Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Photo #40 October 31, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 6:17 am

Day 2 of the Tour de France as the riders are signing in.  I love the look on the one photographer’s face.


Photo #39

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 1:01 am

The year I was in England, the Tour de France started in London.  (I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.)  I used to be a big fan of the tour, so I was super-excited for the opportunity to see the riders in person.  The first day was individual time trials, and the second day was the actual start.  I took the train into London both days.

On Day 1 my friend and I, anticipating huge crowds, left Brighton very early to make sure we staked out a good spot to see the riders.  We were some of the very first spectators and found a spot near Buckingham Palace where the course doubled up so that we could see the riders head up the loop and come back down again.  Not minutes after we found our spot, I looked up to see a rider warming up on the loop opposite us.  I grabbed my friend’s arm and said, “Oh my gosh, that’s Tom Boonen!”  Boonen had been my favorite cyclist for a few years – he’s a strong rider, he’s cute, he seems like a nice guy.  He’s all around adorable.  And there he was!  In person!  I’ve never been excited about any other sport.  I don’t think I’d be that gaga if I ever saw a famous actor or singer on the street.  But it was exciting to see Boonen ride by after watching him on TV for so long.

The thrill never wore off that day, watching cyclist after cyclist speed by.  Sadly, one blurred speeding cyclist looks like another in a photo album.  And my pictures of Boonen don’t do justice to that moment of first recognizing him.  So out of all my photos, this one is my favorite:


All in Good Health October 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 1:49 am

Conversation between woman in front of me at Walgreens and cashier:


Woman is buying some make-up and two bags of candy corn.


Cashier:  This one been opened.  (Points to hole in bag of candy corn.)

Woman:  Oh really?  Oh, just put them both back.

Cashier:  You don’t want none?

Woman:  No, just forget those.  I don’t need them.  My body will thank me later.

(Rummages in purse then points to wall behind cashier.)   Four packs of those Camels, please.

Cashier:  (Coming back to register laughing out loud.)  You put the candy back and bought the cigarettes.


You Can Inspire Kids! October 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 5:27 am

Please take a minute by clicking HERE to help my super-librarian friend Renee win a grant for her under-funded school library.  It doesn’t cost you a penny, just a minute of your time to vote for her.  She wants to win!  I want her to win!  Help her win!


To learn more about her and this contest, you can click HERE.


Never in One Place October 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 6:28 pm

A couple weeks ago I heard Shauna Niequist read from her new book BittersweetThoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way. (I know, I should change my blog to that title!)  I heard Shauna for the first time on Mother’s Day weekend when she read some of her pre-published chapters at a tea my mom and I attended.  I connected with her then because, well, I feel like we’re a lot alike.  But I think some of her appeal is that probably every woman who hears her thinks they’re a lot alike!  She verbalizes the struggles and joys in the every day that all of us are thinking and feeling but don’t necessarily put out there.


But probably not every woman sobs through the first two chapters of her book.  That’s what I did.  I took empathy to a whole new level!  In her chapter “The Closer You Get”, she writes about the pain of having to say good-bye to her best friend, who was moving from Grand Rapids to California.  Through her description of how heartbreaking it was to do that, flashes of all the good-byes I’ve said, especially in the past year, came flooding to mind.  And I completely fell apart.  I say good-bye to people I love all the time, and it never gets easier because the more we progress through life and experience more real-life/adult joys and hardships, the more we need each other but the more geographically spread out we are.


I just read a post on Zach and Renee’s blog about a breakthrough they’re having with one of their adoptive daughters.  I rejoice with them when I read that, but it hurts that I’m reading it and not able to share their joy in person.  I want to know these girls, but as long as I don’t live in Cincinnati, I won’t get to see them grow up, and they won’t know me like they’ll know the people who live near them.


Zach and Renee are always telling me to move to Cincinnati.  (Wait a minute, they’re the ones who convinced me to move to Houston in the first place, and then they left!)  But if I moved to Cincinnati, I would still be away from the other children I want to see grow up in Michigan, and I’d be away from all my fabulous single girl friends and my church community in Houston.  Then there are my girls in England, who I miss all the time too.  Why can’t all the people I love be in one place?


One of the reasons I came back to Houston this summer was because I needed some consistent community.  But as I delve more into the community I love here, I become more and more aware of the community I’m missing out on in other places.  And I become more and more aware of the impossibility of ever having community with all the people I love.


Photo #38 October 15, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 2:24 am

Apparently I read my dates wrong, and the trip to the Isle of Wight was actually in May because here we are for the Summer Solstice.  Typically my least favorite day of the year is December 21 because it’s the shortest and, therefore, darkest day.  But my favorite is June 21 because it’s the longest.  (Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, e.g. Mozambique, in which case it’s reversed.)  No matter where I am on June 21, I make sure I’m outside to enjoy the daylight as long as possible.  I insisted with some housemates and friends in Brighton that we make some sangria and sit on the beach that evening to watch the sunset.


So we sat, all bundled up in our sweaters, huddled together to stay warm, commenting on the fact that we were the only people on the beach apart from a lonely blue tent, watching the sky for rain.  “Jen, how are we going to know when the sun sets if we can’t actually see the sun?” someone asked.  When it finally started to rain, we headed home and enjoyed the rest of our sangria in a warm, dry kitchen.


Photo #37 October 13, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 3:43 am

No, this is not my favorite photo.  But look at the size of that bruise!!  What the heck is THAT from???  I have no recollection of how it happened, but I do remember that I had it and that I wished I had taken this picture a few days earlier when it was really dark.  By the time the picture was taken, it had faded a bit.  I wonder if I had a bike accident.  What else would it be from?

Okay, so here’s the real picture from the London to Brighton Bike Ride (40 miles over the South Downs).   (BTW the picture above was not taken after the ride, so I know I didn’t have an accident on the ride.)  I rode with my friend N., who is a far more athletic person than I and has far more bike experience than I do, except she’s mostly a mountain biker.  (She also commutes daily through central London, which impresses me no end.)  I merely owned a mountain bike but mostly used it to commute to campus.  The great thing about my commute, though, was that it trained me for the L2B because I lived at the top of a very steep hill.  Climbing that hill on a regular basis meant the hills on the actual ride weren’t that bad.  I must say that the most satisfying thing about the ride was passing guys on their fancy roadbikes going up the hills.  “Yeah, that’s right, this is a $90 very used mountain bike with knobby tires!  See you at the top.”

I also loved riding with N.  There is always much laughter when she’s around.