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Life in Letters

Whenever I read memoirs from years gone by or read novels written more than sixty years ago, I am reminded of how powerful letters used to be. They used to carry daily communication. All dinner parties were arranged through the mail. News, announcements, even heartfelt courtships were conducted via the Postal Service. People used to keep letters they received from friends and loved ones, and thus there was always a written record describing the little mundane details of life.

While I obviously appreciate all the lines of communication the internet has opened, part of me looks back wistfully on the days when one would write letters for each day’s correspondence, without the burden of email, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever it is that we feel compelled to use for sending messages. Before the constancy of screens, one could count on writing to several people each day and receiving hand-written responses in the mail. There is such thoughtfulness in a letter that has always been missing from electronic communication.

Though my busy life has snatched away much of my letter-writing time, lately I’ve become determined to resume the habit.  The other day I was out shopping at Michael’s, and I discovered in the dollar bins lots of stationery designs. My supply has been running low, so I picked up these lovely cards. I trust they’ll be used for plenty of old-fashioned correspondence.

letters

For Saturday

I finally found a fictional character who most closely replicates my style of cooking.

 

Before I met my husband, I thought that I would marry someone who was basically just like me. I imagined that this theoretical guy would have all the same interests, ideas, and hopes. We would sit side by side, reading the same genres, listening to the same styles, and writing the same thoughts. I conceived of a relationship between two people with essentially the same identity. One soul in two bodies.

This idea didn’t happen. And I’m so thankful, because it would have been about as interesting as sitting alone on a see-saw. Marriage, for us, is more like a Venn diagram, with enough overlap among personality traits and interests to make the relationship comfortable, while we each have our own ways of thinking and sufficiently different pursuits.

Differences are so interesting and fun. Although before I met Mason I knew nothing of website-building or Japanese anime, now I can appreciate their merits.  While Mason might have never baked a cake from scratch or initiated frequent travel, now he values these things and enjoys them. We make our own life together, each learning from the other.

Last week, Mason’s brother and sister-in-law sent us gifts that perfectly illustrated the similarity and distinction between Mason and me. We both got action figures, but the semblance ended there. Can you tell which one belongs to whom?

ja

monster

The weather here is getting delightfully cooler by the day. It’s time to put on sweaters and get out the warm blankets at night. The other evening, Mason and I wandered into a JCPenney to look for a few fall/winter clothes. We were unaware beforehand, but they were having a significant sale on mens’ clothes, and there were some great clearance items in the ladies’ section. After a bit of browsing, we ended up with two shirts for Mason and a dress that I can wear to an upcoming wedding.

At the moment, we are definitely on a student budget, but it’s rather fun and inspiring to see what great deals emerge with a little time and research. Still, a bit of caution is in order. While discounts can be helpful, it can be tempting to spend a lot more money when we see “SALE” in giant neon letters. (It’s human nature, and good business, after all.)  Though our fall shopping trip was spontaneous, we also had planned in advance to purchase a few new clothes.  When the opportunity presented itself, we were prepared.

There’s nothing like getting an incredible deal. Receipts like this one remind me why I strive to never pay full price.

receipt

On Wednesday night, Mason and I went with two friends to see Switchfoot live in concert. I’ve been a fan for quite a while (anyone remember A Walk to Remember?), but I felt my age when I realized I couldn’t remember some of the verses of the old songs.

John Perkins, a civil rights movement survivor who now works to reconcile whole communities, was in attendance. Several years ago, Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman was reading Perkins’ book Let Justice Roll Down, and as a result composed “The Sound (John M. Perkins Blues).”   In this city which has struggled for so long with racism, division, and prejudice, it was pretty great to honor Mr. Perkins among a crowd of people of many races and ages.

The fight for justice and changed hearts goes on, but new progress is made here every day. Grace restores and heals, while truth triumphs in the end.

John Perkins said it right
Love is the final fight

switchfoot

Photo credit: Meg Redmond

The weather is turning cool. Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but in my mind the fall always signifies change. I start thinking about new ways of approaching each day, of making life better. Since all of a sudden the humidity has dissipated, with glorious days promised ahead, I set up a clothesline beside our house. Hanging my clothes to dry has not been a habit that I’ve kept up in the US. During my days in Scotland, I didn’t have a dryer, and it was quite lovely to wear clothes that were scented with the actual fresh air as opposed to Bounce “Outdoor Fresh” or “Renewing Rain.” (Actual renewing rain showers were the only drawback to this custom.)

In several aspects of our lives, Mason and I are experimenting with simplicity. We’ve realized how much waste is present in our day-to-day living, and we’re hoping to cut out as much as we can. If this practice saves us money, wonderful. But that’s not really the point. The point is that we discover that we are okay without Stuff.  Needless consumption never changed anyone’s life. Though we are slowly inching toward simplicity, we can hardly remember anything we’ve given up. In return, we are finding that our lives are fuller with little joys that we would not have noticed before.

One joy is the welcoming breeze of fall after a long blazing summer.  Another is the sight of laundry on the line.

laundry

Mellow Fruitfulness

My quick getaway to visit The Erratic Artist was truly sensational. We talked and laughed incessantly, in near proportion to how often and how much we ate.  We celebrated God’s provision and enjoyed the blossoming of new and old friendships. I returned rested and re-energized. (When sand and sushi are involved, refreshment typically results.)

I arrived home where my darling husband and dog greeted me with open arms (or paws, in Sadie’s case).  Also there to greet me was a refrigerator full of old food.  Most notably, there were some very ripe strawberries and blueberries that were quickly heading down the path of no return. A rescue mission was summarily undertaken, and they were transformed into a delicious late-summer treat, complete with a splash of heavy cream. Find the recipe here.

staub

delish

Fall is my favorite season, and though today’s high is a whopping 96, I eagerly anticipate cool breezes, crunchy leaves, and pumpkin pie. Here’s to, as John Keats put it, the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”