Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Please Pray

See these two beautiful girls? They are Sheila(left) and Lorna(right) Bernhoft, younger sisters of Iain Bernhoft, my friend who's getting married in Boston this Saturday. Lorna is in a coma after an accident early Tuesday morning. The Bernhoft family is responsible for introducing me to Aaron. It is no exaggeration to say that without them, my little family wouldn't be here. Aside from their role in my marital happiness, they are an amazing family. Iain and I have been friends for 15 years. His mom, Alison, is like a grandma to my children. This family means a lot to me. Alison sent the following update: lorna was relaxing with her friends from the quaker notes, her female a capella singing group, at a large, old house in philly. she sat on a piece of wood over a hole in the floor. under her tiny weight, the board broke; she fell 15 feet onto the stairs below. we arrived last night as she was coming out of a 6-hour surgery. they removed her forehead bone to allow the brain to swell. the bone is in the freezer and will be replaced in 4 - 6 weeks, when the swelling is down. her back surgery stabilized the spine: it looks as though there is significant damage to the spinal cord. our beautiful, brilliant, vibrant, loving daughter is broken. she's in a coma, on a breathing tube, her body cold to touch to reduce swelling, her face swollen so badly that only her nose is recognisable. will we ever get her back? will she be able to walk? will she still know the reams of poetry she loved to memorize? she was taking six courses, incl. organic chemistry, (last week she aced her midterm,) and was on a pace to graduate in three years from one of the nation's top 5 institutions. she would have done a year's internship with her extra year, before medical school. robin hoped she would eventually take over his ojai practice; she loved ojai so. this letter feels like an obituary. i don't know whether to use past or present tense; nobody knows if she will be herself if and when she comes back. we may not know for weeks, even months, even years. meanwhile, we have a wedding to celebrate in boston in 3 days: eldest son iain marries jiyoon, the love of his life. we struggle to see God's loving hand in this tragedy. Alison I remember the first time I met Lorna. She was four or five, and her family had come over for a day-after Thanksgiving party at my parents. She didn't say a single word to me the entire time, she just stared at me with her big blue eyes. She was wearing a little sailor dress that tied around the waist, and the bow had come undone. She held the ties in her little hands and slowly crept up to where I was sitting on a couch, then quietly placed the ties in my lap and continued staring, a silent plea. I tied her sash and she ran off without a word, but we understood each other. Some years later, when I was 17 and Lorna was 10 or so, we were in Rome together. There were a lot of fixed tours we were supposed to go on, but I remember the absolute best day as the one when Alison and Lorna decided to go on their own tour and invited me to come along. Lorna is in almost all of my pictures from Rome, a place that was made more alive by her being there. Please pray for healing for Lorna and peace for her family. If you'd like to follow her progress, go here:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I am Getting Kind of Expensive

I have traditionally loathed shopping, but this weekend I did my fair share of it. A good friend is getting married in Boston this weekend, and we're going to the wedding(how else would they have a cake?). So on Saturday, full of faith and optimism, I set out to the mall to find myself a suitable dress. I own dresses. A few. But most are too short, too hot, too cold, too something to work for this semi-formal Boston wedding. I traversed the entire mall. I went to all the major stores, and several not-so-major ones. I tried on at least thirty dresses, no joke. Eventually I just got tired of taking my clothes off. I got very tired of not finding anything that worked. So after nearly six hours, I bought myself a pair of jeans which are exactly like a pair I already own, only without holes. I'm notoriously hard on my jeans, which is why I will probably never own a designer pair. If I can't feed my chickens in them, they don't really fit my life. Then, as I was striding purposefully out of Nordstrom, I spied this sweet little pair of moccasins. My feet were killing me. I'd also been looking for a pair of dress shoes that I could conceivably walk in, since there will be a lot of public transportation going on with this Boston wedding. There are none to be had. So I was kind of despairing and then, the moccasins. I don't really need a pair of casual shoes, but they called to me. I picked them up and smelled them, touched them, asked for a pair in my size. I put them on and felt- what was this strange sensation- could it be....comfort? Suddenly, I realized with utmost clarity that I was a moccasin kind of person. It shocked me that I'd failed to realize this before, but now I knew, knew with the sort of conviction that tells you when you're looking at your own baby in a sea of nursery newborns: these moccasins and I were meant to be together. There are a few spots on them already. From bacon. But otherwise, how would I know they were mine? I won't wear them to the wedding, but they are definitely coming with me to Boston and everywhere else I go for the rest of my life. I think I shall be Pocahontas now. Six hours of shopping, and only jeans and moccasins to show for it. I love my jeans and my moccasins, but neither of them really constitutes a dress. So I set out again with renewed vigor, and decided that if I wanted something beautiful I needed to be willing to pay for it. So I went to Anthropologie. And found. This. The skirt is all pleated like a lamp shade, which doesn't sound very becoming but it is. It's one of those dresses that you put on and suddenly you can see what your life would be like in another time. It was $228. But half off. Oh sweet day.
In other news, I made my first "professional" cake. This wasn't a gift for a friend, it was an actual job for a baby shower of someone I don't know. I was asked to make a cake to match these invitations. I'm not going to lie, it was stressful. With the weddings I was plenty stressed, but at least I knew I was saving my friends a whole lot of money by giving them the cake as a gift. This owl cake wasn't a gift, I was being paid to do it.
As usual, there was a huge learning curve. I learned to dye my own fondant custom colors, I learned all kinds of ways to sculpt and even more ways not to, I learned that no matter how many times I do this I will always get nervous, and I learned that in spite of all that I still really, really enjoy it. I think my favorite part is the problem-solving factor, like figuring out that the eyes I needed were the exact size of a drinking straw, and that I could make the pupils for the eyes by using the end of a lollipop stick dipped in edible dye as a stamp.
Plus, I could buy two pairs of moccasins for how I much I got paid to make this cake. Or one Anthropologie dress. Anyone else need a cake?