listening to autumn

Have you downloaded Over the Rhine’s latest (double) album Meet Me At The Edge Of The World yet?  If not, do so immediately.  It is absolutely, perfectly fall.  These two really are the original cool!  With this album I feel like I’ve been let in on something personal and intimate.  Most folks I know (couples or not) have inside jokes and language that characterizes their relationship.  (Anyone who has had to spend time with the hubs an I knows this fact annoyingly well.)  Talking to the WSJ about the album’s title Detweiler says, “‘…when the fog rolls in [at their Ohio pre-civil war home], we used to say we felt like we were living on a farm on the edge of the world.'” And with this latest set of music, I feel like they’ve let us in on a little secret about their home…and ultimately their lives.  (Listen to a little bit and read the full interview here.)


summer reading

I finally checked off a book I had on my summer nightstand, from last summer.   While we were in the Dominican Republic, I finally read The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.  I wish I had brought another book along for our 10-day stay because I finished it by our second day… no kidding.  The book is not very long and it is indeed that good.


I actually didn’t know anything about the book before I read it other than it was about Japanese women (the cover may have helped with that!)  But what I was not expecting was multiple narratives woven into one collective voice brought to life by the author.  Otsuka writes of Japanese women brought to America in the early 20th century (as “picture brides”) and their lives that follow.  It is the beautiful marriage of the individual and collective that made the book so memorable and compelling for me.  She writes that “we” did this, that and the other… this happened to “us”, etc.  Not only was it an unorthodox approach to traditional form, but her approach allowed for each character’s individual story of love, injustice, and emotions to be experienced on a personal level while speaking to the collective emotional experience of a marginalized group.  When it happened to one character it happened to all of them, including the author.  I really liked how it read like an autobiography, but one of a generation of women in one clear voice.  Highly Recommended.

a sublime escape: the dominican republic

Finally… pictures of our escape to one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean.  To celebrate the hub’s graduation and 3 years of insanely hard work, we indulged in a place that is truly sublime.  We stayed in the Dominican Republic’s Sublime Samana.

Very rarely do we ever consider returning to the same destination (too many other places on our life list to visit), but this one is the exception.   Our flight was super easy from our Gulf Coast origin, and the nearly 2hr transfer to our hotel didn’t feel near as long.  If you are lucky enough to be close to JFK airport in New York, then you can fly JetBlue directly into the newly opened Samana airport and you’re just 20 minutes away from the hotel.

It had been 9 years since we had a holiday with just the two of us, so we felt it was time.

The Dominican Republic Samana Beach

The Dominican Republic Hammock

The Dominican Republic Samana Beach

I found this amazing spot via Mr. & Mrs. Smith, however when I tried to book it, they did not have any rooms available at the advertised discount, so I ended up booking via the hotels website directly and it was just as cheap.  Sublime Samana is also part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and it very much lived up to its reviews.  It is incredibly chic and relaxing.  The rooms were fantastic, the location could NOT be beat, the food was beyond delicious, and even the music was cool (playing the most recent Daft Punk album!)

Sublime Samana Hotel Review

Sublime Samana Casitas

Sublime Samana at night

We are still ooohh-ing and awwwwe-ing every time we think of what an escape it was.  This is just part one, more photos to follow this week!

Book Review

Take This Bread – Sara Miles

Sara Miles is an unexpected Christian; a self-proclaimed left-winger, lesbian journalist with an obsession with food raised in an atheist home, she finds herself at an unexpected place: St. Gregory’s in San Francisco.  It is there that she experiences a profound “conversion” as she participates in communion.  She then records her experience of joining a community that she  can’t help but love and hate at the same time. Basically she sees the heart of Christianity as LOVE and one of the most basic ways to offer love to ALL people is through food.  She decides to start a food pantry and reaches out to the poorest of the poor in San Francisco and a very interesting story ensues.

I think my friend Lynn said it best when she describes Sara as a “crass Anne Lamott”.  I always find it refreshing to have an unexpected take on traditional spirituality, especially something that seems to make it more accessible to all.  I love that this woman has a story…a great personal story.  She’s covered wars in Central America, had a child, cooked in restaurants in New York, has a great family and is crazy-passionate about food.

I can see how for a stuffy-suburbanite this book (and author) could seem completely radical.  Her spirituality (and that of this little Episcopal church in SF) is quite “unorthodox.”  I think people could be completely turned off by her or as some have said in my book group, I LOVE THIS; I didn’t realize you could be a Christian and be like her.

For me, it was much like when I first read Blue Like Jazz; an unorthodox approach to spirituality and church is not revelational (for me).  So yeah, guess what: surprise! church happens outside of church.  Loving people, and especially those different from you, is church.  It’s Christ.

But what I did think was great and fresh was her whole approach to food.  I found myself being so envious of not only her love of food (and GOOD food) but her ability to see it as this thing that can cross boundaries.  I wish I was that passionate about food.  Fortunately for me several people in my immediate circle of friends and family are very passionate about good food and therefore I receive their spoils; however unfortunately for me I’m totally an Eat to Live person.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy good food, I’m just not willing to put in the effort that my husband will to tickle my palate with delicacies most do not.

But that’s the thing with this author, even though she’s a total foodie, she still makes it accessible to all.  I think I can only be so insouccient about food because I’ve never been in a place of want.  I’ve always had it.  I’ve never had to go without this most basic need.  And I wish I could syphon some of her passion about feeding people.

I like knowing there are people like her out there doing things that I would not think of.  A good read indeed.


(purchase from your local bookstore)

i survived…

…although I may have been mistaken for a vampire for the last 3 days.  Having spent such intimate time with the Cullen Family I seemed to pick up some of their habits.  I didn’t move much, ate less, and really didn’t sleep.  I guess I was anxious to get through them all.  It’s just how I read the Harry Potter series.  I guess it’s a good thing that I read each HP book as it was distributed rather than in one shot.  I certainly didn’t mean to isolate myself per se… This is one of the reasons I really don’t ever read fiction.  It’s like watching a movie for me and I hate being interrupted.  I think a better comparison made by my husband is that it was like watching a t.v. series on dvd.  You just don’t want to stop.  You know you can get the information you want immediately…if you’re willing to commit.

So…the story.  Hmm.  I’m not real sure where to begin.  My sis and I agree that the order we like the books is 1,4,3,2.  So making through the second one on Friday was annoying.  I’m just glad that she too had read them (this weekend) so that I could debrief all this madness in my head.  They are worth reading when you need an EASY read that flows and keeps you occupied.  Bring it on your next vacation to the beach.   But be forewarned…you’ll want to finish the series.  That darn, dreamy Edward Cullen gets in your head and …

twilight saga books