Engaging strangers at dinner: Not everyone’s cup of tea

house dinner 2I’ve learned a lot from the Myers-Briggs, especially when administered and explored by my favorite former clinical psychologist. As an ENFP, one of my major take-aways is how differently I recharge my batteries than, say, someone whose profile begins with an I instead of an E. In Myers-Briggs terms, the difference between extroverts and introverts is a bit more nuanced than the popular understanding of the terms. In brief, it’s all about where we draw our energy: from interaction with groups or from more intimate, one-on-one or solitary settings.

Which brings me to the dinner table at Beacon Hill Friends House. When I hear we have guests for dinner, my ears perk up. I hope I end up sitting close enough to them at our long table to find out a bit about them and answer questions about the house. I also realize this is not a reaction shared by all. Continue reading

Hospitality: When a house becomes a home

One of my big fears about moving to BHFH was that it would be harder for us to have people visit, hang out, feel at home. If Bill and I had a mission statement for our marriage, providing hospitality would be front and center. I hoped that people we love would feel comfortable hanging out here, but I didn’t know. I hoped that our housemates would be comfortable with our family and friends, but, again. I didn’t know. Not everyone appreciates having a rambunctious 21 month old or people they don’t know invading their space.

marton and leila asleep in library Mostly it’s worked out well. Clearly our son-in-law and granddaughter feel comfortable enough in our home to fall asleep in the library shared by all 21 residents. Leila loves to ride the elevator, play hide and seek around the dining room and explore all the different staircases. She has a place she prefers to sit at the dining room table and when we do a round of names (when we have guests at dinner) she usually pipes up with “LEILA!” Our house mates have been patient with her noise and our clear adoration of her. One of the big pluses for her is having a whole new set of aunts and uncles whose names she is gradually learning, sort of. Clarissa is known as Issa and Ryan is Iyan. Continue reading

Thoughts on living large(r)

Screenshot 2014-11-24 13.23.39After 17 months of sharing a single room, Carol and I recently spent a week in our friend’s quite spacious two-bedroom, two bath (plus office) high-rise apartment overlooking downtown St. Petersburg, Fl. Spacious enough, in fact, that I found myself losing track of stuff — and Carol! — until I got used to the extra real estate.

I’ve always liked Judy’s place, located steps from the water in a building where we also lived when we moved to St. Pete 15 years ago. What surprised me about this recent week was how much I enjoyed our time up there on the 24th floor. It taught me something about how I’m feeling about living spaces and places these days.

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Thanksgiving for a life well lived

Rev. Jerry Singer at the 50th anniversary of his ordination, June 2, 2013, Nativity Church, Detroit

Rev. Jerry Singer at the 50th anniversary of his ordination, June 2, 2013, Nativity Church, Detroit

This has been a sad few days. As we were leaving church Sunday morning, Bill checked his email and discovered that yet another friend had died. Jerry Singer was the pastor of our best ever church community. He was also a good friend.

Over the last several years I’ve lost my mother, my only two aunts, three cousins, three important mentors (now four) and several friends. While I understand that death is part of life and on one level am not afraid of it, I still finding it shocking. How can it be that this person who was so full of life is no longer there? Where did they go?

And maybe more important, what of them is left? What is their legacy? How might I help keep it alive and pass it on?

Living at BHFH, we’re focused on what it takes to build a strong and enjoyable community. I wish my fellow housies had had a chance to witness Jerry’s community building in action. He knew everyone in the parish by name. Whenever someone new showed up at Sunday Mass he greeted them before the service, asked their name and before Mass started introduced them to the community. Unlike many pastors, he shared power easily, often being guided by the congregation rather than imposing his own opinions.  Continue reading

Just enough chefs in the kitchen

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Nora, Jared, Ali, Carol & Clarissa. Plus the mystery chef. Click photo for better view.

The $331-a-month we each pay for food at BHFH (rent is $628 per person) gets us Sunday-Thursday dinners prepared by Myles, our resident chef, plus a fully-stocked kitchen we can raid for other meals and snacks. On most Friday and Saturday evenings that leaves housies fending for themselves. But sometimes, like last night, something more organized happens. It began with a 1:39 p.m. email from Carol, alerting her 20 housemates that she’d be cooking a chicken pot pie and a veggie pie and that Clarissa would be making a salad.

Friday night dinner

Friday dinner at Beacon Hill Friends House

Nora volunteered the bean soup that her folks learned to make when the family lived in Nicaragua (Witness for Peace), and Ali promised apple crisp with help from Jared. The rest of us did stuff like buying the chicken and removing meat from the bones, plus set up and clean up.  Main task for the dozen of us at the table: Enjoying a great dinner. When I asked for a show of hands to line up a photo of the evening’s chefs, the first one in the air was Leila’s. Who knows what she may have thrown in the pot?

 

Late fall in the Public Garden

photo (14)One of my favorite happy places is only a short walk from where we live. The Boston Public Garden lifts me up no matter what state I’m in. I’m amazed at the number of leaves that are still left and the way the light plays with them and the bare branches.

Someone once said that nature is God’s first revelation of God’s self. I believe it.

 

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Not your average alarm

Nothing quite like being jolted out of bed early in the morning by a fire alarm instead of my usual alarm. Especially in a big old house in a city where there have been numerous bad fires in big old houses. Once I was fully awake I was pretty sure it was a false alarm. We’ve had a few of those lately because something is out of kilter with our alarm system. Still, the idea of heading outside into the 20 degree weather in my pjs did not sound like fun.

But, as I ran into sleepy housemates in the hall something interesting happened. Annoyance turned into amusement. We all looked pretty funny. It was a false alarm. Sharing the irritating experience took some of the sting out of it. Pretty nice to have laughter instead of the whining I might have otherwise engaged in. One more plus of living in community.