Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Realm: The Awakening Begins

Bob and I recently finished reading a book written by a friend that we really enjoyed, so I wanted to give you a short review of it. The Realm: The Awakening Begins is fiction—a sort of spiritual allegory. The story is set in Kahitsa’an, and island country that could be a small poor nation in any part of the world. Gracia is an orphaned girl who earns her keep by finding recyclables at the local trash dump. She begins having nightmares that the local spirit-priest, Aden, is attacking her, and he senses her fear. Gracia also begins having dreams about The Realm, and a person named Jaron that protects her and rescues her. She learns that her dreams are not just dreams, but real, and the struggle between the spirits of her town and Jaron becomes a fierce battle with her caught in the middle.

We read the book aloud together, and found it hard to stop at each chapter as the suspense builds. It was a great story as well as a powerful allegory of the spiritual realm that is around us. Perhaps because of having lived in Africa where the poverty and the rural feel were very close to the setting in the book, it felt very real. We highly recommend it! The book was written with young adults in mind, who are searching for meaning and wondering who God is. But I think any age would appreciate it, although there are a few scenes that I think would be a bit scary or mature for kids. Check it out at the book website or on Amazon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Cent-a-mile, Silver Bullet!

Yesterday was an important milestone. Our faithful car, which Bob bought new nearly 11 years ago, just crossed 100,000 miles! Bob started calling the car 'Silver Bullet' soon after he got it, and the name stuck. It has been a very reliable car that has not cost too much in repairs, and we are very grateful for its faithful service.
The odometer proves it! One mile over!

Of course, with age come a few kinks and quirks. One of the windows no longer rolls down, the volume on the stereo is quirky, and the engine light is usually on. Probably the thing that takes the most manual adjustment is that the electric locks don't usually work--so you have to manually lock and unlock all the doors. But, Silver Bullet runs great and all the 'important parts' of the car still work, so we make do on the minor quirks. Interestingly, the only time the electric locks work reliably is on Sunday--after church, not before. We think it is just part of the way that Silver Bullet fits into the family. :)

Hiking with Silver Bullet near Big Sur

I wasn't sure what to call this milestone--it is not a 'birthday', exactly. Since centennial is for 100 years, I thought maybe cent-a-mile would work. So, here's to many more, Silver Bullet!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pictures from the Midwest

Bob and I both enjoy getting back to the Midwest. We like to see the corn and the fields that stretch out for miles over flat land, enjoy the slower pace of life, and feel the humidity. Just kidding about the humidity!

A few weeks ago we enjoyed a brief trip to the Midwest. Our first stop was Wrigley Field, which Bob has always wanted to visit. It was raining all morning the day of the game, and we feared the game would be rained out. Fortunately, the sun came out, and in the midst of the 2 hour rain delay we got to watch the elaborate system the Cubs have for draining the tarp on the infield and mopping up the outfield. I don't think the Dodgers have that system quite so perfected! :)
During the rain delay, in our (covered!) seats

Then, we went up to the Wisconsin Dells for the weekend with the Baughman clan. If you are not from the Midwest, you may not have heard of the Wisconsin Dells, but we learned that it has been a (local) tourist destination since the 1860's! One of the main attractions is the water sports and recreation around Lake Delton, which completely drained last year when a deluge of rain caused a retaining wall to burst. With some help from the government and the Army core of Engineers, they have made a remarkable recovery and the lake is now back to its former levels after just 1 year. That meant that we could ride the Wisconsin Ducks! The Ducks are WWII amphibious vehicles, and today give a brief tour of the land, river, and lake around the Wisconsin Dells.
Since we are Americans, a lake is not good enough for us, so there are a plethora of water parks around the Wisconsin Dells. (We seem to want everything bigger and faster, right?) We enjoyed swimming with cousins and trying out some of the water slides!

We really savored the opportunity to see family and friends, and enjoyed some of the classic midwestern aspects of life, like picking rubarb, jogging in the wind and the humidity, and watching Shakespeare! :)
Bob got to pick and cut rubarb from my parents yard
Our picnic before the play at the Bloomington Shakespeare Festival

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


For about 2 years, Bob and I have walked by a restaurant in Pasadena called Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It has a reputation as a high-class steakhouse, out of our range, so we would walk by and say “We should go there someday; maybe for graduation.” Well…graduation finally came, and this week, the day before Bob left for his trip to Rwanda, we decided the time had come to take the plunge and go celebrate with a nice meal.

I must admit I felt a bit out of place in a restaurant where many of the other patrons seemed like they ate there all the time. I deliberated for a long time about whether to get steak, and Bob finally helped convince me to go for it—that is their specialty, after all. The distinction of this restaurant seems to be that the plates arrive at the table at 500 degrees, so the food is still sizzling. We were not disappointed—the steaks and the veggies were all excellent, and it really felt like we were celebrating. They even had a ‘congratulations’ card at the table for Bob, and gave him his choice of dessert for the occasion. A great farewell for Bob also, since he won’t get a steak like that in Rwanda! :)