Hope

foraeldreintra brorsonskolen varde go Perfect day“O ye friends of God! Show ye an endeavor that all the nations and communities of the world, even the enemies, put their trust, assurance and hope in you; that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Baha’. This is the foundation of the most high pathway!”

http://shareborder.live/2018/08 time value in excel -‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas

melanie griffith young  

fedme i usa statistik 2017 visit Attempting to trust, to forgive, to be open to everything.

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I like…#11

http://putchocolate.life/2018/08 radio d plus uzivo Fields of grass, even though I’m highly allergic.
resting

gammel vw model the sand washing away from my feet

sam in jamaivraja there laughing with old friends & retelling the stories of our past

avoir logo messagerie samsung j7 bright colors
love the trim

expert d assure qui paye photoshoots

http://hercentral.xyz/2018 verdensrekorder i 100 m løb honesty

http://anotherbase.xyz/2018 tortue domestique prix the way I feel after a long day in the sun

http://borrowschool.site/2018/08 centos xwindows modal long walks with no destination
purple flowers

http://tellpool.download/2018/08 dragetræf på fanø (I Like: #1,#2,#3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10)

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Alive

http://successfulnow.life/2018 faire borne arcade raspberry Tonight I felt alive for a moment, a rush of adrenaline as one of my closest friends and I drove down 94 with the windows down, singing along to the radio at the top of our lungs. It is a warm, sticky summer, a thunderstorm loomed overhead tonight, and everything is going to be ok.

waar worden de jongen geboren van een zeehond As I neared home, this song by Real McCoy came on the radio. It reminded me of awkward school dances, of the 90s, and of things that are good. I remember when Chicago had a techno station, and my friend and I would crank it up in the summer and sit in her front yard. I remember driving hours to see friends, listening to music and dancing just because we could.

anime tegninger af en arm August is going to be a very busy, intense month for me, both for work and travel. I can’t wait.

http://objectby.live/2018/08 informert samtykke skjema Take joy in the small things, in the biggest thing of all…that we are here and full of life.

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Emerging

operation for grå stær check After nearly a week of illness, I am trying to emerge from being a hermit. If you have spent any amount of time with me, you know that for me, being cooped up and non-productive is one of the most difficult things. I had to force myself to rest for the last 6 days, which has made me a little loopy.

nieuwe ah delft This is the fourth time that I’ve gotten a serious cold this year, which is incredibly frustrating, especially during the summer.

http://passfool.download/2018/08 change pour londres My blog was down for a few weeks, so now I am trying to get back into things as I’m recovering, catch up on everything. Here we go! Right now, it is time for laundry and getting everything in order for this coming week.

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Is it time to be personal?

simpel video edit programma link Untitled I don’t pour my heart out on my blog, and if I do, it usually comes out in some kind of creative writing exercise. I am unlikely to write in any sort of detail about my everyday activities…that is what my Twitter account is for, and Facebook provides a measure of connection with the thousand or so “friends” that wish to know the happenings in my life.

http://gentlemanhurry.site/2018 maldives monetary authority map I have several drafts of posts that I keep meaning to get to. Things that I keep meaning to share here. And while I have had time here and there to write, I honestly have either been uninspired, exhausted, or not inclined. I try to respect my need to wallow once in a while, but right now it might be time to force some writing.

hotel dla psów Another problem has been that Google Reader wasn’t picking up my blog posts until I updated WordPress, so you’ll see a flood of posts if you read my blog through Reader. 😛

mann erna solberg see My recent acquisition of an iPhone (and with it, Instagram & a whole lot of other apps that have changed my life) means that while I continue taking photos with my Canon DSLR, I’ve added more phone pics to my Flickr page, and am happy to have something with me in my purse all the time. I carry the Canon a lot, but there are some times when it just isn’t practical.

http://threatscience.site/2018 petrino horio hotel kreta So…here I go.

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Too quiet

randstad sign in These days, sunset is the best and worst time. The way the light wraps around everything, creating the best moments to capture photos…this is the most wonderful thing, the only redeeming time. But the gloam can hold onto me if there is silence and I am alone, the almost-dark suffocating me with reminders and memories. I fill the space with music, with television, with cooking or baking or making…

I’m waiting, slightly paralyzed, but moving in some kind of direction. Making decisions.

I would like my sunsets back.

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the storms

alone
the windows are open
i can taste the rain and the heavy air is weighing on me
so close to everything and yet…
everything is a dream now.

i am not sure if i welcome the rain or not. the pressure sinks into my slowly beating heart, my tired eyes and soul. i embrace the clean mist that sweeps away this dust that is holding me back, and the thunderstorms that i can scream into. there are the empty moments that we filled and now my hands try to stay busy alone. there are miles and oceans to come, but nothing is real.

the storm has stopped now, the raging into the night leaves me drained.

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The death of a fish

RIP VincentI am sad to report the death of my betta fish, Vincent van Fish. He jumped out of his bowl sometime today, and I discovered his cold, lifeless body on the floor of my living room tonight when I got home from work.

I tried to buy a fish for Naw-Ruz that would last longer than a few weeks, but apparently Vincent decided that it was all too much. I am very disappointed, as I was growing quite fond of the little guy and even remembered to feed him every day.

Part of the reason I’m upset is because I now have food and other supplies for a fish that I just flushed down the toilet, and it feels like the whole experience was a waste of money. I know, I’m strange. But really, fish are the most useless pets. And I’m not convinced I would do much better with a different kind of animal.

RIP, Vincent.

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Winter

This winter has been a strange mix of busy/quiet. I haven’t traveled, though I wish I could get out of Chicago. Every event that is completed at work is a victory, but then it seems like no matter how many I finish, I still have the same amount of work on my to-do list.

And then, because I had way too much going on with no time to take a break, my body said “enough!” and I got a bad cold. I’ve missed 3 days of work and have watched all the television. Yes, all of it. And for me to stay inside and do nothing is nearly impossible. I have my little “recuperation station” set up in the living room, with my laptop open to my work email and buckets of tea, vitamins, and tissues surrounding me. I am surprised the tv and laptop haven’t burned out by now.

bridge pattern

So there isn’t much going on, really, just a mix of unusually warm weather mixed with painfully cold weather, a little snow, ice, and fog, and my dreams of summer and a vacation by the ocean. I am learning to bake more things (painfully failed at making soft pretzels). I am trying not to waste my evenings, and was on a decent workout routine before I got sick. I miss my friends as I always do, and love morning brunches and quiet afternoons. I wait not-so-patiently each week for a new episode of Downton Abbey, and am horrified that I can’t watch Sherlock until May. Sometimes I meet new people and it makes me happy.

This is winter in Chicago.

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the stranger

When we met, she was sitting on the curb in a parking lot, surrounded by bags of groceries. Her lined face was a story of decades, her hands curled up. The unrelieved black of her dress framed eyes that had stories in them, and the barrier between us of few common words prevents me from saying too much more about her.

She made the noises of machine guns to indicate her home country, and said that she cleaned homes, that her sister was trying to teach her to speak English but it was hard. She laughed a lot, and so did I. She reminded me of the women I would see sitting on park benches in Israel, staring into the past or talking to each other.

The Mississippi

I don’t know her name. But I think about her several months later, after I delivered her and her groceries to a small apartment where she invited me in for tea but I couldn’t stay. I think about how we don’t interact in any meaningful way with strangers, that I have begun craving that connection with people I barely know, if only for a few moments.

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Currently obsessed with…

* Learning how to use my new KitchenAid mixer. I’m giddy with excitement.

* Cooking and baking gluten-free items in a more deliberate way, including using my baking scale.

* Using Pinterest to find DIY projects and recipes that I can do around the house during quiet evenings.

* Trying to get back to the gym. Mostly because I can’t sleep at night and need to work through all of my stress. I’ve started going once a week and I’ll work up to more.

* Getting back into sewing. I have a sewing machine, and it silly not to use it.

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Home Improvement

I’ve lived in my condo for nearly 2 years, and have slowly been making changes. Limitations of time and money have prevented me from doing some of the major things I would like to do, but I have started with little projects. My most recent project was the cabinets in the kitchen. This is what they looked like when I bought my condo:

They were the original cabinets from 1968. I had to take the cabinet doors off to paint behind them and to paint each side. It took me about 2 weekends to finish everything. I used paint deglosser, then one coat of primer, and then semi-gloss paint to finish.

 

Finally, this weekend, Brendan helped me to do the final installation of the doors!

The kitchen is so much more cheerful now. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, cooking and baking, so it feels good to have a space that I want to be in.

Brendan also installed new blinds that I bought a few months ago, cut to measurements of the bay windows in my kitchen and bedroom. Having blinds that work is fantastic.

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Letting it go

I have had a couple of weeks of difficulty.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Nothing major, just little things, like the phone that I just had replaced a few months ago getting a cracked screen and needing to buy a replacement on eBay.

And interesting times at work, getting busier (which is great!).

And all sorts of things that surround life, missing some friends, dealing with sadness and figuring out plans on a very busy calendar.

By the time the weekend came, I needed a break. I needed a lot of food, friends, love, and sleep. I had run out of these amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies:

It was a sad situation. Luckily I had arranged to spend time with some wonderful loved ones, all of whom lifted my spirits and helped me a great deal. Sometimes we need to know when to throw our hands in the air and ask for some assistance.

So as I look forward to Thanksgiving and all of the good things that go along with that, I am looking forward to starting a better week.

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the hill

As we climbed the hill, golden leaves floated down and our footsteps scratched against the forest floor. Out of breath, we rested on a bench amongst the trees, and, looking up, saw two bald eagles circling around each other. There is no mistaking that silhouette, those forms. We stared out at the colors as the river flowed. The sun touched us with warm hands, made everything more perfect. This is what life feels like.

hilltop trees

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autumn

This might be the last really warm weekend before autumn truly takes over. I have been reveling in these days of sunshine, crunching leaves as the colors change, walking under trees half-changed into their fall wardrobe…

Fall 3

I want to take pictures, fill my camera with a million moments with you, and write stories to go with it. I am afraid of losing the stories. The click of my keyboard replaced the scratching of the pen on paper, glow of my screen instead of candlelight.

I am turning my phone off this weekend. Need to escape from everything, take some real time to make my thoughts stop jumping around so much. Sometimes I forget how much poetry I found in the moments between, in the silence before the bombardment. I have forgotten how to write, how to be ok in stillness.

Find the bee!

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The month of Halloween

As much as I don’t like the weather getting colder, I must admit that I love October. Mainly because it contains all things Halloween. I love having an excuse to dress up. Some years I put my costume together at the last minute, but this year I decided to be ahead of the game. My living room is currently covered in scraps of muslin and batting:

Of course I won’t say what I’m making, the costume is a surprise, but it is going to be fun. I have just enough sewing skills to put together a pillow, hem pants, or alter an already existing dress. I was worried that I didn’t have a pattern, but then I realized I could project it up onto my tv screen and trace it onto the muslin. It was cheaper to buy 10 yards of batting (that giant roll in the photo), so now I have about 7 yards of the stuff. I’m going to have to take up quilting or something (riiight).

When I left work last night, the air smelled like leaves and rain. It was raining on one side of the building, but not on the other! And then there was a hailstorm as soon as I passed into Wilmette from Evanston, but luckily the hailstones were small. Oh, Chicago. You’re so strange. But the sunset was amazing! (Taken with a cameraphone, so this doesn’t adequately represent how beautiful it was.)

  

I bought a pumpkin last year for Halloween. Didn’t carve it, just put it in the corner of my dining room. I threw it out 6 months later, it looked as perfect as the day I bought it. I think it was possessed or something. Creepy pumpkin.

The other thing I can’t wait to do is take photos of the fall leaves. We’re still pretty green here, but southern Wisconsin has started changing and I hope to go there soon with my camera. Last year was lovely at Starved Rock, but it was raining so it was hard to get some of the shots I wanted. We’ll see how it goes this year!

Please excuse the randomness of my thought process in this post. I seem to have had too much coffee this morning and not balanced it with enough food. I shall remedy that problem now.

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1 year ago

On September 14, 2010, I received a phone call in the middle of the night from a friend with a voice full of tears. She told me that our friend Gavin Welch had passed away in a car accident in Houston, Texas that afternoon. Gavin was the first friend in my life that died young. He was 32 years old. We were in college at the same time, and so many of my best memories of my Chicago years include him. His joy for life, honesty, and pure heart were powerful, and we all miss him very much.

Gavin: 1978-2010Tonight his friends and some family will gather at the Baha’i Home in Wilmette to remember him, laugh together, and pray for the progress of his soul in the next world. Bahhaj recorded his version of a song in Gavin’s memory. Below is a video that his friends put together for the first memorial last year.

Gavin Badi Welch Memorial Video from Jennifer Brandel on Vimeo.

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Civic duty and chicken nuggets

I had jury duty today. I’ve never been called for jury duty before. Instead of being called to the circuit court down the road from my house, I had to take the train to downtown Chicago. It actually all worked out well, as it was a civil case and only lasted 3 1/2 hours. The judge asked if we wanted to skip lunch, which everyone was happy about since it meant we finished earlier.

When I left, I ran into the Daley Plaza Farmers Market…fresh fruit and veggies abounded, though I had to restrain myself as I had to take the train north to get home.

Tonight I decided to make my favorite new dish: battered chicken. I cut chicken breast into long strips, dipped it in 1 beaten egg, then in a separate bowl that had half corn meal, half rice flour mixed together, then threw it in a pan with some olive oil. Fried up fresh zucchini with paprika, butter, salt, and pepper…yum.

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warmth

beachtime

Unlike the vast majority of the people I know, I actually love hot weather. I would spend all day outside if I could, wearing a large floppy hat, giant sunglasses, and a killer swimsuit, reading a book by the Lake.

There is something drowsy and wonderful in the sunsets of summer, the golden light and iced coffee, toes in the sand…I am never more alive than right now.

The trunk of my car is always full in the summer. There are picnic blankets, a frisbee, a large hat, swimsuit, towel, and sandals. The necessary accoutrements for impromptu afternoons that bring a smile to my face and a cool breeze off the lake.

The simple things.

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The things I do

This is what has been happening…a glimpse into my (mostly) suburban life since we last spoke. I’m always busy, that is nothing new. And I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a lot of things…

1. I took a flight around the city in a 4 seat Cessna. I have not had a chance to edit most of the 120 photos I took that day, but it was quite the experience. I hope to write a blog entry about it soon.

2. I hosted a bridal shower for a friend, during which we made fascinators and were really quite fancy. I will be attending her wedding this weekend, which I really am looking forward to.

the table

3. My little sister graduated from high school with honors. I am incredibly proud of her, she worked very hard. The graduation nearly got evacuated because of severe thunderstorms, but we made it through.

4. I attended the funeral of Gayle Woolson, a Knight of Baha’u’llah and wonderful person who lived in many countries in Latin and South America, on June 1st. She was nearly 98 years old when she passed away. I took public speaking classes with her when I was a child. The funeral was beautiful and such a testament to her nobility and sweet nature.

5. I threw a surprise party this past weekend which nearly got torpedoed at least 3 times, but in the end everything worked out.

6. An adventure in Chicago with some friends, which really does merit its own post.

7. Lots of new material over at Nineteen Months! A number of articles, and a bunch of photos.

Mixed in with all of this is my junior youth group, a Ruhi study group, and responsibilities with the Wilmette Local Spiritual Assembly. Plus all of the amazing visitors and dear friends who come through Chicago on a regular basis. Life is great here.

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the number 19

There are some exciting developments in the worlds of Nineteen Months and Nineteen Days.

First of all, we have completed our first year of Nineteen Months! You can see the photos for the month of Loftiness here. We are looking forward to the next year of photos, and will be doing great things with the site. Announcements will be made in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

photo for the month of Loftiness (Ala)

Nineteen Days has announced its photographers for the 2011 Fast, and have dedicated this year’s project to the Baha’is who live in Iran.  I am sure that the photos will be amazing, as always. Check for daily updates from March 2-21.

Tomorrow is the last day of Ayyam-i-Ha. I spent the weekend with friends and family, ate way too much food, and worked on a service project with my junior youth group. They baked cookies and brownies for the fire and police departments of Wilmette as a thank you for the service they do for the community, then had the opportunity to tour the facilities.

finished cookies!

I watched the Oscars last night with a group of friends, which is much more fun than watching it alone. Even so, it was often painful. You wonder at the amount of money being spent, and how difficult it seems to be to find hosts in an entire city devoted to entertainment.

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The things that I do

I realize, looking over recent posts, that I assume that the majority of my readers know what is going on in my life, or even what my day-to-day life looks like.  However, it is difficult for me to gauge my audience these days.  6 or 7 years ago, I knew pretty much everyone who read my blog.  I know that isn’t the case anymore.

My working life AND personal life revolve around the Baha’i Faith.  I work for the national governing body of the Baha’is in the United States, so I am constantly immersed in the Faith at work…and I LOVE my job.  Sometimes on lunch breaks I go to the House of Worship to pray and check out the restoration/construction work.

The House of Worship today

Once a week I try to attend a devotional (prayer) gathering at my friends’ house in Chicago.  We have a late potluck brunch, prayers, and often spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying everyone’s company.  There is usually some kind of music/singing, too!  I haven’t had a lot of time to attend over the summer, unfortunately.

During the summer a small group of friends gathered for a Baha’i study circle, book 6 in the Ruhi sequence, which is about refining our inner lives, learning, and teaching the Baha’i Faith.  The great thing about study circles in the Baha’i context is that the facilitator is not at a higher level than the rest of the group…we’re really all learning together!  We just finished it last week.

In August I hosted a 3 night study on the Ridvan Message from the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha’is of the world.  Baha’is from my local community came to my home to read and discuss.  It gave me an opportunity to get to know the people in my community, and we ate really well.

I also participate in Nineteen Months, which I post about on this blog occasionally, and it has been stretching my photographic skills.  On September 13 I modeled and shot photos as a last minute favor for some friends, which was super fun and I wish I had the opportunity to do it more often.

Black dress

I also went to a few Baha’i conferences in August and September, which were super fun but then laid me out sick because I didn’t rest or sleep for a couple weeks.  October was the month of weddings.  The first weekend was a wedding in NYC, the third weekend was a wedding in Peoria.  I still haven’t unpacked from either wedding.

Of course, mixed into all of this are friends visiting from out of town, friends moving in and out of Chicago, family gatherings, making plans, reading books, fixing my condo (yes I’m still working on that), baby showers, etc.  I miss writing about my life, and I’d like to do more of it here.  Twitter & Facebook are still there, and I utilize them for their purpose, but this is the place that is truly “me” on the internet.

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Goodbye

I am mired in this in-between state, keeping emotions at bay and I can’t seem to process anything right now.  My days are on the edge of frantic, the evenings a collapse into numb mindlessness.  I am scattered, but to stop moving would mean thought, would mean that I would have to think.

I am happy.  There is laughter in my voice, there is a smile when I speak and there are a million things to be grateful for.  Those great tragedies loom, hover, and dissipate.  We cried in horror and we were joyous at the thought of release.  We are angry, we are hurting, we are loved and loved and we love.

I thank God that I have, that my faith is this, that in these moments everything is perfect and jumbled and a beautiful mess.  I thank you.  I am humbled.

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Hot tea can be dangerous

A few weeks ago I was making afternoon tea at work as I usually do, Persian style.  We have a cute little Russell Hobbs tea tray contraption that has a little warmer for the tea to steep.  I boiled the tea, set out the cups, and let the tea steep for a few minutes.

I picked up the glass carafe and prepared to pour the tea into the cups.

And it exploded in my hand.  Boiling tea and shards of glass went flying.

I let out an involuntary scream.  Partially because it was hot, and partially because I was in shock.  A few of my coworkers came running, bless them.  I was ok, but it really was not expected.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve broken my fair share of kitchen implements and dishes, but the carafe was not touching anything when it spontaneously shattered.  This time, it was not my fault!

I looked today to find out if I could get a replacement carafe.  Turns out, this item has been discontinued.  Maybe that is for the better…

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Elements of a perfect day

sleep until noon

realize that after days of storms and horrible weather, the sun is shining and it is gorgeous outside

go to a park by a lake, armed with food, blankets, and frisbees

have friends show up to share the food, blankets, and frisbees

let 4 hours go by without worrying about anything except making sure that everyone has had enough watermelon

leave the park as the sun is setting, bathing the House of Worship in golden light

thank you.
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A random collection

I really needed a weekend of nothing.  It feels good.

Things to be happy about, a list:
-summer and all that it implies
-friendship & family
-dustless surfaces
-orange-blueberry muffins
-breakfast on a slow Sunday morning
-fireworks on the beach
-books
-having an occupation
-finding my writing inspiration again
-local stores that I can walk to

Happy 30 years, and hoping for 30 even more wonderful years. I love you!

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The little things when you own a home…

It is funny what you discover when you start doing work on a home.  It starts with paint, then with the floors being replaced, then the closet doors (I have 6 closets!).  As we painted, we discovered that who ever painted before didn’t bother covering the electrical outlets and switches, so they were caked with paint and kind of dangerous.

I managed to give myself a minor shock a few weeks ago when plugging in my hairdryer.  My friend’s dad came over on Sunday to show how to change the electrical outlets, which was really nice of him.  Electricity + Sholeh = Not Good.

I feel like I haven’t really been home enough to do everything I want to do.  The last month has been super busy, and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down anytime soon.  I sometimes wish I could just shut everything off for a week and hide out like a hermit in my cozy home.  At least I have internet now!

Part of the reason that I still haven’t posted photos is that I feel like it isn’t done yet.  I want to get the scraps out of my living room, install doors, and put the finishing touches on.  I promise it will be soon!  Thanks to my parents, it is furnished, which is a huge relief.

Have you ever had home improvement projects go terribly wrong, or have something hilarious happen? Tell me about it in the comments, I love hearing about other people’s experiences.

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