21 May 2009

Laundry is my Life

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t posted a blog entry in over a year. I blame Facebook. Or maybe it was working full time, being pregnant, and having a premature baby. Well, regardless, here I am a contributing member of the blogosphere once again.

As a mum of a rather new person, laundry has taken over my life. I expected extra laundry because I chose to do washable nappies, but I forgot about the increase in my own wash. Not only do my clothes get dirty from spit-up and Samantha’s other bodily functions, but also from food I drop on myself whilst feeding her and myself at the same time. So, my current job is feeding the baby and doing the laundry.

I was at the pound shop a couple months ago and bought a “smalls” dryer. It’s a little plastic thing with a bunch of clothes pegs on it for drying one’s socks and underwear. Except for the odd stop of rain here and there it has been beautiful hanging wash on the line weather. I left it outside on one of the washing lines for Tyndale House community use. It struck me that we needed one for each of the two drying areas out in the garden. So, a couple weeks ago I went back to the pound shop to buy another one, and alas, they were no longer carrying them.

Of course, I thought that there must be a homemade solution to this problem. I found industrious fern’s Map of Australia sock hanger (http://industriousfern.blogspot.com/2009/02/map-of-australia-sock-hanger-how-to.html), but I don’t have a cool wooden map of Australia or a drill. The wheels started turning in my brain and here’s what I came up with….

4 wire hangers
wooden clothes pegs/pins (I used 14, but realized after I finished that I could probably could have fit twice as many.)
thin wire
wire cutters
plarn (yarn made from plastic bags) see: http://www.myrecycledbags.com/tutorial-for-making-plarn-yarn/
crochet hook US size H/5mm

I took two of the wire hangers and attached them at the neck and where they crossed at the bottom with the thin wire.
I attached some of the clothes pegs along the longer side of each hanger with the thin wire
I started at the attached necks of the hangers and single crocheted with plarn around each hanger and back to the necks. When I got to a clothes peg, I single crocheted over the thin wire, right up to the peg, then ch2 and continued single crocheting on the other side of the peg.
I then cut the bottom wires off the other 2 hangers and the 2 side wires from one of them.
I attached the long wires opposite each other and the short wires opposite each other making a rectangle at the bottom.
I attached more pegs to these wires with thin wire and crocheted around the rectangle with more plarn.
I bent the hooks in such a way that it would be less likely to fly off the washing line in the wind.

I think this is clever and fun and will stand up to the elements. As my husband is nearly finished with his dissertation and has a job at Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary in the fall (scary), I will be leaving Cambridge at the end of July (sob). I leave it with my plarn clothes peg bags to Tyndale House as a reminder of the crazy, crafty lady who lived in flat 3.

08 March 2008


When we were going to move to Tyndale House, I was a little worried. "Tyndale House is an international centre for biblical research, founded in a spirit of loyalty to the historic Christian faith. It is a community of scholars, working mostly at postgraduate level." It attracts lots of American folks coming to study at Cambridge. That's us.

It also particularly attracts conservative Evangelical American folks.

It was great and all that we were moving closer to everything and that the rent was half of what we were paying, but would we really be accepted?

We are generally speaking, theologically evangelical - certainly confident of 'the historic Christian faith' - but we are not culturally Evangelicals and we tend to be left of centre politically.

We are part of a denomination that is seen by many people as "liberal" or "dead" or "falling apart at the seams". We see it as a place where people are free to ask hard questions, where it is okay not to agree about everything. We are going through a really difficult time right now as a communion and unfortunately, our dirty laundry is being aired in the media.

I am a working mum who has a career, not just a job to support my husband in his call. (I do, of course, support him in his call and he supports me in mine.) Because of this, I wouldn't be able to participate in some of the daytime community things like the women's Bible study. We are really bad at keeping things tidy. Our place always looks like a tip despite our best intentions.

Could I really be comfortable? Could I really be myself?

The answer most happily is "YES."

I suppose I could go on and on explaining why and how this is, but I think it can be summed up simply. At least at this moment in time, Tyndale House is a judgement free, guilt free zone in which we can live our faith the best we can among others living their faith the best they can.

One of the families we live among are the Leonards. They are the self-proclaimed "Cambridge Hillbillies" They couldn't be from a more different background from us, and yet, you can see from a quick glance at Angie's blog the gifts they bring to the Tyndale community.

In her post at the above link, she says, "Bridges connect people, both literally and figuratively."

Angie's entry about bridges in Cambridge made think of Christ as the bridge connecting us here at Tyndale House. It also brought to mind two other bridges, one literal and one figurative.

My Favorite Bridge:
I cycle about 2-1/2 miles to work everyday. Everyday I cross my favorite bridge in Cambridge. It is not a beautiful bridge. It is utilitarian. It is used to cross the river Cam to work, to school, etc. by many people each day. I don't think it has a name, but my vote is "consideration bridge." You see, this bridge is too narrow to be crossed from both directions at the same time. You must wait for a group of cyclists and pedestrians to cross from the opposite direction. As they meet you at your end, they will say "thank you" or "thanks" or "ta" or "cheers." When you cross to the other side you in turn thank those who have waited for you. We are a community of carbon-free commuters linked together by a bridge and a little consideration.

We were having some after dinner conversation with our Swedish friends Andreas and Victoria one night a couple weeks ago. The discussion turned to worship. Jason mentioned that the word "liturgy" translated means "work of the people" or "public work." Jason explained to our friends that in America that when we talk about "Public Works" we mean things the government provides for the benefit of all citizens (water, roads, snow removal, etc.). Worship is a service we provide to the world that makes a relationship with God available to all.

This brought into my mind liturgy as a bridge (actually, I saw the Mathematical Bridge in my mind's eye). In worship we lay ourselves down. We make ourselves vulnerable to God and to others.

I think of our church in St. Joseph, Michigan. Many folks originally arrived at St. Paul's because they were invited to a wedding or a funeral or some other special service and ended up staying. As they were crossing the bridge of worship, they found themselves in a surprising place. Some of these folks had no faith or a very nominal faith before they joined us. As we worshiped together, they ceased to be pedestrians, and laid themselves down and became an integral part of the bridge.

And that, of course, returns me to the ultimate bridge, Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to God, coming from the Father to bridge the gulf to creation, and making possible reconciliation and new life - and the forming of us and our lives into 'bridges'. In this, we encounter friends, strangers, and brothers and sisters in Christ (who are nevertheless somewhat different from us), and we are given the grace to be a bridge for them, even as they are a bridge for us.

23 February 2008

133% Recycled--It's in the bag!

In Cambridge today, we reached a high of 12C (54F for those of you across the pond). Anytime it approaches moderate temperatures and the sun threatens to make an appearance, we hang our washing outside. I know this is very strange to American sensibilities where everyone has their own dryer.* But when you use most of your extra space (which isn't much) hanging your washing indoors, you might be tempted to hang stuff outside in almost any weather.

Which brings me to share with you a cool site. http://www.myrecycledbags.com/ has crochet patterns for bags made out of grocery carrier bags and VHS tape. I was looking for a pattern for a clutch handbag (a topic for another post) and stumbled onto this site. I was especially intrigued by the clothespin/peg bag. http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/08/11/crochet-a-recycled-clothes-pin-bag/ I didn't use her pattern for my bag, but it was my inspiration.

I used bags from Sainsbury's(http://www.sainsburys.co.uk)%20which/ which are a cool colour and are already made of 33% recycled materials.

*Tyndale House, where we live, has one dryer to be shared by all the family residences (>6 families). It costs one pound for each load and there is usually a queue. I am by no means complaining about this. It helps us to use it wisely.

06 February 2008

Until the revealing of the children of God

Our church http://www.stmarksnewnham.org/ is participating in the Carbon Fast for Lent. It is an event promoted by Tear Fund, a Christian organization that (among other things) helps the first hand sufferers of climate change. It involves doing something each day of Lent to reduce our carbon footprints. You can find out more at http://www.tearfund.org/carbonfast. Even for folks who doubt the effects of climate change, many of these activities will save money that could then be passed on to a missionary or a charity.

Romans 8
19. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
20. for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
21. that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
23. and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

02 February 2008

We look for the resurrection of the dead

Today was Dan Hardy's memorial service.

Dan was Jason's supervisor for his Ph.D.

Dan was also so much more.

Dan was pastor, priest, and friend. Dan was humble without being self-depricating. Dan had high standards without being judgemental. Dan was gentle yet strong. Dan was learned and wise yet never finished his Ph.D. Dan brought theology to people's real lives and the real life of the church without dumbing it down. Dan saw every person as made in the image of the living God which made every person who he met feel special.

Dan and his wife Perrin were a third set of parents to us (and grandparents to Alex).

So, of course, we were to go to the memorial service as a family.

This afternoon, Alex asked me why there was a service for Dan. I told her that we were remembering and celebrating Dan's life by worshiping God. She then asked, "Has Dan come back to life again?"

This question blew me away with delight. In her heart, she was ready for the resurrection. It didn't seem improbable to her that Dan might walk right in to the service while we were praising God for his life.

I explained that at the last day, Jesus will come back and Dan will come back to life then. As I said this I felt a bit jealous of Alex's faith in the resurrection. I wish my faith wasn't jaded by adult sensibility.

I've heard it said that Martin Luther believed that baptism at any age is a believer's baptism. He felt, though unable to express it in words, an infant has more capacity for faith than an adult. After Alex's expression of faith in the resurrection, I became even more convinced that her participation in the two major sacraments of baptism and eucharist were right and proper. And I am cheered by the fact that her church family treats children as full members of the body of Christ.

At Dan's memorial service I looked out on the sea of dog collars and was proud to be sitting next to a sweet girl ordained into the priesthood of all believers who God has used to silence my disbelief.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained
praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2

01 July 2007

The Blessed Curse Revisited

***Attention Ladies****
One of the not so blessed thing about the curse is one continues to pay through the nose over and over again every month. Not only that, the waste that is created just boggles the mind! May I commend two websites to you that can help relieve the cycle of cost and waste associated with one's monthly cycle.

For those of you on this side of the pond: http://www.mooncup.co.uk/.
For those of you on the other side of the pond: http://www.thekeeper.com/.

16 May 2007

Fields of Gold

When we Anglophiles dream about moving to the UK, we have in mind the England of Jane Austen (on a much more modest scale, of course). The reality for the Fout family has been quite different. Our current flat is a series of boxes inside another box that is part of a series of boxes inside a yet bigger box. Most everything is painted brown and white, and everyone's furniture is the same. Mid-August that will change. The Fouts are moving house! Tyndale House where Jason does his work has a few residences which they rent out to members. In addition to being much less boxy, it is a mile closer to church, school, and work; it has a small garden that Alex will be able to play in with minimal supervision; and it is significantly less expensive for about the same amount of space. We are really excited.

But there is one thing we will miss about our current flat. That is the view. We are on the top floor on the far west corner. Our living room has two large picture windows that look out onto lush green fields that stretch to the horizon. We often see hot air balloons in the distance. Restored aeroplanes from the aviation museum at Duxford sometimes fly over. We have a perfect view of Guy Fawke's Day fireworks from the nearby colleges and villages.

One morning in April of last year I woke up and the view out these windows took my breath away. Off in the distance were several vast fields of intense yellow - Fields of Gold. We came to find out that these splashes of yellow occur all over the UK and are rapeseed. As individual plants they are not much to write home about, but a field of rapeseed is just stunning. I pass a couple fields on the way to work and I never tire of them. In fact, one day I took a bike path that went out of my way a bit just so that I could ride through a sea of yellow.

Fields Of Gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in the fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in the fields of gold
We'll walk in the fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold
When we walked in the fields of gold
When we walked in the fields of gold

So, Sting is singing about fields of barley, not rapeseed. None the less, when I hear this song I see the fields of gold from my window. The fields stir up in me feelings that are also expressed in the song. Peace and tranquility. Awe and delight. Contentment. I feel that if God brought us to England for the sole purpose of gazing upon this, that would be enough.

The photos are from the following sites:
(I haven't been able to take a satisfactory photo of the fields myself)