March 12, 2013


Here are some photos from two weekends ago, when Christian and I drove up to Monterrey to camp with my sister, Kelsey, and brother-in-law, Tim. By the time we arrived at the campsite on Friday night, tents were magically set up, food was out, and Tim was chopping wood for the fire…  a pretty accurate picture of how the rest of the weekend went (we were so spoiled).

My favorite part of the trip was eating and talking by the fire each night, and then going to sleep to the sound of the 10pm trumpet-song from the camp (?) nearby. A close second was Toby, Tim and Kelsey’s dog, running furious circles around our tents sporadically and with no warning (a phenomenon which T & K have dubbed “Toby time”).
















January 26, 2013

January has been a long, good month. Christian came to Wheaton for a few weeks, and we spent lots of time reading and playing Settlers of Catan and watching Alias. Our good friends Matt & Julia visited from Connecticut, and we road-tripped to Cleveland with our friend Joe to see Jeff Mangum (aka Christian’s Halloween costume this year) play a show.

The last week has been quiet…reading and homework-ing and waiting for my niece to be born (any day now!). I finally finished Anna Karenina, and then it was on to Origin of Species, both for Torrey. (Actually, there was a few days where they overlapped…Anna K was getting too dark to read for long stretches, so Origin provided some “lightness”…ha.) I’m looking forward to the semester…getting back to waking up early (okay, before 11…) and writing more, I hope.




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November 24, 2012

Since neither of us could go home this Thanksgiving Break, Christian and I decided to go to a few places we’ve been wanting to see for awhile but just haven’t had the time to visit.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Corona Del Mar. I LOVE walking around looking inside tide pools…this time we found all sorts of anemones. No starfish, but I was delighted to find Christian’s face inside one of the pools.

Thursday was a big day. We got an early start and drove 3 hours to Salvation Mountain. I have been waiting for years to go to this place, and it was just as beautiful as I imagined (and by “as I imagined,” I mean “as all the pictures online that I drooled over”). The “mountain” has a really interesting history… it was all built by one man, Leonard Knight, who used to live right near it in one of those trucks you see past Christian in the second picture.

After climbing all around and inside the mountain, Christian and I ate lunch at a (/the only?) local diner. It was delicious and also kind of sad (we were actually shocked anything was open on Thanksgiving Day, especially because the place felt like a ghost town).

Next, we went to a place called “Slab City,” just a few miles away from Salvation Mountain. It’s basically a community of squatters, but the diversity of the place is what made it so interesting/confusing/scary. One one side of the road there was a group of people with guitars laughing next to a rainbow school bus covered in flowers, and on the other side there was a trailer with a confederate flag waving high. (I didn’t take any pictures because I was already feeling a little too inappropriately tourist-y for the place).

Then we headed to the Salton Sea, famous for its shores lined with dead fish (instead of sand, there are fish bones everywhere…see the second picture). We also found this strangely beautiful red-ish pond(?) by the sea…it was especially strange because in the car just beforehand, we were listening to a Radiolab (on NPR) about why Homer described the sea as “wine dark” in the first lines of the Iliad. (Although, admittedly, the water we found was more like tomato soup than wine…).

Our last stop was a place called Pioneertown, a small town built as an Old West movie set in the 1940s, and still maintained today. All the little shops were closed because of the holiday, but it was cool wandering the dusty roads by ourselves (that is, until I bare-footedly stepped on about 10,000 mini burrs…ha).

On our way home, we stopped by our friend Joel’s house for some Thanksgiving leftovers and board games. I was happy to spend at least part of the day with a big, happy family, because to be honest, even awesome mini road trips are not as good as spending the day eating and being lazy with family. Also, there really are few funnier things than playing Pictionary with 6 little kids.


October 8, 2012

This weekend Christian and I were both feeling a little homesick for the Midwest, and a little grumpy towards Southern California. So, we went to the town of Orange…the only place within a hundred miles of LA that remotely resembles home.

You can’t really tell from my pictures, but once you cross this one set of train tracks near the border of Orange, everything changes. The store fronts are old, with chipped paint and swooping fonts. There are American flags, sidewalk quartets, and even banners inviting townspeople to a “prayer breakfast” hosted by the mayor. Everyone is a little bit less skinny, and a little bit less gorgeous. It is seriously magical.

We went into a few antique stores, an old-fashioned soda shop, a Native American craft store (where I purchased some over-priced macaw feathers), a record store, a tiny cafe (where Christian applied the “just add salt to your sweets for instant class” principle to our toasted almost gelato…), AND a diner where a scene from That Thing You Do was filmed.

Hooray for small adventures, and more to come. (Including, this month: seeing Christian play with his new band [their show is Wednesday!!], my old roommate Tracy visiting from NYC, Biola’s annual Torrey Conference, Christian’s mom and step-dad visiting from Arkansas, and a Halloween party at my new house [I wonder if the pumpkin tree will last until then? It would make a great conversation-starter.]).








September 23, 2012

Yesterday Christian and I explored Malibu Creek State Park for the first time. It was hotter than we expected, but the dry kind of heat that is alright. Along the trail, there were lots of lizards, one very fast baby snake, and, to my relief, no mountain lions.

We spent the first half of our hike looking for the lake, but we found a dam instead. Christian swam to the edge, and I took pictures of him and scanned for alligators.

After Christian got out of the water, we thought we needed to climb a fence to get to the lake. This fence happened to be right on the edge of the dam, and it was a biiiiig drop (maybe that’s why the fence had barbed wire on it?). I was terrified, and then it wasn’t even the right way, so we had to go back over the fence of doom. For the rest of our hike I couldn’t get out of my melodramatic/existential/panic-y funk about how weird it is that you can slip off of a mountain and die (yeah… I was REALLY scared going over that fence), but I also didn’t want to leave, because everything was so beautiful. (I don’t have the brains/guts to say much more about this [I wonder what good old Ralph Waldo has to say about slipping off mountains?]…I just didn’t want to be all “our day was sooo gorgeous and serene” on here when really, it was more “gorgeous and strangely scary.”)

Once we found the lake, we stuck our feet in and watched people cliff jump for an hour or so. I wasn’t going anywhere near the edge of any cliffs, but it was nice to see people laughing and screaming and okay when they jumped off.

On our way out, we walked along the dried-up river, this time of year just a winding trail of white rocks. That was my favorite part, I think.

Emerson & the LA Arboretum

September 12, 2012

This week I am preparing to lead a Torrey session on Emerson. We were assigned a few of his essays to read, and I am expected to ask the “opening question,” which our group will discuss for our 3-hour class time.

Sometimes when I am reading the classics,  I think I focus too much on what I want the author to be talking about (as opposed to what they are actually talking about). This week, I have been wanting to agree with Emerson (probably because he is a genius, and an every man’s man, and some of his little snippets about the earth are just so darn beautiful), so I am tempted to simplify what he is really saying (i.e. just labeling him a “nature boy” like I did in high school) into something I can agree with.

I actually do think that the real Emerson has a lot to teach me, but I know I won’t get there by picking and choosing small quotes and taking them out of context (which is a REAL temptation because again, HIS WRITING IS SO LOVELY). I think I will get there by actually working through his worldview–one that, I am learning, starts with very different assumptions than my own–and then going from there? I’ve usually found that route to be a good one, but it does take some amount of faith.

In the meantime, one little quote couldn’t hurt : )

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”

Christian & I are convinced that turtle on the far right must be HUGE, but we never saw much more than its head. The water was too murky and it was not at all moved by my pleas for it to come out and play. [Also, I probably would have screamed if it did.]

Still probably my favorite plants in the whole place, found in the parking lot. I know these guys are common, but they never get old to me. The colors are so tacky/so me.

Gilead & Lake Geneva

August 29, 2012

“In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.” – Gilead

I read Marilynne Robinson’s Home a couple of years ago and loved it…I don’t know why it took me so long to read its prequel, Gilead, but part of me is glad I saved it for now. I was reminded again what writing about God and eternity can be… unapologetic but not defensive, humble but not timid.

Her characters are deeply flawed, but hopeful. Their lives are messy and their faith wavering, but instead of trying to teach us some lesson through their mistakes or doubts, she just lets us watch them, and listen to them, and feel with them. And since to talk about Gilead too much might be to ruin its subtlety, I will just share some of my favorite quotes 🙂

“‘For preservation is a creation, and more, it is a continued creation, and a creation every moment.’ [George Herbert]…Again, all any heart has ever said, and just as the word is said the moment is gone, so there is not even any sort of promise in it.

“‘He will wipe the tears from all faces.’ It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that it is exactly what will be required.”

“This whole town does look like whatever hope becomes after it begins to weary a little, then weary a little more. But hope deferred is still hope. I love this town. I think sometimes of going into the ground here as a last wild gesture of love–I too will smolder away the time until the great and general incandescence.”

P.S. I guess these pictures are the last of my summer… I moved into my new house in LA on Monday, and tennis class starts in 50 minutes 🙂


July 14, 2012

Last week we took a family vacation to go to see Kelsey & Tim in Long Beach, Washington. We hadn’t visited them since they moved there 1.5 years ago, and I spent most of the week saying things like “I can’t believe you live here” over and over again. Instead of writing a play-by-play of our trip, I think I will just post some of my favorite pictures.

Driving from Portland to Long Beach.

Astoria, Oregon…the closest “big” town, where Kelsey does most of her shopping.

Kelsey and Toby (whom I fondly call Tobias) in their beautiful little cottage.

Kate & I slept in the attic for the week…windows open and birds chirping/squawking.

Endless water and endless sky.

Roadside cherries on the way to Olympic National Park. (Don’t worry, those are just my car socks… I stopped wearing socks with sandals in like 7th grade.)

Exploring Olympic National Park.

I’m pretty sure the only group picture we managed to take… (minus Tim the photographer).

Some rocks are better than others.

Searching for ice cream … we settled for McFlurries a few miles later.

Pink sun at Cape Disappointment (about 5 min from Kelsey & Tim’s house).

The same pink sun.

Downtown Long Beach…because every town needs a free museum.

Every town also needs stick candy.

Ice cream at Scoopy’s.

Hobo Junction.

Pike Place Market, our first stop in Seattle.


Chihuly Garden and Glass.

The ceiling of my favorite room in the world (also at CGG).

Waiting for the sunset.


Kerry “Park.” (really, a patch of grass)

An accurate representation of personality, I think.

Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle.


Christian and our friend Joel camped their way up from LA to visit for a couple of days!

A walk around Kelsey’s neighborhood.

Breaking rules at Cape Disappointment. 

The boys wandered on the driftwood while the girls sat in the car.

On the way to Cannon Beach.



Chocolate covered sunflower seeds and a broken sand dollar at Cannon Beach.

The last night, Christian, Joel and I went for one last look at Cape Disappointment.

Inside a tree.

Dead Man’s Cove.

We climbed a rusty look-out tower…

…and this was the view.

There is a fog-covered ship somewhere out there.

At the lighthouse. This picture is funny mostly because of Christian’s ability to maintain such a suave demeanor whilst digging his hand into my rib cage because I didn’t laugh at his joke.

There are no pictures of our hours spent laughing at Toby’s sleeping positions in the car, Kate being viciously bitten on the eyelid by a mosquito, or our last night together playing Cranium and impromptu Mad Gab… Those things happened too, and they were wonderful (sorry Kate, but you looked hilarious).

Our last few days didn’t go exactly as planned, mostly because Christian was busy preparing for a job interview (!!!). It was all very last minute and he felt pretty conflicted about the job (a scouting assistant at a literary agency) but his internship boss really encouraged him to at least do the interview, so he did! The interview went well, but he decided not to move forward with the next step in the process because the job just wasn’t for him. Even though it would have been fun to brag about “my boyfriend who works on 5th Avenue,” I’m grateful that he’ll be close-by next year : )

Anyways, we still found time to have some fun our last couple days! First, we went to the Brooklyn outdoor flea market in Williamsburg. Everything was so weird and beautiful, but a tad expensive (especially compared to the Goodwill in Wheaton!).

The market is right on the water, so we got some ice cream from a vendor and people-watched for awhile. (Christian got butter pecan flavor, and it was literally like licking thick, sweet butter. SO GOOD.)

Later that day, I met up with a friend from California (who moved to NYC last year), and she took me to the church where the lead singer of The Welcome Wagon (a small, good band) preaches!

On Thursday, Christian and I decided to look up some cool shops online and then go try and find them. First on our list was “Tender Buttons”… a store that sells only buttons (thousands of them)! I was really excited about this one, until we got to the address and it didn’t actually exist. I’ve been trying to think of a button-related pun to convey my disappointment, but I’ve got nothing.

We pushed through the heart-ache and set out in search of Obscura Antiques & Oddities in the East Village.

It was a really cool neighborhood, and we only got lost 3 times looking for the store. After hours (okay, an hour) of daydreaming about what kinds of crazy, obscure treasures we were about to encounter, we finally got to Obscura. And it had a metal grate over the window. And it said “For Rent.” Right about this time is when Christian asked me how old the website I found all these “cool stores” on was. (I have since looked it up, and it was only from 2011!)

Anyways, we decided the neighborhood was pretty cool in spite of its lack of Antiques & Oddities, so we walked around for awhile.

We watched skaters in the park,

Went inside record stores,

And I stopped to take pictures of cacti.

We spent Friday, our last day in NYC, going to the Chelsea art galleries with our Contemporary Art Class.

an elementary school we passed in Chelsea

Alex Prager

This sculpture freaked us all out…it looked so realistic!! I couldn’t bare to take a picture with his face showing, mostly because I was afraid to get too close. (You never know what could happen… the art scene there is pretty weird…)

Tony Matelli

My favorite gallery was the one below, with work by Ernesto Neto. He made all these rope sculptures that you could run through. The “floor” was made of a bunch of black ball-pit-esque balls, so it kind of felt like a grown-up McDonald’s Play place.

We came across another “interactive” piece at a different gallery, where we went through this maze (which was eerily similar to going through a car wash, except there were loud TVs involved), and then at the end there was free orange juice! My favorite type of art.

We spent the rest of the day packing and cleaning our apartments and saying goodbye, and then Christian and I celebrated with a 10pm dinner of delicious Chinese food from around the corner.

While we were waiting for our food, the owner rode his motorcycle right into the store and parked it there. And yes, that is a cleanliness grade “B” in the window. A perfect last night.

This morning, Christian, my roommate Hannah and I went to Coney Island. We didn’t look up any information ahead of time, so we were surprised to find it closed (we learned it’s only open on weekends). That wasn’t too much of a bummer because we weren’t planning on riding anything anyway, and I kind of loved that no one was there! The whole place was really eerie and haunted-feeling, and we all loved just walking along the pier in silence.

After downing some cheese/chili dogs, Christian and I decided to stop in Brooklyn on the way home (Hannah had somewhere to be).  First, we walked through Prospect Park, which felt a lot like the midwest to me. There were even some little kids having soccer practice.

And then we went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I have been talking about going here for weeks, and even though we missed the cherry blossoms, it was everything I hoped it would be 🙂

The “Children’s Garden,” where kids can plant things and watch them grow.

The best part about taking pictures on an iphone instead of a camera (mine has been malfunctioning for the past month or so) is that you don’t seem like as much of a snoop.

It seemed like all the little children in the entire park were congregated around the koi pond, shouting about each one they saw.

There were hardly any roses left in the rose garden…

…but these beauts made up for it!

The conservatory…probably my favorite part.

“The Desert”

Strangely enough, after 3 months, I still mostly just feel like a tourist on an extended vacation. Not because it’s been relaxing, but because it’s been so adventurous and different. Hard to believe it’s only 4 more days until home!