside the church, and we all enjoyed looking at the different cacti in the gardens outside.

We started feeling very hot, so we postponed  our hike to go find some hats.  Several stops for drinks (and motorcycle goggling) later, we acquired breathable hats to protect us from the sun, which was by that time no longer beating down on our heads.

Nothing daunted, we drove west of town to the Tucson Mountains.  Kent veered off the trail, causing a certain amount of scrambling to be necessary to achieve the top.  Once there, we lingered through sunset.

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On the way down, we saw someone flying a drone, and got to chat with him about the drone and what he did with it professionally.  The drone looked quite sci-fi and the videos were amazing.

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We stumbled in to the house to eat supper, but somehow my “space-age” stove hadn’t cooked the food, and our wonderful tomato-onion bread was not available to us until much later than we wanted.  It was still wonderful, but we immediately tucked ourselves into bed, there to dream of drones and oddly frightening bathrooms.

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There, I fixed it! — Nico’s bathroom

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So this weekend I had great plans.  It is Kent’s birthday weekend, and I planned several nice meals, a special dessert, hiking, and general happiness.

The happiness happened, the meals and dessert did too, but not in in the way I envisioned…as usual.

Thursday I realized I was coming down with the creeping crud, and decided to call out sick on Friday because I couldn’t think about talking with the way my throat felt.  Unfortunately, it still feels like that and I don’t want to call out sick tomorrow.  So…hopefully I can get through that! (teacher gripe: it’s more work to prepare for a sub than it is to just soldier on through the day.)

I was able to get some at-home things done on Friday, though I tried to sleep as much as possible to kick the bug.  I tried to make pizza dough, but my usual luck with any yeast dough presented itself, and a recipe meant to make two 9×13 size crusts made one.  It was still tasty though!

Since I was sick, I couldn’t lead the song service at church on Saturday as I was scheduled, so I asked someone else to do it.  Then the pianist texted me and said she wasn’t feeling good so could I play?  I said yes.  My throat hurts, not my hands.

I woke up early on Sabbath (I can’t manage to sleep in! 4:30, really??) and made blueberry lemon scones for breakfast.  Off to church to practice, where we spent about twice the amount of time at church practicing that we normally do.  I ended up eating breakfast during small group Bible study.  Sigh.  Uncouth much?

I realized at some point in the morning that I’d forgotten to put the tomatoes and onions in the oven for lunch.  I also had forgotten my music at home, but luckily realized that before Kent left the house too.  After the service, and choir practice, I was feeling pretty rotten, so I sent Kent off to eat Ethiopian food with some friends and I went home to try to sleep.

I didn’t really sleep, but got up later and made carrot cupcakes with maple frosting, cleaned the house, and got ready for friends to come over.  We were not only celebrating Kent’s birthday, but also our house in MN closing on Friday, so double whammy.  Only one couple came over (and Kent’s mom, of course), which was fine, considering how crummy I was feeling, but the cupcakes and conversation were great!

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Today I woke up later, thanks to NyQuil, and had a bit of a lazy morning with some books on my phone (yes, I know.  I have real books too).  Friends came over midafternoon who hadn’t been able to make it Saturday night, and we had more cupcakes and conversation.

I was supposed to start the SuperSister #leanhalloween Saturday, but I guess I’ll be starting Monday.  Since my weekend didn’t go as planned…I suppose it was nice enough, though.  And my house is clean, which is a plus!

Not sure how I’m going to make it through tomorrow with a voice though.

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Prayer and Cookies

BmK7APgCUAEpgGw I just got back from a Christian women’s meetup in Edina, sponsored by (in)courage .  It’s called #inRL and it’s meant to help women connect in community, both on- and off-line.  To create a network of support and mutual growth. Most of all, to remind us we’re not alone in this mess called life, dealing with all our “stuff” in a vacuum.

So we met, with snacks and a craft, music and videos and stories of how people just like us are walking through life with their hands in each other’s, and in God’s hands.

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We shared tears and stories of our own, finding out that we’re not so very different after all, and that each of us has a story to tell.  They’re not all finished, neatly tied up and pretty, but just the fact of sharing our stories ties us together and helps something beautiful grow.

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One of…

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…sort of.  🙂

One of my friends said this on Facebook:

2013-pay-it-forward: the first twelve people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a hand-written note, perhaps with a gift attached. There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood strikes me. You can pay-it-forward (by sharing this status as yours) or finding another way to brighten someone’s day. 🙂

I thought this was a nice idea, since I’ve been thinking about writing people more notes (gotta use up those cute cards I keep getting at Target!).  I did write some last year; I may have even written 12!  So I’m going to do this too.  I’m putting it on my blog though as a sort of test to see if any of my FB friends actually click on my blog posts. 🙂  But my blog ppl are welcome to comment as well.  So I will do it this way:

2013 Pay It Forward:The first 13 people (one a month, plus a “baker’s dozen” since it’s 2013) to comment on this post will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a hand-written note, possibly with a gift attached. 😉 There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood strikes me.  You can pay-it-forward by doing this on your blog (or FB) or by finding another way to brighten someone’s day. 😀

I will add a caveat though: comment with your e-mail and when I’ve got 13, I’ll e-mail you all and ask for your addresses — otherwise it’s rather hopeless sending out cards. 🙂

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little bit of joy

 

“joy is: _____________”

A cup of tea and a couple fresh cookies…one made by a friend and mailed with LOVE .  And time to sit and enjoy…

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doorway to heaven…

From my reading for today – with apologies to the author:

I give you hope — hope that the best part of your life is not behind you.  Rather, it stretches out before you gloriously: into an eternity of experiences that will get better and better and better.  For now, though, you inhabit a world of death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Let the hope of heaven empower you to live well in this broken world that is passing away.  In heaven I will wipe away every tear from your eyes — permanently!

If this world were all there is, it would be tragic beyond description.  When the day of the Lord comes, I will destroy the entire universe as you know it.  And I will replace it with a new universe where My followers will live forever in ceaseless ecstasy.  Let this hope give you courage to keep holding your head up high as you endure suffering and sorrow.

The best part of your life lies ahead — stored up for you in heaven, awaiting your arrival.  This is true for all Christians, both young and old.  As you grow older and deal with infirmities, you may feel as if your life is closing in on you.  Physically, your limitations do increase with age and illness.  However, your spiritual life can open up ever wider as your soul grows strong in the nourishing Light of My Presence.  When you “graduate” to heaven, your soul-Joy will instantly expand — exponentially!  Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.

–from 40 Days with Jesus by Sarah Young

The best is yet to come.  No matter how sad, or happy, I am here, heaven will be so good it will wipe everything else away.  That’s hard to think about.  Sometimes I’m very happy!  But when I think about all those happy times, they are a little poignant, because I know they are short-lived, or there’s something physical or mental that is keeping me from fully enjoying the time.

Like when we backpacked in Banff — the scenery was glorious, and the weather (for the most part) was great, but the packs were heavy (especially at 7500-8000 feet!), my friend was petrified of bears, we got sore and mosquito-bitten, we didn’t see any animals really, and we got cold or sweaty by turns, depending on the time of day and the altitude.  We got caught in the thunderstorm, and when we made it to Mt. Assiniboine, we couldn’t really even see the mountain because of the weather!  We had to leave without seeing what we came to see.  When I think of all that, it sounds terrible, but it wasn’t; it was a wonderful trip!  I think the scenery made up for everything, even the bad knot in my calf so I had to turn around and walk backwards down every hill.  I remember all those things, but I would go back again in a second.  And stay longer!

Mt. Assiniboine

Heaven will be that glorious, with the things that bothered us (pain, fear, discomfort, hunger, physical weakness) gone and the things we wished for (animals, view of the mountain, more of our friends there, good weather) all there, and perfectly too!  And the back-of-the-mind worries Kent and I had, like worry about money, whether our car was safe where we’d parked it, and whether I would get a job for the upcoming school year when we got back from playing around in Banff (I did), will all be gone too — we can enjoy heaven with our whole hearts, with no reservations or niggling worries. I’ll be in perfect shape — no muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, or little injuries — pain-free and able to do anything with ease and joy!  All of my family and friends will be there and doing wonderful things with me too, and everyone I meet will be a potential friend.  There’s no ‘kindred spirit’ here on earth like the kinship all of us who make it to heaven will feel — a soul-deep connection because of our love for God, who will have changed our hearts to be like His.

And over all that wonderfulness will be that feeling I get only sometimes; the overwhelming, irrepressible presence of God.  So full that I can’t contain it in this human form, but must cry for excess of space to feel such a thing in my humanity.  In heaven it will be more, immediate and always there.  Now on earth I must exercise my soul — like drinking the light in C.S. Lewis’ Dawn Treader — so I can get more and more accustomed to glory in my heart…and then, then He will make me immortal.  And the inexpressible love of God will fill me to overflowing, and life will truly begin!

The King took the bucket [of water] in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head.  His face was changed.  Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet.  That’s real water, that.  I’m not sure that it isn’t going to kill me.  But it is the death I would have chosen — if I’d known about it till now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Edmund.

“It — it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep.  “Drinkable light.  We must be very near the end of the world now.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket.

“It’s the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,” she said with a kind of gasp.  “But oh — it’s strong.  We shan’t need to eat anything now.”

And one by one everybody on board drank.  And for a long time they were all silent.  They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result.  As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu — the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining.  Now, the light grew no less — if anything, it increased — but they could bear it.  They could see more light than they had ever seen before.  And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone.  And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it.

— from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

–2 Peter 1:5-11, 19 (italics added)

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly.  “Your father and mother and all of you are — as you used to call it in the Shadowlands — dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

— from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (italics added)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

–1 Corinthians 2:9

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

–Revelation 21:4

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

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