Friday, January 25, 2008

The Best Chinese Tradition

So I said I'd blog about my experience with my back rub in Chinatown when I was visiting my friend in NYC a couple of weeks ago... so here goes!

My friend had to attend a lecture over the lunch hour, which was located near Chinatown, so I meandered over to the streets full of markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, bright red colors, seafood stands, tea shops and much, much more. There were many small hole-in-the-wall stores that offered massage, reflexology, herbal medicine, accupuncture, etc. I wandered and wandered til I found the place that my friend had told me about that offered good "back rubs."

I walked down the steps, through what seemed like a Bilco door, to the basement where this shop (The Best Chinese Tradition) was located. Inside was a man and three woman, none of whom asked me what I was looking for or how they could help me. One of the women simply said "come," so I obediently followed her... into a very large, dark room with the lights dimmed and soft music playing. It was full of massage tables - rows of them! And there were other customers on the massage tables getting their back rubs. I was escorted to a table in the back corner, where I was shown a hook for my coat and my purse. I didn't know if I was supposed to undress or not, so I asked (my previous massage experiences have not been quite so modest, or public!). The woman looked terrified that I would ask such a thing and said "No! Lay down here." She showed me a sign that gave options for the number of minutes of massage, and I chose 31! Not 30, but 31! She set a timer and I got on the table as she had requested. She put a towel over me and went to town, giving me the best Chinese tradition, a back rub. At first it was hard not to be distracted by the others in the room with their sighs, oohs and ahs, but I got over that and thoroughly enjoyed my public, clothed, Chinese backrub.

The experience cost me just 20 bucks, which I'd definitely pay again. I even got a gift certificate for my friend, so she, too, could experience the "Qi Gong for Both Men and Women!"

I wonder why we don't have the Best Chinese Tradition in Lancaster... or maybe we do, and I have yet to discover it!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow (or fire?) on the trees

Today we had our second snow storm of the season - not bad, since we're half way thru January! I had a call to respond to at the hospital, and when I got home we tackled the shoveling. It had started to rain, but I thought the brilliant, white snow on the dogwood trees in front of our house looked so pretty with the white lights left over from holiday decorating... I don't like to take down decorations 'til after my birthday :)... so I wanted to take a picture of the lights and the house, but I'm learning that nighttime pictures, especially in the rain, are tough without a tripod. You can see a sampling of my pictures - one looks like there are flames coming out of our trees and one looks like blurry white lights. Nonetheless, it's very pretty and gives me a reason to appreciate snow, even when I grumble as it falls to the ground. I'd never survive in Alaska! and to think... I'm Norwegian!??

Sunday, January 13, 2008

25 Hours in New York

I made a trip to NYC this past week - not for it's glamour or to sightsee, but rather to spend some time with a very close friend who's grieving the loss of a friend who just committed suicide. I was only in New York for about 25 hours, and despite the fact that I didn't go with any intentions of sightseeing, we certainly managed to chalk up some interesting experiences, just by the nature of being in the "Big Apple."
Shortly after I arrived, we went to visit a local falafel restaurant, where one can get a super yummy falafel sandwich for just $2.50. This place has a signature hot sauce which is one of their 'claims-to-fame,' which we accidentally used a little too generously. Ooops! Heartburn...
My friend lives in a communal Quaker home in Manhattan, and I met some interesting housemates of hers. They are teachers, dancers, potters, business folk, models, international exchange students learning English, writers for Japanese newspapers and much, much more. They live together, sharing chores and housework. Thursday night is my friend's night to clean up after dinner, so after a delicious organic, gourmet meal in the house's dining room, we went to work on washing and sterilizing all the plates and utensils and cleaning up the kitchen. I have a whole new appreciation for industrial sized sinks and water sprayers - and so do my clothes that ended up wet!
In times of such terrible sadness and lack of understanding about life, there wasn't much I could say to my friend that would ease her pain or help her to understand why someone would take their own life. Mostly I was just there to love her and be with her, listen to her recount the stories of her friend's life, cry, laugh, or just be silent. Life seems so fragile... And so many people are broken, yet we aren't even aware of the pain and suffering they're experiencing inside.
Our time together was spent walking the streets of NYC, hopping on the subway, walking past homeless people who were asking for money (and my friend always gave them the loose change she had in her change purse), stopping by coffee shops, or looking at old photos of her friend who just died. I took some snapshots of some of the images of New York that I experienced in my 25 hours there, which you can see above. I'll have to share my experience with "The Best Back Rub" in Chinatown in another entry... coming soon!
My prayer for my friend is that she would feel God's love and PEACE surround her in these difficult times, that she would be able to REST in the assurance that God is GOOD and MERCIFUL. May she know how to process her thoughts and her grief, and may she know how to interact with other friends and family members who are suffering as well.
Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

One year ago!

It's amazing to consider what's occurred in the past year. Last night, Tim & I celebrated the one year anniversary of our engagement. At times, it seems like just yesterday, but it sometimes feels like we've been married for years, especially when we realize all that we've experienced in our brief period as husband and wife.
In the spirit of tradition, we ventured down to first Friday last night. It was cold outside, but as long as we kept moving, we were fine. We went into a few new galleries that we had never visited, and as creatures of habit, we also went to some of our old standbys, particularly Gallery 2, which is where we got engaged. It was quite different a year ago - the weather was warm and muggy, and I had disappeared outside to get some fresh air, while Tim was trying to propose to me inside. How was I supposed to know I wasn't following along with plans?! Anyways, last night it was cold, and people bustled inside to experience the warmth.
We had a dinner reservation at Carr's, a place where neither of us had been. It came highly recommended by my friend, Stephanie, and we'd have to agree with her, now that we've had a lovely meal there. The food was unique, very flavorful, colorful, delicious, and the presentation added another level that made it top notch. We took some pictures to commemorate the event. We were feeling a bit goofy, which was good after a long week at work.
Our last stop of the evening before heading home was to Gallery 141. It's sort of like a coop with a variety of artists. I had been in the day before and spoken at length with the owner. She invited me to consider being a "featured artist" for a first Friday followed by a month with my stuff on display. Sounds like a great opportunity, but something to definitely talk about (with Tim, Heidi - my jewelry partner - and others) & pray about before making a commitment.
I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for how the Lord has radically altered my life in the past year and a half. He's given me a wonderful husband, whom I love more every day, and He's also placed many challenges in our pathes, which have grown our love for Him, our love for each other, and our recognition of our need to fully rely on Him and trust Him! I celebrate this with great JOY!

Friday, January 4, 2008

A glimpse of a few items from my Etsy

For those of you who didn't know... for the past two years, I have been making and selling jewelry to support a friend who works as a missionary in the Middle East. I've just started posting my items on Etsy. Here's a glimpse of some of my things. Feel free to pass the word along. Also, you can check out my blog for ZiZi Designs Jewelry (the pseudonym under which I make jewelry :)). There's a link for both at the side of the page -- Look left!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Our tree topper - the perfect blend...

I was having a horrible time trying to figure out how to format the photos on our entries, and it was getting frustrating enough, that I decided just to add a separate -brief- entry to show off our wonderful tree and the dove tree topper we used. Some day maybe I'll learn a little more about html and be able to put the photos where I want them, instead of where some little computer blog elf decides they should go.

Finding the perfect Christmas tree...

It was a beautiful Saturday morning (a week and a half after Thanksgiving), when my parents called to find out if we'd like to join them for tree hunting... We said "sure" and finished up our lazy morning routine before heading out -- we don't get too many lazy Saturdays!

We all fit in my dad's pickup truck (Tim & I in the children's seats in the extended cab), and my parents in the front. We made the journey up to Frysville Farms, where we meandered through several trees, looking for the perfect one for our home, our first Christmas together as a married couple. We settled on a beautiful concolor fir, which comes highly recommended by my parents, because of it's lovely citrus smell and sturdiness of the needles, which don't fall off much (hooray!).

The tree stands beautifully in our living room, and it only took us about three weeks before we put the lights on, then another two weeks to put the decorations on. Fortunately, the Friday before Christmas we put the decorations on the tree - a moment of feeling as though we had accomplished something, but also a moment of sadness, as we were unable to locate Tim's box of decorations. We are living in chaos, surrounded by many boxes on all three floors of the house, the basement, and the garage. It's possible that Tim's decorations may be yet-to-be-discovered, but we fear that they may have been destroyed, and thus thrown away, by the restoration company that cleaned out the flooded basement at Tim's old house. We realize that they are just material things, but for Tim, they hold many memories of his childhood as well as gifts he'd received while travelling all around the world in his work with YES (through Eastern Mennonite Missions) and Global Disciples. We still hold onto the hope that one day, when we are at a much more organized time in our lives, we may locate that box of Christmas ornaments, to allow the memories to live on.

One last thing about our tree - I found a gorgeous tree-topper at Ten Thousand Villages, that seemed (at least to me) to be the perfect compromise for us as a couple, now living under one roof and blending almost 70 years of joint history prior to our marriage. It's a dove, made in the Phillipines, out of silver dollar-like pearly, iridescent glass with silver trim. Tim grew up in a star topper family, and I grew up in an Angel topper family, so this beautiful symbol of peace is just the perfect thing for us, our tree and our home!

Enjoy the photos of our tree hunting with my parents.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The wedding pics you've all been waiting for!

Finally we have a slide show of some of our wedding photos, which you can find at the left hand side of our blog. Hope you enjoy a glimpse of our special day!
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