Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Tiger's Wife

Another book club month has come and gone. It was my pick this time around and I chose The Tiger's Wife. It was a book that kept coming up in articles I had been reading and every time I walked into a book store the cover just caught my eye (way to go art direction team). I had nothing but pure excitement to jump into this book and get into the adventure it promised me it would be. Sadly, I had so many false starts to getting into the journey.

I will say, like most of the critics, that Téa Obreht is an amazing writer when it comes to her details, but sometimes I believe too many details can make a great story so confusing that you lose your readers interest. The basis of the book spans over a period of about two days, but in these two days there are several (and by several I mean five) other stories happening. I found myself skipping parts, just so I could read more about the story I was interested in and in the end it didn't really matter because there was no final closure to practically any of the stories.

What I did respect about the book was that, Tea gets to you think about death and life, relationships and the way we treat others. I was sad that this book didn't meet my grand expectations, but it did for her and as an author I believe that is one of the most important things; that you finish what you set out to and you finish it in a manner that you are satisfied with, no matter what others may think.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recipe for the Joy of Cooking

I grew up in a family of chefs and have my reasons for why I didn’t really like to be in the kitchen with them, mainly because they knew how to do EVERYTHING and when they would try and teach me it felt more like a nuisance, then passing on the joy they felt when they created a meal. They may differ in their opinions, but growing up this is how I perceived it.

I left for college and really lived by the college cookbook, cafeteria and microwavable meals (so sad I know). Then I moved into an apartment with five other girls and getting to the kitchen and having the space to create anything let alone healthy was a bit of a marathon. Then came moving to a foreign country where cooking became more of an experiment; as you might imagine. All the measurements were different and the ingredients were quite a bit different; so once I moved back to the states it was as though I had never stepped into a kitchen, still by the time I came back I was a bit more inspired to be in there in the first place because I had done so much more cooking while living in New Zealand.

I began making things from scratch, because that had been my norm in New Zealand versus here where you can buy practically ANYTHING ready made. I kept up on my shepherd’s pie skills, started baking more (which my roommate at the time loved), and I even cooked Salmon for the first time! In this time I found a bit more inspiration and creativity in cooking, but then I moved twice within a period of 7 months and I am not quite sure where that time went. Then I moved in with another chef (and dear friend) of sorts and all the feelings of being a nuisance in the kitchen came back. I made my fair share of things and baked quite a bit, but nothing like the past two years.

Then I got married to a chef (what are the odds!), Graeme is exceptional in the kitchen and for the first six months of our marriage cooking was really his thing (since he wasn’t working yet), so I stayed away and the time when I did get in there, I felt like I was trespassing into territory that wasn’t mine. Since he has started working we go back and forth on the cooking duties and with this comes learning how to communicate with one another while in the kitchen. He is patient with me and encourages me to be creative and actually find joy in it (like he does). I am learning how to take constructive criticism and also realizing I am not a nuisance.

We have been cooking quite a bit more together and when I see this most play out is when we both want to try something new, so we pull out one of our many cookbooks (as seen below), tag a recipe, and make a go of it. We took a few short cuts with this latest meal, but he was gracious, encouraged me for what we should do next time with the recipe, and then gulped it down telling me how delicious it was even if it wasn’t exactly as the recipe describe. 

Patience + Words of Love = A creative kitchen with some tasty meals; I have discovered this is my recipe for finding joy in cooking.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Finding Joy in Tragedy

I believe that things happen for a reason, even if I don't know that reason for many years, if ever.

When I was living in New Zealand with Kristin it was a fear that her Grandfather would pass away while we were living there; he had some serious health issues and we  both had discussed the several options of her leaving if he had passed away. Never once did we think I would be the one to loose someone.

My Uncle passed away mid way through our year there and it was a shock to my whole being. He had, been having several health issues himself, but nothing that wasn't under control. Sadly though, some other things came up and he passed away quickly. It was a shock to my system and I felt as though I couldn't be any farther away from home. I knew I couldn't fly home unless I wanted to stay and not finish out my year and my Aunt adamantly told me that he was so proud of what I had chosen to do, it would be silly to come home half way through. Yet, to not be able to grieve alongside the rest of my family, I knew would leave a certain void in me.

On Saturday morning Graeme lost a dear friend Alexis in a tragic hot air balloon accident in New Zealand. I had woken up early in the morning to read and came across an article about it. Something in me thought he might know someone because it had been so close to Wellington, but I thought to myself, truly what are the odds. Regardless, I decided to wake him to tell him. No names were listed, just that all 11 people had lost their lives. Over the course of the day we came to find out that Alexis and her boyfriend Chrisjan had been on the balloon.

I had never met either of them, but I remembered seeing a photo of Alexis at Graeme's going away party and as the day went on he told me stories about her and the joy that she brought everywhere she went. He showed me her facebook page and the outpouring of love and sadness at her loss. Over the day I think it was just complete shock for him that this had happened, that out of all 11 they were the two youngest by 30 years, and the sadness of how they had passed.

We had decided to go to church on Saturday night and throughout the service he seemed "fine", but it wasn't towards the end in the middle of worship were he broke down. It hit him, that his friend was gone, that he was incredibly far from home, and that he would not be able to have the kind of closure that everyone else would have. It was a sad moment as his wife to allow him to cry on my shoulder and know that there is nothing I could do, but be there. In a way I knew that what I had experienced in New Zealand, at the loss of my loved one gave me an insight to how he was feeling in that moment. Being homesick. Grief. A void that may never be filled.

For Graeme though there is joy. Alexis, from what I have heard and seen in the testament of those who loved her dearly, was that she was filled with joy and that she carried it everywhere she went. She was passionate for people, Christ, and the world. I wish I knew why God chooses the time that he chooses, but He is God and in no right does He have to share that information with me, but loss no matter the time or age is an incredibly hard, yet real part of the lives we lead.

Below are the last memories Graeme has of spending time with Alexis, as she wished him well on his new adventure to his new second home. You are dearly missed Alexis Still, thank you for reminding us to take the joy of the LORD with us wherever we go.

*Alexis (blonde) at the center with Grae and friends...May 2011