Monday, August 18, 2014

Top Ten Things I Miss About the South (So Far)

I love Oregon. I do. But, y'all ... I miss the South. Today, I feel homesick. Homesick for people and friends and familiarity. So, to help me grieve this loss, I'm compiling a list of everything I miss about the South (culture-wise, not people. I miss you all.). 

In no particular order (except the order I thought of them), here are the top ten so far:

Kraft just doesn't cut it, and don't even talk to me about Miracle Whip. You can't buy Duke's west of Kansas or Texas. My tomato sandwiches are suffering these days.

2. Real Barbecue.
As in, barbecue is specifically defined as pork, slow-roasted over a fire pit, pulled, and slathered in sauce. It's something you eat, not something you do to your food, or a type of gathering. Here, people have a barbecue, and cook burgers. I want to eat some barbecue. Real barbecue. Get me a bun, some slow-cooked pulled pork, mustard sauce, and a Cheerwine. Please.

3. Sweet Tea.
Of course we make our own at home. but this goes without saying: It just ain't here. But this was no surprise. 

4. Fireflies.
Nope. Not here.

5. Sir and Ma'am.
This is one of my favorite things about Southern culture. I appreciate the respect given to elders by these titles, and I'm never sure if I'm insulting people when I say this outside the South. I'm always afraid they'll take it ironically, not respectfully.

6. Friendly Strangers
People here are nice, of course. It's just not a thing to talk to people you don't know. At least, it doesn't seem to be. How people make friends, I have no idea. Maybe I'm just not in the right places with the right people to start stranger conversations.

7. Big Open Yards.
Privacy fences are depressing to me, and a little creepy. I don't want to hide in my own yard. But I think it goes along with the not-talking-to-strangers thing. Neighbors here aren't necessarily friends like they would be in the South. 

8. Cost of Living.
According to Zillow, many (if not most) houses in our town are $150+ per square foot. And usually for not very many square feet. That, ladies and gentleman, is ridiculous. Especially compared to the South. Also, don't get me started on groceries. Or gas.

9. Poison Ivy.
I mean, instead of poison oak. Apparently, I am severely allergic to poison oak. I'll spare you the graphic details.

Go to South Carolina. Eat there. Tell me I'm right. 

What about you? What do you love about where you live now, and what do you miss about your hometown? 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


It's Sunday morning, and instead of sitting at church, Jude and I are home. He's sitting on the floor with a coloring book, giving me commentary ("That is a sea star! That is a owl! It was a sticker. Uh-oh! Put it in the trash can! Coloring! You may coloring. You may have one sticker.") and I'm blasting Gustav Holst's The Planets. Andrew is at work -- of course. He has two days off this whole month. Well, four, but two of them he has to go to Portland for a class. 

When you go to a tiny church plant and your pastor and music leader (and almost half of the congregation) are both out of town, you have to cancel services. And when your husband is a surgical resident, you see him when you see him.

So, I thought I would take a little time and tell you some about our new home. 

The first week, I was given several warnings about Oregon. The most pressing warning (other than the mountain lions and the wilderness...) was to watch out for poison oak. Where I grew up, I knew about poison ivy, but poison oak wasn't a big deal, so I promptly forgot. And today, I am covered, pretty much from my face down to my knees, in calamine lotion. The next time I wonder Why is there an oak sapling growing in my rose bush? I'll think twice before grabbing it bare-handed. Lesson learned. 

But, other than the hazards in the flower garden, our new home is so lovely. 

This is the view from our front door: across the cow pasture to Mary's Peak. 

This beautiful garden is overflowing with produce -- way more than we can eat! I feel like I've gone back in time; I spend my mornings watering and weeding, and a lot of my evenings putting vegetables away for the winter.  Last night, Andrew crashed as soon as he got home, and I sat on the floor,  watching "Parenthood" and snapping beans.

Wishing the tomatoes would turn red already.

We have over a dozen fruit trees: plums, peaches, apples, pears... 

Lots of dirt and yard for a little boy -- such a nice change from our Virginia house.

And some really really big trees!

I am embarrassed every time I think about how frustrated we were in house-searching, and how many times we cried, "Okay, God! It better be good!" Because ... of course it is good. It is everything we wanted, and more. We could not have thought to ask for such bounty, for such a sweet place out in the country, so perfect for our little family. I believe God is good. Why do I doubt this every single day? 

A few weeks ago, we got Jude out of bed to see the biggest rainbow ever.

It went end to end across the field behind our house. Breathtaking.

It is folly to use material blessings to judge how much God loves us or takes care of us. He would be taking care of us if we lived in a cramped apartment with no space -- but this time, He gave us physically over and above what we needed. We have a smaller salary than average residencies, and He proved us with gardens and fruit trees. We have a busy little boy, and He gave us a yard and ample house space. I'm home without Andrew a lot of the time, and He gave us a home in the country, where I feel comfortable and relaxed. All of these things we did not even think to ask for. Once again (and again and again), I am humbled by how foolish and thoughtless I am, and how sweet and gentle and giving my Father is. 

So -- when are you coming to visit?