You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

Early in our courtship, BWB and I were talking about my family’s custom of saying grace before meals.  The conversation expanded to include a broader range of prayer occasions, and I asked him when his family would pray.

Jews don’t pray, he said.

I sputtered.  Don’t pray like Christians, you mean?  Don’t pray out loud?  Nope, he said, we just don’t pray at all.  There was more sputtering on my part, as I was pretty sure I had witnessed prayer on the parts of Jewish friends in the past.  After further discussion, we refined our definitions somewhat.  When BWB spoke of prayer, he meant the stereotype in which a child kneels by the bedside or people hold hands in a circle and loudly proclaim their desire for Father God to bless them Father God and help them Father God to achieve Father God their goals Father God in Your Name Father God Amen.  As an Episcopalian who attended Quaker schools, I’ve grown up with prayer of a more quiet and personal nature, often silent.  I could understand his perception, and yet I pushed the issue — don’t you stop to talk to God sometimes, even just in passing?  Perhaps, he said, but we just don’t pray like that.

By the end of the conversation, I was harboring a little concern for our future family dinners and what grace we would say over them. We let the topic drop, though, one of those things we figured we would work out over time.

Fast forward to last Friday night, when we were sitting in temple service the day after Thanksgiving.  The rabbi, usually one of the more reserved people I have met, stepped out from behind the pulpit (do they still call it a pulpit in a synagogue?) to speak.

How many of you had spontaneous prayer at your Thanksgiving dinner?

Nobody raised his or her hand.  She repeated the question, and I nudged BWB.  We had, I reminded him.  When?  When you randomly announced in the middle of the meal that you were grateful for good friends and good food, and then we all went around saying what we were grateful for.  That counts?  Yeah, I said, and elbowed him again.  So when the rabbi asked if anyone had had spontaneous prayer but just weren’t saying they had, he raised his hand, and I cautiously half-raised mine.  She pounced, asking for details, and he explained what had happened.  Aaah, she said, and nodded, then looked around the room.  Suddenly there were several other families agreeing that they, too, had done this, but they didn’t really think that counted.  That wasn’t really prayer.

The rabbi smiled, and went on to tell us about a trip she had taken to Israel with a group made up of rabbis and Evangelical pastors.  She said that the Evangelicals kept stopping to pray (in the loud, Father God-containing manner mentioned above) and it made the rabbis very uncomfortable.  On the one hand, this was definitely not their style, but on the other hand, shouldn’t they be expressing gratitude for this journey, too?

As it turns out, Jews do pray, and quite often.  We were given a handout with some selections from this book, covering prayers over bread, wine, fruit, food from the earth, prayers to be said when hearing thunder or witnessing a rainbow, prayers to be said when something happens for the first time in a year.  There is apparently a prayer for just about everything, an ancient variant of “there’s an app for that”.  The rabbi told us that one is supposed to be praying about 100 times a day, and over the course of this sermon (is it still a sermon? I’m having some interfaith lexicon issues today) she became increasingly animated, clearly passionate about this topic.  She spoke about these prayers — short, codified pieces which are distinct and definite for each instance — and she asked us why we thought that the holy men who wrote them would have made so many, so different, so specific.

So that we would think about it, BWB murmured beside me.

And isn’t that the point?  These prayers are not long-winded rambles of gratitude and supplication, nor are they solemn moments of silent meditation.  These prayers are meant to make us mindful that every moment is a gift, every flower or raindrop is a blessing, every small joy is something to thank God for.  These are punctuation marks in the harried run-on sentence of our internal monologues.

In the end, we were both right in that original conversation.  Jews do pray, as I suspected, but they don’t pray exactly the same as Christians do, as BWB knew.  I don’t plan on giving up my silent, reflective prayer, and I have an appreciation for loud Evangelical-style praise circles which I suspect is unusual for the average Episcopalian, but I think I will try to add some of these new, Jewish-style prayers into my daily life.  Chalk this up for one more way my life with BWB has enhanced my spirituality and relationship with God.

Also, as far as saying grace goes?  We’re good to go — there’s a prayer for that, too.

One of the odd things about the process of registering for the wedding was how much of it was stuff for me.  Not technically, of course — pots and pans, knives and spatulas, and the most fantastic panini press ever invented (claim not yet verified), all of these things will certainly benefit my husband.  He loves to eat what I cook, after all!  However, the direct, hands-on benefit is mine and mine alone.

And oh, how I am benefiting.  I relish every slice I make with my shiny new Wusthof chef’s knife, piles of paper-thin celery cheerfully accumulating in the wake of a blade which is sharp enough to actually be useful.  I have found a reason to use the Le Cruset enameled dutch oven every day since opening it, burbling incoherently as it politely heats up some marinara sauce for pasta, a job quite below a pot of its stature I am sure.  I would write sonnets to my new food processor if I remembered the form, or could tear myself away from actually using the appliance to do so.  My pots all have handles, handles which are soundly attached no less, lids which fit, and they heat evenly — a word oh-so-close to heavenly, which describes perfectly how I find them.  Suffice it to say, my kitchen has been upgraded and it is bliss.  Then there is the laundry sorter, an item I never expected to be so madly in love with, and the many beautiful items for serving food and beverages in a visually pleasing manner, all of which make me excessively eager to throw lots and lots of parties involving more people than our little house could possibly contain.  I also love looking at each item and remembering who gave it to us, and realizing that all of this awesome stuff is a direct result of people caring about us and helping us build our home.

We did have a few miscalculations, though, and yesterday we took back the handful of items which were either duplicates or physically didn’t fit in the space we thought we would put them in.  This, plus gift cards and a handy discount coupon, gave us a respectable little shopping spree.  At the first store, we grabbed sheets (800 thread count on sale for 50% off, with a further 20% discount — we are quite pleased with that find), some kitchen storage items, and two bath rugs.  In the second store, we acquired a potholder to match one we’d already been given and a rotary grater.  And then we went on to store number three.  I found a very nice looking knife set, from which I wanted to get a santoku and a utility knife, but we decided to keep looking just to see if we found anything better.

Then he saw it.

The Sharper Image Fog-Free Mirror with MP3/Radio Wireless Speakers.  Oh, his eyes lit up.  Look, he said, it has storage for razor blades too!  I bet it could fit both of ours in there, if you wanted.  Hmm, I said.  It looks flimsy.  He assured me he thought that was just the display version.  Hmm, I said.  I hit the DEMO button and a loud, cheerful male announcer announced that this was the Sharper Image Fog-Free Mirror with MP3/Radio Wireless Speakers!  And razor storage!  And clock!  BWB seemed to sense my lack of enthusiasm and diplomatically suggested we finish looking around before making any decisions.

We looked at the cast-iron grill pan (too expensive), some more knives (either too cheap in quality or too rich in price), a decorative glass jug for dispensing drinks from a flimsy plastic spigot (which we would put… where?), and a coffee press (meh).  I drifted back by the knife set, and looked up to see him being sucked into the gravitational pull of the gadgetry.  He gave me a serious look, “We need a clock in the shower.”  Yes, yes we do.  There was a small one on the registry, in fact, but it hadn’t been selected.  “And look, you can connect your ipod for listening to things in the shower!”  Hmm, I said.  He furrowed his brow and sat down to open the package and see what the non-sample version looked like, and if it were any less flimsy looking.  I wandered away to look at Christmas decorations while he evaluated his find.

There really isn’t anything that we have been given for the wedding which was what BWB wanted more than I did.  Well, there is that red apron that he decided he needed, but I don’t really think that counts.  In the store yesterday, I looked at him with the Sharper Image Fog-Free Mirror with MP3/Radio Wireless Speakers and realized that I could get knives another time.  This one was all him.

We are now the proud owners of a Sharper Image Fog-Free Mirror with MP3/Radio Wireless Speakers (and clock, and razor storage).

I love being married.

There was a wedding when the Rag Doll married the Broom Handle. It was a grand wedding with one of the grandest processions ever seen at a rag doll wedding. And we are sure no broom handle ever had a grander wedding procession when he got married.

There are several posts I want to write about the first two years of my relationship with BWB, posts which have been percolating for a long time.  I suspect I’ll end up writing them gradually and peppering them in amongst the current events, flashbacks until we’re all caught up.  It can be like Lost, or at least what Lost was like when I watched it, back before my Tivo ate the episodes and I didn’t have the patience to figure out what I’d missed.

In any case, this isn’t one of those posts.  This is the end of the story those yet-to-be-written entries will tell, and the beginning of all of the rest of the stories for the rest of my life.  (How’s that for dramatic?)  This post is about my wedding.

Blue Wind Boy and I were married one week ago, Halloween 2009, and it was awesome.

I’m not putting any “IMO” caveats on that, it was just awesome.

It was awesome because there were no major catastrophes the day of.  Everything went pretty much as planned, and the things which bobbled were so minor as to be not even worth mentioning.  Months of planning and stressing and going back and forth between my mother, my fiance, the site coordinator and the day-of planner all came together perfectly.  There were enough candles to make all the centerpieces and go around the fountain.  There was enough candy for the candy bar.  It did not rain.  The DJ was incredibly talented — as one guest said, he kept the party going without being the party — and the music was just what we had hoped for.  I am told the food was fantastic. (I didn’t eat more than a few bites, but am hoping for some pictures.)  I’d been prepared for that one disaster everyone says will happen, and it just didn’t.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

It was awesome because the dual-faith ceremony we labored over and negotiated with the priest and rabbi was everything I could have hoped for.  That’s saying quite a bit, because prior to about, oh, two years ago, I thought the biggest negotiation about my wedding ceremony would be whether we’d be having communion with the mass or not.  Joke’s on me, right?  You’d be surprised.

One of the reasons that I wanted to write this all down is that in the process of explaining my faith to Blue Wind Boy, I have come to deeper understanding of why the things I do are important to me.  This ceremony was not the one I had been dreaming about since I was a little girl, not the one I would covertly flip to in the Book of Common Prayer during less than inspiring sermons on Sundays and imagine how I would sound saying the words on that onionskin paper.  We did not get married in a church, thus negating years of evaluating churches based on how they would look in wedding pictures.  (I have other criteria too, people, I’m just saying.)  This was not the wedding ceremony I always thought I would have.  This ceremony, my ceremony, was more.

I told BWB early on in our engagement that even though we could, technically, have an Episcopal wedding (the rule is that only one of you must be a baptized Christian), I wouldn’t want to because it would be like negating him from the ceremony.  I think at the time I didn’t fully grasp what I was saying, but last Saturday I truly understood why that would have been incomplete at best.  Every word that was spoken during our ceremony was chosen because it was meaningful to us, to my husband and me.  Having both of our faith traditions embodied in the priest and the rabbi made me feel more keenly that this was truly a joining, a coming together of two people, two families, two cultures.  We were married in the eyes of God, with the support of both of our communities, and that was humbling.

That’s the other reason the wedding was awesome.  It was just plain fun.  There were people there from every phase of my life, from the town I grew up in, the SCA group I participated in as an early teen, my college years, and each frame since leaving college.  The look in my parents’ eyes was full of love and pride, my sister looked like a movie star, my bridesmaids were glowing, and my flower girl proved that it is not, in fact, possible to twirl too much when you are five.  My friends danced and laughed — every time I looked around, people were smiling and laughing.  My grandmother-in-law called my parents’ house a few days after the wedding and ended up speaking to my sister.  She had come down with a stomach flu the day of the wedding and was unable to make it, but she said she had heard nothing but high praise from the family when they returned to the hotel, “and we’re a very critical family, so that means something!”  If nothing else had gone right, if the candles all wouldn’t light and there wasn’t enough candy and it poured down rain and the food sucked, if everything had been totally haywire, I would still be happy with the weekend knowing that my loved ones all somehow had a good time.  As it was, I am ecstatic.

The point of all this isn’t to say that my wedding was sooo much awesomer than anyone else’s.  You’ll note that I have just said it was awesome — no -er.  Or -est.  The point is just that I am so incredibly grateful that I got to have such an amazing evening, one which still makes me glow when I think about it.  The love and support surrounding us was simply astounding.  This wedding, the one which was nothing like the one I thought I would have, was everything I could have dreamed of and more.  I fervently hope and pray that every woman, every person in the world really, gets to feel as blessed and happy as I did that night.  I can’t imagine a better way to begin a marriage.

I am guessing that most people wouldn’t immediately recognize where the title of this blog comes from.  It is taken from Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, as is my nickname.  When I was a little girl, my parents got the recordings of Sandburg reading his stories and my sister and I listened to them most nights before bed.

Actually, at the time I preferred a tape of lullabies because there was one section in the stories (The Two Skyscrapers Who Decided To Have A Child, to be exact) which was terribly scary to me.  My sister is three years younger than I am, and goodness knows I didn’t want to admit that I was scared of something she wasn’t afraid of at all!  Every night we would alternate, and the nights the Sandburg stories went in, I would lie awake in bed waiting for that phrase (“Yah yah, blah blah, yoh, yoh,”) to pass.  (“Many lives lost, many lives lost.”)

It probably seems strange at this point that I would have named a blog after stories that scared me, but it was really just that one.  These stories threaded through my childhood in special ways.  We spent summers up in the mountains of North Carolina, and would go to the Carl Sandburg Home to watch the Flat Rock Playhouse apprentices perform selections from the stories.  The sound of Mr. Sandburg reading his works (aside from certain scary bits) resonates in my mind to this day, and the way he manipulates language, in my opinion, makes Seuss look like a Dick and Jane book.  (Okay not quite, but you get the idea.)

If you have ever watched the little corn begin to march across the black lands and then slowly change to big corn and go marching on from the little corn moon of summer to the big corn harvest moon of autumn, then you must have guessed who it is that helps the corn come along. It is the corn fairies. Leave out the corn fairies and there wouldn’t be any corn.

I spent August and part of September this year in Illinois, and let me just say, it’s very flat.  Very, very flat.  But I saw the corn marching, and I know that the corn is no good unless there are corn fairies.  The corn fairies laugh, and the corn fairies sew, and the corn fairies work hard because they wear overalls — I am trying to do the same, except for the overalls part.

My name here, White Horse Girl, is from a different story.  My husband gets referred to as the Blue Wind Boy, also from the same story.

“They were sitting together and talking to each other, sometimes singing, in a place where the land runs high and tough rocks reach up. And they were looking out across water, blue water as far as the eye could see. And away far off the blue waters met the blue sky.

“‘Look!’ said the Boy, ‘that’s where the blue winds begin.’

“‘Look!’ said the Girl, ‘that’s where the white horses come from.’

“And then nearer to the land came thousands in an hour, millions in a day, white horses, some white as snow, some like new washed sheep wool, some white as silver ribbons of the new moon.

“I asked them, ‘Whose place is this?’ They answered, ‘It belongs to us; this is what we started for; this is where the white horses come from; this is where the blue winds begin.'”

I think my beloved Blue Wind Boy and I are much like the pair in the story.  We both have different goals, different dreams which we are seeking, but they complement each other, and we can travel to find our place together.  I’m hoping that we won’t have to disappear like they did, of course.

So there you have it.  Esoteric references to children’s literature: I can has them.  And now, so can has you.

I’ve been thinking for a while about starting a new blog, one which isn’t tied into various social networks I already have established.  One which gives me a little more freedom, and a little more anonymity.  Not a great deal more anonymity, but at least a little.  The question I had to ask myself, though, was what purpose was I trying to serve?  Why am I doing this?  What is this blog about?

This is not a food blog, although I expect there will be a fair amount of food in it.  I love to cook, but I’m not a food blogger.

This is not a mommy blog, mostly because at the moment I have no children, but I do hope that will come along in time.  I am looking forward to having kids, but I’m not (and probably won’t be) a mommy blogger.

This is not a doggy blog, either — we just got a puppy, but I have a lot of other things in my life to write about besides him or the three feline furballs.  I love my puppy, but I’m not a doggy blogger.

This is not a running blog, even though I am a sometimes runner and a once-and-future triathlete.  I like to run races, but I’m not an athlete-blogger.

This can’t be a crafty blog, thanks to my complete lack of spare time for elaborate craft projects and perpetual start-itis.  My closet full of UFOs is pretty telling, but I’m not a knitblogger or a quilty blogger or a scrapbook blogger.

This isn’t an interfaith blog; it almost was, I even had a fancy title (“Meditations of My Hearth”, pretty catchy don’t you think?) and everything, but I think I want to write more than that.  I expect to discuss my marriage and our dual-faith home quite a bit, but this isn’t a faith blog.

There are, as you can see, a lot of things this blog isn’t.  It’s also not a medical blog, a political blog or a gamer blog.  I suppose I’m working at defining this space by explaining what it isn’t, but in the end, defining the blog is proving as difficult as defining myself.  And in the end, that is itself the answer.

This blog is about me, and my life.  Stick around for a while and we’ll figure out what that means.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 74 other followers