Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Closin' Shop

We have made the difficult decision to close up shop on this little blog for now. It's been a blast, but we need to set it aside for now. To be honest, we have too much on our plates right now.

We're not going to delete it though, and maybe someday we'll be back. If you want to keep up with us, we'll both be posting (as we can) on our blogs: Heather Between and t(r)oymarbles.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


My friend Matt can create watercolor paintings like nobody’s business. I have great admiration for the way he can control watercolor paints because that is something I’ve never been able to do.

My mom has bought and completed more than a few paint-by-number kits. It sticks in my memory that she has actually done DaVinci’s Last Supper. Tacky, I know, but it does confirm the secret code theory that’s been circulating these days.

Far from being the “fine artist”, I’m at my best painting walls. I abhor the prep work, though. Taping off all the baseboards, outlets, radiators and light switches is not my cup of tea.

I do insist on quality paint. There’s nothing worse than painting with thin, cheap stuff. When we first moved in to our flat two years ago, we painted the whole place with a type of paint you mix yourself. You buy a bag of paste, add water and color. It worked okay for lighter colors but we wanted to do some walls in a deep red. The red ended up looking more purplish and chalky. So, we decided to bite the bullet and buy a more expensive ready-mixed brand. Coating the walls with that stuff was sheer pleasure. It was worth the price.

If there’s one skill I wish I could add to my repertoire it would be the ability to create stunning works of visual art, painting included. Alas, I don’t think it’s “in the cards” for me, though.

A lot of what I know about painting, I learned from Troy. In the world of painting, I married up. Not only does he have a lot of knowledge about painting, he does a really good job at it, through the whole process. It never fails that he is the one that does the clean-up; washing out the brushes, wiping up spills, picking up drop cloths. I’m a consummate slacker when it comes to painting. I like the actual painting and you can even get me to do some prep, like taping. But once the wall looks all purty, I’m done.

When we moved into our current apartment, our landlord gave us permission to paint the whole place however we wanted. In Spain you can buy this cheap paint goop that you mix with color and water. It’s a bit crazy, but it works out pretty cheaply. We had fun mixing our own colors. Nic got a sunny yellow, Meg got a pinky purply sort of color, and the rest of the house is kind of café au laitish. Except for the red. We painted our bedroom red, as well as one wall in the living room. For those, we had to buy real honest to goodness premixed paint, because the cheap stuff did not cut it when it came to red.

I have to say, knowing that the cheap paint goo exists is dangerous because sometimes I daydream about new and exciting color schemes!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Oh, September. The dog days of summer are gone (what on earth does that mean, anyway? Why thank you, Mr. Google for this information) and the brutal routines of school mornings are back. The temps are still a bit too warm for comfort and going all day without a nap is killer.

This September is full of newness for our family. Meg and Nic are in a new school, which is quite a distance away. In order to save money, they ride with a teacher. He has to be there early, so on the most brutal days, they have to get up at 6:30 and leave by 7:15.

It’s full of growing-up kids. Meg is going to Middle School camp with her class tomorrow and won’t be home until Thursday. She’s been helping me pack school lunches, something we’ve never had to do. Today we picked up her new phone (for emergencies, not gabbing with friends) so that eventually she and Nic can take the metro without us but still be able to get help if they need it.

September has more limbo in it than normal for me this year. If I get the school job I am hoping for, I have most of September to get my life together. If I don’t, I probably need to start looking for something else. I’d be really happy to know, one way or another.

I’m looking forward to the part of September that brings crisp air and cool nights.

September loosens
its sweaty grip
on summer
out of necessity.
Bright emerald leaves
pale with sometime dew.
The trees
begin to languish in confusion,
not knowing whether to count on sun or chill.
They begin to entertain thoughts of fatalism
but don’t want to give up just yet.

Perceive a weak,
slow whisperleak
in the air.
Change is imminent.

September is
the kindest kind of cruelty imaginable.
She is the now and not yet.
She is the house half-built.
She demands prayer.
In September,
the builder begs
for resolve
to finish what was started
before the cursing season takes over
and the last chance skips away smug.

September is
the epic novel that is
a mere three chapters shy of completion.
She is the teasing promise.
She asks you to trust her,
but does so with
a concealed wink and cross of fingers.

September is
the sigh that comes after sighing.
She is the nap
when you should be rising
and the wakening
when you should be reclining.

September is
the unavoidable call-to-arms,
suddenly interrupting furlough.
September is my coach, but
I am a novice runner
wishing to delay my training
just one more day.

In September,
too many cars return to the city.
Crane anxiously for a parking place.
You are a wheeled hamster.
Circle four more times.
Eventually an oil-stained spot will open.

Hope has its basis in September,
but it is forced.
hold on to this.
Thank heaven
hope is not utterly deferred.

Friday, August 29, 2008


First CD I bought:

Yeah, uh huh: cuz that was worth the money.

First vinyl album I bought (before CD’s existed):

Ain’t he cute?

First job: feeding two golden retrievers down the block from us when I was 8. This job resulted in my first savings account, believe it or not. This is why I'm a millionaire today.

First dog we had when I was a kid: a Pekingese Poodle named Fonzie.

We got rid of him pretty quickly cuz he bit me. I didn’t taunt him, I swear. Cuz I was a well-mannered little scamp, dontchyaknow.

First full-length play I performed in:

My character’s name was Bud Frump. The name “Frump” tells you what kind of person he was. It wasn’t typecasting. I think.

First school: Sunset Terrace Elementary in Rochester, Minnesota.

This is where I first sniffed glue.

First time overseas: spent most of my time in Birmingham, England. Cuz, yeah, Birmingham has such a booming tourism industry.

First time I kissed Heather: in Henry Hallgren’s basement while watching this movie:

We necked because this flick is such a romantic movie.

First time I rode on a plane: I was 17.

First job in ministry: part time youth pastor at Evangel Baptist Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

I wore a tie and pretended to be sophisticated.

First car I owned: an old station wagon. I bought it for $1 from my pastor in Minnesota. I’m not sure I didn’t get ripped off.

The first time I ate sushi, I was hooked.

The first time I left my family, I flew from Toronto to London, England.

The first time I saw Two Towers, I had nightmares that night about Orcs chasing me.

The first time I was ever in the hospital was to have my gall bladder removed.

The first time I saw a positive sign on a pregnancy test was 30 months after we started trying to get pregnant.

The first dog I ever “owned” was a Pekinese puppy named Pal that my parents gave me for my 1st birthday.

The first time I slept in a water-bed, I knew I wanted one.

The first time I tried Dr. Pepper was in a motor home we were driving from Florida to Michigan one furlough. I had a sip of my Dad’s and the rest is history.

The first car I ever drove was a Subaru station wagon.

The first car Troy and I owned was a behemoth electric blue station with a saggy driver’s seat. We called her Sally.

The first boy I really kissed was Troy. (He’s the last, too)

The first time I rode a horse was on a ranch in Western Canada where my Dad used to work.

The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Sound of Music. My parents snuck us out of my grandparents’ apartment in Toronto because they didn’t approve of going to the movies.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


We don’t normally eat dessert after meals in our house (unless you count our son who asks for a cookie at 9:30 on Saturday mornings when he ate breakfast, oh, 45 minutes before.) When I was growing up, dessert was reserved for when we had company. Normally we just ate another spoon of mashed potatoes or something if we wanted something more to eat.

Since I don’t enjoy baking, I was happy to carry that tradition on with my own family. If they do want something sweet after a meal, their choices usually consist of yogurt or a store-bought cookie. Nothing but the finest for my family.

Here are my favorite desserts, if I don’t have to make them myself:
Tiramisu (My favorite is at La Finca de Susana here in Madrid.)
Brownies (from a box is just fine.)
April’s warm chocolate chip cookies.
Kim’s chocolate cakey pudding thingies (do you notice a trend in the fact that OTHER PEOPLE make these?)
Ice cream (not vanilla, unless there is plenty of chocolate sauce).
Cheesecake (Carolyn’s, with caramel sauce whenever possible. Or Café Latte’s chocolate raspberry. I’m warning you, don’t click that link unless you can get in your car and go over there. RIGHT NOW.)
In a pinch, a few squares of Valor’s sugar free dark chocolate with almonds.

And now I need to go run 100 miles, if you’ll excuse me. Except, oh yeah, I don’t run any more than I bake. Oh well!

I had to ask Heather if the topic she selected was to be written in the singular form or the plural form. She opted for the singular, but I think it should be plural.

This tells you how much I like me a heap o’ dessert.

My fav: strawberry shortcake.

If I cannot get that, I will settle for:
-ice cream—any kind except coffee flavored
-cookies, especially homemade peanut butter or chocolate chip or Christmas cookies or snickerdoodles or ginger snaps or snickerdoodles.

Yes, I’m aware I’ve written the word “snickerdoodles” twice. It’s such an interesting word I just couldn’t pass up writing it again.

I also like cake, any kind: chocolate, white, yellow, marble, purple or limestone.

I adore pie, almost any kind: apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin, banana cream.

Cobbler’s awesome too, but could someone settle an issue that has perplexed me no end? What’s the difference between

-apple cobbler
-apple crisp
-apple crumble

Finally, no post on dessert would be complete without mentioning the fond memories I have eating mom’s pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting and her bundt cake. I love the word “bundt” also. If someone could come up with a bundt snickerdoodle cake, that would make me extremely happy.

To sum up: I like dessert so much I think that if I couldn’t get anything “proper” I’d likely settle for a spoonful of raspberry jam.