god have mercy

some news headlines for the last few days....

Gaza Death Toll Tops 375

The death toll in Gaza has reached at least 375 as Israel’s attack on Gaza has entered its fourth day. More than 1,600 Palestinians have been wounded and hospitals are running out of medicines and other products needed to treat them.
Israel Vows to Wage “War to the Bitter End”

On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel is in a “war to the bitter end against Hamas and its kind.” Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire, and Israeli troops and tanks continue to mass on the border of Gaza preparing for a possible ground invasion. Israel has declared the area around the Gaza border a closed military zone, ordering out journalists.
UN: 64 Palestinian Civilians Killed

Earlier today, Israeli warplanes dropped at least sixteen bombs on five government buildings in Gaza, destroying them and starting several fires. An Israeli air strike in northern Gaza killed two Palestinian sisters, aged four and eleven. The girls were killed when they left their house to dump the family’s garbage. On Monday, an Israeli air strike destroyed a home in the Jabalya refugee camp, killing five sisters. The five girls were between four and seventeen years old. In another incident, eight Palestinian students, ages eighteen to twenty, were killed while waiting for a UN bus to take them home. The United Nations said at least sixty-four Palestinian civilians have died since Saturday.
Four Israelis Killed in Palestinian Rocket Attacks

The Israeli attacks have not prevented Palestinian militants from firing rockets into southern Israel. On Monday, Palestinians fired at least seventy rockets, killing two Israeli civilians and a soldier. The dead included an Israeli woman in the town of Ashdod who was killed from shrapnel wounds while taking cover from incoming rockets at a bus stop. The Israeli death toll since Saturday now stands at four.


joyeux noel

merry, merry christmas! i hope everyone had a restful and mindful celebration! chris and i are with both sides of our family in denver and enjoying them (the new baby!) and the beautiful weather.

i wanted to share with you a wonderful movie that we watched on christmas day together. it depicts the truces of christmas eve on the fronts lines of WWI in 1914. it is beautifully done and so inspiring. it gives me a small bit of hope for peace, if not in the world, than in the possibility of it in some of us. watch the trailer here. and then go rent it.

oh and here is a less than recent picture of our nephew! he's so much bigger now!


brother mickey o'neill mcgrath

i wanted to share the art of a very talented person i heard speak last night! i've been buying his christmas cards for a few years now and having a print of his hanging in my house.

the holy family

mary visiting elizabeth (perfect for advent!)

i love his work and hearing him speak and seeing more of his paintings was wonderful. if you like iconic art and have a good sense of humor you may like him. visit him here.


Boston College

well, friends. here we are in boston, ma visiting the esteemed jesuit university, boston college.

i don't know if all my many, many readers (ha!) know that chris is considering getting his PHD and that the place we're most seriously considering is boston college. there are so many factors contributing to the decision to come to boston it's overwhelming. we love most parts of our life in camden and if we leave there's a good possibility we'll never find the wonderful things we have there anywhere else, ever again. but this would be the time for chris to get his doctorate if he wants to teach and this is one of the best programs out there, having most of the things chris would want in his study.

anyway, so far the campus is beautiful and the weather is cold. we will explore this area today and tomorrow our wonderful friends will be meeting us in the city and we'll explore boston - and figure out if we can even afford to live here.

any boston "musts"? places we have to go, food we have to eat?


51 gone

on the sunday before the beginning of advent season we remember those who have been murdered in camden city and camden county since the last november. last year there were 46 (if i remember correctly) people murdered. this year there have been 51 men, women and children murdered in camden city and 7 murdered in the county. this is the highest number in the last several years. at this point, camden is back at the top having been named the #2 most dangerous city in the nation.

we pray for those who have died, for those who have been left behind and for our city, that we would stop this madness.

yesterday, the first sunday of advent, our church celebrated and blessed the pregnant women among us. i love that this celebration follows the remembrance of those murdered. i think it's hopeful and beautiful. unfortunately, i've been sick but i heard the mother's were lovely... one, more notably so, cheryl - our community-mate! we're very excited!


a post to update you.

i'm having a hard time updating this thing recently. i blame it on the cooler weather, the overcast and rainy days, the need to curl up on my couch with my pooch. but i am back, for now, although still on the couch, under a blanket with victor.

speaking of victor, he's trouble. we love him but recently we discovered he has a side that we previously had not encountered. this week, on a nice fall afternoon outing, he killed an innocent squirrel. oh, it was the whole nine yards. blood. more blood than i care to rehash. yes, there are many a squirrel in my neighborhood and yes, they reek havoc so i am not sad to see one go but victor just seems to be different now.....

(his face has been blurred for his protection)

(chris had a great time on photo shop working on this photo of our newly hardened criminal but i'm a little creeped out by it.)

in other news, we had our dear friends darin, meeghan, guinn, and justice (our god son) visiting this last week. it was wonderful and crazy having a hyper 3 year old and a senile 87 year old here making us laugh and keeping us busy. i'll say it again, i wish i could have everyone i care about in the same place. why are we all so far away from each other?

i leave you with some pictures of the adorable justice. he is a handful but i just love how loving he is. he loves to share with you and take care of you. he's so good to "ninny" (guinn).

(by the way, i love picnik.com for photo editing - i really like the 1960's photo wash)


political musings

chris and i just re-watched the 2004 documentary The Take. it tells the story of the factory takeover movement in argentina. (factories that were shut down by "the bosses" because of the massive amount of debts they racked up due, in part, to the salaries and excesses of those in charge. the workers took them over and kept them running, illegally, because they depended on their jobs and felt that these factories belonged to the people). it's a great film that has sparked lots of thought in me. we first saw it a few years ago at a christian anarchy conference and were troubled, as people with pacifist leanings, by the idea of violence (against law enforcement) and coercion. yet i was still deeply drawn in by people doing it themselves - not waiting for their city, state or national officials to do something but caring for each other, sharing power, and producing on their own terms. this time around watching the film sparked some new thoughts in me. i still find so much truth, hope and love (all of those!) in their stories and want to keep learning more about this movement. but i wondered if taking over factories, even for fair wages, was still playing the game of those in charge. producing things to be shipped somewhere else, like growing corn, none of which will be eaten by anyone within 300 miles of it, instead of creating things to be used locally. made by us for us. and yes, without large numbers of employees and a few bosses. i know these questions are easy for me to ask on my couch (on my laptop no less!), but i wonder about it in my own life too.

i wonder about it in this election. it's an election that has pulled me in and kept me interested and yet, i have to ask: am i playing the game of a system i struggle to find hope in? am i looking for a savior inside the united states of america? ok, so i know it's more nuanced than that and i also know i do hope that one of these men wins out over the other. but i want to remember that "our dreams don't fit on your ballots", as they say in latin america. and as a christian my dreams are so full and so alive they make a ballot seem like not much more than a piece of paper.


cleaning and baking

i just deep cleaned and re-organized most of my kitchen (and dog proofed it - victor will eat any food he can get his paws on!) which makes me feel relaxed and happy. i don't know if you do this too but after i've cleaned a room really well i can't keep myself from walking back through every 20 minutes or so - just to feel a project done.

to celebrate my cleaning victory i decided to bake banana walnut muffins. they are delicious! you should try the recipe - it's definitely one of those that, as long as you have overripe banana's on hand, you probably have all the ingredients lying around. very yummy.


beautiful prize...

for one lucky winner. go visit here to see it and spend some time reading about this family's experiences with homeschooling. very inspiring!


Happy Birthday Chris!!!

i wanted to write a little tribute for my husband on his birthday. he is 27 today and deserves as wonderful a day as possible. he works so hard in school and at home, he's always thinking and writing and doing and even helping me (he doesn't even have to be asked to do the dishes!). i'm proud to know him and thankful to spend my life with him. i hope he feels loved and appreciated today.

traveling man.

not sure what he's doing here....

looking good

captivating audiences everywhere




i just couldn't wait any longer! here are some pictures of victor from my phone.


i like.

i found this on a friend's blog and liked it. i am not particularly against McCain (nor do i really trust either McCain or Obama) and want to be careful not to demonize a person or a group but i am a firm believer that if you are pro-life you must be pro-all life. i also appreciate that a fellow catholic shares this belief.


there's a chill in the air!

i know i've been negligent in posting recently and that's because things have been so busy around here! also, i still don't have a camera and i tend to think that posts without pictures are sort of boring! (at least my own are) i don't have a camera yet because my wallet was stolen in a ritzy suburb on my date night with chris. so we've been very low on funds and a camera is not an option. (the bank should reimburse the funds stolen soon)

i am thrilled that fall is nearly here! one might call me giddy. i love that this season, in the midst of the last burst of life before winter, there are so many new babies on the horizon! chris' sister, heather, is due next month and my great friend holly is due at the end of this month... chris' best friend from high school is getting married soon too! i've always found a lot of depth in autumn and in the cycle of life that seems so clear to me at this time of year. i thinks it's almost more transformative than spring. i feel bittersweet to let go of warmth and life but almost ready to embrace quiet, empty winter. and i love the colors and flavors and smells and sweaters that accompany the fall.

tim, cheryl and our new-ish friend, art, and i went to the famer's market this morning and i felt i had to buy some zinnias and squash to welcome this season in. i love that i had to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants.


i leave you with some pictures of last fall.


why so humid?

i can't remember a more sticky and uncomfortable day than today. i've finally stopped dripping now that i'm sitting still. yuck.

school started and my kids are cute and ill behaved. but still cute. i'll post pictures soon. (once i get a camera!)

i thought i'd share a little something. i had to look a lot of these up because i had no idea what they were. i think what this little "quiz" shows is that i am not a very cultured eater.

do this yourself and post the results.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out (i can't figure out how to cross out so i will italicize anything that i wouldn't eat) any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (what is this? I just looked it up… sick.)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi – just recently – it was weird!
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55.McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill – this is questionable but fully depends on situation
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


i'm still kicking

sorry for my lapse in posting. i'm waiting to get a new camera before i show you all the most recent addition to our family, victor. (our dog) he's great.

tomorrow is my first day back to school. i'm not looking forward to it at all for some reason. i think i may have a mild case of depression. i'm not looking forward to anything right now. i don't want to lay around but i don't want to do anything either. i don't want to be alone but i don't want to be with people. i suppose it's related to the transition and loss i've experienced in the last few months... nothing to be alarmed about. it will pass as i begin to and continue to process. but it's not a good way to start a new school year.

i'll post pictures of my cute new pup soon. any more recommendations on cameras?


from a victorian castle to the bruderhof

so, now that we're home i found the time to get the pictures off of my phone and can finish telling you all about our fascinating trip.

the castle was amazing. we were the only guests that night which was a little creepy but the bed was so comfortable i didn't have any trouble sleeping. the grounds were gorgeous! i loved it. i recommend to anyone in the philly area if ever in need of a vacation go up to this area. it's only 2 1/2 hours away and is so beautiful and there's so much to do. do it.

from there we went to stay a night with the bellvale (bruderhof) community. any chance we get to spend with these folks we jump at. as per usual it was a restful and thoughtful visit. again, the weather was perfect and we visited chickens and goats and walked around the lake. we joined in their daily rhythm with family time, singing, a very local dinner and evening reflections. we sat around the fire with some of the members we met last time we visited and shared our frustrations and encouragements about community life. i always leave a visit to their communities feeling heard and appreciated and inspired. i respect that they don't see their model of community as the only way and really seek to learn from others. i appreciate their sense of humor and simplicity. i'm thankful for their interest and support of our community.

on the way home the next we got stuck in an almost 2 hour traffic jam. that was quite a juxtaposition - coming from simple, peaceful bellvale only to end up very frustrated and surrounded by hot, running cars.

here some (bad) photos in and around the castle.


anniversary trip

Written August 20, 2008

I’m sorry for my lapse in communication! Chris and I left for our anniversary trip (4 years! Seems like a lot longer ;) ) a few days ago and made it safely to the warwick area of ny. We are getting used to breathing deeply and pulling blankets over our shoulders in the evenings. The weather has been absolutely beautiful. Cool mornings and nights and warm, sunny days. We are staying at a B&B on a quiet rode, in a lovely room. We’ve spent time in little shops (the most wonderful candle shop) and eaten yummy meals. We’ve gone on a couple of bike rides through the “black dirt” region and visited some of wineries. Now, I don’t drink wine but I have to admit, I like the novelty of it. Chris actually enjoys it and today the winery we visited had a bocce ball court. So, Chris destroyed me. It was fun. Kind of. On our bike rides we passed the most beautiful purple and yellow fields and farm lands. We rode by a pile of old barn wood and asked the woman outside of it if we could take some, so tomorrow, we’ll load up the car and dream up uses for the stuff. Tonight we are trying to stay awake to go to the drive in and see the dark knight (who’s idea do you think that was?) at 10:00pm! Way passed my bed time.

Tomorrow we head over the castle we’re staying at. Crazy. It looks nice. It’s set in botanical gardens. We hope to do a little hiking and celebrating our matrimony. More reflections on that later.

Being out in the country has made us reflect more on a rural life, something chris and I both have considered before and hope to make a reality one day. We realized that either option (city/Camden life and rural life, possibly close to family) is missing what the other offers. The options we are aware of at this point for a rural life are closer to family but have no clear (as of yet) community or church life or diversity. It wouldn’t be nearly as local a life as the one we have in Camden so we’d have to drive more. But, on the other hand, we’d like to convert to veggie oil anyway… and our hypothetical kids would have space and we’d have space to offer up for folks in the city to have a respite. We could have a more ‘deeply’ local life growing food, having access to water from a well, living in a straw bale home etc… but leaving Camden would be leaving community. And not just the Camden houses but our neighbors and our church… but in Camden we’re so far from family. Ahhh! I’m hoping the choice becomes more obvious in the coming years.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures soon - our camera is broken so I've been using my phone. Anyone have a good camera they'd recommend?


chickens in the city?

chris and i spent a few hours in a book store (on a lovely rainy day. sounds perfect doesn't it?) reading about how to keep chickens in the city. we feel pretty sure about trying it out this year. we'd like to get a dog at the same time as we order chickens so they can get to know each other... so as soon as we find a dog we'll get our hens.

we're getting them primarily for eggs and love. we love chickens!

i'm trying to find a local poultry society or club here but as is typical with my beloved south jersey, things that would be helpful for sustainable living or urban homesteading are difficult to find - possibly non-existent.

if anyone has connections to jersey chicken lovers or has a tip or advice, please share it!


summer storm

darin, chris and i were just fortunate enough to have a summer storm descend up on us! it's been raining all day and i've loved it but about 30 minutes ago at 8pm, just as the light was fading, the sky exploded in a washed out-ish yellow-golden color. it was still raining and there, above our neighbors house, was a rainbow!


pottery and once.

i wanted to show off one of my husband's many talents: pottery. here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

in other news, tonight we finally saw the movie once. i'm always the last one to do/see/hear/experience cool things so i bet all of you have already seen this film. but if by some strange chance you haven't, please do!! even chris loved it. the music is beautiful and the characters are so endearing.


muffins and friends.

yesterday was a full day. aside from all the photos i took and posted, chris and i biked to the library and checked out some books. i checked out falling leaves by adeline yen mah. looks good. then i made some strawberry rhubarb muffins with leftover, frozen rhubarb from earlier this summer. the recipe can be found on soulemama. i used lemon peel instead of orange - i'd recommend not using lemon. but they were still yummy.

and this week is our community's 5 yr. anniversary of being together and in camden! so last night we celebrated with the people at our church who have taken good care of us. i read an excerpt from jean vanier's community and growth that at least is a good basis for what i believe community is.

"'my people' are my community, which is both the small community, those who live together, and the larger community which surrounds it and for which it is there. 'my people' are those who are written in my flesh as i am in theirs. whether we are near each other or far away, my brothers and sisters remain written within me. i carry them, and they, me; we recognize each other again when we meet. to call them my people doesn't mean that i feel superior to them, or that i am their shepherd or that i look after them. it means that they are mine as i am theirs. there is a solidarity between us. what touches them, touches me. and when i say 'my people', i don't imply that there are others i reject. my people is my community, made up of those who know me and carry me. they are a springboard towards all humanity. i cannot be a universal brother or sister unless i first love 'my people'."

these 5 yrs. have been so formative, so wonderful, so difficult. they have given me a trust in god's provision that i doubt i would have found elsewhere. they have given me a love for liturgy and the seasons and south jersey (!). and they have made me question over and over again if i was meant for community.
it was a great night of pictures and stories.


just a few things i love about being home.

i love sleeping in my bed. i love my neighbors and my plants and bicycle. i love making dinner and looking through cook books. i love watching movies on my little laptop screen.

in other news chris and i are going to meet another dog soon named nellie. i don't know if i'm ready yet to give my love to another animal but i find myself spending time on petfinder.com nonetheless. we'll keep you posted.

here are some photos i took today.



i can't believe we are on our way home now. i'm amazed we've made it this far and it appears we will make it home (knock on wood).

in the last couple of days we visited the raleigh/durham area and had a great event. we met more mennonites than I've ever seen in one group and we spent time with very good friends, jonathan and leah and their little guy, ja'michael. i got to talk a bit with one of their community members, sarah, who has an 18 month old and another on the way. it was good to hear from folks with small kids in community - i think i gained some good insight.

then we made our way to richmond, va and had probably our smallest crowd yet. but that small crowd got really into it. it seemed meaningful for them. we stayed at a catholic worker house there last night and really enjoyed those folks. it was interesting to talk with them about the process of becoming a catholic worker house. i've known plenty but never asked how you go about becoming official. in case you're wondering, you don't go about becoming official! i guess with the history of anarchism it would be kind of against the philosophy to have criteria for something like that. and yet, most of the CW houses i've met are full of quality, hard-working, loving people.

and now we're going north on 95 and should be home in about 4 hours. i wish lucy was waiting for us but i'm glad at least our bed is. we've been gone long enough to form a habit - i wonder if it will be hard to break it. maybe i won't be able to sleep unless i'm in a moving vehicle or maybe i'll crave the rank smell of used veggie oil. not sure.

if anyone reads this from the philly area our last event is at broad street ministries (315 broad street) on saturday, july 26th. it begins at 5pm with a small ministry/organization fair and amy wilson and tamber (!!) playing (they're amazing). at 6 is a big dinner, all are welcome. and at 7pm is our event. i think we've worked out most of the kinks so if you come you'll be getting the best we have to offer.

hope to see you there!


the divine liturgy of the exiles

i spent today in the bus listening intently to the psalters cd, the divine liturgy of the exiles. i've listened to it before but i've never given it the time it deserves. i read every lyric and listened to every note and i come away amazed, mystified, fearful and in awe. kind of dramatic language, yes, but it's kind of a dramatic look into what i believe, is the heart of god. their songs are hopeful and joyful but they are also piercing and honestly, scary. they sing scripture so raw - the anger of god towards us, those who, as one of their songs says, are 'peace-talkers with hearts of war' is very clear. but so is god's love and the admonition of the church to care for those around us, especially the least of these. for most of us these ideas are not new and yet their music makes them new and makes them urgently imperative. they say they are singing and playing the music for and of the refugees, of those in exile, which includes the church, aliens in a strange land. they want to make more clear the connection between worshipping god and being people of justice.

we are very blessed to be traveling with scott and jay (2 of the many members of psalters) and i really am so excited about the talent in their voices, in their instruments, in their lyrics, in their vision.

please visit them at: psalters.org and myspace and do buy their music and do tell them what you think.

checking in....

a lot has happened since i last wrote.

1) texas. wow. texas is one big state. our first stop in texas was lubbock where we saw our old housemate, barrett. it was nice to connect with him and see a bit of his world. we had a big crowd that night and a good show. had some tex-mex too. yum .
we drove through the night to dallas and arrived at 4am. i rode with the camera crew in their car, the bus came to dallas in the early afternoon. now, sarah and steve perkins had one of the most comfortable set-ups for us. it was just like coming home, except with a pool, air conditioning, and lots of food and space. at that point we really needed some good rest time and their hospitality made resting very easy. (thanks!)

i will say one more thing about texas. big bugs. we stopped at a rest stop and i went into the bathroom only to be greeted by, seriously, the largest insect i have ever seen. so, of course i ran out afraid that they were all going to think i'm such a baby. turns out no one could bring themselves to go near it. no one except scott a. he saved the day.

2) after texas we headed to atlanta. this was a great crowd. we had so many volunteers and helpers from various churches and communities and the audience really loved the presentation, southern style. i felt like i was watching it with new eyes through them. it was so hot, though. wow. i think that was our most packed out show. it was good to see leroy and donna again too. i loved what they do and who they are. i feel privileged to know them. we also got to eat at a fairly new, local south food restaurant called 'sweet potatoes'. so good.

3) we left ATL the next morning at 6am and headed to orlando. it just keeps getting hotter and hotter. but everything in orlando is air conditioned so it was a good show. there were between 1400 and 2000 people who came and this church was a well oiled machine. i even got to wear a head set while i did the power point so i could cue the cameras. (!) crazy. that night we stayed with some guys who have some of the most creative decorating ideas i've seen. a couple fake stuffed deer, a framed pictures of babies, massive owl lamps, country style birdhouse wallpaper etc. it was amazing. we got some drinks and frozen pizza and hung in their house until the wee hours of the night.

4) so that brings me to now. we left orlando this morning on our way to raleigh/durham for our show tomorrow. we just stopped off at flagler beach and swam in the ocean and laid on the sand. lovely. i'd say it's a bit different from the jersey shore i'm used to! i even talked the boys into getting a hotel room tonight!!!! it's just sooo hot at night on the bus and no one sleeps. so then we're out of it for the next presentation. i look forward to that shower and that bed.


the barrenness and beauty of the desert.

we had a great time in ventura - it was an excited crowd and we saw our good friend CJ and his wife (wish i had gotten a picture!). we had a wonderful snack time and breakfast the next morning with Joel Hickenbottom's family. Mr. Hickenbottom gave us veggies straight from his garden which we made into a healthful and yummy pasta sauce that night. we got to take a break at the beach (brrr! but the water was warm) and sleep on the sand. it was all very californian. :)

we then headed through arizona to new mexico. this has, by far, been my favorite landscape of the whole trip. i don't think i have ever felt as hot as i did in arizona. all the windows were open in the bus but i was chewing through ice cubes like a crazy person. it was barren but it really was beautiful. i've always touted myself as being a lover of the desert but i found myself questioning this in arizona. near the border of new mexico, however, the weather dropped nearly 15 degrees and the landscape became more like the desert with which i find my affinity. cactus started appearing and small mountains of rocks. we slept in a parking lot right outside of the petrified forest and the next morning at 7am we went to see what all the fuss was about. wow. it's amazing what nature does. it's mysterious and miraculous. that's what i love about creation - i'm not saying i don't believe in supernatural miracles but we have all the miracles we need outside in the outdoors. i felt small and insignificant in the midst of rocks and trees (now rocks) that are millions and millions of years old. imagining dinosaurs roaming around really seemed possible there. beautiful.

but we were on a schedule so i made us rush through and get to Albuquerque. i have loved all of our stops for they each offered something unique and special but i have to say, this stop, this place, has bewitched me. the hot days and cool nights, the desert and flowers and people... it was hard to leave this morning. the planning team for our event was the most organized and on top of things of any of the events. we actually had time to sit around for a bit because everything was done! this event was our first bi-lingual one, being translated into spanish for folks. i loved it. we had a folky group called the alyssa yarber band and a hip hop artist called JC Represent play our intermission time. they were both fantastic and really excited about being a part of this project.

but the best part was the group of folks we stayed with! lynn and john, and john's dad Bob, from casa shalom were so hospitable and welcoming. they are doing really good work opening up their homes to strangers. they live in a cooperative housing complex surrounding a courtyard with old growth trees (hard to find anywhere, let along in the desert!). about 15 families live in this complex teaching each other english and spanish, sharing meals and carrying each other's joys and burdens. out of all the communities i know (many of which excite me quite a bit) casa shalom really seems to be embodying the love and subversive hope of christ. i hope they visit us and that we can visit them again.

i'm literally sitting in the bus near to tears because i've been so moved by these people and this place. it could also be that i slept a total of 5 1/2 hours last night and not much more the night before... and we're driving through the night tonight!

i'll leave you with some pictures of the desert and my traveling companions and of our stop in NM.

Here is Jay eating tiny cookies