Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy One Month!

I was in a staff meeting today and "poof" I remembered that it is my one-month anniversary!  30 days of marital bliss.  Hooray for love-sweet-love!

Someone at work this week asked how I was enjoying married life so far.  "It is wonderful, of course" I replied. Smirking, this person said, "I'm sure he gets up and makes you breakfast in bed."

I frowned, "No.  But he makes us cappuccinos every morning."

"Seriously?"  Two other women popped out of their offices with eyebrows raised.  "Clark makes you a cappuccino every morning?"

I knew they were impressed.  Clark is a good one.

On another note, now that we are not wedding planning, we hardly know what to do with all our time. We've been listening to the Harry Potter books on CD.  I usually busy myself with something in the evening and Clark cooks. Periodically I look up to ask him if he feels like Clark-er-ella.  So far he does not.  But we have seriously got to find some hobbies.  Hobbies and friends.  That is next on the agenda.  Hobbies, friends, and serving somewhere besides church.  As a family of Presbyterian Ministers (100% clergy rate), we are becoming dangerously close to the church equivalent of cat-ladies.  Sometimes people can have too many cats.  Sometimes people can do too much church.


Wishing you a lovely Advent, delicious time with family and friends, and space to breathe this holiday season. xoxo

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Must-Do's in Charleston

If you are vacationing here in what they call the "Low Country" (and we are talking LOW people.  Some of the area is actually BELOW sea level), we recommend the following:

      1) Kayak with Nature Adventures Outfitters (where Clark works), see dolphins up close, and if you are lucky paddle with a manatee!

·         2) Run or walk to the top of the Ravenel Bridge (park at the gas station at the foot of the Ravenel Bridge on Coleman Blvd.)

·         3) Boone Hall Plantation—learn about plantation life right here in Mt. Pleasant (down Hwy 17N to Long Point Road)

·         4) Historic Tour by horse drawn carriages: Go to the Market Area downtown (Market and Meeting St.) and reserve a tour with a local company

·         5) Walk the boardwalk at Mount Pleasant’s ShemCreek Park

·         6) Go out to Fort Sumter (where the first shots of the Civil war were fired), enjoy a harbor boat ride, & be prepared for a 5-6 hour tour

·         7) Visit the USS Yorktown & Naval Museums (on the Mt. Pleasant side of the Ravenel Bridge); Includes the Medal of Honor Museum

           8) Have kids?  Fascinated by the outdoors?  Visit the fantastic Birds of Prey Center where you will see bald eagles, owls, falcons, and other creatures (make sure to stay for a flight demonstration)

·         9) Stroll on the beach (either Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island)

·        10) Visit the SC Aquarium downtown

Let the wedding festivities commence!

Enjoy the delights of Charleston and the surrounding area while you are in town for the wedding!

Below are a few recommendations (links included):

Eating in downtown Charleston

·     Husk  76 Queen Street, Charleston. 843.577.2500 Lunch: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30; Sunday Brunch: 10-2:30; Supper: 5:30-10.  Wonderful “farm to table” cuisine. Husk was named “Best New Restaurant in America” Sept 2011 Bon Appétit magazine. Dinner reservations are about a 3 week wait-list), but lunch & Sunday brunch could be available. Local secret: try going to the bar—order a drink and ask your waiter to get you a table—it usually works!

·     Fig 232 Meeting Street (5:30pm-11:00pm), 843.805.5900 This is our MOST FAVORITE restaurant downtown.  Splurge! If you are not vegetarian, eat the lamb bolognese and if you drink alcohol, get the fabulous bartender to create something for you. This place does not disappoint!

·     Taco Boy the BEST MEXICAN FOOD IN TOWN, fabulous atmosphere, festive drinks, and unique tacos at a very reasonable price. 217 Huger Street, (11am-2am) 843.789.3333

Eating in Mt. Pleasant

Village Bakery 125 Pitt Street (Mon-Sat 7am-5pm) 843.216.6771.  This cozy cafe offers a variety of muffins, sandwiches, salads, soups and DESSERTS!

Old Village Post House 101 Pitt Street, Dinner at 5:30, Sunday brunch 10-2, 843.388.8935.  Light supper menu is available in the bar (happy hour is very reasonable)

Pitt Street Pharmacy
111 Pitt Street (Mon-Sat 9am-6pm) 843.884.4220.  Enjoy lunch or snack at an old fashioned soda fountain!  Milk shakes, malts, pressed sandwiches

·     BoulevardDiner  409 W. Coleman Blvd., (7am -9:30pm)  843.216.2611. Good breakfasts, juicy burgers, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, create your own veggie plate, mac and cheese , Southern fried grouper sandwich.  The food is delicious!

·     Sesame provides the best burgers in town (grass-fed, organic beef, chicken, or black bean) 675 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., 843.884.5553. Inexpensive, delicious home-made condiments, and fabulous sides to go with!  Bring your appetite!

Definition of "The South" courtesy of my friend Liston Guerry

The place where...

1)  Tea is sweet and accents are sweeter
2)  Summer starts in April
3)  Macaroni and Cheese is a vegetable
4)  Front porches are wide and words are long
5)  Pecan Pie is a staple
6)  Y'all is the only proper noun
7)  Chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy
8)  Everything is darlin'
9)  Someone's heart is always being blessed

10 more days til the wedding!  Can't wait for y'all to get here!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Shout Out to the Single Ladies

In August Clark and I spent some time in the teeming metropolis of Canby, Oregon (dripping with sarcasm) where we went to the Molalla County Fair and Rodeo with my sis and brother-in-law.  The announcer rode out on horseback and gave his opening spiel, at one point asking all the single ladies in the house to give a shout.  Instinctually, I let out a whoop and threw my fist in the air as my beloved fiancé sat next to me, sugary sweet elephant ear in hand.  

As I stood, measuring the crowd to see if I was the OLDEST single woman in the bunch, it dawned on me that the announcer wasn’t talking to me.  Apologizing profusely to Clark, I sat down slightly dumbstruck, and tried to calculate how old the single bull riders were when I was in high school.  Pre-school I think.

It’s a weird thing- switching categories.  Last night I talked to a really good friend from Philly who said, “I cannot believe you are getting married.”  She really meant it.  She cannot believe I am getting married.  It feels like I left Philadelphia 2 weeks ago, not almost 2 YEARS ago.  And back when I was living in Philadelphia I was nursing an inconsolable broken heart, dating a host of ridiculous men, and living with the certainty that marriage and babies was not in the cards.

And that was perfectly okay with me.  IT WAS AND IS PERFECTLY OKAY AND WONDERFUL AND GREAT AND RICH AND GOOD, the single life. Lonely as crap at times, but uniquely good, good, good.

Someone here in Mt. Pleasant, SC said to me the other day, “I cannot believe what a varied life you’ve led!” 

“A perk to living single” I replied.

This is the thing.  Life does not begin when you get married.  It doesn’t.  And I am certain life doesn’t begin when you have a baby or two.  This path is fabulous and I am looking forward to adventuring with Clark.  But for all of the single gals who could CARE LESS about wedding invitations and showers, irritating schmaltzy facebook status updates from married folk who go on and on about their partner or their garden, and the frustrating looks of sympathy from your boring married friends, keep on keeping on sisters! There is room for us all and we need one another, whether we are oldy moldy (all 20 year-olds think 34 year-olds are ancient), young and perky, and everything in between. 

Life is like a high school girl's bathroom. Sometimes you need to fight thru the drama surrounded by a group of women who will linger with you in front of the mirror, pass over a little mascara, and swat you on the behind as you walk out that door.

I’m wearing a white dress 6 weeks from now and will say vows with the fullness of my heart and voice, but don’t worry single Chiquita Bananas, I ain’t going anywhere. Nowhere but the dance floor with you.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Now this was exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Living in Charleston has all kinds of perks. Perched on the coast, we are surrounded by water. Two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, come together "to form the Atlantic Ocean" (no joke, people have said this). I have met all kinds of wonderful people eager to introduce Clark and I to the fishing,shrimping, and boating culture.

Last weekend we went out to Bulls Bay with a couple of new friends, Wade and Diane, who helped me catch this whopper! A 39 inch Red Drum.

I loved that fish. I told her so.

And then I released her back into the ocean where she belongs.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dear Jack

A little more than 12 years ago family and friends began to receive word of my mother's death. It was grim news. The kind of news that makes you sick. Heart sick. Gut sick. News of her death barreled through the month of May like a runaway train, filleting us all like fish, and leaving us irreparably changed.

At the time I did not have the capacity to think much beyond my own grief. But yesterday, for the first time, I was given a bitter pill that must have been much like the pill swallowed by friends and family so long ago. What do you do and say when something sickening, needless, and desperate swallows up the beating heart and expanding chest of a friend?

Jack, your death is tragic. That is all there is to it. We are shell shocked and sad. We are sad for you and for your family, and for every living, breathing thing that will not have the privilege of spending time with you again.

I went to a rodeo last night. As a Southerner, you would have been uniquely charmed by the boys called Cody and Ty and Clem riding horses and bulls, swaggering away from each ride in pain and pride and chaps. As my sister and fiancé ate sweet, doughy elephant ears, licking their fingers covered with cinnamon and sugar, I thought of you. I thought of all the fish you have caught, the woods where you have walked, and all the rivers you have not graced. I thought of your kindness at weddings where dance partners were few and Nancy shared you with the rest of us. I thought of your hospitality in New York City, your Southern Spiritual wisdom, and your fatherly tenderness.

You now know more than all of us. You have seen the other side and I suspect that Jesus is near. Lean in Jack. You deserve it. Your earthly journey is finished, good and faithful servant, and at this moment I know you need the support of the One who knows life, suffering, compassion, and death more intimately than the rest of us. Bask in the fullness of redemption, resurrection, and life everlasting. May its sweetness bear you up amidst the grief and sadness.

We will do our best to love Nancy and Martha and your boys. You would want it that way. We all wish it would have been different. I know you do too.

Farewell, friend. Until we meet again,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I'm getting hitched

When I told my Swedish friend, Micke, that I was getting hitched he said, "Congratulations! You are pregnant!"

I was bewildered and said, "No, I'm getting married."

Micke was bemused. He thought "getting hitched" meant that something was hitching itself to me, like a wee baby (not a spouse). Wouldn't want that rumor flying around, eh? So, no, I am not pregnant. And yes, I am getting married!

Hooray for love and joy and marriage and friendship, etc, etc.

We're getting married on All Saints Day, which I love because there are so many saints who will not be with us in the flesh, but will certainly be with us in other ways. Clark and I are getting married at pretty Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian and then heading over to Alhambra Hall for the reception. I like having the wedding in such a historic place-- so many important things have happened in that building (from serving as a hospital in the Civil War to a school in Reconstruction). I like that we will add our little wedding to the list.

Fingers crossed, there won't be a hurricane to bother us.

Clark and I are having a good time making plans. We are waging war against the very powerful 'Wedding Industrial Complex' here in the States. Do you know how much garbage people want you to buy or believe in just to make this day "the most perfect day of your life." Yuck. I bought my dress off the rack and when I asked the gal how many fittings would be necessary for alterations she said, "We like to give girls at least 3 or 4 fittings, so they have time to lose weight."

Ponder that one for a second.

Seriously?!?! You say this to women!?!!?

There is much silliness, but deep down I confess I love some of this party planning. I want to jump out of my skin with excitement when I think of all the wonderful people that will be together in one space for the affair. Clark and I have officiated at a million weddings, of course, so it will be interesting to be on the other side this time. My 6 year old nephew Tyson has said he'd be willing to read in the service, but "does not prefer the Old Testament." Tough cookie, we'll see what we can scrounge up for him.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Welcome to Charleston!

All right. Much has happened since I last wrote. I moved to the South. That is right. The Southern region of the United States of America. I now live in Charleston, SC and am currently living in a darling little cottage (temporarily until I can find an apartment downtown) and I have a view of the Charleston Bay. Fabuloso. It is luxurious in a completely different kind of way than my little brick duplex in Kitwe, Zambia or my outrageously beautiful apartment off of Central Park. I can see Fort Sumter from my back porch, which is where the Civil War began 150 years ago. I was talking to a fisherman a couple of days ago who told me, “The Civil War is all this place has going for it.” Ha! A bizarre claim to fame. The guy then asked Clark, “Which side are you for?” He replied with a laugh, “I’m all for the war being over.”

Charleston is beyond charming. And fascinating. And strange. And beautiful. Sultry nights, sunshine, white beaches, palm trees, cobblestone streets, and no-see-ums (swear to you- this is what some folks call little biting gnats that are hard to see). I have been met with warmth, cordiality, and genuine hospitality everywhere I’ve visited in this town, but boy-o-boy is this a whole new world.

Undoubtedly, there will be stories worth telling. I thumbed through a magazine called Garden and Gun the other day. I kid you not. Garden and Gun. Among other things, I found a recipe for bacon crackers. Some people make them for bridge parties. You grill up bacon and wrap them around crackers. That was one of the featured recipes. Bacon crackers.

That being said, this is a FOOD town. I love it. Fantastic restaurants (one-word names are all the rage)—Fig, Husk, Sette, Magnolia’s, Fish, Mercato, Sienna, Tristan, etc. And this doesn’t even count all the BBQ (Clark tells me that the more personified the pig on the sign, the better the barbecue).

I am serving as an Associate Pastor at a church called Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian (www.mppc.net) and I love my new job. The church is not located on a mountain or a hill or even a mound for that matter (as far as I can tell), so I’ll have to do some investigating on the name. I am suspicious of the word pleasant, of course. It is like the word ‘interesting.’ There is something supremely non-descript about it. But if I did like the word, I might actually concur at the town meeting that designated this place ‘pleasant’ so many years ago. When I walk to work I watch the pelicans sweep over the docks, the cardinals sing in the live oaks (Spanish moss draped through the branches), and if I wanted to I could drop by a local general store and order a grilled cheese sandwich and a soda from a guy named Billy Mack or William Chadsworth, III. This is gonna be an adventure y’all. AD-VEN-TURE.

Ha! I cannot say that with any integrity, yet. Y’all. I had to have Clark spell the world.

Signing off,
Your Carmie

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mary Oliver for Lent

Wild Geese

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

New and Selected Poems, 1992

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spectacular. Magnificent. Incredible.

I wish I could throw my body in the air to punctuate each of these words for you.

I am home after 2 weeks in Denmark and a brief visit to Iceland. I was sitting on a plane yesterday, a few Icelandic documentaries under my belt, when I peaked out the window to see something soul-screeching amazing.

When you fly west out of Iceland, bound for Seattle, you fly over Greenland and over a body of water called the Davis Strait. At this time of year the body of water separating Greenland from the uninhabited snowy fjords of Northeastern Canada is made up of giant sheets of fractured ice. For hundreds, even thousands of miles, jagged indigo veins thread their way through milky plates of ice. White cliffs jut curiously up from the sea and not a living thing can be seen. Nothing breathing, nothing photosynthesizing, nothing moving to the rhythms of the strange and stunning landscape. On this trip we were quite close to the North Pole, so we traveled for 8 hours with the setting sun. The light on the shattered landscape was breathtaking- everything awash in pink and gold, purple and blue. As I snapped a few photos out the window I felt my heart leap for joy. Leap.

For a moment I looked around, wondering what we ought to do. I considered promoting a collective dance. Or a subdued squeal. Something.

Instead, I just said thank you for every possible thing I could think of. I gave thanks for the plane and the pilot and human flight. I gave thanks for the sun and the moon and for the quirky bus driver who invited us to “stare into the darkness” when we arrived in Iceland, etc. etc. Like most people, most of my days are filled with the humdrum of daily decisions. I navigate life with unconscious consciousness. But yesterday I was given 30 minutes of magnificent.

It's amazing what 36,000 feet and a puny window can do for your soul.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Wintry Update

I'm sicker than a dog for the second time this season. I need to stand in line with all the old ladies (a.k.a. the bright one's of the earth) and get a flu shot next year. Tomorrow Clark and I are bound for the land of Danes and I am already dreading facing the poor person who will be sitting next to me in 34D. They are going to despise me. I am drugged up and resting today, so hopefully will be in much better shape by tomorrow at 3:30 when our plane departs.

Clark and I are going to Denmark to paint my cousins' house. As a thank you they are flying us through Iceland on the way home. Who does this kind of thing? We're hoping to soak in some hot springs and admire the Northern Lights. Fabuloso!

There is much to catch up on and discuss in the world. We could discuss the assassination of the Iranian nuclear physicist or the genocide occurring in Southern Sudan. Or the exciting happenings in Myanmar.

This is all worthy chatter chatter, but I've only the capacity for celeb gossip. Britney Spears is getting married again, which nearly prompted me to buy a teeshirt with her face on the front yesterday when I was at Value Village picking up a few things for painting. I googled her this afternoon and was invited to follow ol Brit on Twitter. I think I can say with certainty that I cannot imagine wanting to follow someone less.

A few random updates from my neck of the woods:

On Sunday (the eve of Carmen Vs. The Flu Round 2) Clark and I went snowshoeing in the Cascades. Lovely.

We went to Florida to spend time with Clark's fam for Thanksgiving where I caught my first fish, swam in the Gulf of Mexico, and spent my first Thanksgiving holiday in a pair of flip flops.

I loved spending time with my fam for 2 full weeks over the Christmas holiday. Such a luxury. And now a Christmas confession: you all know I am a feminist and believe in supporting strong, healthy compassionate boys and girls, yet I admit I bought my niece princess gear this Christmas.

Shoot me now.