Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sisters and Brothers

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character...

...I have a dream that one day...little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The line about sisters and brothers always gives me pause, as it's literal reality in my house. Truly living as sisters and brothers sometimes looks like this:

These were taken Saturday. How sweet they were together, holding hands, giggling, conspiring to run straight back to the ride entrance for a second ride, a big brother protectively ushering his little sister onto a ride that would be far too scary to do alone, a sister, for no apparent reason at all, putting her arm around her brother while riding the flying elephants ...

And sometimes truly living as sisters and brothers looks like... well, if you have siblings or you have kids, you know! Living in community, large or small, brings misunderstanding and differences of opinion, after all.

Not judging by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character, politics, record and experience, I simply cannot vote for the current Democratic candidate for President.

Yet in principle I am beyond thrilled for the fact of his candidacy as a man of African descent. Injustice and racism of all kinds are not gone from our country and world, and never will be 'this side of heaven. What a joy, nonetheless, to have such a visible symbol of progress. I rejoice in and am so thankful for the movement in the hearts of people that has allowed this possibility to become reality in our country.

These are interesting times.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Warm, With Butter

Since I haven't really been posting lately, have no themes going and no blog "brand" to speak of, there's really no reason I can't just post a random recipe right now, is there? I think not.

As part of a little social studies unit we're doing about New England, I wanted to make something approximating Boston Brown Bread. More concerned with simplicity than authenticity, I chose to pull out a nearly forgotten recipe for Steamed Molasses Bread from my file instead of searching further, and made it today. It's been feeling downright fall-ish around here in the coolest August I can remember, so the homey smell of baked goods was well-suited to the day.

Oh, folks, it was delicious. Served warm with butter. Mmmmm.

Of course almost anything sounds delicious "served warm, with butter." It's a powerful phrase.

Try "Octopus, served warm with butter." Wait. Some of you may actually enjoy octopus to begin with. It's possible.

"Tree bark, served warm with butter." See? You at least considered it, didn't you?

"Earthworm, served warm with butter..." Ok, the phrase has its limits.

In any case, perhaps you might like to try this recipe, too. It's sweeter than a typical whole wheat bread, but not nearly as sweet as a typical pumpkin or banana bread. It's... different. And delicious.

The bread is made in a slow cooker, and requires some sort of pan or container that will fit in your slow cooker and hold about 8 cups. There are molds made specifically for steam baking in a crock pot, but I've never had one. A small coffee can is the mold traditionally used by many people, but anything that fits will do. (I have a square Pyrex dish that happens to fit.) This needs to be set upon some sort of metal rack, trivet or, as I've even done, a couple of spoons, in the bottom of the crock pot just to keep it off of the direct heat and allow steam to surround it. Get creative; you have something in your kitchen that will do the trick.

So then.

Steamed Molasses Bread

2 cups All-Bran cereal
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins (these can be optional for the raisin-haters)
1 egg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or add 1 1/2 T. vinegar to regular milk and let stand 5 minutes)
1/2 cup molasses

Place a metal rack or trivet in a slow cooker. Grease and flour an 8-cup mold.

In a medium bowl, combine cereal, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and raisins.

In a large bowl, beat egg. Add milk and molasses, and stir to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, without overbeating.

Pour into greased mold, and cover with foil. Pour 2 cups hot water into slow cooker. Place mold on rack in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Remove from pot and cool 5 minutes. Loosen edges with spatula and turn out on plate.

And don't forget: Serve warm, with butter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Few Thousand Words

Does this blog look abandoned to you? Cast aside and forgotten?

It may be neglected, but it has not been abandoned, despite appearances.

I simply have been lacking the time and physical and emotional wherewithall to write anything. I could flesh out that last statement with details, but that would require writing, wouldn't it? This almost could have been written by me. Almost. Far too many coherent sentences.

I've been popping in to visit blogs here and there, and look forward to writing here when I can. But for now, just to show that I'm still alive, posting a few summer pictures would count for something, wouldn't it?

They're worth-- what?-- around a thousand words apiece?

A Girly Girl with three brothers looks like this...

The Class of 2021 looks like this...

A brand new nine year-old & a mom sorely in need of a hair cut look like this...
A picture that really needs of a post of its very own might just look like this...



Saturday, July 19, 2008

Go, Children! Run into the street!

Today, against every parental sensibility, we encouraged our children to run with abandon into the street. We do this every year, just after noon on the Saturday of the weekend that comes two weeks after Independence Day.

Today was the Borough Days parade, kicking off our local two-day festival. The parade is… oh, some might say rinky-dink. It features clowns, local politicians, a very small marching band, a couple of kids’ drumming and baton twirling troupes, a dance group (that somehow never seems to be, you know, dancing when it passes us, even though the route is less than a half-mile long?), and fez bedecked Shriners joyriding on their snazzy ATV’s, the kind equipped with an extra wheel in the back for popping wheelies. And, of course, the backbone of the parade: fire trucks and rescue vehicles of every size, shape, and color of the rainbow, all with horns blasting and sirens wailing. (Ok, so there are no violet fire trucks, but let me tell you that powder blue does make a fire truck look almost pretty.) And the best part! Many of the paraders throw candy in the direction of eager kids along the route. Hence the encouragement to my kids that feels so very strange coming out of my mouth. My kids react as if we never, ever, ever allow them to have candy except on this day.

Rinky-dink or not, we faithfully attend the parade every year. We kind of don’t have much choice. It passes right in front of our house. The arrangement actually has its advantages for those among us whose sensibilities are most offended by the rowdy vehicles, and tend to prefer watching the parade like this...

... and may want to move up to watch from the front porch. Or maybe from inside the house, near the window. Or perhaps may even prefer to retreat to the far interior of the house with their hands placed staunchly over their ears in attempted denial of the whole traumatic event. It’s good to have options.

The parade progresses to the end of the street, where the festival commences. Again, it’s nothing spectacular, but a nice something-to-do. There will be a talent show this year, along with a band playing each night, booths selling food or running games to benefit local groups, and crafters selling (?) their wares. Somehow these wares usually are comprised largely of anything that can be made from crocheted doilies or plastic grids stitched with yarn. I had no idea that there was a market for such things. While walking past them, I usually nudge my husband and hint that July is not too early to begin his Christmas shopping for me. Then I make triple sure that he knows I’m kidding.

The grand finale will be the fireworks in the park tomorrow night. I could watch them from a blanket in the park. I have a feeling, though, that I’ll be watching them over the trees, from an upstairs window, inside the house. Or perhaps I’ll even prefer to just read Fancy Nancy in the back room and try to forget about the whole booming thing. I'm sure Girly Girl will let me know what I prefer.

It’s good to have options.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Have you met Katherine, who writes on her blog, Raising Five?

The name of my blog was loosely inspired by Katherine one day. She was asking her readers to let her know what kinds of things they were interested in, and what they would like to read about on her blog. In thinking about what really draws me to Raising Five, I realized that it wasn't in the subject matter exactly-- she writes mainly about her family life-- but in what is often plainly visible through it: grace. So many times when she describes how she responded (or should have responded--she keeps it real!) to an everyday interaction, I see it. That soul-expanding, life-giving , hopeful, heart-takes-flight release of God's grace, right there in the midst of everyday life. There it is! THAT's what it looks like, flowing outward, reaching into the mundane, touching others and drawing them in. (She's been at it again, simply and quietly inspiring me, with a couple of her posts this week.)

As I responded to her and typed the phrase "in real life," my brain simultaneously translated it to "IRL" in Typespeak, the native tongue of all hip modern keyboarders. ( That whole lexicon of text, e-mail and internet language deserves its own name, doesn't it? What should it be? And who gets to name it? Um, back to the post.) GRACE in real life-- "GIRL". Yeah, that's what this girl is after.

The grace and mercy that God offers, from ultimate salvation to the countless mercies bestowed upon us in love each day, are amazing. But his grace is also meant to flow through us, splashing refreshment, and inviting others to see and know God . What does that look like? What sometimes blocks both its reception and flow through me? What does it look like in perfect balance with discipline and justice? In parenting? In marriage? How do I receive and release grace in the midst of the roller coaster ride that is MY life? Ultimately it is God's spirit that produces and teaches me this, but he's long been in the practice of using object lessons, including ones sometimes found in others' blog posts. I recognize his teaching in the midst of them.

Beyond that, what drew me to the merging of "grace in real life" and the word "girl" is something I can't even articulate very well for myself. It has to do with the life journey I've been on. It's deep and meaningful, I tell you! But unraveling all of that might require a major online therapy session and far too many run-on sentences, even for me. I'll spare you, and stick with the half-baked explanation, ok?

So, GIRL. Grace in Real Life. Now, MY blog, instead of exhibiting the grace of God in full flow as Katherine's does, may be more likely to reveal God's merciful grace, as in, "If God can extend mercy and grace to THAT train wreck, surely He'll persevere with me."

Either way. May it be real and somehow show the real Him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What in the world?

So... something has been bubbling in my mind and spirit in recent months. Despite a busy time and other plans for blogging when I did finally find the time, these past few days I have felt strongly compelled that I need to write what I'm hearing from the Lord. I have prayed, lost sleep, and resisted, but tonight I finally sat down to wrestle it all into words. I've never spent such time, thought, and effort on a post. After three (!) hours of work, with a conclusion finally in sight, something suddenly went "ding," and the whole post draft disappeared from the window.

Does this happen regularly on Blogger? Did I hit some mystery key I've never seen before or do something dumb? Is it ever retrievable?

Can someone more experienced in blogging please explain to me what may have just happened here on a technical front? On a spiritual front, I know you're not the ones to ask!