What's one of the most lavish meals you've ever experienced?

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

I'm thinking about feasting this week.  You too?  Probably the fall, and the anticipation for festive get-togethers around the calendar corner.  

I'm thinking about feasting because in a few days I have an essay going out into the world at one of my favorite sites.  A place that values feasting and hospitality and the sacramental life.  (I can't wait to share the story of me and my new curmudgeon monk friend in a couple of days!)

I'm thinking about feasting because I stumbled on a gorgeous television series that makes a cinematic artform out of food preparation.  I have never (and maybe will never this side of Heaven) be able to afford the lavishness of the feasts these genius chefs create.  For now, I'm completely satisfied to imagine the taste and smell through the skillfully directed camera lens.

Chef's Table reminds me of another favorite reality foodie show our friends Shaun and Katie introduced to us last year.  I'm not a foodie and have barely ever travelled out of the U.S. and still found myself weeping during some of these food and culture stories.  Also: Phil Rosenthal is a precious man, don't you think?

The conversations about feasting always remind me of my favorite foodie movie of all time.  You want to talk about the reality of the Gospel found in food?  Watch this movie and give thanks.

I was talking with a dear new friend yesterday, and told her my conversation starter for the week.  She told me a sweet, sweet story of a meal she and her husband enjoyed with friends in a fabulous NYC restaurant just before having children.  She joked that sometimes we get a bit super spiritual answering these sorts of questions.  When I asked if she'd reply with her story when I posted the question on the Facebook page, she teased that she'd probably give the "spiritual" answer which, obviously, involves the Eucharist.  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

Fair enough:  let's keep clear that our so-called spiritual and secular lives are a seamless garment. After all, that's the whole point behind the term "sacramental life".  Ordinary, visible things making plain the invisible graces carrying us through the present world.  

Which reminds me of something my friend Laurel commented on the Facebook page yesterday.  She mentioned some good feasting memories that were a lot about the quality of the food.  Then she mentioned a memory where the food was only a side dish to the unforgettable scenery.

 I have some great memories like that, as well.  And I've added a whole new cache of memory from our trip to Ireland this past summer.  And they don't replace some of the simpler meal memories of eating pondside with my family at my grandparents' little cottage. Or the time, mid-July, Brian and I grilled steaks for a dozen family members while we all floated on a motorized raft across an Adirondack lake. Or the time my friends feasted with both food and art for my 38th birthday.  

Feasting of any sort is pure gift, don't you think?

 What memories do you have of the best-tasting meals of your life?  

I'm listening.

Weekend Daybook [September, 4]

It's a weird season of life, and I've been spanning the full spectrum of emotion that accompanies it.  I spent some time looking back through my blog archives of the last ten Septembers, and discovered that September often feels that way to me.  It's always a transitional month, I guess.  I seem to always be asking big questions about who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing with my life in September (see some examples below).  How about you?  Have you noticed a seasonal rhythm to your Big Life Questions?  I'd love to hear about it.

While you're at it, please let me know what you've been reading, making, doing, listening and enjoying this week. I love the ideas you share here! (and if we happen to see each other in real life this week, by all means I want to talk about it all with you!


| a little song |

Facebook kindly reminded me that five years ago this week one of my favorite garage bands released their second and final album.  I still love listening to it, and admit that I cry when I hear this lyric: "Lo, and behold, I never thought I'd be afraid to get old.... / We've aged and it shows. Just remember the places we go."


| a good poem & a fine picture |

MAN WITH SUNFLOWER by   Frans Claerhout (Belgian/South African, 1919–2006)  SOURCE

MAN WITH SUNFLOWER by Frans Claerhout (Belgian/South African, 1919–2006) SOURCE

Sunflower

BY FRANK STEELE

You’re expected to see 

only the top, where sky 

scrambles bloom, and not 

the spindly leg, hairy, fending off 

tall, green darkness beneath. 

Like every flower, she has a little 

theory, and what she thinks 

is up.   I imagine the long 

climb out of the dark 

beyond morning glories, day lilies, four o’clocks 

up there to the dream she keeps 

lifting, where it’s noon all day.

(source)

Catching the sun with Frans Claerhout via Art & Theology (a lovely, lovely post!)



| a few good stories |

Remember, friends: Only you can prevent small talk! Hopefully, I've given you a few things to contemplate and share in your conversations this week.  If all else fails, here's a great question to ask everyone you meet. 

You have 15 minutes to address the whole world live (on television or radio — choose your format). What would you say?

p.s., I LOVED the stories you all shared on my facebook page from last week's question.  Click here to read (and while you're there, I'd be delighted for you to "like" the page!)


a simple breakfast for new friends

a simple breakfast for new friends

| consider a few reasonable words |

September Equinox Celebration |  A completely geeked-out way to celebrate the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere - a recorded live stream of the equinox as well as Connecticut scientists balancing chicken eggs and more! via Old Farmer's Almanac

An Infrastructure Crisis? | If you're interested in a political article that's actually about an issue, may I recommend one like this? "This campaign season, we have heard both frontrunner presidential candidates claim they want to increase infrastructure spending in America. Hillary Clinton said: 'We are going to have an investment in infrastructure—our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our ports, our airports.' Donald Trump said: 'I would say at least double her numbers, and you’re really going to need more than that.' At Strong Towns, we have a very different perspective." via Strong Towns blog

5 Travel Pillows, In Order of Increasing Ridiculousness | Actually, the more ridiculous, the more they made sense to me.  I'm putting them all on my Christmas list!  via Apartment Therapy

Podcast episode I can't stop thinking about this week:

from the archives: September seems to be a reflective month for me. 

Waiting for our next step (2015) | A few thoughts about some of the great books I read this summer - including titles by Kathleen Norris, Christopher Smith, Walter Brueggemann, Patrick Taylor & J. D. Vance.  What are YOU reading right now?

Anybody Want to Read Stories About Staying Married (I'm asking for a friend...) (2015) | This means it's been one year since so many of you kindly answered my questions:  If you were to read some stories about married love on a blog, what sort of stories would you hope to hear?  Would you even want stories? (Maybe you'd prefer a list of tips and techniques?  Lord help us...) 

The time we got macaroni & cheese as a wedding gift (2013) | I loved stumbling on this post in the archives because I was just thinking about it the other day.  Since moving to Connecticut, we have had meal after gracious meal prepared for us with the sort of hospitality that makes you almost speechless with gratitude.  Yet, the other day, receiving a delicious grass-fed steak I flashed back to that one of the most generous meals ever prepared for me. I don't ever want to forget it.

I also think it's kind of hilarious that both the Republican and Democratic candidates of this year's election showed up in two previous, non-political September posts.

Parenting Unrehearsed: It does take a village (2012) | This post from the parenting series I wrote back in 2012 is especially timely during back-to-school season. It's one of the most transparent posts I've ever shared, and requires me to pray intentionally against pride, shame and fear.  The words tell the essence of our family's redemption story, authored by a most-gracious and ever-loving God. I can not be afraid.  

Pumpkin chip cookies on the first day of school (2010) | It gives me a sort of juvenile delight that the only time I've named he-who-shall-not-be-named in this space in a post about cookie recipes!  


Around the corner from our house last week.  

Around the corner from our house last week.  

**The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. After blogging about books for ten years, I thought it might be OK to get a little help financing my reading habit. Thank you! **

Weekend Daybook post. beginnings and endings edition

weekend-daybook-goethe-quote.jpg

As we head toward fall, I'm trying to get the blogging gears moving again with a weekly catchall post. I've posted this particular series in various iterations over the years, but all of them started as a discipline to counter the anxiety I often feel headed into a weekend of social interactions. Even though I love people, and I love meaningful conversations with people, as a 45-year-old introvert I still struggle with social anxiety. So this post is an attempt for me to collect beautiful, true, and good bits and pieces from the internet and from my own ordinary life in one place as a contemplative practice. I share them to help me remember, and with the hope that it might be helpful for some of you, too.

Please let me know what you've been reading, making, doing, listening and enjoying this week. I love the ideas you share here! (and if we happen to see each other in real life this week, by all means I want to talk about it all with you!)

a little song (or 20)

Roots & Wings Playlist

I made this playlist to comfort us on our trip home from taking our youngest daughter, Natalie, to her freshman year of college.  I've been saying this since we took our oldest son to his first day of elementary school about 20 years ago: There's nothing in the world more counterintuitive than to take your child to a place they've never been and leave them there. It feels kind of like shock, actually.  

We are so excited for her opportunity to attend the school she's been dreaming about in the program she's been dreaming about for a long time.  We're so thankful to live only three hours north on the efficient I-95.  We're even looking forward to this new "empty nest" season.  AND we are also sad.  It's just the end of an era, and deserves a bit of boo-hooing, in my opinion.  

When you take a child to college for the first time, you have all these ideas of taking beautiful photos. Usually you walk away with something like this.  

When you take a child to college for the first time, you have all these ideas of taking beautiful photos. Usually you walk away with something like this.  

If you're in the mood for something more cheery, here's my ongoing Summer playlist on Spotify. By the calendar we still have a couple of weeks left, friends.  This playlist kept me company during a pretty refreshing Saturday breakfast-making, herb-replanting and kitchen-cleaning session this morning.  Enjoy!

My Summer Playlist

Kendra at Captain's Cove marina, Bridgeport

Kendra at Captain's Cove marina, Bridgeport


a good poem


a fine picture

Swimmin , Rhona Garvin -  source

Swimmin, Rhona Garvin - source

My brother and nephew swimming in the Long Island Sound off Jennings Beach.

My brother and nephew swimming in the Long Island Sound off Jennings Beach.


make & do

We've been given some beautiful fresh produce by neighborly gardeners.  Last night, to celebrate one of Kendra's last nights home, Brian grilled some delicious steaks.  I quick searched a recipe to use the zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes we had on hand, and made this delicious vegetable side:  Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Zucchini, Squash and Tomatoes. (perfect, right?)  The veggies were so yummy, Brian and I ate them with scrambled eggs this morning and Kendra finished them up with pasta and a bit of leftover tomato sauce for lunch.  One dish for three meals - is this what Empty Nest will be like?


a few reasonable words

Patterns of Home, Importance of Homeyness |  I have a little side hobby of studying urban planning and keep learning so much from this organization.  via Strong Towns blog

Retreat for Ministers to Artists: Kathleen Norris, Artists & the Vocation to Prayer | If you love artists, churches, or Kathleen Norris, you need to read this announcement.  If you love all three, you just need to register for the retreat already.  via Diary of an Arts Pastor blog

Joe Henry - The Mystery and Adventure of Life and Songwriting | Such an excellent interview between two intelligent, creative and seasoned adults.  Listen asap.  via On Being with Krista Tippett podcast

from the archives:

What I Wish My Son Would Say About Me On His 22nd Birthday | In honor of Andrew's 25th birthday this week!

My Top 4 Parenting Epiphanies, or My Child Is Not My Property but My Guest | I seem to re-learn this lesson every single September.  Read if you are a parent or you know a parent.  It's pretty important stuff.

We had a great time with 3 of our kids here in August!

We had a great time with 3 of our kids here in August!


a conversation prompt

Remember, friends: Only you can prevent small talk! Hopefully, I've given you a few things to contemplate and share in your conversations this week.  If all else fails, here's a great question to ask everyone you meet. 

What makes a teacher great? Tell me about one of your all-time favorite teachers.

I'd love to hear your answer to this question, so leave me a comment below!  

May your week be filled with truth, goodness and beauty, friends.

Tamara

a few reasonable words for your weekend conversations.04

Happy weekend, all! I'm ending this blog hiatus starting with my weekend posts of interesting bits and pieces I found online this week. We're looking forward to a couple of get-togethers with new friends in Fairfield this weekend. What are your plans? 

Goethe quote.jpg

A dose of conversation-starters for all your weekend conversations. If you and I happen to bump into each other in the next couple of days, I'd love to hear what you think about these reads. (or, you could always leave me a comment below!)

  • Like most of you, our family loves political satire.  This podcast asked a question I hadn't even considered: Does American political satire help or hinder social protest?  via Malcolm Gladwell's podcast Revisionist History podcast, The Satire Paradox episode

  • Speaking of politics, here's an article I missed when it first published in early July.  I listened to an excellent interview with the author about his memoir of growing up among the white poor.  He gives intelligent insight into the addictive appeal of Donald Trump among his hometown community.  via J. D. Vance in The Atlantic

  • An editorial packed with truth.  "... remembering well always requires overcoming nostalgia—overcoming our selective memories, owning up to our forgetting. Remembering for the future has to face up to what we’ve repressed—shining a light on the shadow side of our traditions. This is why Christians invested in the goodness of creation can’t fall into the trap of Golden Age–ism, because to remember creation is to long for the new creation."  via Comment Magazine

  • Speaking of remembering, may God bless Pastor Heber Brown and so many others doing good, generative work in the wake of Baltimore's tipping point. via Yes! Magazine

  • I love the web-based documentary series Perennial Plate, and this short episode with a woman who has been selling homemade pies at her Colorado farmers market for 43 years is just beautiful.  Also, it made me crave strawberry-rhubarb pie. 

On the blog lately:

  • This week I'll share my final post of our dream-come-true trip to Ireland.  Here's parts 1, 2, & 3
  • A year ago today I shared this post:  Finding contentment during sleeplessness (You guys!  I got goose bumps when I re-read the Jane Kenyon poem I'd found in the middle of a restless night. Please notice the city mentioned in the poem.  Kind of freaky, right?)

The "How to Prevent Small Talk" question for the week:

You have 15 minutes to address the whole world live (on television or radio — choose your format). What would you say?

Hoping for a good and contented weekend for us all, friends.  

Peace....

A few reasonable words to start your weekend conversations. 03

Happy weekend, all! We're looking forward to a couple of get-togethers with dear people this weekend (including our kids - yay!) What are your plans?  

 

A dose of conversation-starters for all your weekend conversations. And if you and I happen to bump into each other in the next couple of days, I'd love to hear what you think after these reads! (or, you could always leave me a comment below!)

•  In our house, we've been talking about Beyonce's powerful new video, and I loved the the celebration and insight this blogger exudes.  via Austin Channing blog

•  I'm sorry to share this with you on a Saturday, when you may very likely be sitting in some uncomfortable setting watching your prodigy participate in sporting-type events, but my brother wrote it and he's really smart about parenting, sports and Jesus so I think it'll be worth your time and reflection. via The Gospel Coalition blog

•  Read this during the last couple weeks of Lent.  If you ever consider yourself "blessed" or proclaim yourself "blessed", this is an essential reminder of its true meaning. via Faith & Leadership blog

•  For reasons that are probably not very holy, I usually shy away from these sorts of videos, but I watched this one and was truly inspired: "I am an unlikely success — a kid with bad grades from a Nashville suburb, who despite the odds, was crazy enough to believe “impossible” means “I’m possible.” via Jeremy Cowart blog

•  Two recent works on my frenemy Wendell Berry: a newly published short story (which I devoured and found to be Very Good) and a documentary film premiering at SXSW (which I may try to crash somehow next Wednesday)

*  I needed to read this fresh, pastoral perspective on distressing political campaigns. (and somehow the reference to Ferdinand Marcos made me feel better) via Emotionally Healthy Spirituality newsletter

•  More apologies if you happen to follow this link on the same day you ran a few errands at the local Wal-Mart. I'm sorry, but not really because that place is not good for us, friends! And while we're on the subject of bad city decisions, bet you'll never look at your sidewalks the same way again after reading thisvia Strong Towns blog

•  I was searching for something on an old external hard drive a while back, and stumbled on the reviews I wrote for our local chapter of the IAM Readers Guild. I've been gradually uploading the reviews of the books, and fondly recalling that whole era.  Books have a way of doing that, you know? Silence by Shusaku Endo  Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

 

If all else fails, here's the "Prevent Small Talk Question of the Week":

We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?