Eve’s birthday 

Hi sisters,

After the heartache of the past week and a half, here are a few photos from Eve’s birthday party. How thankful I am for my family that helped me learn to love beyond the boundaries around race, religion, gender, and sexuality that some people have been trying to draw in heartbreaking ways since the election.

Sustainance for the party ahead.
Grandpa made a big leaf pile. Eve helped keep it organized.
Miriam felt that there should have been gifts for her to celebrate her anniversary of becoming a big sister. So we made a crown for her.
Pose choices were all hers.

Happy birthday, dear Eve. You are loved abundantly. May you love abundantly.

Your aunt Janna.

Chocolate and tea

Hi sisters,

Here’s a quickly-snapped still life from internship today.

I’m in the break room, working on paperwork, since the wireless network sometimes decides that the trip to my office space is way too far. We work it hard. I understand. There’s a comfy love seat in the break room where I can tuck my feet under me and work on termination summaries.

In the mug is a hot drink I made up this semester, which I discovered on a day that we were out of creamer, and have been drinking, um, a lot since. It’s inspired by those Earl Grey truffles we’ve made a few times, Rach. Continue reading “Chocolate and tea”

My late summer in western NY

Hi sisters,

The leaves are just starting to change here. We have had some lovely warm days the last week, but the nights are getting crisper and the air smells of the change in seasons. Here’s the view from my front porch yesterday afternoon, in between clouds and rain.

Late summer on the hill

As you can see, the garden has gotten a bit overgrown since the semester started, but intentional plants grow amongst the weeds. I love having found a lemongrass that grows here, the popcorn seems to aging as it should, and I am still getting lots of cherry tomatoes and some large ones as well. I think that beauty is one of the big reasons that I garden. I can grow jewels in the field next to the house. Continue reading “My late summer in western NY”

Less screen time led to paletas de sandia

Hi, sisters,

Since I came home from Ireland, I’ve been working on not taking my phone to bed with me. It was a big step, which my Mennonite upbringing is embarrassed to admit, and one I might not have taken without the eccentricities of outlet placements in a very old Irish farmhouse. Since I’ve had a smart phone, (well, probably since I’ve had a cell phone) I’ve slept with it on my bedside stand and my smart phone was the last thing I looked at before I went to sleep and the first thing I’d reach for when I woke up, either in the morning or in those middle-of-the-night awake spells I sometimes have. While I was in Ireland, there wasn’t an outlet near enough to my bed to keep my phone near me while being plugged in. My phone needed to charge at night since it was my main camera and its battery was on its way out. That was the first time in at least a couple of years that I went to sleep without reading or internet-ing with my phone some beforehand and I was surprised (and not proud–see Mennonite note above) at how much I felt the lack of it initially.

Since I got used to falling asleep without phone-ing, and since more and more sleep hygiene studies say that screens at bedtime are bad for sleep, I’ve decided to try no screens in bed for now. Most days I’m just fine with it. I’m not sure how long it will last once the semester is running full force and I rely on my phone more to keep my life organized. One day at a time.

I’ve been reading in bed for for forever, though. Continue reading “Less screen time led to paletas de sandia”

I can see…deeper? now

Sometime while I was in Ireland, my vision improved to the point where the world got deeper. I remember saying something to Bradley about being able to see that the clouds were layered, and I think at that point I at least partially thought that I was noticing different types of clouds on top of each other, but there’s definitely more than that. The clouds are deep and wide and long. And it isn’t only the clouds. I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road as I drive, because I find myself staring at the sky, the trees, the mountains, and all the space between them and beyond them. There is so much depth there.

Skies filling the depths behind one of the buildings at the Rock of Dunamase
Skies filling the depths behind one of the buildings at the Rock of Dunamase

I feel very inarticulate whenever I try to talk about it, and in person it is usually accompanied by a lot of arm motions and facial expressions. Continue reading “I can see…deeper? now”

Marble Roller Extraordinaire

Hi, sisters,

I thought I’d give you an itty bitty glimpse into my Ireland visit, since one of the great joys is time with the kids. They’re fun, smart, adventurous, and (often) sweet. Besides giving you a glimpse of the kids’ personalities, you’ll also get to see some of some of Bradley’s handiwork. Bradley and Archer made a marble roller in the stump house that Bradley designed and made for the kids. In case you haven’t seen it, Martha took this picture of the stump house a couple months ago, before the marble roller was installed.

stump house

Here’s a more recent picture, post roller installment, from Bradley’s flickr page. Bonus baby bump from the morning that Thaddeus was born! Continue reading “Marble Roller Extraordinaire”

I’d never make it in post-apocalyptic Australia

Hi, sisters,

Last weekend, with the end of the semester being so close that I could almost taste the freedom waiting on the other side of six hours of testing, a couple friends and I took ourselves out for the new Mad Max movie. Have you seen it? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for, spent a fair amount of time muttering, “good lord, this is stressful,” definitely threw my arms around one of my friends at least once, and I enjoyed it. On the way home, my art historian and librarian friend and I talked about how our skills would be of absolutely no use in the motor-head, dystopian desert world shown in Mad Max: Fury Road. I mean, they only need one guitarist and my basic guitar skills lean far more heavily towards acoustic folk than towards battle-inspiring metal.Screen shot 2015-05-25 at 3.32.26 PM She said she’d probably end up as what the movie called a “breeder.” I figured that with my well-endowed mammary glands I’d end up living hooked up to pumps with the woman who produced the “mother’s milk” that grown men and women drink. These are obviously not jobs we want for ourselves. They would be grand wastes of our master’s degrees.

I saw my mechanical limits more realistically this past weekend. Continue reading “I’d never make it in post-apocalyptic Australia”

Throwback Thursday AND My Current Mood

Alaska 2008, after days of rain and roads.
Alaska 2008, after days of rain and roads.

Alaska trip II (the one where we got there by plane, not by car), to visit Rachel and Krestia and see Jess and Jill wed. If I remember correctly, this is one of the last days of travel, stopping at the Independence Mine on our way back towards Anchorage. We had all gone that special kind of crazy we get when we’re together in cars for hours on end, with the added bonus of this day being one of the few hours of the entire trip where it wasn’t raining. Wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday AND My Current Mood”

Throwback Thursday: The Border

Sisters in the desert. Christmas 2004.

Here we are in the New Mexico desert, during that trip you all made to visit me over Christmas during my year in El Paso. It was unseasonably cold to the point that there was a little snow that was melting by this point. I’m the only one wearing a (very large) coat (donated to the place where I worked)–maybe I had adjusted to southern climes already. By the time I left the southwest I was wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt when it was 70 out, though temps are different without humidity. What are your memories of that year that I was in Texas? Rachel and Krestia were married about 4 months previous. In this picture Martha is proudly wearing her engagement necklace from Bradley, given to her a few weeks earlier before they both returned from their semester together in New Zealand. Jewel is 16 years old and Esther is almost 13. Right?

I’ve been thinking about the border recently. Maybe because it is negative frazillion degrees here. Oh, fine. Not quite. It made it to 2 degrees today and the wind chill was only -19. But the internet tells me that it was 75 in El Paso today. I will cope with this snot-freezing, squeaky snow cold by thinking about the place where I learned what 105 feels like.  Here are a just a few of the many things I learned in my year living on the border. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: The Border”