Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I have mixed feelings about endings. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes when you arrive at the final page of a book, hand over the last exam of the semester, or push "send" on an important e-mail. But accomplishment come with a sense of sorrow too, because the task is done. Over. Never to be experienced again, just remembered.

In thirty days, two important experiences in my life will come to an end. In thirty days, we will close our front door for the last time. We will say goodbye to Brooklyn and board an airplane bound for the West. Also in thirty days, I will post for the final time on this blog, because the era of the Henry Street Burrow will be over.

But we'll go out with a bang, not a whimper. Over the next thirty days, I will daily catalog on this blog some of the things I'll miss most about New York City. Think of it as my eulogy to this home of fifteen months.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three months

Our girl is no longer the wisp who worried the pediatrician. She's 14 lb 6 oz and 25 inches long. She insists on either laying on her tummy or sitting upright. Her favorite activities are sing-alongs with Mom (I do all the singing), walks in the neighborhood, and flying like an airplane. She sleeps through the night, and usually takes three long naps during the day. She smiles incessantly, except when I point the camera at her.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Home invasion

A raccoon is nesting in a take-out pizza box on our back porch.

What on earth is a raccoon doing in Brooklyn?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fruit for flowers

Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art is one of those epic books in the life of a Christian woman. She packs a zillion ideas of how to satisfy our aesthetic cravings in the context of home and family, but grounds it in a biblical understanding of art as a means to reflect our Creator and bless others. From her chapter on "Flower Arrangements":
Japanese artists make a life long study of flower arrangements, expressing their philosophy in this medium as well as producing works of art. It can take hours to make a Japanese flower arragnment, if it is done with precise attention to detail. Colour, texture, exact length of stem and degree of angle must be taken into consideration. It can be most complicated and depends on much study and understanding of all that is meant to be involved. This is an art that needs to be learned, an art which needs a teacher as well as talent.

However, anyone can express himself with some degree of originality in the area of flower arrangement.
Every home can have something of this art form in it. [It] is not a permanent part of the interior decoration, not a life-long treasure to be taken from home to home, but a constantly changing source of beauty, a continually fresh 'finishing touch' to the surroundings.

I'm not necessarily advocating that you can go out and buy a book on flower arrangements, and carefully try to buy all the bits and pieces, along with the flowers, to carry out its instructions. . . . . What I am taking about is something anyone could do, anywhere: an expression of individuality, personality, originality. . . . The decoration does not have to be the same thing all the time; and
it does not have to be flowers at all.
Using a fruit separator I traded for at a white elephant gift exchange, here's my take on a flower arrangement.

Thanks to Mr. Miller's appetite, this arrangement is, as Edith notes, is a "constantly changing source of beauty."

Fellow bloggers, I'd love to see your take on the flower arrangement. So please point, click, upload, and post next time you arrange something for your table!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Damase and a composer LIVE

I rediscovered the transcendence of live classical music last week. A friend from church is a talented oboist and a member of the trio, La Senorite!. The trio performed four twentieth-century pieces at The Gershwin Hotel (click on the link to see some crazy exterior design!)

The evening's menu:
Sonata for Flute, Oboe and Piano {Jean-Baptiste Loeillet}
Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano {Jean-Michel Damase}
Sonata Notturna, Op. 71 {James Cohn}
Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano {Madeline Dring}

I favored the Damase piece with its mournful dissonance and subtle rhythms. You can download it free here.

But, as much as I liked Damase, I went numb with excitement when James Cohn stood to introduce his piece. I was incredulous; a real, live composer standing just ten-feet from me! Afterwards, I approached the man wide-eyed and drop-jawed. Turns out he was very nice.

We talked about art. I was surprised to learn that his philosophy of art was populist. He does not compose for himself; he makes music for others. He said he views composing the way one would prepare and present an elegant dinner party for friends. His goal is to satisfy his audience. And he succeeds.

(Note: the second picture shows Shirley Chang, the amazing oboist at center, with the "Chang Gang" from City Church)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hello, L.E.D.

Ev introduced me to the wonders of L.E.D.s at the National Design Museum last fall, which is part of the reason I adore this L.E.D. chandelier from IKEA. Flowers, lights, and no wires!

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who's the fairest of them all?
Evangeline, naturally.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring in Brooklyn

In Arizona, where I was bred, seasonal change consists of a slight ebb on the thermometer and the landscape moving from brown to khaki-brown. In Brooklyn, the seasons actually look different. Come summer, the neighborhoods are green and sunlit and sultry-hot. In autumn, the leaves saturate orange, red, and gold, and fall to carpet the sidewalks. In the winter, the city and its trees look sparse and gray. The sun hides behind low clouds. Snow falls on occasion. Snow--that white, fluffy, cold deliciousness we dream about as children.

And then the City springs back. Tiny green leaves and pale blossoms cluster on the tree branches, and flowers spill out of planters on window sills. Drawn by the color, people spill out of the brownstones, rediscovering friends of last fall on the streets of Brooklyn.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

E meets the great-grandparents

Evangeline met her Omama and Opapa this weekend. Everyone was happy: E receiving all the attention, Omama and Opapa holding their first great-granddaughter, and me watching it all.

Heather, Mom, and Treyton flew in from Arizona as well, and Ev joined us when she wasn't working or sleeping. We spent most of the time close to home, enjoying the babies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Gift from Mr. Miller

He's really out-done himself this time. In honor of my 27th birthday last week, Mr. Miller gave me a bound collection of the first year of posts and photographs from this blog!

Becoming parents

I recently received a congratulation card that included a quotation from Christian philosopher, J. Budziszewski. I remembered reading the same quote several years ago with abstract awe. This time around, it's personal. I recognize the truth of it in my life and praise God for the disruptive blessing of my little person.
"Offspring convert us; they force us to become different beings. There is no way to prepare for them completely. They crash into our lives, they soil their diapers, they upset all our comfortable living arrangements, and nobody knows how they will turn out. Willy-nilly, they knock us out of our complacent habits and force us to live outside of ourselves; they are the necessary and natural continuation of the shock to our egotism which is initiated by marriage itself. To receive this great blessing requires courage."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Getting things done: a recipe

Babies are hands-on. After E's birth, I wondered, "How am I supposed to care for my home with this baby needing me all the time?" Here's the recipe that's worked for me over the last couple weeks.

1. Geometric wall-paper :: It terrified E during the first month of her life, so we took it down. Now, it mesmerizes her for hours on end.

2. The swing :: Sure it's a boring YouTube video, but the swing gives serious roller-coaster-thrills to E. She used to stare at herself in the mirror on the backside of the Panda face. Now she stares at the joint in the structure.

3. Dad :: As a full-time student, Mr. Miller is around most of the time, and he truly enjoys taking care of Ev. She plays with her hands or looks around the room while he wrestles with game theory problems, reads the Wall Street Journal, or listens to Rush Limbaugh.

Happy days are here again

The weeks following Evangeline's birth were tough. Sleep deprivation. A weak body. A constantly crying baby. I wondered whether there was light at the end of the Newborn Tunnel.

There is.

Ev has consistently slept through the night for the past two weeks. The happy result is that when Ev woke me up this morning, I felt great. I literally sprang out of bed. The day passed in a joyful whirl. I played with Ev, showered, worked out, cleaned the apartment, spent time with my husband, picked up groceries, hosted a friend for lunch, researched the organic clothing craze, answered e-mail, talked to my sister and my grandma, bathed Ev and read her books, spent time in the Word, cooked dinner, and read a novel. Yah!! Thank you, Lord.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Johan Santana pitched his first game with the Mets on Saturday. We were there, watching from the back of Shea Stadium.

Shea is an old stadium of the multi-purpose variety; in other words, it housed both professional football and baseball teams at one time. Now the Jets share a stadium with the Giants. (HT: Mr. Miller)

Although Shea is located on our island, the train trip took longer than the trip out to Yankee Stadium (in the Bronx). Ev slept most of the ride back, which inspired fellow passengers to comment how "cute he was." Yes, she was wearing pink.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Driving Long Island

No sooner did we make this list, then we started whittling it down by renting a car and driving the length of Long Island. [Bunny trail: Mr. Miller and I were pretty thrilled with the car because (a) he hasn't driven a car with me sitting shot-gun since August 2007, (b) it was green and I adore all things green, and (c) it only had 76 miles on it.]

Our trip started in Brooklyn near the East River and culminated at the other tip of the island at Montauk.

View Larger Map

Montauk's claim to fame is nice beaches, surfing, fishing, and New York's oldest lighthouse.

Apparently, we visited during the off-season because the light house was closed and the area near vacant.

Our trip took us through both Southampton and Easthampton. They are pristine towns where, apparently, the economy is driven by Sotheby's real estate, caterers, antique shops, and fashion retail. Perhaps the most telling indication of the area's tax bracket: Southamptonites, who number just over 50,000, have their own, stand-alone Saks Fifth Avenue.

We stopped in Easthampton on the way back to stroll along the main street and find some supper.

As you can see from the photos, most of the trees here still look dead. But even this remnant of winter did not subtract from the natural beauty of the area. It was hard to believe that NYC hums eternally nearby.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What's the Matter With Obama?

The issue I discussed in my post on What's the Matter with Kansas has suddenly become much more relevant to the campaign. 

Speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco last week, Senator Obama said:
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations

After being criticized for these comments, Obama has explained but not apologized. At least one liberal pundit found this unsatisfying: 
[Obama]'s now saying, basically, that he meant his comments in the What's the Matter with Kansas? sense -- that he was arguing that economic insecurity and frustration have been displaced onto social issues... So when he said that people "cling to guns or a way to explain their frustration," he meant something along the lines of, "displace their feelings of economic insecurity onto fears of social change." He was, he's suggesting, talking about the politics of guns or religion, not the things themselves.

The What's the Matter with Pennsylvania reading still has its problems. For one, it is a refusal to take voters' devotion to faith and guns at face value, psychologizing it instead.

And even if it was what he meant, it isn't what he said. What he did suggest, most problematically, is that there's something wrong, or symptomatic, about clinging to your faith, or to your gun. It's a suggestion that probably plays better in San Francisco (politically, the worst possible place to say it) than in the middle of the country.

I couldn't say it better myself.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The evolution of sleep signals

Evangeline has evolved into a new stage of "sleep signals." Whereas before she would yawn, rub her eyes, or perform the "seven mile stare," she now tells us she's tired by going from smiles to crab-cakes in less than five seconds. We descend upon her with the swiftness of a B-2 bomber and lay her in her bed. A grin breaks across her face as if to say, "I have them trained." Then, as we shut the bedroom, her Ewok snores begin.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Last days in NYC

In less than two months, we're relocating to Arizona where the Lord provided housing for us this summer while Mr. Miller studies for the California bar exam. Our impending departure has prompted us to get out and savor the area. A couple weeks ago, we explored the modern art at the Met, and on Saturday we visited the Brooklyn Museum (Mr. Miller and Ev out front at right). We spent most of our time at the latter museum, discussing its politically-potent feminist collection, like the colonial-style wall paper with "terrorism" printed over and over on it.

Then last night, we pulled together a list of things we want to do before leaving NYC. Our list, in no particular order:

1. Tour the UN,
2. Eat Chocolate by the Bald Man in the lower East Side,
3. See a game at Shea Stadium,
4. Visit the Guggenheim,
5. Rent a car and drive the length of Long Island,
6. See Coney Island,
7. Walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden,
8. Picnic in Central Park, and
9. See David Mamet's new play, November.

We look forward to taking our girl along with us to these destinations. Well, most of them. Mamet may be a bit too much at her age.

Evangeline quizzically stares
at Japanese illustrations
at the Brooklyn Museum

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Something old

Being a pack rat has its benefits. When my mom came for Evangeline's birth, she brought along a number of baby clothes from her past to share with us. Some of the clothes dated to 1979, 1981, and 1983--the birth years of my sisters and me . Others were mom's birth.

One such item is the red dress pictured here. At the time of my mom's birth, my grandparents lived in Germany for Opa's tour of duty. Christine, my Oma's maid, knit this frock and bonnet in preparation for my mom's arrival. The outfit survived subsequent intercontinental moves and two generations to find its way to the burrow, where Evangeline cozied in it for church today.

Oma and Mom--thanks for storing this treasure so my little one could enjoy it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The play-by-play

The trip to Arizona was memorable and sweet. And it passed far to quickly.

Wednesday - Exit the airplane, feel the heat, and realize I brought the wrong wardrobe. My grinning mom greets us at the airport. Later that night, Evangeline meets Aunt HaHa (Heather), Uncle Rich, her cousins, Opa and the Lyts--all on the first day! And I get to cuddle with my newest nephew.

Cousins fresh from the oven

Thursday - More time with Aunt Ha-Ha and her boys. Evangeline meets Andrea and Megan. Megan has the glow of a soon-to-be-bride!

Friday - Breakfast with Mom at The Farmhouse. The cinnamon roll melts on my tongue. We pick up Aunt Ev at the airport, swing by Carolina's for lunch, and race back to Aunt Ha-Ha and the boys. That night at a shower for the future-Mrs.-Joel-Barr, Evangeline meets many of the wonderful faces that graced my years in the local home school community.

Saturday - Heather and Mom throw killer, back-to-back baby showers for us. Hayley and Miss Tory arrive early to help. They are wearing matching shoes! Oh, and Tory has the cutest, most kissable cheeks of any baby. Ever. Friends from my old church arrive in short order to saturate us in gifts and mothering wisdom. I cry, and feel that mothering is not only doable, but a great joy. In the afternoon, friends from the home school community arrive. Three generations of many families are represented in the room because so many of my contemporaries are pregnant or bring their new babies. More gifts, wisdom and much passing around of the babies. That night, Evangeline spends some serious time with Aunt Shea (my cousin) who drove up from Tucson for the day.


A table laid

Moms with their babies

Sunday - Steve Shank delivers an excellent exegesis of Acts 6:1-6 that engages my mind and increases my excitement to see the Good News go forward. And the worship team introduces me to this new hymn.

Monday - Ev, Ev and I drive down to spend the morning with the Haupts before racing back north for the elder Ev's job interview. Little Ev and I relax at the house until Andrea and the Haupts join us for dinner. Long walk and talk with Andrea with Ev hanging along in the Bjorn.

Tuesday - We drive Mom to work, grab breakfast nearby, and then get a tour of the new ADF headquarters. Ev meets many of the talented people who make that organization thrive. Mom works for a couple hours; then it's shopping in Scottsdale! Whoot! Dinner that night with the Haupts again, bath time for the boys, and a final long walk and talk with Dad.

"I'm cute and realize you're pointing a camera at me."

Bath head

Rich and Dad taking care of the infants

Wednesday - Heather picks us up for the Moms2Moms meeting at church where we experienced refreshing fellowship and heard convicting yet encouraging talk by Charlotte Richardson. Then it's back to Sky Harbor where we meet Uncle David for coffee before take-off. Ev sleeps the entire flight, leading the passengers near her to declare, "That's the best baby ever." We fall into Mr. Miller's arms at the subway and make it back to the burrow sometime Thursday morning.

The end.

Luz + Camera = Magic

Photo credits: my very gifted, creative friend Luz who also plied her talent to make Evangeline these. The three of us spent precious moments together during the visit to Arizona.