40 Things I Love

Photo by Ksenia Kudelkina

I’m late to the game here, but I was so inspired by Jon Carl Lewis post, “40 Things I Love as well as Tre L. Loadholt’s post, 40: “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things,” that I decided to take up the challenge and list forty things I love, in no particular order and with a minimum (I hope) of thought.

  1. Alex (my wife): She was born on the day I was baptized, so there’s some seriously weird voodoo going on there, at least.
  2. Rory (my daughter): I mean, she’s my female mini-me. My little sage. And she drives me crazy. Which is good for me.
  3. The rest of my friends and family (no, I will not list all of you).
  4. Coffee: The dark old-school stuff. Not the newfangled hipster kind. I want bold and burnt, not orangey and raisiney. (This is not me macho-signaling. On the contrary, it’s because I put a lot of cream and sugar in my brew and actually want to taste the coffee.)
  5. Oatly oat milk: I used to buy cartons of it in bulk, but now it’s not available to non-commercial customers. So I mostly go with Trader Joe’s soy creamer, which is delicious but isn’t very healthy.
  6. German beer: Preferably bock beer or Oktoberfest. We live in an old German neighborhood in Chicago, so I’m in German-beer heaven.
  7. Open fires of any size: From a candle to a bonfire, doesn’t matter.
  8. Cabin porn: My Instagram feed is full of the work of cabin pornographers. I wish I could be one myself. Gotta figure out that business model.
  9. Books about hygge: Yes, the hygge craze these last few years has got me good.
  10. Contrast: Warm inside spaces with cold weather outside: Or cool inside spaces with hot weather inside.
  11. Early American Hymns: It’s one of the things I love so much about our particular Lutheran church. Chamber music and early American hymns. Just puts me there.
  12. Bach Sonatas: Especially via Chris Thile on mandolin.
  13. A certain subset of modern bluegrass musicians: including, but not partial to all musicians in the following bands — some of whom overlap: Punch Brothers, Hawktail, I’m With Her Band, Nickel Creek, Crooked Still, and The Wailin Jennys.
  14. Traditional Liturgy: Candles. Robes. Incense. Scripture. Stained glass. Bowing. Kneeling. Bread. Wine. It’s a tradition that’s in my bones. Brings me home every time.
  15. Good conversations: If you talk about sports or politics, you’ll be talking to yourself.
  16. Sarcasm: If done well.
  17. Mountain lakes: I prefer these to oceans because I like to be able to see the other side. Again, I like contrast and the mountains and smooth water bring it in a big way. Tahoe is my favorite and closest to my heart.
  18. Learning new things: Because there never is enough.
  19. Being wrong: Because this is the only way I actually learn.
  20. Being right: Because it feels so good, yeeeah!
  21. Ireland: Perfect climate. Great pubs. Fantastic storytellers. Kind people. History. Ahhhh…
  22. Pubs with no TV’s: Again, Ireland.
  23. Playing golf with friends: Walking, not riding in carts. Golf was my first life, and it’s fading from my current one, but it’s still a part of me.
  24. Hiking: Alex and I used to hike a lot when we lived in Nevada. And then we had Rory. For the first year or two, we could throw her in the hiking backpack. But then she got too big to fit but too small to walk for more than 20 feet without complaining. She’s almost big enough to start hiking, so I hope to be back at it soon.
  25. Skiing: I learned at age 37 and am not very good, but I love it.
  26. Writing: Obviously.
  27. Reading: Mostly non-fiction. But this year, I’m FORCING myself to read fiction consistently. Nothing helps my writing more than reading fiction.
  28. Good sermons: I used to like sermons that made me feel awesome, but these days, I love sermons that make me feel small (but that make me see how awesome God is).
  29. The audacity of humanity: kindness, courage, and compassion that’s beyond human reason is God in motion.
  30. Jesus: Of course. But a different Jesus than a lot of Christians in America worship (I write about this A LOT, so I won’t explain here).
  31. Chicago: Stormy, husky, brawling — this is the city of big shoulders. Classy. Hard-working. Big-hearted. Architecturally astute. Well-planned. I could go on. This place where I live is incredible.
  32. Lake Tahoe: It’s still home to me. Driving around that lake never gets old. Swimming in it never fails to cleanse the soul. And there is no sky like the sky above Lake Tahoe.
  33. Lutheran Theology: Luther was a maniacal genius and I love him for what he did with the gospels focusing on grace through faith rather than works. I’m not crazy about some of his personal opinions, but this is where I exercise my faith in the grace he spoke of by knowing he is a flawed, forgiven human — perfect in his imperfection.
  34. Cubs home game days: Not that I watch sports. I only know two of the players' names (one happens to live down the street from me). And the games are super expensive. But there’s something about Wrigley Field and the buzz of a Cubs game day that I love being around (we live 1.5 miles from the park).
  35. Family gatherings: I have a (very) small family, but my wife has a big family out in the suburbs that I love hanging out with. Even though it makes me a bit neurotic to have dinner with that many people, I always wanted a big family and it’s nice to have been brought into one through her.
  36. Laughing: I mean, right?
  37. Crying: Even better. And something straight, white, cisgender males don’t allow themselves to do nearly enough. I learned that you can only cry when you feel safe. And they produce healthy cleansing hormones in the body. So unlike many of our fathers may have suggested, tears are good news.
  38. Good stories: Again, Ireland. The Irish tell the best stories, hands down. I can’t stand it when people’s eyes dart away when I’m telling a story, so it’s something I’m constantly working on. I can write one, but speaking one is a different — well — story.
  39. Poetry: It shows me that I can be loose with my words. Writing poetry is extremely therapeutic. You can let the words take over and do their own thing. Reading a good poet reveals the color and richness available in the human language.
  40. Hot springs: When we lived in the Sierras, we had access to a number of natural, inhabitable hot springs. There’s nothing like sitting in a bath of mother nature’s bubbling brew surrounded by snow and staring up at that wide sky.

Now… What’s your fav-40?