Monday, November 20, 2017


The ruse was this: make Gama believe that I finally needed my Acapulco chairs back (thanks for giving them a temporary home, by the way). 
Oh, and Gama - would you carry them all the way up to the roof? 

He did because he's great like that, and when he mounted the last of the winding stairs and turned the corner up onto the roof, we were all there to cheer and call out birthday wishes. He went from person to person, hugging everyone, and convincing us that he definitely was surprised. 

The coals were already stoked, sending a dry smoke curling around the rooftop. Tanya had secretly stashed meat, her famous salsa, and nopales in a diaper bag so Gama wouldn't notice. But now, those things made their way out of the bag and everyone else's contributions to the carne asada were unpacked onto the long folding table. The first round of grilling was underway and we started assembling tacos & quesadillas (and we didn't stop for hours). 

Heavy footsteps from the kids stomping and chasing each other around mingled with bursts of laughter floating away from each little cluster of friends. 
And slowly, the party wound down as the sun tucked away between layers of cityscape, leaving us with a 360 degree view of one of the most picturesque sunsets to end the night. 

We gathered the last of our things until all that was left was the set of Acapulco chairs. 
Gama brought them back downstairs and loaded them into the car again because I wasn't actually ready for them...sorry

P.S. ¡Feliz cumpleaños!

Friday, November 17, 2017

¡bienvenido max!

When people use phrases like "sharing life" to describe community or relationship, I feel like it falls so short. 
What I've seen and experienced has been people living each others' hurts & heartaches as deeply as their joys & celebrations. 

Today was one that was filled joy. The kind where all of a sudden you realize how much your cheeks hurt because your smile has been stretched so far across your face for so long. The kind where laughter comes easy and often. 
The girls gathered together at Casa Tassel and celebrated our sweet friend, Azucena, and lived the joy of her pregnancy, the anticipation of baby Max's arrival, and the excitement that comes from planning and dreaming.  

But just a couple weeks ago, Azu and her husband were forced to evacuate their apartment because the earthquake rocked the building's foundation and left it structurally unsound and unpredictable. The tone of that day was much different. Heavier, more somber, and touched by hurts and fears that kept making their way to the surface. 
Some of the guys from church rallied together and made as many trips up and down the seven flights of stairs that they could. 
Azu wasn't allowed back in the building because of her pregnancy, but she stood on the street just outside with one hand on her belly and the other hand reaching out to take the hand of neighbors, to hear their stories, and to pray for them. 

I'm thankful for both events and to have been able to live them with my friend and to learn from her example of cherishing people 
and finding joy and delight no matter her circumstances. 

But I'm especially thankful that today was a day to celebrate. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

the peach pie.

It was probably close to this exact day, only 10 years ago. 
We had seen a roadside stand selling fresh picked Michigan peaches, so we stopped. When you're camping, there's no particular rush to be anywhere anyways. 
Not long after, we were hopping back in the Suburban, a few dollars lighter. Those few dollars earned us the kind of peaches that have juice dribbling down your chin and running down your arm. The kind that make waste of all the spare napkins in the glovebox and force you to hang your arm out the window (while death gripping that peach) to let the wind wick away the sticky, sugary mess.

I thought about that summer day when I stumbled upon a small crate of peaches at the produce stand down the street from my apartment last week. These ones were from Georgia, but they looked promising so I bought one. A tester peach. As I left and struggled to evenly balance my bags on both my arms, I grabbed the peach from off the top of one of the bags. It had bumped and bruised and the juice had already started seeping out of its broken skin. Let me just say that it is always best to first wash or soak your produce (this coming from the girl who got a stomach bug from everything that first year in Mexico). That is not what happened. And a couple minutes later, my sticky hands and chin reminded me again of the Michigan peach. 

The tester peach was a success. Not knowing how long those peaches would continue reach our part of the city, I made plans to get some more. Enough for a cobbler - two cobblers, actually. And enough for a peach pie. Enough to share a taste of summer and enough to share memories and make new memories with some friends. 

I forgot how long pies take to make - especially when you choose to make a finicky butter crust (but the peaches seemed worthy of it). 
So that's how I spent my day. And in the evening, I walked a couple blocks down the street to Karla's house for our Thursday night Bible study, pie in hands. 
Ice cream on top. Tea on the side. All my favorite girls around me. 

I walked home with an empty pie dish. Always a good sign. 

Now, I have to check on those peach popsicles in the freezer...