Monday, August 29, 2011

Busha

The first time I met my mother in law was Easter Day at a family gathering. Dan and I were engaged and planning our wedding, but at the age of 28 we had skipped a lot of formalities such as meeting each others extended family, even though we had known each other for two years. We met at Eddie Bauer and were co-workers, then friends, before starting to date. Once we starting dating our relationship progressed quickly to an engagement. There really hadn't been tome to meet family. However, in the years before we met, my husband to be had gone though a rough patch and his family was protective of him. So, this family gathering, and first time meeting, held layers of emotion for everyone. I was fairly positive I'd like all of them, but not at all certain what they would think of me, engaged to their son, brother, uncle, before they'd even met me. I knew my mother in law-to- be had called my mother to inquire her opinion of this engagement and pending marriage. A protective mamma bear looking out for her youngest man-child.

That Easter gathering occurred at my sister-in-laws house. A two story aluminum sided house on the NW side of Chicago, in the same neighborhood they'd grown up in. Just up the street from the St. Paschal's, the family parish and school. The house was filled with people, most of them young, many of them kids. Everyone pitching in, man and woman, young and old, to watch the little kids, prepare the food, and then clean up afterward. I fell in love instantly with every last one of them. Thankfully, the feelings were mutual.

Twenty six Easters have passed since that first one. And, while Easter was grand, Christmas at Busha and Papa's was glorious! The meal included prime rib and an array of German and Polish dishes that have become family favorites, recipes I try to recreate for our kids. In the early days of our marriage Christmas at Busha's was a day long feast of food, homemade cookies, and gifts! Busha spent weeks baking and decorating and preparing for a gathering of her four grown kids, their spouses, and eight grandkids, not to mention the many extended family friends who would stop by. As always, everyone helped. Some of my fondest memories are of washing dishes after that Christmas meal, and delighting in a series of family stories told year after year.

In time Busha had to give up hosting the family meals and then we divided them among us, I had Thanksgiving, others had Christmas and Easter. Bush still cooked what she could and brought it to the meal. But these last few years she has not been well enough to cook. And then since February she has been on a long slow spiral down. She gave up and relinquished her spirit, crawled into herself, and drifted away. Parkinson's had ravaged her body, her mind, and her spirit.

What I remember about my mother in law is her love, her smile, and her caring nature. She loved her family. Even though my kids were the youngest of the grandkids she loved them as if they were her only grandkids, she loved them all that way. In many ways she was more of a mother to me than my own mom. She helped me in the early days of motherhood, assuring me when I doubted, reminding me that the colic would not last forever, watching the kids now and then and feeding them food they still talk about! When my daughter went through a finicky clothing phase, she continued to love anything her Busha bought for her- and would wear it! My mother in law and I could talk together with ease. For a number of years I took her to one of her many doctor's appointments and afterward we would go out for lunch. She loved beef barley soup!

No doubt she could be difficult. But most of her difficult side was spared on us. Dan and I rarely saw that side of her. In fact Dan could almost always make her laugh, or smile. He had a way with her, and she with him. But of course, he was her baby, her youngest.

She loved generously, graciously.

After a long battle, she died on Friday. Tuesday is her wake, Wednesday her funeral. I am not going, although the rest of the family will be there. I am staying in Michigan, caring for our three dogs, working, doing what I have to do. This is a peculiar decision, we know. But it seems to be the decision that puts my husband most at ease. He can be fully present for his mothers wake and funeral without worrying about our dogs. (Of course, our kids will be there, too). My job is to tend to our old dogs, give them their meds, and their walks. My mother in law would have been the first to suggest this. She was always about the practical, the least fuss. Adaptive. She would totally understand.

Honestly, we knew this day was coming when we left Chicago last spring, I said goodbye to her just before ww moved to Michigan, knowing I'd never see her again. But, she lives on, as she was, vibrant, the Busha, in my memories, my heart, my love...

Rest in peace, Busha! And, give Papa my love.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life Lessons

A reflection on the readings for Proper 17A:Exodus 3:1-15, Romans 12:9-21. Matthew 16:21-28


I remember sitting on the counter in my grandmother’s kitchen, talking to my mother on the telephone. Outside the window it was a glorious sunny day, light bouncing off the rock bluffs, scrub trees and pine which define the beautiful mountains that surround the Salt Lake City Valley. I have no idea what my mom and I were talking about, just the usual topics for a five year old and her mom. Suddenly everything began to tremble. My grandmother had decorative soup ladles and dishes hanging on her kitchen walls and I watched them swing back and forth before they crashed to the floor. Perhaps a minute or two passed as the earth shook and things clattered. As far as I know this earthquake in Salt Lake City didn’t cause any wide spread damage, I’m not even sure it was strong enough to be news worthy, but it left an impression on me.

Years later I am the mother of a teen age daughter whose high school sweet heart has joined the army right after graduation. For the next four year we make several trips to visit this young man and support him through basic training, a couple of years of stateside service and then what we could do to support him during the fourteen months he was deployed to Afghanistan. One of our trips to visit him took us to Fayetteville, North Carolina. During that visit my son Peter and I ventured out on our own, leaving Jessi and her boyfriend to wander the shopping malls and visit with friends. Peter and I drove from Fayetteville to Wilmington where we wandered the beach side landmarks of the Civil War, took a long walk up the beach, and had lunch at a fabulous seashore fish house. I remember the sand on this beach was the whitest sand, soft and fine, with lots of shells to collect. I think of that very beach today, ravaged now by hurricane Irene. And I think of all the people afflicted first by the earthquake that hit the east coast, and now by this massive storm.
Our life experiences, regardless of whether they are good experiences or difficult ones, provide the foundation for our ability to understand the joys and sufferings of others. Having experiences in common deepens our capacity for empathy and compassion.

Some Jewish Midrash, which is the process by which rabbis wrestle with stories from the torah, suggest that Moses had to learn about compassion and empathy before he could become the leader of the Hebrew people.

Last week, as our Old Testament reading moved from Genesis to Exodus, we heard the story of Moses’ birth and his subsequent adoption by the Pharaoh’s daughter. In the chapters between last week and the reading this morning Moses has grown up, privileged in the Pharaoh’s home, and yet he knows that he is a Hebrew, not an Egyptian. As a young adult Moses tries to establish friendships with other Hebrews but his rejected. He witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man and in the process of defending the Hebrew man Moses kills the Egyptian. And for this he runs away and ends up in the countryside, tending sheep and marrying the daughter of the man who owns the flock. It’s while tending sheep that he encounters the burning bush in our reading from this morning. Over and over Moses will learn about human nature, about humility, about following God, and of developing compassion through the challenges life throws our way.

This same theme is echoed in the reading this morning in Romans and the Gospel – we are to show compassion for all people. Our ability to love as God loves comes from our life experiences, which form in us the capacity for compassion.
True, our life experiences can also form in us the capacity to be angry and bitter, always complaining, and never able to give others the benefit of the doubt. We have choices in how we respond to what life deals us. As we move through the Exodus story we will hear how Moses points the way to compassion and faithful living. Paul in his letter to the Romans reminds the congregation to: 9Let love be genuine…. 10love one another with mutual affection; …extend hospitality to strangers. ….15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another…. And Jesus helps us understand this further with his call that we pick up our cross and follow him. Jesus doesn’t say to pick up his cross and be Jesus, he says to follow him bearing our own crosses – regardless of what life has dealt us to become people who ground our lives in love and compassion for ourselves and for others.

To this end I invite us into a week of prayer from Sept. 5 through Sept. 11. Our Presiding Bishop has asked that churches leave their doors open so that all may come and pray. Pray with the intent of transforming the events of Sept. 11 into a mission of unity and hope. So we will offer a special Eucharist on Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day, at 10am, followed by a self-led all day prayer vigil. We invited the Dearborn police department and fire department and Mayors office to feel to free to come and pray any time during the vigil. You may come on that Monday for a short while or a long time. We will have booklets available with a variety of prayers for you to pick and choose from, or to pray through the entire booklet.
We will also have, next Sunday, a booklet to take home, with daily prayers for individuals and families. Prayers for morning, noon, the evening meal, and bedtime, which you are invited to use, particularly, during the week leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Sunday of 9/11 there will be a variety of local opportunities available such as a vigil at the Henry Ford Museum at 6:30pm, and opportunities for work with WISDOM and outreach missions of Detroit – the details will be in our newsletter.
Both booklets contain prayers from the Book of Common Prayer as well as prayers from the New Zealand Prayer book and other faith traditions. Prayers that invite us to see the divine working in and through the world, calling us to live lives of peace, of love, of compassion. Here is one such prayer:


May I be free from danger,
May I be free from fear,
May I be healthy,
May I dwell in peace.

May you be free from danger,
May you be free from fear,
May you be healthy,
May you dwell in peace.

May all beings be free from danger,
May all beings be free from fear,
May all beings be healthy,
May all beings dwell in peace.

(Traditional Buddhist Prayer)




Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five: Rainy Day

Sally, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five, wondering what we do on a rainy day:

1. At home? Sit in a room where I can watch the rain, read, listen to music, drink coffee or tea. Essentially enjoy and rest.

2. In your local area? I often think it would be fun to sit in a coffee shop and read, but in reality I find them noisy with people talking too loudly to one another or on their cell phones. So, if I really have to get out on a rainy day I may go to a movie or the library.

3. If you are away on holiday?If I am in my one of my dad's house in Utah (Escalante, southern Utah near Bryce Canon or Hanna in northeast Utah in the Uinta Mts), I prefer it not rain while on vacation. Although I did once have a lovely vacation on the Pacific shore of south western Washington state, where it rained most of the time, but made for delightful beach walks when it wasn't rainy. We read, worked on a jig saw puzzle, and took a drive down the coast to Cannon Beach, Oregon (it was sunny that day).

4. Name a rainy day read. Any book I am currently reading. Lately I am reading a lot of murder mysteries: the China Bayles series, for example - murders in a small make-believe town in Texas that involve a detective-lawyer who owns a tea shop and sells herbs- delightful books, actually.

5. Is there a piece of music/ a poem/ story that cheers you up? Mozart or YoYo Ma on cello is always a relaxing way to appreciate a rain storm.

Bonus: post a rainy day photo Here is a photo of a monsoon over the Santa Rita mountain range south of Tucson, Arizona...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

We've rounded the bend, so to speak. Although we may have more hot and humid days, the worst is over, at least in southeast Michigan. I do worry about our climate, about global warming, for it seems we seldom have a day of rain. Instead we have severe storms blow through with high winds, causing much damage to trees and homes. These storms carry buckets of rain which in a short amount of time flood basements, window wells, and streets. Then there's the high temperatures and drought in the south and southwest....I can only imagine what winter holds in store...

But on this morning, I am resting. Appreciating the bright sun and cooler temperatures, there's a chill in the air, hinting of autumn. Stirring memory senses of fresh crisp apples, and leaves changes color, of sweaters and jeans, and clogs, and homemade socks. I'm listening to Mozart, enjoying some coffee, and reading Mary Oliver:

"Mozart, for example"

All the quick notes
Mozart didn’t have time to use
before he entered the cloud boat

are falling now from the beaks
of the finches
that have gathered from the joyous summer

into the hard winter
and, like Mozart, they speak of nothing
but light and delight,

though it is true, the heavy blades of the world
are still pounding underneath.
And this is what you can do too, maybe,

if you live simply and with a lyrical heart
in the cumbered neighborhoods or even,
as Mozart sometimes managed to, in a palace,

offering tune after tune after tune,
making some hard-hearted prince
prudent and kind, just by being happy.

-Mary Oliver:Thirst; Beacon Press Boston, 2006

It's a day off for me and I have much to do.... But first a little respite. I hope you enjoy this day too, and share with me a little something that makes you happy!


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Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Which God Prevails, again

A reflection on the readings for Proper 16A, Exodus 1:8-2:10

During my vacation I read a number of books. One of them, Caleb's Crossing, was written by a Geraldine Brooks, a favorite author of mine. It tells the story of the first Native American to attend Harvard University in the 1600's. Brooks, a former corespondent for the Wall Street Journal covering the war in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East, is now a Pulitzer prize winning novelist. Her books deal with struggles in society between the dominant culture and those marginalized by society and seen as threatening. My favorite book is called. "People of the Book." in it she tells the story inspired by the Sarajevo Haggadah. An Haggadah is a book used by the Jewish people at their Seder Passover meal to tell the sacred story of Exodus from Egypt.

I've attended several Seders and even a couple of delightful women's Seders created my rabbi friend Lisa and the female cantor at the synagogue in Illinois. A women's Seder tells the Passover and Exodus story through eyes of Miriam and the women, instead of Moses. Through the eyes of the women who cooked the meals and danced and sang. They were delightful!

The story “People of the Book” is a wonderful fictitious portrait of how the Sarajevo Haggadah may have been created and survived the Crusades, the Holocaust, and the war in Bosnia. It’s a story of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all working together, even in times of war and persecution, to protect one another and this book.

After a summer of reflecting on the Book of Genesis we have now moved from that book to Exodus. Genesis and Exodus, along with Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy comprise the first five books of the Bible known also as the Pentateuch, or the Torah, or the Books of Moses. At one time it was thought that Moses actually wrote all five of these books, but scholars now know that they were written over hundreds of years by many different people. Nonetheless these five books tell the story of the formation of the Hebrew people, the early followers of Yaweh, the God of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, and Joseph. The Genesis story concluded last week with a Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel, now grown, living in Egypt and serving as counsel to the Pharaoh. This week the story continues many generations later with this Pharaoh feeling threatened by the Israelites. Once the Israelites were the favored immigrants in Egypt, but now they are seen as a threat.

A tempting political strategy, whether an Egyptian pharaoh or more current examples of genocide such as what has happened in the Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, or Serbia-Croatia, involve trying to solidify power by singling out another group and calling them the enemy. Fear of others can be a powerful source of unity. In Genesis we hear about the blessings God gives the Israelites by way of land and descendants. But now those same descendants are described by Pharaoh as a threat that may endanger Egypt's security and way of life. Pharaoh's responds by trying three different strategies to suppress the Israelites: Pharaoh enslaves them; he commands midwives to kill Hebrew boys at birth, and then he commands all Egyptians to throw Hebrew boys into the Nile River.

Pharaoh tries to turn the Nile River, Egypt's main source of water and life, into an instrument of death. Yet the women in this story succeed in bringing forth God’s desire for justice, for the well-being of all people.

God intervenes and none of the Pharaoh’s strategies work. And, typical of God, God intervenes in the most unexpected ways – through midwives, through mothers, and sisters, and daughters – including the Pharaoh’s own daughter who rescues Moses after his mother and sister contrive a way to save the baby. Such a wild set of “coincidences” could only be of God…

This ancient text from Exodus still speaks to us today through our own issues of race and politics, religion, gender, power, the war on terror, immigration, the global economy, and all that threaten the well-being of our selves, our neighbors, and the world around us. Reminding us that there are many threats in the world today, but in and through them all we are called first and foremost to be a people of faith. To trust that God is and will work in and through us too. But to do that we need to open ourselves up to God and become the vessel through which God can work, the means by which we become the hands and heart of Christ.

portions of this reflction were informed from this commentary by Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, The African American Lectionary, 2009



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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another perspective on "The Help"

For another perspective other than mine: go here...it will be worth your time.

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Twenty Six

Yesterday my husband I celebrated our twenty sixth wedding anniversary. Traditionally on our anniversary we go to a movie and then later dinner in a nice restaurant. Tentatively we had planned to see The Help, but I changed my mind, in part because of the various perspectives critical of the movie. It's given me a lot to think about, but issues around "-isms" always do. Anyway, instead of a movie we went out to lunch, to the local Panera Cares. This is one of a couple of Panera's around the country that uses day-old food from other nearby Panera's, with only a suggested donation, for the coat. The intent is that those who can't afford to pay full price can pay what they are able while others may pay more (like we did) than the retail price. The food is always good, and the place was busy! Afterward ww walked our dogs, one of our favorite activities.

We decided to stay home for dinner, mostly because we haven't found a favorite restaurant, yet. Usually we find a local place that is our "go to" place for breakfast and another place for special dinners out.....but so far none of the places we've gone to have become that. So we stayed home. But we still had a great meal. We bought lobster tail and filet mignon and grilled them with a little olive oil and garlic over mesquite wood chips. We also grilled portobello mushroom caps, and had a side of fresh corn off the cob with steamed green bean from our garden. Dessert was homemade fresh peach oatmeal bars with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

All in all a good day.

The way we spent this anniversary is typical of how we have lived these twenty six years, with simple ordinary pleasures, doing what we can to be attentive to the world around us, and a little indulgence in a homemade meal.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

Wondering


Yesterday morning I posted a few, still forming thoughts, on "-isms" spurred by the critical acclaim at the box office, and the critiques, of the book and movie, "The Help." And, frankly I was also feeling irritable from watching an interview on "Meet the Press" with Michelle Bachman, who deflected every question with sound bite answers, like a "Stepford Wife," programmed with what to say but without a thoughtfully active brain cell supplying the ability to be insightful. Irritated because I can't believe anyone finds her, or any of the GOP/Tea Party folk, Presidential material. (Harsh words for me, a strident supporter of women in leadership, except her leadership style lacks integrity and intelligence.... really, I have to get off of this trajectory, I have other things I'm thinking about). There was a good YouTube clip floating around Facebook yesterday of a Republican talking about GOP reform, of wanting his party back, the reflective, intelligent, GOP, the party of Abraham Lincoln and the husband of the late great, Betty Ford.

Anyway, I digress, but that's what happens when one is trying to be thoughtful, to think things through from a number of perspectives...

Where I'm really going with my wanderings this morning is this: if one of the critiques of "The Help" is that it's racist, that it's about white folk to the rescue, then I'm wondering about the creative imagination. Thinking like this suggests to me that men should never write about women, or try to articulate a story about women's concerns. And, women should never write about the ideas, feelings, and experiences of men, nor should any ethnic group try to get inside the head of another and write from their perspective. We should stick to only our own experience and not attempt to enter inside the experiences of another. We should not attempt to walk in the shoes of another. Right? Isn't this a logical conclusion of some of the criticism?

And, secondly. "The Help" is just a book, a fictional story that reflects on what life may been like for people like the characters in the book. -"isms" of all kinds - sexism, racism, genderism, marriage rights, etc. are rampant in the world. The dominant group, regardless of color or religion or ethnicity, always has a tendency to enforce it's worldview on the less dominant groups....not that this is right to do, but it happens. In all regards we as human beings are able to live into a better sense of self, other, community, when we embrace fully the Golden Rule, "Do do others as you would do for your self."

Just wondering?



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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Telling Stories

I've been thinking about racism lately. Actually I think about it a lot, along with the other isms. I thought about isms when "So You Think You Can Dance" ended up with two women as finalists. That's a first for these reality television shows, and kind of cool! Made me wonder what's going on? Of course my next thought was, "the white woman will win." I'm convinced that racism and sexism are so pervasive, so unconscious, as a cultural norm, that our group "think" lives into acts of prejudice and then denies it because of how the game is played. As far as that television show, it may be that Melanie really was the better dancer, but as a dance major myself, I couldn't be certain of that.

More to the point I'm thinking of the book, "The Help" and the recently released movie version. I listened to the book on my iPod while driving from Arizona to Illinois in 2010. I wrote about it here. I'm thinking about the comments that the book reflects racist attitudes of "whites to the rescue" and " white people telling a black person's story." And, I suppose there is some truth to that. But, mostly I think white people are getting racism muddled with that line of thinking and as a result failing to see the story for what it is. For me it is a story about women, of different classes, facing similar cultural oppression, forced into narrow expectations for behavior, and devoiced. These women join together to tell their story, using the only means available, risking their safety and security. It is a story about strong women, survivors, who, in telling their stories, find their voices, and become even stronger, more authentic. It's as much about sexism as it is about racism, about the white woman finding her voice, too, not just using her privilege to tell the black woman's story. In that, finding of voice, all the women share something in common.

Which leads me to Michelle Bachman and her comment after winning the Iowa straw vote, about "taking BACK the White House." Is the White House not a government building, owned by the American people who though paying taxes, support that house? And who, by voting, the American people choose who resides there? So she plans to take it away from "us," those who elected a black man to lead us? If you want to talk about racism, let's start with the politics of our country, and the backlash that Obama faces every day. Let's not accept that ridiculous rhetoric and allow it to be the accepted story.

For more thoughts in this direction go here

And, for an interview with Viola Davis, who plays Abilene in the movie here
And here


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Five

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

(Mary Oliver, "Thirst", Beacon Press, 2006)

For this Friday Five I invite you to offer five gratitudes you recognize in your life.

Coming to the end of my vacation I found myself with a little time to jump in and offer this Friday Five on gratitude.

1. Vacation, time to rest, read, renew
2. Summer, garden, walking, shorts and t-shirts and sandals, easy
3. Work, grateful to be where I am
4. God, been through a lot, had my faith tested big time! But as I suspected during the time of trial, God was here all along.
5. Mary Oliver, I am grateful for her poems!





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Thursday, August 11, 2011

There's Something About Yesterday.....

Forty-five days of record breaking heat. Here in South East Michigan that means we just had 45 consecutive days with temperatures over 80 degrees. Admittedly, breaking a record that includes a high temp of 80 or more cracks me up. Especially after living in Arizona, with months of temperatures over 100, being the norm. But also because I am painfully aware of the people suffering through heat and drought in Texas and the southern states of US, where heat and humidity are common, but not months of over 100.

Truth be told, many of those 45 days the temps here were in the 90's and even a couple of days of 102. Working in a church without air conditioning, we felt the heat. I abandoned my alb, that polyester white robe that is tradition in the Episcopal church. I had the altar party wear street clothes, instead of robes they usually wear. Some parishioners were upset about this, I understand.

But yesterday the temperature dipped into the 70's, with low humidity and a low dew point. There was a chill in the air. All day I had this memory-sense of anticipation. Autumn is coming and with it this memory of preparing for the school year to start. Every year of my childhood my mother would make clothes and buy clothes for me, my wardrobe for the start of a new school year. We would buy school supplies and organize binders, paper, pencils, and pens. I'd get my room assignment and teacher. And, I'd be filled with a sense of hope for the year to come! Always excited, always the optimist, I loved school!

All those feelings rushed to the forefront of my senses yesterday, triggered by the coolness in the air, the shift of sunlight moving south, suggesting that fall is near.

No school for me this year. And, at least for this year, neither of my children will be in school either. But the program year at church will start up, and as the families return from vacations and lake homes, and cabins in the woods, there will be much for me to learn. For us to learn, about one another. And so, as I come to the final days of my summer vacation, of two weeks of stay-cation, which have been packed with projects and cooking, and reading, and sleeping, I look forward to returning to work, anticipating the year ahead.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Cobbled

Most Friday mornings you will find me at the local farmers market. It's close enough I could walk or ride my bike, but my husband likes to go, too, so we drive. And, anyway, we end up buying a lot. Or at least we did before our crop, from the church's community garden, was ready for harvesting. Anyway, I still go to the market for items I am not growing: sweet onions, Spanish onions, broccoli, fruit jams, and locally made cheeses.

Last Friday we bought a couple of ears of sweet corn, picked fresh that morning, their sign announced. I also bought beets to roast on the grill, delicious in salads. Arriving home I left the corn, in the plastic grocery bag, tucked up high and back on the counter, along with the beets, and a bowl of fresh fruit. Later that afternoon my husband and I took a walk to the nearby summer festival called, Dearborn Homecoming, it's a big deal around here. The park down the street was filled with carnival rides, food tents, artists tables, and two bandstands. The streets between our house and the fair are lined with temporary fences to keep the pedestrian traffic out of yards and on the sidewalks. Dan and I walked the grounds and made plans to return as the weekend progressed, and then made our way home, through the throng of people, amidst the sweltering heat. We were grateful to arrive home, anticipating a cold glass of iced tea. But we were greeted by a huge mess in the kitchen, our dogs had managed to pull the corn off the counter, open the bag, ripe off the husks, and consume two ears of corn, cob and all.

A quick search on the Internet and a call to our vet informed us that corn cobs are difficult and slow to digest, they can cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery and may lead to death. It may take months for all the cob to be eliminated. We had a pretty good idea that one dog, Ruby the Vizsla, was the primary suspect, but it was also possible that our youngest, Emmy, may have "helped." The evidence that appeared on Saturday confirmed Ruby as the problem child, and eliminated the other two, who clearly couldn't have gotten a bite in, as Ruby snarfed up the cobs.

So, my weekend was spent on hyper-vigilant dog watch. Ruby was certainly feeling ill. And, shortly after my husband left for work, taking our only car, Ruby began to purge her belly. Vomiting is one of the symptoms of intestinal blockage. I spent the day walking her around the yard, short ten minute walk abouts, just to keep her system moving. One thing I have learned is that elderly people get intestinal blockages from being too sedentary. So I thought it might help to keep her moving.it also contained most of her elimination process to the outdoors. From the looks of it she was getting rid of the cob, which was in small pieces. I hope she enjoyed chewing those cobs, because she paying for it now. I admit there were moments on Saturday when I thought I was going to have to call someone to drive me to emergency vet. But, aside from the vomiting, she seemed rather normal, able to walk, jump, run, curl up and sleep. She did not seem to be in pain.

By Sunday she seemed much better and has managed to keep down her food and resume a fairly normal bodily function.

We never made it back to summer festival. I was afraid to leave her alone for even a moment. I am grateful she is well. But I have to wonder why, when a bunch of fresh beets, a bowl of tomatoes, apples, and bananas, were much easier to reach, she went instead for the corn, wrapped in plastic, and harder to get at?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she was bred and born in Iowa? Some remnant of memory of corn, and mom, and siblings? Well, whatever, I learned my lesson, all corn goes into the fridge.




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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Quietude


Bach Adagios are keeping me company this morning. I rose early, fed the dogs, and brewed a pot of coffee. Carrying the steaming mug I plop myself on the sofa to read the NY Times on my iPad. Over the gentle notes of cello, oboe, and french horn, birds chirp and call. It is cool enough that I have doors and windows open, at least for now. Soon the heat and humidity will take over and I will close the house up. But for the time being, with dogs resting at my feet, and a cat curled up next to me, I am enjoying a rare morning of quiet solitude.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

RevGals Friday Five


WHAT?

It's true, I took a week off of work to clean out the basement. Sadly, to look at a before/after photo would not make it look like my time had been used wisely. Just about everything is still down there, it's just in a different pile. BUT... our church rummage sale this year is going to be very, very blessed.

I'm wondering if anyone else out there takes a week off of work to do a different kind of work:

1) Have you ever 'staycationed' in order to work on a project? If no, would you? YES! I am currently on a "stay-cation!" And, as I live next door to the church I am working hard to not go over and check on things. Actually, I'm sure all is going well. So, I am relaxing, exercising, reading, finishing knitting and cross-stitch projects I started years ago, and doing some work to settle into the house.

2) What project did you or would you tackle first? My first project was to unpack the box of knitting and cross-stitch and organize it an unused dresser, Next I need to get drawer organizers to contain knitting needles and accessories.

3) Any other projects? When we moved in we didn't have furniture for the living room on this stay-cation we found a sofa and a rug. We'll continue to look at estate sales and garage sells for a chaise, or big chIr and ottoman, a wood rocking chair, or some other couple of chairs to finish the room. I may also paint some of the wood pieces and change up the hardware to give them a more contemporary look.

4) What are the pitfalls of a staycation for you? Well, I thought I'd go back to Chicago and see family and friends, but I spent travel money on furniture...so, I need to just appreciate being here. That, I can do.

5) Never mind this staying at home business, where do you want to go and what do you want to do there. Yesterday we went to see Harry Potter at a local IMAX. That was fun! The last movie we saw in the theater was Julie and Julia, in August of 2009. Being un-employed and under-employed, we lived very lean for two years. Still are, but have a tiny cushion, if we are careful.

The other thing I am doing is exploring the neighborhoods on my bike, it's fun, interesting, and good exercise.

Lastly, today begins a weekend long local festival taking place down the street at a park. Our street will host the old car parade (we live in Dearborn, Michigan, right, so home of Ford, and other car companies). tonight, plus we should be able to see the fireworks from our backyard. I have another week of vacation and look forward to more of the above, minus the furniture shopping...
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Zucchini

The community garden is bursting with veggies. I am eating a cucumber a day and lots of cherry tomatoes. There is hardly anything as fabulous as homegrown tomatoes. And, although I didn't plant zucchini those who did are sharing from their abundance. Being the recipient of some neighborly zucchini decided to begin. My vacation with some baking. I made a hearty wholesome zucchini breakfast bread and a sweet lighter zucchini bundt cake with chunks of dark chocolate. Here's the recipe, adapted from one I found online.

Recipe: Whole-Wheat Zucchini Bread


Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
1/3 cup or more of wheat bran
1 Tablespoon cinnamon ( or more)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I didn't have enough yogurt so I included some sour cream)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar, white or brown
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

8 ounces of cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan

In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and apple
Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
Spoon half of the batter into a greased 9×4 loaf pan. Add a line of cream cheese to make a center filling in the bread. Top with the remaining batter. Bake for approximately 65 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

For zucchini bundt cake
Instead of apple add dark chocolate chunks, i used Bliss dark chocolate chopped and use milk instead of yogurt/sour cream/ milk combo. Bake 50+ minutes in a greased bundt cake pan.


Last night we had a piece of the bundt cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This morning the breakfast bread was a fabulous accompaniment to our coffee....and, healthy too!


Now to think about what I might do for the rest of this day!...and the two weeks of vacation to come.



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