Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sugar and spice and everything nice

I wish the candle that is burning cheerfully in my room this evening was a baked good. Its scent is "pumpkin spice" and I occasionally look up to see if it has magically turned into a plate of pumpkin muffins or scones because it smells that good. Yummy. Reasons why I want to eat pumpkin scones at this very moment:

1) All of my friends have been talking about taking their children to pumpkin patches. This is charming and very autumnal, so I have pumpkins on the brain.
2) It is rainy and cheerless and treeless in my current corner of the world and I am dying for something sweet and earthy
3) I am mildly depressed and mild depression always calls for a baked good. It has been slowly dawning on me this weekend (even though I should have been fully aware) that moving to a new city means starting over - new friends, new parks, new grocery store, new yoga studio, new rhythm of life (all of which I have failed to find thus far). Carmen, your extrovert-extrodinaire, is feeling a little sorry for herself this evening.

Philadelphia is called the "City of Brotherly Love," but so far, I haven't seen much lovin'. This isn't a particularly friendly town. In fact, my friend J.C. reminded me recently that Philadelphia famously booed and threw garbage at Santa Claus at an Eagle's game a few years ago (football, for my Euro friends that could care less about silly American sports). Booed Santa Claus!!

Living downtown Philadelphia is nothing like living downtown Manhattan. The chain stores and gritty concrete are the same, but where is a Central Park when you need one? I had planned on going to a movie tonight, but it is frigid and rainy and I don't know the Philly transit system well enough to get to the other side of the city. Sigh. It will get better. Just a bummer today. I don't have any interesting photos yet. My friend Peg suggested I take pics of the new digs, but this mission failed because it was just too fetching cold. I'll get on it eventually. Here's wishing you a delicious fall moment or two in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The life of a holy roller

I like the title of this post, even if I am full of c-r-a-p. I am no holy roller, but you'd think I would be since I am a pastor.

Life in Philadelphia: I am sitting on a bed (the only clean, comfy, organized thing in my life right now), surrounded by boxes, overwhelmed by a very full inbox, swimming in WORK, curious about the strange new city I live in, and thrilled about the potential of this church. I already like the people I work with-- creative, smart, authentic-types that are all about service, compassion, and learning.

After 4 nights at here, I have decided the house where I live is not haunted. She is crumbling and falling apart in myriad charming ways, but she is ghost-less. Don't worry, I will make sure she is not lifeless!

This pic gives you a picture of where I live and work. Hopefully it will be the place that soon feels like home.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On a Plane Bound for Philly

Finally spent some time with the family. It's been a nice four days. I have been wrestling with the nephews and cuddling with my new baby niece in Canby, Oregon. Yesterday was a glorious fall day and we spent most of it chopping down trees on my sister’s mini-farm. I am not kidding. Chopping. My dad taught me how to use a chainsaw and we brought down a couple of diseased trees. Fun! Saturday afternoon was perfectly, fantastically antithetical to my urban life in Philadelphia.

I love my sister’s house.

They have a small orchard out front and yesterday my nephew Tate and I filled a bucket with rotting pears and apples to bring to the goats and cows across the road. I always love being with my sister. Just standing next to her wearing a pair of work boots and dirty old jeans soothes me. Strange. I wonder if most sisters feel this way?

I missed my cousin Jenny’s wedding, but I got to spend one evening with my Sam and Angie (and briefly reacquaint myself with their darling wee people—3 kids under the age of 3— true bravery). When I arrived Angie promptly came out on the porch holding one of the twins (Glory?) and for a second I was reminded of the Folgers coffee commercials that used to make me cry. Remember that TV commercial where the older brother comes home for Christmas, sneaks in early in the morning, and joyfully wakes up the family over a mug of instant coffee? Yes, I felt like that. I happen to love the Lai family.

I can be such a bratty cynic about the world at times and yet it is full of wonderful people. I chatted with Rochelle for over an hour and I was reminded of the luxury of laying around with a sleeping baby on a comfy couch (my niece is a rather angelic infant). As I boarded the plane this morning, I was charmed by a woman wearing a fleece covered in neatly labeled lighthouses, an old silver-haired woman who methodically prayed a bright green rosary throughout the take-off and landing, and the cheerful strangers that welcomed their aisle-mates as if they had been waiting to meet this person all their life. This is one more thing to add to the "Great Things About America" list: unabashed friendliness. Yes, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but I love that strangers are often quite cheerful with one another in this country.

This post is long, so I will stop. One of these days I will tell you about my new job and the haunted manse where I live. But I hardly feel like a Philadelphia resident yet, so give me a few days. I am sure something newsworthy and interesting will come up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

News from Scandinavia

Did you know....

- Until 1986 the prime minister of Sweden walked around Stockholm without security, like he was a perfectly ordinary citizen (and then there was the assassination debacle)
- There is a "vodka belt" in Sweden. They also have a "Bible belt" but it is much, much smaller
- When you have a baby here you automatically get a year paid leave. Awesome.
- You can legally have sexual relations with animals in Sweden (OMG)
- The Finns created our version of the sauna (after the Turks) and it is GOOD!!!! Yesterday I traipsed around in a towel in multiple steamy rooms and felt like a new woman!
- Norway was very poor, a developing country, until they discovered oil in the 1960's (70's?) and now it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world
- Want to rile up some Scandinavians? Get one Norwegian, Dane, or Swede in a room that supports the monarchy and one that feels it is absolutely undemocratic and casually bring up the king or queen. Sparks, people. Sparks.
- Immigration is the hot topic in Scandinavia. Everyone is trying to figure out Scandinavian identity right now. Fascinating for me, one from the nation of immigrants

Bye bye vacation. I will miss you.