What I Read In September & October

The charming Pequot Library in Southport, CT.

The charming Pequot Library in Southport, CT.

See what I read in JanuaryFebruary & March/AprilMay/June, July, & August.

31. Yes Please! by Amy Poehler (Dey Street Books, 2015. 352 pages.)

I knew and loved Amy Poehler from SNL's Weekend Updates (with Seth Meyers) and the inimitable Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec, but I didn't know much about her Comedy Central debut with the Upright Citizens Brigade or anything, really, about her growing up years. Her work and her life come together so well in this enjoyable memoir. Even more fun, Natalie and I read this together (well, sort of - when she finished the book we'd loaned from the library she handed it to me and said I should read it, too.) I will never tire of hearing about the creative journeys of artists, and this book provides that, alongside quirky sorts of "life lessons" reminiscent of her web series Smart Girls.

32.  Evans Above (Constable Evans, Book 1) by Rhys Bowen (Berkley, 1998. 224 pages)

Brian and I took a couple of days to get away in October, and I needed the most cozy of reading to accompany us. Rhys Bowen's Constable Evans series was the perfect fit. I read the first three books in the series in two days! The only thing that distracted me from the pleasant Welsh community and their idyllic Welsh village (suffering a disproportionately large number of suspicious deaths!) was trying to imagine who the BBC would cast as Constable Evans in a televised version of the series.

Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 1: "Little Llanfair has its share of characters—two ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat, Evans-the-Milk, and Evans-the-Post.

But before Evan—now knows as Evans-the-Law—can enjoy Llanfair's tranquillity, he's called to the scene of a crime as brutal as any in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and now Evan must hunt down a vicious killer in a town where one of his lovable new neighbors could prove to be deadly..."

33. Evan Help Us (Constable Evans, Book 2) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 1998. 224 pages.)

Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 2: "Evan Evans is settling into his role as Constable of Llanfair, a small town nestled in the mountains of North Wales. Here, he has been a mediator of the minor disputes of the locals, between competing ministers, country merchants, and seemingly every Welch eccentric throughout the region. But an unusual series of events brings unseen hostilities to light, and Evan realizes just how deep the townsfolk's passions and hostilities lie. 

34. Evanly Choirs (Constable Evans, Book 3) by Rhys Bowen (Berkley, 2000. 256 pages)

Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 3: "When Constable Evan Evans is persuaded to join the local male choir for the upcoming eisteddfod (cultural festival), he doesn't think the addition of his mediocre voice will do them much good. In spite of all the effort that choirmaster Mostyn Phillips puts in to the choir, it is not exactly first class. Hope arrives in the form of world renowned tenor Ifor Llewelyn, come home to Llanfair to rest, on doctor's orders."

35. Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mystery, Book 1) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 2013. 226 pages)

During our October get away, I also jumped into another Rhys Bown cozy mystery series, The Molly Murphy mysteries. I started with these, intrigued by the Irish protagonist. I was a bit disappointed to discover that, while many of the characters are Irish, the books are set in 19th-century New York City rather than in her homeland of the Emerald Isle.

Still, I like the character and am enjoying the love interest, if not the actual mysteries they are solving as much.  

Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 1: "Molly Murphy always knew she'd end up in trouble, just as her mother predicted. So, when she commits murder in self-defense, she flees her cherished Ireland, and her identity, for the anonymous shores of America. When she arrives in new York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.

Using her Irish charm and sharp wit, Molly escapes Ellis Island and sets out to find the wily killer on her own. Pounding the notorious streets of Hell's Kitchen and the Lower East Side, Molly make sit her desperate mission to clear her name before her deadly past comes back to haunt her new future."

36. In Like Flynn (Molly Murphy Mystery, Book 2) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 2015. 336 pages)

Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 2: "

Fledgling private investigator Molly Murphy's latest assignment gives her the opportunity to escape the typhoid epidemic sweeping across New York City in the summer of 1902 for the lush Hudson River Valley. And it comes from an unlikely source-Captain Daniel Sullivan, a New York City police detective and erstwhile beau of Molly's. She has vowed to keep him at arm's length until he can rid himself of his socialite fiancée, but she can't pass up the chance to take advantage of his offer of a real detective job.

Daniel hires Molly to go undercover inside the country household of Senator Barney Flynn, in Peekskill, New York. Flynn's wife, Theresa, has become the latest devotee of a pair of spiritualists known as the Sorensen Sisters. The frail Theresa is desperate to use the sisters' alleged abilities to hold a séance to contact her infant son, who was kidnapped five years ago and never found; the accused kidnapper was killed before he could tell police where the boy was being held. But the police are sure the women are frauds.

When Molly allows herself to be distracted from the Sorensen Sisters and the members of the Flynn household by the unsolved kidnapping, it is a race against time to find out what's really going on before it's too late."

37. The Graces We Remember: Sacred Days of Ordinary Time by Phyllis Tickle (Loyola Press, 2004. 150 pages)

I know the late Phyllis Tickle only from the work she did compiling prayer manuals known as The Divine Hours. I found at a library book sale this sweet series of short stories written throughout the span of the liturgical year at the author's family farm in Lucy, Tennessee. Naturally, I want to read each title in the appropriate season, thus The Graces We Remember in the closing months of Ordinary Time. 

Next up: What the Land Already Knows: Winter's Sacred Days for Advent through Epiphany and then Wisdom in the Waiting: Spring's Sacred Days for Lent through Pentecost.

An excerpt: "There is something glorious about the fall in and of itself. It demands almost nothing of us except our applause. Save for putting up the hay and gathering in the last of the vegetables for preserving, the hard chores are done until the first freeze comes. The world is still warm, but comfortably so for the first time in months; and the chilly evenings speak only of the exhilaration of winter, not of its risks and dangers."

38. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans, 2009. 256 pages)

Marilyn Chandler McEntyre believes that we as a culture, generally, and as a faith community, specifically, have not stewarded well the gift of language.  After making her case that the Word  cares about words, she shares twelve thoughtful strategies to steward language: Love Words, Tell the Truth, Don't Tolerate Lies, Read Well, Stay in Conversation, Share Stories, Love the Long Sentence, Practice Poetry, Attend to Translation, Play, Pray, Cherish Silence. 

I enjoyed this as much during my re-read with our church reading group as I did the first time I read McEntyre's engaging ode to a word fitly spoken. Our group (Apostles Reads) gave mixed reviews on the author's point of view, but all of us felt encouraged and refreshed in our enjoyment and stewardship of the resource of language.

39. The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher (St. Martin's Paperback, 2013. 241 pages)

I read this little novel, appropriately, in the first days of September. I still far prefer Winter Solstice to anything else I've read by Rosamunde Pilcher, but I'll never tire of sweet stories with substantive characters set in the Scottish countryside. 

Here's the Amazon blurb: "After years in the United States, Jane returns to the tranquil Scottish estate, Elvie, where she spent a magical childhood. Memories of Elvie had always summoned the image of Sinclair, the rakish man Jane had once dreamed of marrying, but now that she is home, she finds Sinclair a different man. His charm has a purpose, and Jane can no longer trust him...or herself, in The End of Summer."


Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.

Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

What are you reading these days? 

#

p.s. This post includes affiliate links in this post 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!

7 thankful quick takes

(1) seasonal The Kid Should See This video


(2) Spotify playlists for this week

Autumn Worship


(3) photos from my Spiritual Direction training weekend

I wanted to share a bit of happy news that's kind of taken me by surprise even though it is an answer to a long-prayed prayer.  For a few years, as we've neared the point when Brian would be done with seminary and ordination and our kids would be finished with high school, we've been praying intentionally for discernment about next steps in my own vocational calling. Certainly, no bit of learning or experience or suffering is wasted, and I've been delighted (sometimes more than others) to be using my gifts, skills and passion in many ways all along the way. But we'd set apart this season to ask God to reveal a few more specifics regarding ongoing learning and development for me.  

One clear answer was for me to apply and be accepted into the Selah Certificate Program in Spiritual Direction. If you aren't familiar, here's a brief descriptionSpiritual Direction is a "one-to-one" ministry of coming alongside others to help them pay attention, become curious, and move toward the ongoing invitations of God to experience freedom, and enjoy life to the fullest as beloved sons and daughters in the Kingdom. The Selah Certificate Program is a two-year, cohort-based, low-residency course that will prepare me to offer trained spiritual direction vocationally and ministerially among our local church as well as those the Holy Spirit connects with me from around the world. The program begins in June 2017 and completes in spring 2019.

I don't think there's been a process more formational for Brian and me than the process of discerning vocation. For us, it's always felt a little bit backwards and slog-gish with then a sudden whoosh of "THIS IS IT!". This was the case for this decision as well. As I've been praying about further education, skill development and deeper formation in the faith, this is the opportunity like a road that rose up to meet me through the prescient invitation of a new friend and ministry leader. Of course, there's a trail of help along the way through relationship with many others. 

Last weekend I attend my second residency, held at a retreat center in Richmond, VA. Blog friends, I'd love for more prayer as I keep growing up into Christ and into a fuller expression of my true self, and for all the time, energy and financial resource needed for this endeavor. Pray also that Brian and I will continue to be used by God as a good gift in Southwest Connecticut.

Three quick things:

1. I've been working on a web page here. Please feel free to read and share with friends. 

2. A few friends and family have helped out with the cost of my tuition via a fundraising page. If that's something that interests you, you can read about it here.

3. Here's a few photos from my time in Richmond last weekend.


(4) fun Thanksgiving links

8 reasons Thanksgiving is the best holiday by Natalie Murphy | via Mac Shield online

Feast: A Thanksgiving tribute to images of food on film by Matt Zoller Seitz | via Museum of Moving Images

Thanksgiving party-in-a-post (including Lincoln's Historic Proclamation of Thanksgiving of 1863 and Classic parlor games with a modern twist )

Thanksgiving Mad Libs printables for kids | via Happiness is Homemade


(5) autumnal paintings by Grant Wood

Grant DeVolson Wood (February 13, 1891 – February 12, 1942) was an American painter best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly American Gothic, an iconic painting of the 20th century.



(7) decades of Thanksgiving covers of the New Yorker


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!

Seven-Quick-Takes-300x300.jpg

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!