Monday, July 30, 2007

Beaten to the Punch.

Kimberly just posted a blog entry with pretty much everything that I was thinking of writing about our weekend (though my own prose would have downplayed the kitten situation, I think). Just read hers instead.

In personal news, here's how I'm doing on my several points of improvement:

Exercise and calories - Today! We've started journaling the calories as of our breakfast today, and we're heading to the Campus Rec Center this evening. I'm really glad that Kimberly is on board with me for those things. It's the only way to keep myself going. (Thanks, darling!)

Budget - We started yesterday. Very conveniently, we both get paid bi-weekly, and they are on the opposite weeks, so we get a deposit every single week. That has enabled me to figure out our weekly allowances for everything: $50 a week for eating out/fun and entertainment, $75 for groceries, $50 a week goes into a vacation fund, all the bill money is set aside weekly, a check to the church every Sunday, and the rest goes into a general savings/non-periodic expense fund.

Time with God/Practice - I haven't had much luck here yet (though I have practiced every day). I think I'm going to partner with Ben on these things so that we can keep each other accountable. Maybe later this week or next week I can get into a more regular habit.

One night a week with Kimberly - I figured that this would be the easiest. It helps that we like hanging out with each other anyway. We've gotten out and spent time with each other several times in the few days since I posted my list.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Alright, it's been several weeks since I started my new job and even longer since I began my stressful job transition. Before that period started I was on a pretty healthy schedule as far as exercise and diet went. When things got rough at work some of that discipline went out the window. During my two weeks off I did develop a helpful habit of keeping up on the household chores when Kimberly wasn't around. Now this has faded. In the past couple of months I've been practicing my bass more than at any other point in my life, including when I was in college, but I've barely touched it this week. It's definitely time for me to hoist myself back up to par.

Here is the ambitious list of things that I want to develop or redevelop as regular disciplines in the next couple weeks:

1) Exercise/run 4-5 times a week.
2) Count and journal calories.
3) Keep a modest and accurate budget.
4) Spend at least a half an hour a day with God, in scripture, meditation, or prayer. (This would be a totally new discipline for me.)
5) Spend at least a half an hour a day playing my bass or another instrument.
6) Plan at least one night a week to be outside the house with the sole purpose of spending time with Kimberly (be it a 20 minute walk or a dinner date).

I mention these things here to have some semi-public accountability. I'll make sure to note my progress or failure here every week.

Wish me luck...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Checking in.

I had a great weekend. We went to IKEA for the first time ever and bought some cool new stuff (Kimberly wrote about our trip in her latest entry too). We took it home and I rearranged the living room and the office, which was such a breath of fresh air after living with the same configuration for an entire year.

We picked up Harry Potter Seven, but I am still in the process of re-reading #6 so that I can be as up to speed as possible while finally finishing the series. I'm understandably anxious to get this book over with so I can start the one that I've been waiting to read for so long. I just got back from a half hour of reading and eating my lunch in the car. I'm down to the last 100 pages.

Otherwise life is going very well. Our small group just entered new and exciting phase of its existence (a fresh approach to there, just like with the apartment), the new job continues to be an amazingly good fit for me, and tonight we're going to renew our memberships to the UMass Lowell Campus Rec Center and start working out again.

We're still without a working DSL connection, which is frustrating, but we'll survive until we get connected again, somehow. Google wants us all to be connected all of the time. Too bad they haven't accomplished their goals yet. If they had we wouldn't have to stick the laptop in the bedroom window to check our email at night.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

iGoogle Feeds

I just wanted to share that iGoogle is a great way to keep up on everyone's blogs. You can click on "Add stuff" and then just type the address of your friends' blogs in and as long as they have an RSS feed (most do automatically) your page will update itself when their blogs are updated. Very handy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


We renewed our Flickr Pro account the other day, which allows us to store unlimited photos at their original quality on the web. We uploaded like crazy this weekend, and now our collection is up to date.

There is of course an endless amount of organizing and commentating that can be done. I think that the easiest and funnest way for us to share our photos with everyone is to make small photo sets with comments added and link directly to those from time to time. Here is a pilot example that I made last night. You can explore our entire collection, but this method will give a good overview of things that are important to us.

The forest through the trees.

This Saturday I found myself 12 feet up in a tree (I think it was a yellow birch). My goal was to spend a half an hour figuring out what it means to "empty myself" before God so that I could hear him speak and then to do it.

My biggest observation of my time (of the act itself, that is) is that a half hour is nowhere near enough time to really bear fruit in an effort like that. At least not if one has no practice in this sort of contemplation. At no point did I reach a state anywhere near empty, which is not to say that it wasn't a worthwhile experience, just that it is hopefully more like a beginning to a journey than a singular event.

My process went something like this:

● My group all went our separate ways to begin our half hour alone. I ran off into the woods behind our campsite, across a marshy brook, and found my tree.

● I shimmied up to the lowest branch, and then climbed up to a fork in the tree that made for a good perch.

● I began my contemplation by trying to be aware of my surroundings rather than myself (or with myself as just another part of the surroundings). I could hear birds singing, squirrels and Austin rustling around, a bit farther off the sound of families at their campsites, and beyond that the sound of trucks racing down the highway.

● I started to feel all these things are part of the same earth. At first the people at the campground were a distraction, but soon they faded into the background of the world around me. Once I was at this point I could begin to feel myself as part of that material background as well.

● I could feel myself as part of the background except for my mind. I began to ponder the wonderful gift that God has given me in my consciousness that pierces the divide between the material and spiritual worlds. I worshiped God for his grace in this gift.

● The rest of my time was spent trying once again to remove myself from my mind, this time, though, removing my ego from my thoughts. It was this task that proved too much for so little time. As far as I might think I've traveled down the road to humility, it takes only a few moments to realize that I am the center of my universe almost all of the time. To recognize it for a while is wholly liberating.

I would love to make experiences like this common practice. The value of that time spent is so much higher than almost any other way that I might be spending it, so why not?

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Kimberly and I joined the Havens and the Carrolls on an overnight trip to the DAR State Forest in Goshen, MA last night. We meet regularly to discuss Christian books and our thoughts about Christ, the church, and service. This trip as a group was to get away and have some time for individual reflection (and to spend some time together with food and a fire).

We passed through some pretty intense rain storms on the way,

We spotted a great rainbow on the other side

but when we arrived it was totally dry. Austin, John, and I foraged for some wood and got a pretty decent fire going. Kimberly, Missy, and Laura made us up some super tasty pizzas.

It was certainly great to get away for the night without any commitments or obligations. It was fun, as always, to build a nice fire, to sit in relative quiet, and to have a good excuse to just talk with friends.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Two Awesome Weekends

Two weekends ago, before I started the new job, Kimberly and I went to Keene, NH for exploring, camping, and hiking. We left Friday afternoon intending to camp for one night, but after setting up camp I decided that we needed an extra night there, so we reserved Saturday night as well.

Friday night we ate here:

A seafood place called Nick's. We couldn't resist. The food was actually really good.

The campground was gorgeous. The sites were big, riverside, and clean.

Saturday morning we headed to town and ate at a local diner, then went and did some hiking on Mt. Monadnock. This was the first time I've ever summited Monadnock twice in one week!

After the hike we showered and went back to town for dinner. We ate at the Margaritas in town (shameful that we went for a familiar chain instead of a local place, I know, but it was what we were really craving in the moment). Keene is a very cool college town, with an active main street complete with local shops. We bought a nice art print and some supplies, visited a musical instrument store, and a record store.

a yet-to-be-molded record bowl

Both nights we made a great campfire and had s'mores. Here are some shots from Saturday.

a single star on 8-second long time exposure. These are my hand movements and I tried to hold the camera steady without a tripod.


This past weekend we went to the annual cookout at Kimberly's parents' camp in Northern Maine and Nathan and Priscila decided to come along with us! We left Friday night, stopping off in Portland for a late dinner, Yarmouth for a visit to Delorme and the world's largest revolving globe, and arrived at Kimberly's parents' house at 1AM.

Her name is Eartha. Kimberly and I always give her at least a nod on our way through in Maine.

Saturday morning we got up and went to Tim Hortons for breakfast. Nathan and Priscila were very excited for the opportunity, since Tim Hortons is a staple in Quebec where they lived previously, and it has expanded all throughout Maine, but there are none near us in eastern Mass. After breakfast Kimberly and Priscila went shopping while Nathan and I hiked Blue Hill Mountain 20 miles southeast of our hometown, Bucksport.

Nathan taking pictures on the summit.

The mountains of Mt. Desert Island

We met back at the house and then continued on an additional 100+ miles to the camp in Merrill, ME. We stopped off at an outlook with a view of Mt. Katahdin on the way. After the party we visited with Kimberly's family, had a huge campfire, and slept in tents.

We buried our ferret, Rocky, who passed away in January. I picked up Kimberly's little cousin's First Act accordion and worked out Amazing Grace for the ceremony.

The Katahdin outlook:

The campfire:

On Sunday we took all day to travel back, stopping at the Kenduskeag stream and our favorite bagel shop in Bangor, visiting my family in Bucksport, eating dinner in Augusta, and outlet shopping in Freeport.

It was the first time we had a chance to show our friends from Massachusetts our home state and it was great to see all the familiar places and people in a vicariously new light.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A quick update on the new job...

Week one has been great! So far it seems that I'm a great fit for the position, my coworkers and boss are very nice and enthusiastic, and I'm picking things up quite quickly. I am still waiting for the catch.

Thanks to everyone that prayed for me and Kimberly as we went through this long transition. Things can now slowly come to a place of more stability and rest. Things certainly would have been much more difficult if not for our friends.