The Casting Dock

Posts from — August 2012

114 steps to joy

Sounds like the title to quite the all-encompassing self-help book, doesn’t it? Appropriately daunting as all good self-help books should be.

But really, it’s the short path to one of my greatest simple pleasures.

I’ve written about simple pleasures before. They are the little bright spots in my day–free, unassuming, simple in the truest, purest form of the word.

Today I walked 114 steps from my front door to the local library.

I am simply obsessed with our library. As much as I love to own and mark-up books, I think I love even more the fact that I can glean hours upon hours of FREE entertainment by simply checking books out of the library.

I don’t remember going to the library much as a kid. My mom promises that she took me all the time, which I’m sure was true in the younger years, but as a middle schooler, high schooler, and even college student, I don’t remember really taking advantage of the local library. I might have gone there occasionally to study, but I never checked books out. I just bought the books that I wanted. It never would have dawned on me to just go to the library.

The library felt old-school. And Amazon was new school. Maybe Barnes for a while too, but then Amazon just came and karate chopped it downed to size with its sweet, convenient online deals.

Amazon was definitely the cool new kid; Barnes was like the somewhat cool kid who lost his status, but tried to jazz up his game so he could still hang around the cool crowd; the library was just the total social outcast, just one tier below Borders. That was the hierarchy in my mind at least.

Anyway, the point being I never used the library. And now maybe my social loyalties have shifted or something because the library is the coolest cat in town in my opinion. Free entertainment 114 steps away. Pure joy.

That as well as a trip to Traders (another massive simple pleasure!) and a beverage sipped from my favorite reunion 2012 mason jar makes for three simple pleasures in one day! What a way to round out this fabulous summer vacation.


Next week it’s back to school.

Did I mention that I have a permanent position now? Because I do. And it feels amazing.

August 21, 2012   1 Comment

The first fruits of Josh&Erica: a sweet baby shower recap

My friend Steph and I hosted a baby shower this weekend for one of my absolute favorite couples and the first of our college friends to have a baby, Josh&Erica.

In honor of the sweetness of life, it was a fully fruit-inspired affair.

Everything on the menu boasted a fruity flair, from cherry chocolate brownies to prosciutto and fig flatbread, raspberry cream cheese muffins, and peach bbq chicken lettuce wraps.

Friends and family came from near and far (New Jersey! DC!) to celebrate the lovely couple and soon-to-be babe.

Despite our lovely, abundantly sunny summer, this day, this one day, was overcast, dreary, and sprinkling in the morning, thereby squashing my well-laid party at the park plans. Super thankfully, our friends Keith&Sarah allowed us to use their apartment, even though they were out of town and unable to attend themselves.


Our apartment is way too small to accommodate 20 people.

So very thankful for flexible, generous friends (and their lovely apartment). And equally thankful for helpful, creative friends who ran with little projects and helped set-up all early afternoon
(JD, Whit, and Brian, take a bow).

We bet on the exact time of Haven’s arrival and Erica received a couple surprises from her family in Guatemala, the most notable of which was a handmade book of Haven’s roots with pictures of her grandparents and aunt and uncle in Guatemala. Erica was shocked and in disbelief that her mom put it all together and secretly shipped it to me for the big day. Josh&Erica had requested personalized books for Haven’s book shelves and this was the absolute perfect addition.

Jerry was in charge of orchestrating a mixed-gender-friendly game.

Typical baby shower games be gone!

We played Josh&Erica Pictionary, guys vs. girls style of course.

All of the pictionary words fit into a larger story that Jerry put together to (very vaguely, but humorously) catalog Josh&Erica’s relationship. The girls, thanks to Erica, came back from down one in the lightning round to overtake the guys for the win.


We are so thankful for your friendship. What an honor to call you lifelong friends. We are eagerly awaiting that little one’s arrival and all that the Lord holds for her and you two. Quite the journey is about to begin. We are grateful for a front row seat.

We love you, Chibas.

August 20, 2012   2 Comments

I pledge allegiance to the United States of America

My patriotism is brimming over these days.

The Olympics themselves would have been enough to do it-talk about inspiring pride in your fellow Americans! I have had the great pleasure with my flexible summer schedule to watch a whole heckuva lot of the Olympics this go around and I have savored every minute.

But in addition to London 2012, my summer reading list has included some sure-to-ignite-American-pride selections, the most recent of which was Lone Survivor, the story of Operation Redwing, a Navy Seals special operation in Afghanistan in 2005  gone horribly awry.

As the title indicates, it is written by the only survivor.

I read this book in 24 hours. Beyond the first 80 pages which are setting the stage and giving some background info, it is absolutely captivating. I could not put it down. Even knowing full well ahead of time that only one man was going to walk out alive, I could not help but root against all hope that there would be a surprise miraculous ending with bloodshed spared.

And yet, in the end, it was truly a miracle that even one soul survived.

I was amazed at this brotherhood of Navy Seals-the unbelievable training, the uninhibited love for country and for fellow Seals, and the absolutely unparalleled mental toughness. With complete sacrifice and devotion, these guys represent so much of what is awe-inspiring to me within the human spirit, the ability to continue on against incredible odds and unimaginable pain all because of a belief in something greater than oneself, something worth the ultimate sacrifice.

Now it’s certainly not the best written book I’ve ever read. The author’s proud Texas heritage (and vernacular) is strong and, unfortunately (in my opinion), it is not without heated, overt political opinions particularly on the Rules of Engagement for war and the liberal media. Given the context of the story and his experience, I understand his perspective completely, though I know it would certainly rub some people the wrong way. I wish he would have laid off of it a bit though, not because it bothered me, but because I think it cast a shadow over the story itself, which is unbelievably moving, inspiring, and heart-breaking.

I don’t typically do the book review or recommendation thing on the blog, but this story evoked such pride in and respect for our military as well as in the strength, perseverance, and courage of the human spirit. It is a human story of brotherhood, sacrifice, courage, and the unexpected kindness of the Afghan people.

You should read it.

{barn picture}

August 9, 2012   2 Comments

the four year marker.

Four years. Wowza.

In the past four years, we have moved to Virginia, earned our Masters degrees, moved back to Massachusetts, started professional jobs in our fields of choice, and traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Italy, England, France, Maine (a bazillion times, of course) & Georgia&Texas (obviously) & Maryland & Washington DC & Washington State & Alaska & Hawaii & Florida.

I have learned that:

* we actually are as good at communicating as I thought we were when we were dating. It’s our strongest trait.

* we live really well together in small spaces and both seem to enjoy it.

* while we may not “fight” often, we are good about fighting fair, nipping things in the bud quickly, and being honest when we are guilty of saying things with an edge or agenda.

* we prioritize spending money in the same way. Huge plus. Vacations, time with friends, and gifts for others supersede both of our desires for material things, new gadgets, or nice cars.

* people, once married, really do mesh into one another. We have pulled each other towards the middle in so many areas, closing the gap between our differences, yet still leaving them intact enough to maintain our individuality and to complement one another.

You specifically have taught me what it looks like to truly put someone else first. I know I say it all the time, but when it comes to you and me, you truly are the better person. You set an impeccable example of service and selflessness, putting my needs or quirky little desires before your own. You became better at this when we got married as compared to dating and even better as the years have gone on. I have been most surprised to see this intentionality grow and not fade with familiarity as the years have begun stacking up. This is the area in which you have impressed and surprised me the most.

Second to that is your ability, desire, and clear effort to change or improve in areas that matter to me. No longer the awkward social standby in large gatherings, you make an effort there, engage in the mandatory small talk and even successfully fool people into believing that you’re an extrovert (!!), all because you know it matters to me. That effort is not lost on me. I am so grateful and so impressed by your ability to tangibly improve.

It may take more now than it used to since I know you and your humor so well, but you still can make me laugh like pretty much no one else. I know you take great pleasure in the times when you really get me good. I hope that never changes.

I am most curious to see how our marriage changes when we have kids. I have always known the communication would be good, living styles would be similar, our personalities would mesh well, and our general values would align for finances&faith&family&allthat, but parenting brings in a whole new element. And you know how I think I will be very opinionated. I think it has the greatest potential to be our main area of disagreement and difficulty.

But we’ll figure it out, I’m sure.

Happy Anniversary Jer! I love you. And you’re welcome for these last four years…

August 3, 2012   7 Comments