I woke up "early" this morning to go for a run. Not until later did I realize it was the first day of the Winter season. It's felt like winter here for a while now- hard to believe its just begun. With many calories to burn from holiday cookies and fudge, I hit the road running with a friend in Forrest Hill. As we finished the run, I was reminded of the beauty on this earth that I often overlook. One fear in life I have is that I will not take enough time to take in my surroundings and truly holler at the moon. Here are some pictures of this morning's sunrise.
Take a little time for sunshine, take a whole lotta time for love Take some time to praise and thank heaven up above Take your life as it may come, 'cause boy, it'll be gone soon Take a little time for howlin' at the moon. Sam Bush
Monday night, Peyton and I had some folks over for a holiday party. Good times were had for sure. Plenty of awesome desserts and drinks were had as laughter and cheer filled the air. As the night wore on, some of us gathered in a pickin circle to strum and pick on banjos and guitars. Joe even dropped a beat on the bongos which added a unique twist to the folk music. Below is a picture of us pickin around.
As the evening came to a close there was talk about the approaching lunar ecclipse that would occur Tuesday morning between 1:50 and 3:30. Peyton and I decided to set our alarms for this rare viewing as it was occuring on the winter equinox, and even rarer site to see. Awaking at 2:30, we struggled to put some wool socks on and grab our jackets as set out to face the chill of a mid December night. We were not alone. After only minutes, we had ourselves another amateur ecclipse gazer. As we rendezvoused outside of our apartment, we gazed at the cloudy night sky. With a pair of binoculars and an eager heart, we waited until 3:00am and took in as much of the ecclipse as we could. Here is a weak attempt to capture the beauty of the night.If you look close you can see a sliver of the orange-ish ecclipse.
Took this picture of the sunset Tuesday afternoon when I got off work:
Last night was really special. My nephew, Micah, decided that for Christmas he wanted to buy two boys, DeShawn and Larry from Barton Heights, gifts. I met them through Marty, who goes to my church, and we had them over for a Thanksgiving at my parents house. We decided to pick up DeShawn and Larry after I got off work. We decided we would get dinner and go downtown to see the holiday lights. We had an awesome time hanging out at Pizza Hut and then going to the Jefferson Hotel and the James Center to see the lights. I was really cool to see the three guys laughing and having a great time together. Probably one of the best memories of this holiday season.
Feels like it's been a while since I've had a routine. Well, only a few days, but the snow fall was a welcomed interruption to the day to day. Last Friday brought a day off of work which offered me some time to spend catching up with my mom. In the morning I put together a bean stew in the crock pot and let its smell permeate the apartment until my mom came by around noon. We chatted by the fireplace and enjoyed a warm bowl of stew as we chatted about the upcoming holidays. We then took a walk over to Black Swan book store where we escaped the cold and enjoyed shelf after shelf of historic books written authors from all over.
Friday afternoon I hit the woods once again with Peter and Dawson where we saw a turkey and four deer, all out of range of a shot, but certainly within range to admire their beauty.
The rest of the weekend was spent with friends and family as Lily and Cassidy's wedding brought great fun on Saturday night. Below is a short video of a group of us playing "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Here is a picture of Peyton and I at Lily and Cassidy's wedding:
Sunday, we went to St. Mary's church on River Road where we heard Christmas carols sung by an impressive choir, of which Peyton's dad is a part of. Sunday afternoon we spent in Colonial Williamsburg with my family seeing the historic homes and buildings decorated for the holidays. We hit Cracker Barrell for dinner on the way home which is always a treat.
A peaceful ending of the day was brought by some flute playing, along with a lovin spoonful by the fire while I read a book on the epic failed attempt by the Union forces to take over Richmond during the Civil War.
I'm really starting to enjoy this pattern as of late. Last night, my good friend Amy came over to make some holiday soap with me. Soap making has been an adventure for me. I have been making soap on and off now for about two years. I hear that it takes most soap makers about ten years to really get it down. I'm about a fifth of the way there, and following the same pattern closely. This go around, I spent time contemplating the many factors involved in soap making and trying to remember the times it worked, and times it didn't and what I did or didn't do each time. So, for last night's batch, I decided we would wait it out. Ah, patience. It truly is a virtue. We would wait to mix the oils with the lye solution until it reached between 95 and 105 degrees. Not only would we wait to mix, but we would also mix thoroughly, to include an automatic beater. Only time will tell, but I think we may just have us a fine holiday soap that will hopefully make many people happy and clean!
So this is what we did- It was a night filled with stories, Christmas tunes, polish walnut bread, a warm fireplace, and as always, a lovin spoonful. And not just any spoonful, but tonight's spoonful brought a special cheer with a drop of Bailey's.
As the soap waits like a baby chick under it's mom's warm belly- no really, the soap is incubating under a pile of about 5 blankets- we will wait and pray that this is the batch! Time shall tell...
I decided it was a good night to stay inside, as I sat by the fire listening to the howling wind. My warm soup offered some comfort and security from the elements making their presence known just feet away. Too often, I take this option for granted. I realize that this option is rare for most, but something I find myself considering less than often. It seemed like a good night to get some Christmas gifts made. As I put on a pot of coffee, Christmas tunes, and my tie dye apron, I got to work. On the list of things to make were tea, candles, a wine stopper, herbal bath salts, and some tie dyed dish towels. Below are some pictures of the finished products. As the elf role wore off, I realized that we were out of milk. One of the joys of living in the fan district of Richmond is that there are a handful of markets within walking distance. Grabbing a down jacket from the closet and lacing up my boots, I prepared for the short but cold trek to the nearby Strawberry Street market.
As the walk progressed, I got a glimpse of how blistery the conditions would be for the morning hunt Dawson and I would be going on just hours away. Hope you enjoy the pictures from an evening of craft making on a cozy evening.
Woke up this morning to the patter of snow on my window. Well, I didn't really hear anything, but I sure did see the beauty spread across the trees and shrubs as I peaked out my window. As I sat down beside the fireplace with a spoonful of lovin I decided that I would take advantage of this pre-Christmas snow by walking to work. Below are some pictures I took on the way to work.
Tonight, I stuck around the ole homestead. A good friend of ours is organizing a Holiday party at the Mattaponi Indian Reservation, located about 45 minutes east of town. We decided tonight was a good night to do some baking. Of the many cookie options out there, I decided to stick with a classic: oatmeal raisen. I really think they are on the downward trend as far as cookie popularity goes. I'm seeing what I can do to bring them back- we'll see if it works. I also got into some tea making tonight- made a big batch of Orange spice tea which we'll be giving out as holiday gifts to our friends. If you're reading this and you don't get a holiday tea- shame on me.
Can't complain after a successful night of baking with Peyton, backed by Christmas music and of course, a lovin spoonful. It's off to bed as I'm looking forward to an early morning hunt at Tuckahoe. So long my friends..
Woke up this morning and checked the gauges to find that over the last 24 hours, parts of western Virginia have received upwards of 2 inches of rain and it is still raining in many areas. The Maury was running at about 5,000cfs, as well as many of the Nelson County creeks were at moderate to high levels. Should only be a day before this water reaches us in Richmond and the mighty James will rage again.
Looking forward to a weekend of paddling with friends, along with a local kayaking video night at the Camel on Saturday.
Ever had that feeling that the day ended just as you wanted it to? Personally, I like to end each day with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book. Sometimes I will light a candle, or maybe some incense and reflect on the day as it comes to a close. Last night was just that. Around 10:30, I threw a spoonful of lovin on and sat back in my rocker as I turned on the fire place. Sounds amusing, I "turned on" the fire place, but it actually has been a more than sufficient replacement for the real thing. As I sat back in the rocker and listened to the classical on NPR in the background, I relaxed and took it all in. The smell of coffee, the sounds of century old music, and the flickering shadows of fire on my book were more than enough to satisfy.
What a Thanksgiving weekend. Thursday morning, I changed up the typical ritual of running in a Thanksgiving 5k and went searching for a real turkey with some friends. Dawson and his brother Caleb joined me as we walked the woods of Tuckahoe early Thursday morning. As ill prepared as I could be, I finally jumped a turkey around 8:00 but to my dismay, had buckshot in my shotgun and didn't have time to switch out to the proper turkey shot. At least I still saw my Thanksgiving turkey. The rest of the day was filled with family and food. On Friday, we had a Thanksgiving with my family and were joined by DeShawn and Larry, two friends from Barton Heights. We went bowling with the family Friday evening. Saturday morning, Dawson and I hit the woods again in hopes of finding a deer, but once again got skunked. My nephew Micah joined me later in the morning for some squirrel hunting. Although we saw a few, they were all too far off for a shot.
The rest of the weekend brought some studying, kayaking, hanging out with friends and family. Below is a future big buck hunter.
This year, Bob and I picked the Smokies for our yearly excursion. It differed slightly from last year's pick- Vegas. Although there were no casino's or spas within reaching distance of our five star room, we still managed to have some fun. Arriving late Thursday night, we bunked in a one bedroom cabin- the three of us, Bob, Paul and myself. We awoke early Friday morning and after some coffee we hit the road, headed past Gatlinburg, and into the Smokies. Our eleven mile hike up Mt. LeConte greeted us with a brisk morning breeze as we set off across several scenic walking bridges. Our first hike included various stream crossings, a "cave" like staircase, an incredible bluff, and to our surprise, a snowy summit. At the summit of Mt. LoConte was the Mt. LeConte lodge which consists of 10 or more small cabins that people can rent out throughout the year: www.leconte-lodge.com
Here are some pictures from our hike to Mt. LeConte
Saturday, we set out to hike Ramsey's Falls. This was an 8 mile hike with an impressive waterfall greeting us at mile 4. Here are some pictures from our hike. Thanks for reading the blog!
Saturday morning, I had the chance to run the half marathon. I had been training for a few months and was pretty excited for another chance to run the streets of Richmond with over 3,000 other masochistic people. What an experience. The race didn't go as well as I had hoped, getting a bad stomach cramp around mile 6. I had to stop three or four times, but was able to eventually bear the pain enough to finish the race.
Sunday had some highs and lows. One of my brother rats from VMI who was wounded in Afghanistan in July was at church on Sunday morning.I was reminded of the sacrifice so many soldiers make for their country every day.
Some of you might know that I took up soap making about a year and a half ago. I'm still working out the kinks, and figuring it out- i'll probably never figure it out completely. My soap mentor told me it took him ten years, so I guess that doesn't make me feel as bad when I get a chalky batch every once and a while.
Sunday night I decided to throw a pot of coffee on and get to some tea making. I made three herbal teas. I made a lemon calm tea, a lavender chamomile tea, and a black orange spice tea. Nothin like a lovin spoonful backed up by some bluegrass pickin on a Sunday evening. If there is ever a tea that you would like me to try to make, just let me know and I'll see what I can craft together.
Last night, I got a chance to play my flute for a little while. Was quite relaxing really- lit some sage and incense and offered up some songs to whoever was listening.
Looking forward to the weekend ahead. Heading down to the Smokies Thursday night for a weekend of hiking. Should be great weather. Definitely excited to spend some time in the mountains with some good friends.
Probably the best news I've received all weekend. Haiti nearly escaped the wrath of the previously foreseen furry-filled Tomas. This is what I needed. Hope. Was it an almighty hand that instructed the winds to blow this storm on a more western course than originally intended, or was it chance that caused earthquake torn, cholera-infested Haiti to nearly avoid a third devastating disaster in less than a year?
Seeing this article late yesterday afternoon was just what I needed.
A trip to the Richmond City Jail this past weekend with my RCLI class really broke me for the injustices around us every day. I am still struggling to process just what I saw, heard, smelled, and touched. Is the justice system corrupt, over worked, under-staffed, or am I just overly sensitive, naive, and ignorant?
These are issues I am wrestling with these days. How do we address issues of over crowded jails, placing the mentally ill behind bars, and treating all humans with dignity, while continuing to uphold justice, peace, and security for our citizens? I'm guessing this will never be completely figured out. Where does the church get involved in this issue? Do they? This particular issue hits home for me as I have a close relative in jail and others who have served time.
Just started what seems to be a great book this morning by Scott Bessenecker. It's titled, "How to Inherit the Earth". So far, it has challenged me to consider how continually seek to serve others with meekness. So far, the book considers how meekness is not weakness. Bessenecker paints a view of what peacful, simple, servant leadership can look like as we strive to serve those in community with us.
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
"He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul"
Woke up this morning and decided it would be a good morning to create a few herbal teas. I have been experimenting with medicinal teas for about a year now. Recently I have been inclined to drink soothing, calming teas. Typically these include chamomile, cardamon, sage leaf, lavender flowers, anise seeds, and rose hips.
I made a calm tea and a chai tea. Below are the ingredients in each:
Rose Hips, lavender flowers, cardamon pods, orange peel, lemongrass, anise seeds, gotu kola, licorice root.
Black Spice Chai:
Black tea, ginger root, cardamon pods, black peppercorn, anise seeds
As many of your know, I love books. I typically have two or three books I am working on at a time. I just thought I would use this post to mention the three books I am working on right now.
1. Partner to the Poor- Paul Farmer.
Paul Farmer is a hero of mine. Most of his childhood was spent either in campgrounds or on a fifty foot leaking boat outside of Tampa, Florida that his family called home. Farmer went on to Harvard Medical school where he commuted between Boston and Haiti on a regular basis, starting grass roots medical clinics in the most under served areas. He went on to start Partners in Health, a non profit organization committed to ensuring access to quality medical care in Haiti, Rwanda, and other under served areas of the world. This book is a collection of his writings. One of the books he is most known for is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.
2. Midwives- Chris Bohjalian
This is the most recent book I started. So far, (taken from Amazon description) Sybil Danforth, midwife and mother of the story's narrator, 14-year-old Connie, has a thriving practice and normal family life. Then the unthinkable happens: on a cold winter night in the middle of coaching Charlotte Bedford through her lengthy and strenuous labor, tragedy strikes - Charlotte dies while trying to give birth to her son. With phone lines heaving with ice and roads too treacherous to drive upon, Sybil is forced into a decision -to save the unborn baby via a homemade Caeserean or let him die along with his mother.
3. Starving Jesus- by Craig Gross & J.R. Mahon.
I just finished reading this book a few days ago. The book's focus is to encourage Christians to get out of the church and into the world and stop being "born again lazy". Overall, a good read. It talks a lot about the usefulness of prayer and fasting as part of routine disciplines that should be practiced by all followers.