Monday, December 12, 2011

A Narrative

There is this incredible story. It's a story of comedy, sorrow, tragedy, and this unbelievably amazing romance.

It dives into the complexity of the human mind, of the human condition and what exactly we should do with things like "evil" and "justice", and where we came from and where we are all going. It's deep.

This story will make you weep. It will make you laugh until you can't breathe. It will make you contemplate deep concepts like friendship and failure and what it means to trust someone with your whole heart. It's a great story, really.

It's all from the perspective of this very relatable person, from the perspective of, you know, "you." And in this story, you cope with all sorts of difficulties and are constantly facing new challenges. But, it's tough to wade through sometimes. I'm not going to lie. There are parts that are hard to get through.

The good news in this story is that there is a hero. This Hero is a man who is perfect beyond your imagination. No, really. Way beyond your imagination. Stunning. And this incredible Hero who is perfect and stunning and everything, is also pursuing you relentlessly. We're talking serious wooing, here.  Ages of wooing.

So how does this story end? Well, it's sort of up to you. You are the main character, yet you are not the main character. The more you learn about the Hero, the more you realize that He sort of takes the cake in this story- in any story.

The Hero is Christ Jesus. And He is pursuing your heart. And the story is your life. And, if you let it, this story will truly go on Happily Ever After, forever and ever and ever, etc.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that who ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Love,
Natasha W.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1 Peter 2:9


1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thoughts on a Tuesday Morning

Hey there.

This morning, the sin of omission weighs heavily.  I recall so many instances in my life when I've suffered pain in relationships because someone else failed to respond, failed to acknowledge, failed to express any desire to know or appreciate me at all. Reaching out to only be ignored is exceedingly painful.

It makes me wonder, Why exalt yourself higher and higher? Do you find friends up there? Truly? Are you in better company to isolate yourself? 

 It is a funny thing, this pain of nothingness. This pain of absence. But it is potent. 

I'm so thankful that I have a Father to turn to, to say, "God, this hurts," and can know that I find myself wrapped up in His comforting arms. 

God doesn't neglect us. He doesn't fail us. He acknowledges us and says, "I chose you. You are interesting, you are beautiful, you are perfectly, exactly what I want." 

The truth is, people do not complete us. They may offer some form of satisfaction, however temporary and delicate that may be, but it is never enough. 

And then we ask, Where is the justice? Why do people get to do these things? But the justice is on the cross. 

Which reminds me that I have surely done the exact same things to people in the past. Perhaps I am doing them now. 

I encourage you to look around in your life and seek out those you might be neglecting. Are you spending your time making yourself more enviable to them? Or are you just not paying any attention? Or are you investing your time in being a sincere, loving, encouragement?

Love,
Natasha W.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mourning to Dancing

It is an understatement to say that it is amazing what God can do. But I suppose the statement seems to beg the question, "Are you amazed?" And I am right now, quite amazed.

He takes our mourning and turns it into dancing.
He takes our weeping and turns it into laughing.
He takes our sadness and turns it into joy.

Things that I used to find entirely fascinating and desirable- perhaps we shall call them "must have's", now do not hold my attention in the slightest.

Elegant storefronts, covetous excellence in any number of medias, all seem quite... transparent.

There is something beyond and above them that I long for, and can see now that they were only obstacles in my way... painful detours and pointless scenic routes tripping me up in my desire for something deeper.

Praise God, He gives sight to the blind!

Natasha W. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yippee IA


I had the privilege to discover a fantastic coffee house in Oklahoma City last Friday. What began as an appointment Micah had made with a friend, turned into a beautiful morning and afternoon of exploring this incredible city. It began with coffee, then pizza, then a long stretch of wandering among intersections and old buildings, and finally a prayerful, contemplative walk at the Oklahoma City Memorial.  It was a windblown, yet casual-paced trek we made, as we observed the subtle beauty of the surrounding architecture, emanating a rich sense of history, and punctuated by a distinctly hipster vibe.

It all began when Micah was given a choice of coffee shops at which to meet his friend, and finally decided that he should go to his meeting at one, while leaving me to explore another. We decided to compare notes on our experiences afterwards.

So he walked in with me to Cafe Elemental, where we were immediately intrigued by the unique atmosphere; he soon hopped back into his Tacoma to drive the block down to Coffee Slingers. I paid for my incredibly expensive for-here cup of Yippee IA from Papua New Guinea Goroka (a town I have actually visited) using the barista's fancy phone app during which I was instructed to use my finger to sign my name. What you see to the right is intended to be interpreted as Natasha Wittman. Can you cipher it? You may be tempted to think, "No, that was paid for by someone named 'Hach.'"

Well, you can think what you want, but that receipt was digitally sent to my e-mail. I'm just saying.

And so my interactions with the baristas were instantly enchanting, as I could not help but giggle at my awful signature. It certainly helped that (as Micah stayed just long enough for me to pay for my drink) we recognized one of the baristas as our previous Vespers' service worship leader, and a fellow coffee drinker sitting in a corner to be another Bridgeway worship leader. What are the odds? I do not know, save that I am now as certain as ever that we have the coolest church family in OKC (no offense) and maybe the universe (no offense, again).

I sat down at a long sleek bench and perused my list of current scriptures to memorize. Eventually, I began to feel awkward. Having ordered a brewed coffee, I wondered if I should have waited at the counter for my drink... or, much worse, if my drink was sitting, cooling off somewhere on one of the counters. Soon after, (say... around 4 minutes?) I was courteously brought my first mug of Cafe Elemental Yippee IA Papua New Guinea brewed coffee. It was brought to me black, and as I was determined to maintain the cool demeanor to match my incredibly cool atmosphere... I did not ask for cream. Call me a chicken if you like, but I actually savored sip after sip of the surprisingly complex and vibrantly flavorful joe. In fact, you can't even call it joe. Maybe Josephina. If that.

I'm telling you, (for lack of better coffee-articulating skills) it was amazing. It was well worth the challenge of signing my name with my finger and waiting a few minutes- which leads me to suspect that it was actually prepared in a French Press (which takes approximately 4 minutes).

When Micah and I met back up nearly an hour and a half later, we could not emphasize enough the fact that "You will not believe how good my cup of coffee was," each quite convicted that we had the better experience.

We drove to Hideaway Pizza, a local chain about which I cannot speak highly enough.


Hence, our view from inside the restaurant, sitting at a high-standing booth and taking in the Halloween decorations.

I have only tried their Totally Truffled pizza, with savory mushrooms and truffle oil, and their Paradise Pie, a chicken alfredo pizza that makes a huge impression you won't forget.

It was a day of intense flavor and a great deal of fun, creative atmosphere; except, of course, for the solemn walk on the grounds of the OKC Memorial, which was deeply touching and moved my heart to prayer for those whose lives are irrevocably effected by what happened there.  May we never forget to take time to grieve with those who are grieving, and to acknowledge the atrocities of violence that we may never commit them ourselves. If anything, I was moved to a deeper sense of kinship and belonging with the other mourners we passed, and left with a deeper love for our Capitol and my native home of Oklahoma than before.

Natasha W.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Septembre

     It was a cool, seventy degrees with a pale overcast sky and a chill, unruly wind. Such was the morning on which I found myself drawn to a square, austere metal table located at the corner of a veranda at a small Starbucks of a ritzy shopping center. A green umbrella flapped its thick and shabby edges from gust to gust, scarcely providing any shelter or even adhering to any pretense of it. Everything was drenched- from the suddenly vibrant green shrubbery, the reddened, dark bark and wood, the aesthetically enhanced black pavement, resonating with echoes of a fierce storm. There before us was a red fire hydrant made starkly beautiful on the outer side of the black wrought iron fence framing the tables and the ever-peculiar coffee drinkers. It would appear that a thick smattering of sandy mud was caked down the side of the hydrant, and from whence it came I could not fathom. 

     I sipped on a latte, dark, sweet, and beautiful, as the wind snuck its piercing fingers like a shock beneath my scarf. I sipped at the hot foam, evoking nostalgic images of holiday bustle, Christmas tree shopping, and romantic adventures, without the slightest conscientious thought toward the facts that I was fighting an illness and thought it incomprehensible to sit in a church building or stay inside somewhere warm with tissues. 

     Such was the result, I infer, of the record summer in Oklahoma 2011. Fifty-two days of temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees. "The summer that never was," they say, recalling a hundred lost moments that would normally have been spent at poolsides or in parks or fishing. None of these things happened. In its place there were only a persistent pleading for some relief and a thankfulness for the modern amenities of air conditioning and indoor jobs. 
  
     So when the storm hit Edmond, Oklahoma on September 4th, at approximately eleven o'clock p.m., and the atmosphere filled with the unmistakable scent of rain, it was as a curse lifted. A season changed. A leaf turned. And we found a sort of redemption at last. And this redemption, as water on dry, thirsty terrain, permeated deeply into our souls. 

     The following morning, a kind of shock occurred- the same kind of electric thrill a child finds on Christmas morning, as I read the outdoor thermometer at sixty-nine degrees. And I was- and I think we all were- my husband, the exemplary, cheerful baristas (who did such an outstanding job that I found myself wanting to throw money at them), the church goers and dog walkers, all of us were suddenly, acutely aware of a newfound freedom. And so I drank it in slowly, with that scarf around my chilly neck, feeling absolutely, irreversibly, incandescently mad. 


-written feverishly in a notebook with a feeble blue pen, in cursive 

Natasha W. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Naturally


Inspired for the up-coming fall season by this outfit of, naturally, the Duchess of Cambridge.

(Via Hello! Magazine, found on www.whatkatewore.com)



Natasha W.

A Gene Kelly Moment

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summertime... When the Livin' is Easy

The oppressive heat of the summer has had such an effect as one may expect, I suppose. Personally, since my local pool was drained two weeks ago, it has not involved swimming, but something much more passive.

Go to work. Go home. Stay inside.
Go to work. Go home. Stay inside.
Go to work. Go home. Stay inside....

.... find out Mom and Dad are bringing us Chic-Fil-A and homemade oatmeal cookies, and so we all sit around the table and chat about new jobs and Micah's book Flyboys (with pictures, I might add).

Go to work. Go home. Stay inside....
.... watch my 17th Alfred Hitchcock film, The Wrong Man, which to be completely honest, was a bit disappointing.

And so on and so forth.

A great deal of  movie watching and book reading has been going on in the Wittman home, though gratefully punctuated with rain and a cool breeze, causing us to slip on our flip flops and step out onto the back patio and just be thankful.

I am greatly anticipating cool fall weather, more of that lovely rainfall, and trips to places like Tulsa (Utica Square anyone?), Bricktown, perhaps some random, Oklahoma ghost towns, and the like.

Yes, I am anticipating this:



I am looking forward to plunging forth into this:


by this amazing chef/writer:


That's how I look when I come home from the grocery store, too. ;)





This song made my day. :) Papa Loves Mambo, by Perry Como.



Love,
Natasha W.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Lee Remick Of It All


Finished Anna Karenina. I have never read a piece of literature that has left me feeling as though I know the author inside and out. I feel that Leo Tolstoy and I have been meeting for coffee and tea everyday for the last two months. I am sorry to see him go, though I think part of him will always be with me. I am positively wrapped up in love for this book. The insight into characters... the complexity of human nature- one's consideration of suicide, one's fearful inability to understand God, one's coming to terms with the idea that, "Yes, I have always known that He exists and He has given this knowledge to me long ago." And so on, one's feverish falling in love with another human being, one's reckoning with the emotional upheaval of the first year of marriage, one's spiritual war against one's self... Characters recklessly given over to malice and revenge, and others still finding peace and joy in the role of being a wife and mother.... Utterly brilliant. Slightly exhausting. Undeniably beautiful.

Had a marvelous time last night with a group of new acquaintances, all beautiful, intelligent women, over macchiato's, lattes, and chai. So thoroughly enjoyed this sociable experience, sharing our history and stories of love, heartache, and church-hunting. Praise God! I needed that. :)

A poem you must read: A Miracle for Breakfast, by Elizabeth Bishop.


 “Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.”- An excerpt.


Thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Lee Remick in Anatomy of a Murder with James Stewart. Although I think I prefer her character as Eula in The Long Hot Summer, with her dramatic drawl and bubbly persona. 

Meanwhile, enduring our own long, hot summer...

Dreams of returning here.



And eating again here. 


Love,
Natasha W.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Here Comes the Sun


One of the beautiful things about getting out of bed at 4:30 is... being up at 5, and 5:30, and 6, 6:30, and so on, etc. I cherish long mornings. 
Another is that one begins to feel something really nice... something like resolve, strength, and a certain bravery and sense of accomplishment. And then one feels that great big, wide expanse of the morning up ahead like a panoramic view while standing on a pier, surrounded by ocean waters. What can happen? What cannot happen? Everything must and will be conquered. 
Revelation of the Week:
To walk in fear is the opposite of walking in faith. 
There is a cure for fear, and I cam convinced that it is faith. 
A Notable Week in June:
Beginning a new writing project. Crafting with Candy (viz, creative genius, accomplished student and graduate, master of Hobby Lobby aisle shopping, and Connoissieur of Mod Podge, etc.). Being reminded of so many times when God has taken me through the storm and beckoned the sun into my sky. Intense early morning workouts. Banana Walnut Bread baking. Letter writing. Recipe formatting. Painting. Cooking Tilapia Meuniere. Watching Strangers on a Train. (a Hitchcock). College applications. Buying (less than) $5 sweaters at Target, and not ashamed. Lighting candles when a storm took out our electricity. Averaging about 8 books checked out from the library at a time. Establishing the "favorite" Starbucks location in town. Using a yoga mat for push-ups. Listening to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack on a daily. Adoring pictures of Eli on twitter.
Love,
Natasha W.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Brain Storming Session


Mom: Let's focus on one word or phrase and come up with ideas surrounding it.

Me: Okay. Hmmm... I've been thinking about the beach a lot lately.

Mom: Okay, that's good. Beach... beach!

Me: That sounds like a cuss word when you say it. 

Mom: BEACH!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Town, New Home, Old Friends Reconnect




Having freshly arrived and moved into our new apartment in Edmond, Oklahoma just over a week ago, I cannot gush too much about how much I love it here. 
1. The apartment is lovely. 
2. One Super Target, Three Starbucks, Two Parks, and lots of time with Mom and Dad. Supreme happiness. 
3. A sister-in-law who likes to walk in the evenings. 
4. Connecting with members of our new church over a beautiful, delicious three course lunch (at the hospitality of a phenomenal and inspiring hostess)
5. Reconnecting with old acquaintances. (Cannot overstate how wonderful that is.)
In the midst of employment applications, interviews, unpacking, and getting library cards (I have reconnected with Anna Karenina at last), I was honored with coffee and conversation time with an old friend so dear to my heart. And, wouldn't you know, we realized a mutual affection for Anthropologie's apron collection. 
Found this lovely apron at Anthropologie forever ago and have been stalking it thus ever since. 

And, there is an adorable matching apron for a little one as well. As Kathleen Kelly would say, "How cute is that?"
Enjoying some delightfully witty Wodehouse time in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit...
"As I sat in the bath-tub, soaping a meditative foot and singing, if I remember correctly, 'Pale Hands I Loved Beside the Shalimar', it would be deceiving my public to say that I was feeling boomps-a-daisy." 
You must know that a book is going to be good when it starts that way. 
Love,
Natasha


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Know the Feeling...



-Natasha W.

Reading with Greg's Coffee Bar Sumatra Dark Brewed Coffee, and Freshly Baked Cappuccino Muffins

An Excerpt from

Just Do Something:
A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
(Or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc.)
by Kevin DeYoung



"In general, he [God] guides and directs his people by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, which enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The Word of God is not to be used as a lottery; nor is it designed to instruct us by shreds and scraps, which detached from their proper places have no determinative import; but it is to furnish us with just principles, right apprehensions to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct.” -John Newton
There's a word for this approach to guidance and the will of God- Wisdom. It's not sexy, and it requires no secret decoder ring. But it is the way to "understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.” (Proverbs 2:9)
- Kevin DeYoung

-Natasha W.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Levin, in the Field, Fifteen Miles from Pokrovskoe, Part 3 Chapter 12

"He could not have been mistaken. There were no other eyes in the world like those. There was no other being in the world capable of concentrating for him all the light and meaning of life. It was she. It was Kitty. He realized that she was driving to Yergushovo from the railway station. And all that had troubled Levin during that sleepless night, all the decisions he had taken, all of it suddenly vanished. "

I am utterly, euphorically, enchanted and swept up in the world of Anna Karenina and the incredible web of lives interwoven by Leo Tolstoy.

I love the extravagant use of names.

For instance, Kitty, is: Shcherbatsky, Princess Ekaterina Alexandrovna, also known as Katerina, Kitty, Katia, and Katenka.

Stiva is: Oblonsky, Prince Stepan Arkadyich. 


Dolly is: Oblonsky, Princess Darya Alexandrovna, also known as Dasha, Dashenka, and Dollenka.

I just love it. I am thinking up about ten different names for one of my future children. They may need a doctorate degree before they can spell their whole name, but by Jeeves, it shall be elegant!


Love,
Natasha W.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Love...


Building friendships over authentic Italian Margherita pizza...
Exploring scene-esque coffee house atmospheres in foreign cities...
Discovering and sharing new profound, gripping, and giftedly artistic music outside the typical radio waves...
Memories out on the "Relaxation Grotto" with family and a large, storm-a-phobic Lacy named Watson...
Discovering a song called Natasha by Rufus Wainwright...
Poring over the riveting Anna Karenina late at night... 
The convenience of glancing down at my navy blue and white watch for the time instead of my phone...
Finding myself right in the heart of yet another character-testing adventure...
Playing Lauren's copy of Sherlock Holme's classics on my tv when I am alone...
Being happy for friends and family who are having babies and naming them beautiful names...
Feeling that for the first time in my life, I have some pretty great things to put on a resume´ (thanks be to God!)...



C’est la vie. 
Natasha W.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Memories of Red Junipers and Sweetgums

To say that life abounded there, in the brilliant sun-streaked sloping yard at my aunt's house, is no doubt missing the mark altogether. I suppose it is true in some sense, but it isn't at all what I wish to say. What I mean to say is that...well, life ran rampant. In electrified currents it sizzled and burst at the ends like a Red Juniper's blue berry cones in between a child's hands. 

The sky, unassuming and faithfully glorious was sprawled out between the tips and fans of leaves, creating endless pattern games upon the sky and darker games below, shading oases of sweet grass among the bark. 

The Sweetgums towered above the rooftops shading the green soft grass and brown flat winged fruit. Tender spikes scraped beneath our feet along the needles and green leaf blades, but mostly was made soft along the gum-studded earth. 

I remember their bark and the scent of the woods surrounding.  The lobed and star-shaped leaves fell upon our faces or tore to the ground amidst some battles we fought.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beautiful Hands

My fingers absolutely burn with an invisible fire. I'm so thankful for that petite, newly potted Aloe Vera plant on my front porch, to whom I may at any time run for quick relief. But mostly, I smile on my faithful, pain-stricken, scarred hands with appreciation because I think their weariness defines me in a way I can't despise.  There is something incredibly beautiful about a pair of hands that have proven their usefulness. I can't help but believe that their experience illuminates their beauty. How sad a pair of hands must be which do nothing! From squeezing citrus for lemonades and marinades, to zesting blocks of parmesan and fruit, to baking clumsily in a 400 degree oven, to chopping and seeding jalepnos and serranos, my hands wear the marks to prove their hard work. And I think it's beautiful. I am so thankful for every opportunity to use my hands in the joy of cooking. God is so good for giving me this art, this ambition, and for having useful hands to work with every day. It may sound simple, but how loving is God to give us hands? He must love us so very much.

 I can tell that my stomach is still quite full from last night's Mexican feast: Guacamole (this time with truly fresh avocados from Mexico, minced garlic, and ripe compari tomatoes), Salsa which may be my best batch ever, pica de gallo made with two serrano peppers, and Micah's incredible marinaded chicken fajitas. Not to mention Micheladas.

I have lined up the youngest sprouts of my herb garden on my kitchen window sill. I had a feeling that sprouts particularly enjoy a kitchen window view, a preference of my own as well. There we have Chives, Cilantro, Sweet Basil, and Thyme. Oh, and not to mention the accidental pot in which I erroneously mixed Basil seeds with Thyme. :/ But they are all growing marvelously. Last night, I stopped cooking long enough to urge Cilantro on as his little leaves arched toward the sky, in the hope that someday I will not have to buy Cilantro from the market.


Love,
Natasha

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yesterday, I...

...deactivated my facebook.

Still hating that this is such a big deal to me.

...fell in love with the eternal Springtime of Myrtle Reed's novel, Lavender and Old Lace. If a book could become your best friend, I daresay this one would be mine. The sweetness of the characters, the cleverness of the dialogue, the mastery of the diction, and the enchantment of the imagery. It takes my breath away. Another plus is the potato-chip-thickness of the pages, and the overwhelming aroma of years passed. It is classic. Timeless. It has all the excitement of youth, and the nostalgia of old age. I want to share it with everyone. Especially you.

...rested. More fully and intentionally than I have in a very long time. What a blessing! It was like floating along the river of peace. I was in a daze of enchantment all day long.

...had Come Softly to Me, by the Fleetwoods, stuck in my head. Such a melody.

...made lattes with my Beloved, chatted with my Mom about those notorious bad days we sometimes have, and enjoyed hand-washing my dishes, twice. Yes, I enjoy it very much.

...made pan-seared tilapia with saute'ed vegetables and rice. For the first time. With only a few emergency phone calls to my mother in the process.

Carry on.

Love,
Natasha 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lessons from Nana and Papa



     Growing up, one could often find me, my brother and our cousins at Nana and Papa’s house. A weekend with them was always a new and fun experience. If I could ever pin point the most fun I had as a kid, it would probably have occurred on one of those many trips to see our grandparents. Our parents helped us pack our backpacks and reminded us to be good in their absence. They dropped us off as we were ushered in with a warm welcome, oftentimes with a fun activity ready and waiting for us.  Looking back, I don’t know if our parents were trying to take a break from keeping us or what, but we never had a reason to wonder; for all we knew, they were rewarding us for good behavior. 
     We slept on pallets in the living room floor, on sleeping bags in the sewing room, and where else, I can’t recall, though it was rarely ever on a bed. Either way, it was all part of the adventure. I recall one remarkable night of examining some of Papa’s new fascinating technology- a spherical object with some sort of electric light in the center that, upon placing your hand on the glass, would send out spidering streaks of light to touch the glass, and then chase your fingers as you ran them across the sphere. That night, we stayed up in the living room as Papa brought out a strobe light for our entertainment and we watched in awe.  On another occasion, we (all six of us) went out to the Slab, that is the large expanse of concrete often used for basketball, bicycles, and volleyball.  We had blankets and pillows and flashlights as we lay out on the Slab to gaze up at the stars.  I can still hear Nana’s voice from that night, speaking into the sky with a calm and assuring voice about the sky and stars and God’s creation.
     If there is one thing I’ve learned from Nana (and still learning from her every time I visit), then it is probably how to be a lady. I remember sitting on her bed as she showed me her collection of favorite poems. We would read them together aloud and talk about them. It took me about eight years to realize that her influence introduced me to the value of poetry, something that has become such a rich part of my life. There was other reading as well. I don’t think anyone could ever read a story out loud like Nana. You might say that those classic stories of trolls and Hansel and Gretel have merit of their own, but I must contend that Nana’s reading of them completely made the stories for me; there is simply no separating them in my mind. In addition to these, Nana taught me to sew, to mend, to cook her Thanksgiving Stuffing (no doubt, the best stuffing in the world, but don’t ask for the recipe because it is top secret), to refrain from using vulgar words, to play chords on the piano, to shop at garage sales, to sing Polka Dots and Moon Beams, to read your Bible every morning, and to not cry over a broken jar of salsa.  
     Papa was (and is) always full of new games, encouraging us to make up our own as we went along, and had an impressive variety of exercise equipment filling their garage, with the ping-pong table in the center. They have kept chickens, sheep, dogs, a pond of fish, a garden, and a plethora of other amenities to keep any sane children more than occupied. Perhaps you are never really a kid until you spend an afternoon with Papa. You will never find yourself laughing so often, nor so utterly immersed in fun as when you are chasing ping-pong balls, using the golf putter, hitting the badminton birdie, or very possibly doing all three at once.  Of course, there were always neighbor children coming over to join; as much as we tried, we could not keep Papa all to ourselves. 
     And then there were quieter times, too. If there was ever a symbol of nobility, I have no doubt that it was and is my Papa. Among other things, I certainly learned the meaning of a gentleman. It’s been said that Humphrey Bogart owned the description “tough without a gun”, but it is necessary to apply the same phrase here. I have always seen a remarkable balance of kindness and intolerance of unkindness. That is, if a young man was caught using filthy language in the presence of a lady, Papa would remind him of his duty as a man to protect her from such filth. My mother and I agree that Papa has a certain air of dignity, so that when you are in his presence, you cannot help but admire and respect him. So when he tells you to wash your mouth out with soap, you start looking for the nearest bar of Ivory. And while he is certainly tough without a gun, I can never promise you at any given moment that he is not packing heat. That’s just the way he is. 
     Now days, when I get the pleasure of meeting Nana and Papa for garage sales or a cup of coffee or a birthday party, it is as much a pleasure for me as an adult as it was as a child.  We still play games together, cook, and share our love for poetry. And when I am there, I am still learning. I am still learning all these things about them and about myself, too. Although, in the end, I suppose that more than anything else I’ve learned from Nana and Papa, it is that I would like to be more like them. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Martini

2 1/2 Parts Dry Vermouth
1/2 Part Gin
Stirred.
Lemon juice. Strip the rind and squeeze into glass. Rub against rim and drop inside.

Description: Clean, lemony, sweet, and refreshing. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Definitions

simulacrum |ˌsimyəˈlākrəm; -ˈlak-|noun ( pl. -lacra |-ˈlākrə; -ˈlakrə| or -lacrums)an image or representation of someone or something.• an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Latin, from simulare (see simulate )

"To be loved by the world is to be hated by the worldbut to be loved by oneis to have that world on a string. "- Natasha W. 



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week at a Glance:

Meeting Vella the Cat. The old gray cat who does not tolerate non-sense. But likes a good scratching beneath the chin and a blanket to soften with her claws.

Studying the art of making Martinis. Love the olive. Love the twist. Crazy about the sweet Vermouth. Not so crazy about the Gin. But I daresay that I wouldn't be a lady if I was.

Saturday night: My first martini and my premier viewing of Arsenic and Old Lace. Love seeing Cary Grant at his goofiest.

My Sunday Morning: Poetry (Emerson, Wordsworth, Shakespeare and others) over Belgian waffles with chocolate & peanut butter chips.  Rereading old love letters and falling in love all over again with my best friend.

Greatly anticipating my nephew Cole's arrival to the world. :) He is a few days past his due date and so we are all learning patience.

I recently heard of a Poetry Night at Greg's, and so I am wondering how brave I am.


Love,
Natasha W.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Evening at the Crystal Theatre


It was on a Friday evening, after work, that we quickly dressed for the theatre.  The question of the evening was, of course, what on earth to wear?  Having lived in a town called Gonzales for a year, I was rather at a loss as for how to dress for a production of Blithe Spirit at the Crystal Theatre. Denim? Heels? Ponytail? Slacks? Skirt? The conundrum was such that we were almost late in our arrival. Having no idea what the rest of the audience would be wearing, (dressed for a drama or for a livestock show?) I had to do the logical thing. The compromise: Dark denim, black Mary Jane’s, eggplant blouse, and black sweater.  
Arriving at the theatre wearing “the logical thing”, as it turns out, nearly missed the mark altogether. My fellow audience was generally radiant in sophisticated and dramatic apparel: eye-catching boas, fur-lined coats, exquisite dresses, and all graced with an amorous smile. Friends excitedly greeted one another, chattering amiably while adjusting silk scarves, fastening coats to the back of chairs, or getting acquainted with the white-draped front row tables. The atmosphere was enchanting, colorful, and subdued all at once, as we surveyed the intimate theatre. In the back corner was a small table of wine, clear plastic cups and a donation container.  Not in the mood for wine? For a reasonable price, one may snag a cookie and a cup of coffee at the large table by the back doors, at the courtesy of Greg’s. 
Upon this survey, I sat back against my own coat and inquired with an indignant desperation toward my date, “But the petit fours! They promised us petit fours!” Needless to say, even among a charmingly dressed audience, when one is promised petit fours, the failure to provide them stings with disappointment. The audience settled down, the lights went low, and the show began. 
The performance was masterfully well done. One simply cannot say too much about the production. The set was immaculate. Truthfully, if the acting wasn’t of such high quality, I would have been perfectly content with sipping my wine and gawking at the well-decorated set for an hour. The costumes were suitably extravagant. The dialogue was intelligent and witty, the scenes were well-paced, and the entertainment was flawlessly captivating.
By the time we arrived at the intermission, I was entirely won over, petit fours or none.  My date and I shared a freshly brewed cup of coffee while stretching our legs and getting ready for the next Act. Few words were exchanged between us at this time, other than audibly marveling at the quality of the coffee, when a tray of pink petit fours appeared on our row. I snagged two out of sheer giddiness and immediately felt greedy.   I munched rather contentedly (now that all my dreams had come true) as the lights went low and the performance recommenced. 
When it was all said and done, the only disappointment was the ending of the performance. Truth be told, there was nothing wrong with the way it ended, but the fact that it all had to end was a little sad. After all, it isn’t every evening that a Gonzales crowd gathers for a performance of Blithe Spirit with French pastries and wine. However, if you haven’t made it yet, there is still time this weekend, through February 20th. It is a social event that meets high expectations. Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendar. If you are looking for quality entertainment, then look no further. The theatre awaits.

Esperanza Spalding | Chamber Music Society

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King and I



I have spent the last few weeks of my life planning out my entire year.  Looking at my life through a critical lens and recognizing character flaws, I have sought out change. Planners, pens, lists, schedules, and inspirational quotes have all been used to form my 2011 strategy. Look out world. Change is on the way.
Unlike those who no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I look forward to them again and again. Some goals have been reached, others discarded, and still others altered. Yet the excitement of dreaming and planning is one I cannot shake. I get a thrill out of reviewing the plans I made throughout the year and seeing real progress being accomplished.  I spend weeks in the first month of every year determining what my vision is, what needs to change, what must be thrown off, and what ought to be pursued.
Many people today no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, as though it were the Tooth Fairy, or some myth dependent on the power of the human will. And there is some truth to that, I suppose. After all, if my hope for the entire year rests in what I can do, then I am putting all my eggs in one very undependable basket. I do not believe in the human ability to conquer anything on one’s own. We most certainly need grace and help. But resolve is something I can’t cut down to being a false hope. Resolve is profound. Vision is vital. Hope is exhilarating. Resolution is essential. 
This week, I was shaken by the sight and sound of one man’s resolve. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was a prophetic, inspiring man of resolution. He found hope in the midst of darkness, and gave that hope like a torch to an entire people, to a nation. Listening to the recording of his “I Have a Dream” speech, or the reverberating “Mountaintop” speech is like being in the presence of something great, something in motion, something bigger than oneself. A man very worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, he united a fragile nation with his thunderous, unstoppable rhetoric, and his remarkable perseverance born out of a revolutionary vision. Remembering Dr. King is remembering a man on mission, a man on fire. 
Dr. King’s life has been spent. Like the rest of us, he was mortal, and his time was finite. Yet he counted what he had and spent it well. What he accomplished proves that life is not something to be clung to, but to be used up on something worthy. And so, amid a list of small ambitions, Dr. King’s life asks these provoking questions: Because it is inevitable that you are spending your life, what are you spending it on? What mission is worth the value of your life? What vision will brighten the lives of others? 
I hope that as we look back on another birthday of Dr. King, we have left it changed, humbled, inspired, and more dedicated to freedom and justice than ever before. As we make our way into another year, I hope that we make it count. Indeed, may we count what we have and spend it well. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Espresso in the Library

Today: An interesting mix of planning and spontaneity.







Sipping on a new espresso creation: home brewed espresso (Delonghi EC155) with heavy cream, lightly dusted with nutmeg and cocoa. Spontaneous photo shoot with a my incredibly aesthetic espresso cup and plate... a stunning cobalt blue, and one of a pair from Mom. :)  I have named the collection, "Espresso in the Library." My favorite Christmas Bearista even made it in one of the shots.

Listening to my new Duffy c.d. There is something especially luxurious about hearing Duffy saying, quite somberly, "cocktail after cocktail..." Her new album is, in many songs, much more modern compared to her first one. However, it is also quite signature. I prefer the ballads over the more party-like beats. Her reverberating voice is quite timeless. "Hard for the Heart" always makes me feel like putting on a white and blue striped shirt and denim capris, and wandering along some distant coast singing this song.

Only 10 more chapters to go in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. It is a particularly rich book on theology, and admittedly a challenge for me. However, this is when I am really in need of a girlfriend to have coffee and good discussion with. Perhaps a New Year's Resolution? A coffee and book friend?

A spontaneous game of Rummy with Micah over an excellent meal of Penne with Olives, Capers, and Pine Nuts (practically a dietary staple for us by now), lettuce with Lemon Vinaigrette, and Bay Cheddar biscuits. Made rudimentary plans for Valentine's Day. Perhaps Austin. I would love to revisit The Blue Dahlia.  Very thankful for our Red Lobster gift card from Mr. Wittman.  Already highly anticipating our fourth Valentine's Day together. They have all been so special. I am stoked.

The New Year's Resolutions planning has taken a lot of work. I have given myself to the end of the month to come up with specific plans, goals, expectations, and strategies. Quite exciting. I love expecting much of myself, in that sense. I've decided it is hereditary. Most people make fun of resolutions, saying that no one ever follows through on them. Like Mom, I love planning, renewing, strategizing for the months to come, and this isn't the only time of the year that you'll find me doing this, either.

A romantic evening last night, with our first mutual viewing of One Fine Day. Oven-Baked Arborio with Tomatoes, Cheddar Bay Biscuits, an open bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Kendall-Jackson, Vitner's Reserve, California 2009),which most certainly did have a "stone-like mineral quality" we greatly appreciated.

Yoga, chamomile (the last bag, I'm afraid), getting lost in Micah's eyes, exchanging the drama of our latest dreams (some romantic, some frightening). Memorizing more scripture. Mostly Ephesians (I'm hooked). Reading in my favorite chair, which has just recently made its arrival to the perfect spot in the living room. The sun poured through the blinds in lateral radiance. The surprising warmth on my skin was most welcoming in mid-January. Praise God.

If you haven't heard Duffy's Endlessly... I hereby commission you to do so immediately, and in full. Warwick Avenue as well, while you are at it.


Still on the menu: Writing this week's article. Cleaning the kitchen. Finishing up resolutions and plans. Lime Chicken Fajitas and Guacamole. Oh, and the highly anticipated Banana Walnut Loaf. It has been far too long.

Love,
Natasha W.