Category: home & food

Welcoming a new year

Welcoming a new year

A new year! After a nice break for the holidays, we kicked things off with our usual Friday night potluck at our *culture is not optional community house. The community house is where our interns, AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and visitors stay, and it’s also a space for building relationships and learning for our organization as a whole. 2019 was a pretty rocky year, with an unexpected move for our community house on top of some other major projects, so it was nice to celebrate with friends in a spirit of greater stability for the year to come. The historic three-story Victorian house we lovingly refer to as “the haunted mansion” has proven a wonderful asset for showing hospitality.

Potluck at the *cino community house
Potluck at the *culture is not optional community house!

In mid-January, Rob spent some time in Detroit for the Michigan Farmers Market Manager training, but came back in time to enjoy the opening reception for the annual juried art show at the Carnegie Center for the Arts, just half a block from our house. The Carnegie Center is a beautifully restored historic space—one of the original libraries Andrew Carnegie built around the country. Many of our friends had work in the show, including John, Gail, and Jonathon, who work with Kirstin at GilChrist Retreat Center.

Carnegie Center juried show in downtown Three Rivers.

We try to take things a bit more slowly in the winter, but one important annual celebration we participate in is a march, potluck dinner, and service in celebration of the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though it turned bitterly cold just in time for the march, we had a great turnout. The service featured live music from a number of groups, including the Brandenburg Concert choral group that Kirstin sings in, and some incredible, truth-to-power poetry from local poet friends. We look forward to this service every year as an expression of solidarity and diversity in our community, and Rob has taken on more a role in helping plan and organize along with a number of other community volunteers.

Holidays with friends and family

Holidays with friends and family

We started out the month with a trip to Grand Rapids that we’d been planning for a while, to attend a concert with the band Over the Rhine and celebrate our friend Ken’s last show as the director of the Student Activities office at Calvin University. We worked with Ken for five years in the SAO and, like many others, were deeply impacted by his intelligent faith and his passion for popular culture and social justice. It was a joy to be able to spend time friends from around the country and even the UK who came in for the celebration.

Finally finishing the new bathroom at the Imaginarium!

Work projects this month included finishing the second bathroom in the new Imaginarium at the Huss Project, which is one more step toward getting our official occupancy permit to be able to host events and programs there. We also hosted our annual Christmas potluck at our house, with a wacky gift exchange and, even though we still debate whether it’s actually a Christmas movie, a viewing of the beloved action film, Die Hard.

A Very *cino Christmas

In mid-December, we received some unexpected news that Rob’s aunt (his mom’s younger sister) had passed away. She was in a lot of pain so there was some relief, but it was still very difficult for her daughters, who are about our age, to find themselves without a mother or father anymore. Their whole family had been a huge help when we started World Fare in 2003. It was good to be together as a family, sharing memories, food, and the rituals of grief.

Shortly after the funeral, we made the trip back to northwest Indiana again for family Christmas celebrations. Because things were a bit spread out this year, we had time to visit with friends (former high school teachers of ours) and also to get into downtown Chicago with Rob’s parents. We wandered around the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza for a while, and then headed over to the Chicago Architecture Center to view exhibits about the history of Chicago and skyscrapers around the world. Buildings and urban design are some of Rob’s great passions and it was fun to be able to share those passions with his parents in a new way.

Visiting the Chicago Architecture Center with Rob’s parents

We returned home on Christmas Day and after a few days of relaxing at home, we closed out the year with our annual New Year’s Eve party at our apartment, which doubles as an anniversary party. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married for 19 years! We don’t know what 2020 has in store for us, but we do hope that our path to parenthood becomes clear in the coming year. It’s been a long wait and we’re anxious to share our lives with a kiddo.

Transitioning to the new year

Transitioning to the new year

As usual, we ended one year and started the next with friends at our apartment. We got married on New Year’s Eve, 2000 because it sounded like a nice time to bring friends and family together and Kirstin was between semesters for her final year of college. For many years since then, we’ve hosted a gathering at our place, which sort of doubles as a New Year’s Eve party and anniversary celebration. It’s also a fun opportunity to gather with friends after spending much of the holidays with our families. New Year’s Day usually finds us sharing waffles and resolutions around the dining room table, and this year was no exception. We shared (again) our hopes of starting a family, along with other personal goals. 

Shortly after the new year began, we began work to refresh World Fare, the fair trade store on Main Street below our apartment. Along with our board of directors and volunteers, we’d been anticipating a two-week closure in January (our slowest month) to upgrade our point-of-sale system, retrain volunteers, and make some aesthetic improvements to the store. It took a lot of cooperation, hard work, and detail organization, but we got it done and the store feels much brighter and more functional now!

Painting World Fare
Painting World Fare