Trent and Leah got engaged this week! Trent is two months out of university,
still looking for somewhere to put his Architecture degree to use, and so had to
sell some CDs to help pay for a ring. But who cares about money, if you're in it together?
Come on Trent, let's have a decent picture of the two of you on the web site, eh? I think
they're planning on August some time, before the weather gets cold again.
Speaking of weather, today in Atlanta was unseasonably warm - t-shirt and shorts weather in February. A crazy wind was knocking branches out of trees all over the place. All we needed was an electrical storm to make it pure Ray Bradbury. Apart from a couple of hours walking today, Tuesday at the office, and a few quick trips for groceries or fast food, I haven't left the house since Sunday night. Working from home is certainly better than dragging yourself, sick, in to the office. But it has its limits. Hopefully I'll be well by Monday.
I've decided to put a bit of effort into learning some jazz theory and practice. I've been throwing some unexpected chords into the mix lately, and I'd like to actually know why! Rob's quick primer on two-five-one kicked it off, and hanging out with Drew Matter (I still can't believe the guy has a real piano in his bedroom!) got things rolling. My miseducation started with some freebie internet tutorials on jazz piano (okay, if you hadn't figured out that I'm a geek yet, then the joke's on you, alright?), but got started in earnest today with the purchase of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue." I feel like I'm standing with one foot on the ground, one foot on the first rung, my hand about to grab another - I've never even seriously listened to jazz before! Well, we'll see what happens...
You know, I really miss all of you in Bosnia and England. It was wonderful to see you again, everyone. If you're reading this, send me an email, okay? And Waco, and Toronto, and Kailua-Kona, and New York, and Florida, and South Africa and everywhere else. Sometimes I could almost wish I was one of those people who'd never been more than a hundred miles from home.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)
For those of you who I haven't told yet, I'm going to remain in Atlanta until I switch jobs - no travel back to London. Considering the fact that I'm working from home, sick, right now, I'm extremely glad not to be in London, sick.
Valentine's Day. Last night, I mistakenly went into a "Christian" bookstore to look for a wedding card. Yikes. I just can't take the blend of religion and commercialism. Enjoy-your-retirement cards where the punchline centers on enjoy-your-401k, with a dollar-like president picture on the front. Highly embossed, ribboned monstrosities with verses on the left and blessings on the right.
At the store where we bought the wedding present, Stephen and I were chatting about whether Valentine's Day is celebrated in South Africa (it is). He said it is also celebrated in Latin America, so it must be a worldwide thing. When I mentioned the crackdowns in India, and Stephen asked why, the lady in line behind us chimed in, answering that it's because Valentine's Day is a Christian celebration (or began as Christian). More or less.
Not that I have anything against Valentine's Day in particular. It's just that it's the first major holiday/celebration since I came back from overseas, and the commercialism gets a bit trying after a while. It's amazing how much it permeates America. As soon as I arrived, I found myself looking jealously at the next guy's palm pilot or spiffy laptop, thinking, "Man, I want one of those!" I have to keep reminding myself how unimportant that junk is.Although I do want a palm pilot...
Well, I'm home again in Atlanta, for a week at least. Then back to London, either on Sunday evening, or whenever I get a work permit. It's nice to be back here, to see friends, to meet our new roommate, Andy, to go to my church, to be able to play my keyboard and guitar - just everything. (Well, except constantly being on the verge of a sore throat because of the air quality - but I think Sarajevo and hours on airplanes may have been partly responsible for that!)
Here are some more pictures - a completely random selection, dictated mostly by which ones came out the best
Sutka and Dani, playing with fruit.
Dado and Jenny. How lucky - Dado and Jenny happened to visit from Canada while I was in Sarajevo. They are doing very well. It was a real joy to spend time with them, catching up, hearing how God's been teaching them all kinds of stuff. Maybe I can go visit them in Victoria, Canada, sometime when I have more vacation.
Mostar, from a hill above the city. Even in Winter, Mostar is still very beautiful. Although actually warmer than Sarajevo (it hardly ever snows), the city feels freezing, because of the strong wind that seems to cut right through your clothing. I spent a day in Mostar, visiting Dado Zarak, and had the pleasure of meeting Corey from the 'States (instead of just hearing about him), and Naomi from England (who I'd met before, but just in passing). We went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and then hung out in a couple of coffee bars, one of which is called Stolica ("stoleetsa" - "chair" - doesn't quite translate in English!)
Here's my friend Ibro, at their new house, with chickens, a vegetable garden, bee hives, and mountains in the background. Ibro is more photogenic than I will ever hope to be. I guess that's fitting, since he's a cool art student, and I'm a corporate drone!
While we're on photogenic, here's a shot of Neil Arner. This was taken on the train from Sarajevo to Zagreb, an eight or ten hour affair. Luckily, it turned out that the Nada i Zivot (Hope and Life) team from Sarajevo was taking the train up the same day I needed to, so I had good company, and a place to stay the night. The conductor even had them stop the train longer than usual at lunchtime so we could jump off and buy food and drinks!
Another of the highlights of my trip was getting to spend time with Drew again, after not seeing him for just over three years. He's planning on heading to seminary, and - as much as I'm usually disappointed when hearing that everyone and their brother feels the need to go to seminary - with him it feels like a good thing! I think he'd make a good pastor and preacher. The young woman in Drew's thoughts (actually it's just a reflection in the window) is Rachel.
Alas, all holidays end, and almost always too soon. This is England from the plane. It doesn't quite come out in this picture, but snow and Winter reduce the landscape almost to a black-and-white, or brown-and-white. I'll be back in England in a week or so.