5 things I learned in October

Consider this a sort of "examen" for what I'm learning month-by-month - both the weighty lessons and the daily hilarities. 

Here's five discoveries from October:

Rosendale Trestle in the Catskills region

Rosendale Trestle in the Catskills region

1. We have not spent enough time exploring the Catskills

We spent a couple of nights in Ulster County, and now I want to visit them all. 

Have you spent time visiting the Catskill Mountains? Where are your favorite places?


October.BLue Apron1.jpg

2. How to make/enjoy steam buns.

Thanks to Blue Apron: Korean Beef Steam Buns with Sweet Potato Tempura & Spicy Mayonnaise.

YUM!


Pierogies On Wheels at the Black Rock Farmers Market Hootenanny

Pierogies On Wheels at the Black Rock Farmers Market Hootenanny

3. Fairfield County has a PIEROGIES food truck!

And, boy, were they delicious. (more photos here)

Do you have a favorite food truck in Fairfield County? Tell me where!


a recent Insta Story

a recent Insta Story

4. The meaning of the word "hellebore" (and how many of my friends knew it before me)

I now know the meaning, and, also, who my smartest flora & fauna terminology friends are. (I'll share the interview once it's in print in a couple of weeks!)

Do YOU know the meaning of the word "hellebore"?


October.Pequot Library1.jpg

5. That the Pequot Library in Southport is beautiful inside, too!

We drive by with most of our visiting friends and family, and I've been in the annual book sale tents, but have never browsed the shelves. I'm going back ASAP. (more photos here)


Did you learn any lessons - lighthearted or weighty - during October? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

(here's what some other folks are sharing)

7 November quick takes

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more.

(1) Brian's current sermon series

Brian's begun a series of sermons considering five values that God is calling Church of the Apostles to embrace. These five values are Rest, Rhythm, Relationship, Restoration, and Reach.

You can read Brian's encouragement on the value of Rest in his weekly note to the parish here.

You can hear his sermon on Rest (from 10/29/17) here.

Also, I thought some of you might enjoy this playlist I've been making for years filled with songs that help me meditate on the meaning of holy rest: Rest (on Spotify)

p.s. Somehow Bob Dylan made it into this playlist and I'm keeping him there.


(2) postscript links from previous weeks

P.S. to Heading home [sharing at Art House America this week]: A few years ago, I thought to myself, "If I could get published anywhere in the world, I'd want it to be at the Art House America Blog !" That's how much I appreciate the content and community that gathers there. I'm honored to have been able to publish there a couple of times now, and am enjoying the unveiling of the blog's new look! If you enjoy reading the essays they publish, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Your generous support makes it possible for them to pay their writers (like me!), the editors, and their site fees. Thank you!

P.S. to 7 quick & cozy takes, 1 new album I'm listening to on repeat (It's that good!): Work Songs: The Porter's Gate Worship Project Vol. 1  Here's the Porter's Gate Songbook for each song on the album. So, so, so good.


(3) podcast episodes I've enjoyed lately

How Living in A Library Gave One Man 'The Thirst for Learning' - Can you imagine how wonderful?!? Someone needs to turn this into a book series ASAP. "Decades ago, custodians who worked in the New York Public Library often lived in the buildings with their families. Clark's father, Raymond, was one of those custodians, and he and his family lived on the top floor of the Washington Heights branch in upper Manhattan." | via StoryCorps podcast

Episode 103 - Does Meek Mean Weak? // Carolyn Arends - I found this talk on the Sermon on the Mount (with emphasis on "Blessed are the meek...") refreshing and thought-provoking. | via Renovaré podcast

Robert Mueller Indicts Manafort and Gates and We Talk with Gretchen Carlson - This is a new podcast for me, but I think it's going to quickly become one of my favorite political podcasts, and this episode was especially excellent. "Sarah from the left. Beth from the right. No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance." | via Pantsuit Politics


(4) photos of our super fun afternoon at the Hootenanny!

On Saturday afternoon I saw a photo of a PIEROGI TRUCK roll through my Instagram feed. I hollered downstairs to Brian, "There's a PIEROGI TRUCK in Black Rock today!" He hollered back, "I just need to throw on a sweatshirt and we can go!"

And, so we did. And it was so much fun. And that big oak tree seemed to dress up just for the day. And we ran into friends at the Source Coffee Truck. And we ate PIEROGIS. And it was very good.


(5) blog posts from the archives

2014 - Balancing vigilance and providence in the face of Ebola [sharing at Think Christian today] ("Is it possible we are not trusting reason at all? What about a providential God?")

2014 - Sewing hope with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe [sharing at Think Christian] ("We need to know that people like Sister Rosemary live and flourish in the middle of unspeakable human suffering.")

2011 - My One Parenting Strategy That Actually Worked (Thanks, Alex, for letting me steal an excerpt from your college application essay.)

2010 - Tuesday's Top 10 guest post: Let's Hear it for New York ("Top 10 Things that I Love about New York City" by Brian Murphy - and probably still the same list now!)

2008 - I Have No Talent for Politics (If only I'd known then what I know now, I'd have been a whole lot less perplexed!)

NYC.Brian at Dillon Gallery.Mako.jpeg

8 years ago

Mako Fujimura exhibit at the Dillon Gallery - NYC


(6) photos from in and around Fairfield County

On Fridays Brian writes sermons and I write, well, other stuff. Sometimes we do this from home and sometimes we go somewhere else for a change of scenery. Last week it was Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, under the watchful gaze of Gertrude Stein.

On Fridays Brian writes sermons and I write, well, other stuff. Sometimes we do this from home and sometimes we go somewhere else for a change of scenery. Last week it was Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, under the watchful gaze of Gertrude Stein.

October.NYC1.jpg
On a walk through Black Rock. Stunning.

On a walk through Black Rock. Stunning.

On the way to the Pequot Library in Southport. That's Trinity Episcopal Church.

On the way to the Pequot Library in Southport. That's Trinity Episcopal Church.

A church a couple blocks from our house on our walking route to the Bridgeport train station.

A church a couple blocks from our house on our walking route to the Bridgeport train station.

View from the porch at the Pequot Library, Southport. Heavenly.

View from the porch at the Pequot Library, Southport. Heavenly.


(7) recent favorite Cities,Towns, & Neighborhoods links

Follow my Liturgy for Life board on Pinterest

Saving Silence by Nathaniel Peters- Unlearning the sin of curiosity. ("Noise thus becomes “a whirlwind that avoids facing itself” and a kind of tranquilizer that keeps many from confronting wonder, God, and the demands of their own emptiness.") | via Plough

The Art of Dying by Rob Moll - How should the Christian community respond when a member is told he or she has a terminal illness? | via Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight

I pardoned a convict who killed again. Here’s why I still believe in mercy. by Mark Singel "Having so often petitioned a gracious God for the blessing of mercy, how could i deny it to others?" | via America Magazine

20 Years Later - Listen to this related, stunning story from the perspective of the vicitm's daughter who interviews Mr. Singel as part of her grieving process. | via This American Life

The Stranger is to be Welcomed as Christ Himself: Benedictine Wisdom on Welcoming and Pastoring Strangers, Visitors, and Newcomers by Fr. Lee Nelson- "Hospitality for strangers, visitors, and newcomers, is paramount task in the ministry of a parish church. The rituals of hospitality serve as “threshold events” into the divine life. We observe these rituals either poorly or well, and according to Saint Benedict, the key is to welcome every guest like Christ."  | via Anglican Pastor

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident by Joni Eareckson Tada - This is one of the first memoirs I ever read, the story of Joni's diving accident, and subsequent trusting Christ to meet every single need. I respect her and her work so much, and just listen to this audacious statement (from the article), "I really would rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus as I do than be on my feet without him." | via The Gospel Coalition

Praying the Jesus Prayer Showed Me Christ by Allison Backous Troy - I've never met her, but I can honestly say that I love Allison.  "But the prayer was much more than a centering exercise. As I prayed, I became attuned to the people surrounding me in hospital corridors and clinic waiting rooms, patients and their families, all carrying their own burdens of pain." | via Faith & Leadership


May your weekend include something true, something good, and something beautiful.

p.s. This post may contain affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

a catch-up 7 quick takes

For a variety of reasons I haven't been able to post the last couple of weekends, so here's a quick catch-up on what I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more.

(1) Austin friends who visited us this month

October.Murphys visit1.JPG

This sweet family (also holding the awesome last name of Murphy) is forever written on our hearts and we loved the evening we got to share with them - even though October in New England was shorts-weather.


(2) photos of the end of a memorable season

Thanks to Aunt Young-Mee (and her generous friends), Natalie and Brian got to see Game 5 of the ALCS live at Yankees stadium.

Thanks to Aunt Young-Mee (and her generous friends), Natalie and Brian got to see Game 5 of the ALCS live at Yankees stadium.

Our brother-in-law Wes and nephew Griffin drove in from Philadelphia to watch the game with Natalie & Brian.

Our brother-in-law Wes and nephew Griffin drove in from Philadelphia to watch the game with Natalie & Brian.

Even though the Yankees didn't make it to the final series, they managed to be the focus of a season Natalie and Brian will never forget. I wrote about it here: Heading Home


(3) books I'm reading right now

Constable Evans series by Rhys Bowen (3 books down, 7 to go!)

An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling (for my Spiritual Direction course)

Crafting Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (re-reading with our church's reading group)


(4) recent favorite Cities,Towns, & Neighborhoods links

Follow my Cities, Towns, & Neighborhood board on Pinterest

Busting 4 Common Myths About the Suburbs | via Strong Towns

Lost in Supermarket, part 1 & part 2 - on the wrong way to eliminate food deserts | via Strong Towns

Mobile homelandWhatever you call it—mobile home, trailer park, manufactured housing, the retro living module is undergoing a renaissance. | via Curbed

How about re-thinking a cultural icon? The front lawn - "According to NASA, there are 40 million acres of turf grass in the United States — lawn, in a sense, is our largest crop."  | via Chicago Tribune


(5) photos from our Catskill Mountain get-away

October. Catskills trip12.jpg
October. Catskills trip13.jpg
October. Catskills trip10.jpg
October. Catskills trip19.jpg
October. Catskills trip9.JPG

With our move to a new place this past summer, Brian and I felt like we didn't enter the fall with the kind of physical "reset" we needed. We took a couple of days to get away to a cozy, little Airbnb in the Catskill Mountains. Even though we both grew up in central New York state, and a some of our family members a few generations back lived in the area, we've never spent much time exploring the region. Our cottage was decent (especially the wood stove), but probably our favorite part was driving through the back roads. On our way back to Connecticut we stopped at this extension to the Walkill Valley Rail Trail - the Rosendale Trestle. While the tree colors weren't yet at peak, the day was still completely gorgeous. I can see us exploring more of the region over the years.


(6) blog posts from the archives

2015 - Thoughts on the "Art of the Commonplace" by Wendell Berry & Our Attempts to Love Texas ("In that transition of leaving one place and arriving at the next, we've had to figure out our role.  When we still call a city other than the one we live in home, we want to also establish our full selves in this new city. ")

2014 - A Few [incomplete] Thoughts on the Sacred Practice of Sabbath ("Growing up requires me to recognize that good gifts come with responsibility.  My having to work full time, or lose sleep over my kids being flung hither and yon into adulthood, or deal with anxiety related to becoming a priest's wife, or roll up my sleeves to invest in this healthy worship community, or start eating more vegetables and fewer tacos are all decisions grown up people make in order to steward the abundance of good gifts that come down like lights from the Father.")

2013 - Tiny Stories #4 & #5: When Did You First Notice the One You Love? & What Is the Meaning of Your Name? (I had fun with this little blog series, and would love to try it again someday. For now, don't miss my adorable grandparents talking about their teen years or my sister talking about her daughter's middle name.)

2011 - The Abundance of 'Also'  (Some life-changing lessons from my first silent retreat.)

2010 - Top 10 When Company's Coming (A guest post from my Mom about the Top 10 Things she still has to tell herself when company's coming, and the Top 1 most important thing she's learned in offering hosptiality.)

2010 - Barefoot hospitality (Some of what I learned about creating a gentle interior life that makes a safe space to bless others.)


(7) nostalgic Halloween costume illustrations

We have lots of happy AND lots of stressful Halloween memories. This year - without a porch or yard - we didn't even buy a pumpkin! We still managed to buy candy, however.  

No matter how you're spending the day, hope it's enjoyable!  

Halloween 1998.jpg

19 years ago

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween 1998 - Oh, the memories!


May your week include something to celebrate!

p.s. This post may contain affiliate links because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

10 reasons I love my daughter-in-law (on the occasion of her birthday)

In honor of our daughter-in-law, Rebekah's, birthday, a little list of some of my favorite things about her.  Happy Birthday, beautiful girl. We love you!

I love every facet of her intelligence - academic, emotional, and relational.

I love every facet of her intelligence - academic, emotional, and relational.

And, oh my gosh, she makes me laugh!

And, oh my gosh, she makes me laugh!

I love her relationship with my daughters (her sisters-in-law). 

I love her relationship with my daughters (her sisters-in-law). 

And all that she's taught us about the joy of Jewish feasting. 

And all that she's taught us about the joy of Jewish feasting. 

She has truly become a daughter to us.

She has truly become a daughter to us.

She loves Alex best of all.

She loves Alex best of all.

I love that she's allowed us to drag her all over the country, meeting family and friends (and severe cold) hither and yon.

I love that she's allowed us to drag her all over the country, meeting family and friends (and severe cold) hither and yon.

And that she's allowed us introduce her to our rich Christmas traditions.

And that she's allowed us introduce her to our rich Christmas traditions.

I love that she made us HOMEMADE LATKES!

I love that she made us HOMEMADE LATKES!

We are forever grateful to call Rebekah Diane Cummins Murphy our own.

We are forever grateful to call Rebekah Diane Cummins Murphy our own.

Heading home [sharing at Art House America this week]

read the whole article at Art House America

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” 
—Yogi Berra

My dad loves baseball. From as far back as I can remember, he’s been a Yankees fan. He tells me he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they broke his heart and moved to the West Coast. That was the 1950s and long before I knew him. His grandfather was a Yankees fan, and his parents are Yankees fans. Naturally, the man I chose to marry is a Yankees fan. But I don’t really remember anything about the Yankees before their comeback year of 1996. With a new manager, Joe Torre, who had never won a championship in his thirty-two-year career as both a player and a manager, the Bronx bombers began to live up to their pinstripe glory once again, winning their first world series since 1978. We followed every single game.

We didn’t own a television in 1996. When our third child was born in March, a few weeks before baseball spring training and a couple months before my husband completed his bachelor's degree in education, we were paying our bills with his substitute teacher income. We had no health insurance, no vacation time or sick pay, and made ends meet by picking up extra work cleaning houses. We’d put all our hopes in a college degree landing him a teaching job in the fall. Evenings in our second-floor apartment, after we put our two sons to bed, we’d tune into the game on our radio. While I sat on our hand-me-down sofa to nurse my daughter, Brian sat across the room writing résumés on our clunky IBM personal computer. It doesn’t take a therapist to figure out that we’d associated our own underdog story to the scrappy team fighting for a win, night after night, a couple hours south of us in the Bronx. 

The 1996 season introduced Yankees fans to Joe Girardi (catcher), Derek Jeter (shortstop), and Mariano Rivera (relief pitcher), among others. It’s the season we rooted for Darryl Strawberry to rise above his drug history, and he did. We worried about pitcher David Cone’s surgery to remove an aneurysm and rallied behind him when he promised to come back by the end of the season. And he did—in time to pitch a winning game in the World Series. It’s the year I discovered the joy of befriending radio announcers John Sterling and Michael Kay. Even though I’d never meet them in person, they felt like guests sitting in our living room, passing the time with warm conversation for hours each evening. We began to relish the ritual of sportscasting, loving each Yankee home run not only for the score, but also for John Sterling’s patent call: “It is high! It is far! It is gone!” Over time, he would embellish his trademark home-run call with wordplay for each player’s name. Center fielder Bernie Williams hits a run, it’s “Bern, baby, Bern!” from the announcer’s booth; first baseman Tino Martinez cracks one over the fence, “It’s the BamTino!” and so forth.  

After a long, uncertain summer, we celebrated our team’s October World Series win almost as raucously as we’d celebrated the teaching job Brian received in September. We earned a salary, and the Yankees earned a championship.

Fast forward nearly twenty years, most of our circumstances had changed. ...

read the whole article at Art House America


BONUS FEATURES: 2 extra deleted "chapters" that include my own very humbling unsportsmanlike behavior + a whole bunch of cute photos of my kids repping the Yankees over the years

“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” -- Yogi Berra

My Dad played baseball through high school and college. By all accounts - mostly his and a couple of yellowed news blurbs clipped from the paper - he was a pretty good player. Naturally, he’s never given up hope that one of his 6 kids and 18 grandchildren might take up the sport with the same fervor. As the oldest child, I did my part in disappointing this fatherly wish with a couple of seasons of town softball. I recall these years in snatches of terror and embarrassment. Somehow, I never quite understood what was expected of me as an outfielder (wayyyy out in the field) my few times off the bench. As far as my stats at the plate, I ask you: Is there anything more humiliating than swinging a big stick at the air? The answer is no, no there isn’t. I fared slightly better on the school soccer team, not because I was any more talented, but because I could at least run around a lot between the goal and half field, and make it appear I had what my Dad called “hustle”. Although, I have a clear memory of a burly coach yelling in my direction while our team ran laps, “Hill! Can’t you make your stride any longer?!?” By that time, I’d already reached my adult height of 5’2”, and felt my stride was doing its part adequately.

During the springtime of the town league softball games, a kind, older cousin showed mercy on me, teaching me how to V my thumb, fore, and middle fingers along the leather stitching of a baseball, cupping the ball just so, and then releasing it in the generally correct direction. As far as I can remember, no one even attempted to address my incompetence with a glove.

When our own four kids were of the age for town sports, they each took a turn at T-ball, softball, or Pony League. One son got as far as relief pitching, but he quickly realized it felt like stress instead of fun, and he took up the guitar instead. All my kids leaned toward artistic, rather than athletic, pursuits. While our neighbors were schlepping their kids to the ball field, ours were making a holy rock’n roll raucous in the basement, instead. This was a development that rather pleased me - even if it was noisy.

Still, we kept up with the Yankees. Not playing baseball in the spring actually gave us more time to enjoy watching and listening to each game. We began a family tradition of giving each of our kids their own first trip to see a live game in the house that (Babe) Ruth built. We took our oldest son when he was only 5 years old, and it’s one of our happiest memories. We spent the day sightseeing the city as far as his little legs would carry him, stopping only to crane his neck upward to take in the skyscrapers. One photograph captured the image of of Brian and Andrew staring up at the Twin Towers. In the evening we sat through all nine-innings of the 1996 Yankees. Andrew’s inagural stadium trip coincided with Derek Jeter’s rookie year.

The photo I’ve kept of our second son is a close up from nosebleed seats. He’s smiling at the camera, waiting for the game to start, miniature Yankees cap shoved down on his head so far his ears are jutting out either side of his face. A little over a decade later, he and Brian would attend the final game of the 2009 World Series in the Yankees new stadium. They’d watch the home team beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3, and win one last title for the "core four" of Pettitte, Posada, Rivera and Derek Jeter. Alex would cheer as gently as possible because he was suffering a tooth infection, and was scheduled for a root canal the following morning. If you asked him, he’d still say it was totally worth it.

On one of our daughter Kendra’s first trips to the stadium she’d get the thrill of a player, Ramiro Mendoza, handing her a baseball after batting practice. She’d lisp “thank you” through her missing teeth, and later give the ball to her Dad as a Father’s Day gift. It now enjoys a treasured spot on the bookshelf in his office.

Natalie, as sometimes happens with a youngest child, would wait until she was a bit older to visit the stadium, and she wouldn’t be by herself. Our whole family would be with her, because a kind church friend gave us free tickets. But we managed to get a photo of her, cheering from the railing of our upper deck seats, taking in Brett Gardner’s first hit and first RBI in the seventh inning. Gardner went on to steal second and eventually score in that inning.

This year, the 2017 season that Natalie is living back home with us, Brett Gardner is a much-needed veteran on a team of new kids, known affectionately as the Baby Bombers. Now that we live about an hour north of the Bronx, Natalie and Brian have been to the stadium three times together this season. Thanks to generous church friends, again, she’s enjoyed great seats - most notably along the right field line within shouting distance of #99, right-fielder Aaron Judge. At that game she made it to the jumbotron, with her giant, hand-letter sign, “I’ve got 99 problems, but A. Judge isn’t one!” The home-run-derby king’s gathered a huge fan club this  year, but I’m positive none more earnest than my daughter. He should be so lucky.

“It ain't the heat, it's the humility.” -- Yogi Berra

I’m a fairweather stadium attender, myself. I mean that literally. The older I get, the more comfortable I am insisting on my own comfort, and, in my book, that includes forgoing the experience of sitting thigh-bone to sweaty thigh-bone with over 50,000 people stewing in stale beer underneath the blazing sun. I no longer feel the need to physically suffer for the love of the game.

I’d like to blame the physical discomfort of a hot, crowded stadium for one of the most epic moments of my own humility, but the truth is the weather was decent that night, and we were only sitting in our town’s double-A minor league stadium, which at capacity seats only 6,000 people. And that night we were not even close to capacity, but I was feeling clausterphobic anyway.

Here, let my son tell you in his own words (the ones he wrote for a senior-year Public Speaking class. Lord, have mercy.)

"Baseball game are rarely fun when you're sitting near drunks. That was the situation I was put in about five years ago at a Binghamton Mets game. Behind us where the drunks; in front of us were the smokers.

The drunks were mad at the smokers for smoking. They said their kids -- John, Ashley, and you know, what's-her-face (they couldn't remember because they were so drunk) -- were crying and scared because the smoke from their cigarettes were drifting upwards towards their row.

This was obnoxious to me because the drunks were obviously looking for controversy for controversy's sake. It was also obnoxious that the smokers were fighting back. They weren't drunk, and they should've had the common sense to just move up to the dozens of empty rows in front of them. It's a B-Mets game, after all. There are going to be empty seats.

The person who broke up the tiring feud was my mother. She looked back, and I swear the second before her mouth opened I could see lightning strike behind her profile. She screamed 'Shut Up!' at the drunk parents, whose little kids were now crying only because the adults were so angry at each other. She was so scary that the two rows ceased their arguments.

A couple of fighters on each side ended up speaking to each other, just stubbornly apologizing for their pointless fight. My brother and I actually spoke to each other because we could finally hear each other without all the shouting. And no one, absolutely NO ONE, spoke to my mother. And I have a feeling she was okay with that."

Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

Brian helps Natalie ready for her catcher position in town softball.

A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

A Yankees game in 2008, Natlie's watching Brett Gardner's first hit for the Yankees.

Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

Brian & Alex catch the Yankees in Houston (where Alex was in college). It was Mariano Rivera's last game, 2015.

Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

Alex, age 4, sporting his first Yankees cap, Christmas 1997. (That's Kendra, 21 months old, and Grandma Meacham - Brian's mom, reading the book.)

Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

Alex's (age 4) first Yankees game, summer 1998.

Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

Andrew's first trip to NYC and his first Yankees game (summer 1996)

Kendra!

Kendra!

Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.

Brian and Natalie (age 19) at Yankees Stadium, June 2017.