Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Friends,
Here is a brief update on the Weavers...
2007 was a fine year for us. We celebrated our 3rd year of marriage in March. We both, graciously, attended one anothers' 10-year reunions. Mine celebrated 10 years since high school at Greater Atlanta Christian. Then a few weeks later we were on campus at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, re-uniting with Jeff's old college buddies. We also made several trips to see family in Lancaster, PA; Ann Arbor, MI; Point Clark, Ontario; and Sarasota, FL.

Jeff is still employed by Emory University School of Medicine as the Director of IT for the Department of Medicine. Katie quit her job at National Allergy Supply earlier this year, but continues to do contract writing for the company, in addition to several other free-lance writing assignments. She also developed and maintains the website for her sister's newest business venture, Evan Taylor Designs. Jeff and Katie still love music, staying involved with their church's music ministry, as well as some other projects. Katie has had several concerts in Atlanta over the past year, and the Weavers maintain ties, albeit loose ones, to their band The Ming Dynasty. They hope to actually play somewhere, as a full band, in early 2008. Maybe they'll even write some new songs.

Perhaps the most exciting thing for us this year was the acquisition of an adorable Wheaten Terrier puppy in late February. Buckley is almost a year old and has given us tremendous amounts of laughs, cuddles, leaves, dirt, and chewed things. We love (almost) every bit of it!

We are thankful for you, and pray you have a wonderful Christmas season and a memorable 2008.

Love from the Weavers

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tasty Chicago

Another day, another city... another gray city. But I don’t fear the gray, it plays nicely with fall’s colors, and be it Nantes, London or now Chicago, I feel strangely at home atwixt fall’s gray days.

But it is not the hue or the air that is my comfort, but the bustling city streets. The tired feet of a day well-walked. The full belly of hunger satisfied by real food, food that you’ve respectfully earned by moving about using your own two feet. I can’t say I like the early sunsets or the drizzle drizzle (though to date, no rain has affected my journeys). But there is no energy like the city.

Of course, not just any city will do. Last night over thick bites of Chicago’s eponymous “pizza” we talked urban aesthetics. First, however, we decided that Pizza so named bares no fair comparison with the “pizza” we enjoy at various Atlanta-side establishments. Our favorite Fellini’s slice is thin-crusted, lightly sauced, and delicious. The Chicago brand would be better-named “pie”. It arrives piping hot in a dish that more resembles a black, oven-burned pie plate. Its “deep-dish” unlike Pizza Hut could EVER dream of. So, from here forward, banish that allusion from your palate. This Chicago pie has a thick crusty bottom, then a layer of mozzarella, then your toppings of choice, all-topped with a (presumably) tasty house-made marinara with fresh tomato taste and just the right spices.

I know, I was on track to pen a treatise on urban aesthetic, but once again, I've been sidetracked by the thought of food, wonderful, local, food. So, I wont stop at describing the pie presentation, lest your mouth be watering without merit.

I will now do an (over-hyphenated) un-professional, pizza-pie taste-test round-up.
Pizzeria Due: You guessed it, the 2nd in a series of, er, two, Pizzeria’s in Chicago’s heart. Due came highly recommend by our gourmand friends D&C. My caveat to the Due assessment is that I was on the tail-end of a 24-hr stomach bug, and Jeff was on the front-end of worrying he may have it, too. So...we ordered safely and avoided the heavy sausage, meaty versions in favor of BBQ Chicken (excellent, but Jeff regrets this un-Chicago choice), and Vegetarian. The pizza arrived, just scooped from a mini-deepdish. My Veggie was edged with black char, but it didn’t taint the marvelousness of my first crumble taste of the crust. In fact, I rather liked the smoky essence of the dark edges. The sauce was fantastic and fresh-tasting. The vegetables tasted equally as fresh: onions, zucchini and more. Sadly, I could only eat about half my pie due to my nervous tummy, but boy did I enjoy it (and the 2nd half made a stupendous breakfast the next day.) Our server was very friendly; the staff was well-dressed in button-ups and ties. The host exemplified Midwest friendly: he reminded me of a guy one of my cousins would marry. So, our first Chicago pizza experience was top-drawer (despite the wait).

A few nights later, another Pizzeria…we just couldn’t shake the taste of those tasty pies from Due. Another call to D&C and a chat with the concierge put us en route to Gino’s East, a larger, more “pizzeria” type pizzeria (read: checkered table-cloths, brick walls, t-shirt donning servers, family-friendly). Our stomach’s fully recovered and ready for the “real deal” we ordered a Supreme (sausage, green peppers and onions). It was tasty. The same style as Due with crust, then cheese, then toppings, then sauce. The yellow-ey crust was not as good as Due, but the toppings, especially the sliced sausage, were mouth-wateringly tasty...

Unfinished. Jeff finished his meeting and I had to go meet him.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Birthday John Milton

There's a vignette heard each day on NPR called "The Writer's Almanac." The familiar, to some grating, to others soothing, voice of Garrison Keillor reads a poem. He then details a few literary or historical luminaries who were born, died or published something significant on that date. Here's a text version of yesterday's. I like the poem, and I found the bio of Milton to be interesting.

"On His Blindness" by by John Milton. Public Domain.

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.'

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of John Milton, (books by this author) born in London (1608), who started writing poetry as a young man, but before his career as a poet could really take off, England began to fall into a civil war, the king was overthrown and a new form of government, known as the Commonwealth was established, led by Oliver Cromwell.

Milton responded to the situation by becoming a pamphleteer. Nobody really knew how the new government would work, and Milton became an advocate for greater civil rights and religious liberty. He wrote about expanding the right to divorce your spouse and he made one of the first comprehensive arguments for the freedom of the press. The Parliament had recently passed a law requiring government approval of all published books. Milton wrote, "Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye."

Milton eventually took a job as a Latin secretary for the government, translating letters for international correspondence. He was struggling to raise his three daughters, and he was slowly going blind. Then, suddenly, the government he worked for fell apart, King Charles II was restored to the throne, and all the leaders of the Commonwealth were hanged. That summer, a warrant was issued for Milton's arrest, but he was kept in hiding by his friends. His pamphlets were publicly burned. He was eventually pardoned, but he became an outcast, and people said that God had struck him blind for his sins against the king.

Milton was devastated by the restoration of the monarchy, but without a job, he finally had time to devote to his poetry again. He'd long thought that there needed to be an epic poem in English, and he had originally thought it would be about England. But instead, he decided to write the poem about the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and humanity's fall from grace.

He composed the verses in his head, at night, and in the morning he would recite them to anyone near by that would take dictation. He originally called the poem "Adam Unparadised," but he changed the title to Paradise Lost. There was some question as to whether it would be approved for publication by the government, since Milton was such a notorious dissident, but it finally came out in 1667. It begins: "Of Man's First Disobedience, and the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste / Brought Death into the World, and all our woe, / With loss of Eden, till one greater Man / Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, / Sing Heav'nly Muse..."

When the poem appeared in print, Milton's contemporaries were astonished. People couldn't believe that a man generally thought of as a washed-up, outcast, political hack had written the greatest work of literature in a generation. The poet John Dryden wrote, "This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too." Milton was 58 years old, and he'd finally become a respected poet.

Reprinted from The Writers Almanac daily newsletter.