September 30, 2007

Jerome's Feast Day

September 30 is the remembrance of Jerome. I choose to remember his story because it's a reminder of the history of the Bible. Sometimes I think we think the Bible has been around forever and too, in people's hands. Yes, currently it's in about everyone's home and can be found almost anywhere. We take it for granted. In fact many of us probably have many copies and in many translations.

BUT, for thousands of years the Old and then the New Testament were oral tradition in churches and gatherings. The common populace could never own scripture, let alone read it for themselves till still a period of time after the printing press. For those thousands of years it had to be handwritten and not on today's abundant paper.

Grouping of texts were coveted and guarded. Some monasteries built up around one such book. But a whole canon of what we today know as The Bible didn't begin to come together until around AD400. And then not to the common people.

The Hebrew canon was finally established about 100AD. The New Testament began first around the texts written or authorized by an apostle of Jesus. Initially what was used in churches was oral readings for edification of the body.

Jerome had devoted the bulk of his life preserving and caring for early church documents. In 383 Pope Damascus I commissioned Jerome, his secretary, to make a good, complete Latin translation of the Bible. It is called the Vulgate, meaning "common" or "popular". It took him 21 years to complete.

Jerome wrote many commentaries on books of the Bible and was doing the commentary on Ezekiel when Rome was being ransacked and fell, and likened the book to what was then happening. He lived his last years from 386 to 420 in Bethlehem, living as a monk and finishing the Bible translation.

There's so much history in connection to the Bible and it is fascinating and too much to post now. Throughout church history there are many people, who being able to read scripture, would tell the church leadership a thing or two!... And too, when the Muslim peoples started pushing on all the borders of Europe and Constantinople fell, Europe had not had any original language documents, and with the refugees came a lot of original manuscripts and art and all. Which began both the Renaissance and Reformation (both the arts and spiritual attraction to what had not been seen in Europe since the barbarians' destruction). And that starts a whole new era that we're just now maybe attempting to alter into a new era?!

So all I'll add here, is that Jerome was noted as a cantankerous, codgy, feisty character, that I wonder about the spirit of his translation! But it was the only one for a thousand plus years and it did spread the Gospel through the known world.

September 28, 2007

Michaelmas tomorrow

We're leaving town this afternoon to sing at a wedding and also stay with friends at a cabin along the Colorado River on the western slope (we're on the eastern slope). Been thinking it's going to be a beautiful drive. Though our own trees aren't turning yet, when out-and-about I can see the golden aspens on the hillsides. And the name Colorado (color red) shows more when driving around the state. We don't have red maple trees, but scrub oaks and other bushes on hillsides can be quite colorful some years.

And since we're leaving, I can't post tomorrow on Michaelmas day. Ever hear of Michaelmas Daisies? They are perennials we can plant that are fall blooming every year. We have wildflower daisies that are purple with yellow centers that bloom in our area all fall--one of the last flowers of the year.

I made a felted dragon that I pull out this time of year. It sits on a rock in the center of the kitchen table. And then a white sheep wool angel with gold threading and a sword, hangs over the table. This visual
is for reminding my heart of stories to remember and give prayers of thanks.

"A woman, robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and crowned with a garland of twelve stars, was giving birth to a child crying out in pain. There was also a huge front of the woman in childbirth, waiting, ready to eat up the child as soon as it was born...War broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought the dragon..."

What a fantastic story! It reads like Greek mythology...Read Revelation 12:1-9. Archangel Michael is mentioned throughout scripture. Like Daniel was praying for three weeks and on the 24th day he was surprised by "a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold. His body glistening and as if sculpted from the precious stone beryl. His face radiated light like lightening, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like polished bronze, and his voice sounded like a huge choir of voices." He had been detained in spiritual warfare which is beyond our vision.

If all the mentions of angels in scripture--bringing good news, warning of danger, guarding from evil, guiding and protecting, nourishing, and instructing--functioned as such then, wouldn't they still be doing this on into today?! Do we live believing this? Each year I give a special focus to this piece of my faith in God, and thank him for his angels.

Michaelmas is one of the four cardinal points of the year, opposite the Resurrection. In art, Michael is sometimes depicted with balance scales as if he's weighing the souls of men. Do we have our own dragons in our lives? An art piece has Michael gazing at the child lying in an animal feed trough. The child that asks to be born in each human soul. It's a time for contemplation and resurrection of the soul, new beginnings, as with this Jewish season I've been posting about.

"Thank you God for your awesome provision for me. Help me see the realities of the spiritual realm all around me."

September 27, 2007

St Vincent de Paul

It's the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul today. I googled him. There's a lot of thrift store listings besides sites with his story. I always think of the thrift store we go to every time we visit Monte's mom. We call it St Vinnies. Lots of Amish go to this store.

There's too much he did to write up, and it's been done elsewhere. All I can say is he was a wonderful man and had a huge heart for invalids, orphans, war victims, convicts, and galley slaves (taking one's place once). He had a gift for persuading the wealthy to be charitable. And many women developed hearts for the needy and wanted to be trained in caring for these people.

I'll just let some of his words, say who he is -

However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool which God has made use of.

We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.

The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy.

Extend your mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His Mercy from us?

The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.

Free your mind from all that troubles you; God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires.

Saint Vincent de Paul

September 26, 2007

Feast of Booths - Sukkot

This is the third Jewish fall festival in Leviticus 23, starting this eve at sundown, lasting seven days. Five days following Yom Kippur temporary shelters are constructed. It is the end of the harvest season. Did I mention earlier about the Hebrews returning from captivity, in Nehemiah 8, and hearing the Torah for the first time for many generations? and this was the first feast they celebrated.

I believe the pilgrims, reading scripture, celebrated this feast as our first Thanksgiving. Responding in thanksgiving after their first hard year in this new world.

This is the third of the harvest festivals when Jews made (do many of them still?) a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the highest city in Palestine. While traveling they quoted from memory Psalms 120-134, which are called the Songs of Ascent. Three times - Passover, what became Pentecost, and this festival of ingathering.

People live in huts for a week remembering and telling stories of Abraham leaving home and relatives, to follow God's calling, and lived in a tent. Then too the Israelites had no permanent dwellings in their wandering the wilderness. They often lived in booths close to the harvesting too. (II Corinthians speaks of our bodies as tents, and eventually we'll have heavenly bodies.)

The booths are decorated with harvest produce. A priest during this time pours water from a pitcher symbolizing gratitude for rain and more for the year to come. Jesus risked his life as a 'wanted man' coming into Jerusalem for this festival in John 7. It is here that he said, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." The surrounding Jews were thinking water in relation to the festival. Jesus knew the drought of their hearts.

There's a great movie to give us the feel of this festival in the midst of modern-day Israel. It's the meeting of secular and sacred Jews. The movie done in 2004 is "Ushpizin", which means "holy guests". Moshe (Moses) and his wife Malli are poor and wanting a baby and hardly able to feed themselves and celebrate Sukkot, let alone entertain unexpected guests! It's a very good movie and story!!

September 25, 2007


In the recipe I just posted, I used up the last of my cilantro from the garden. BUT...

I've cleaned my southern exposure great-room window of it's old scruffy plants and washed everything down. I've potted up all sorts of herbs to grow all winter. I only dug up two herbs from outside, but bought everything else.
Plants brought in always get aphids.

I dug up an epazote I had out with the tomatoes and basil. I hope it doesn't get bugs. The nursery won't get it again till next spring. It's used in some authentic Latin American recipes, like with beans. When I dried some, I had to smell the packaged bit I still had from Arizona, to see if they were the same. They were. It smells really weird! I also dug up a bunch of chives. I can't imagine them getting bugs!

I do have other pots of herbs in the greenhouse that I had outside - they'll stay in the greenhouse. I've been bringing in flowers from outside too. I do this every year and they last most of the winter. But I do have to spray them with Safe Soap. But next spring I just replant these pots with new annuals for the deck, and some of last year's are still living.

I have a grape vine in the greenhouse that's loaded with hanging clusters of Thompson Seedless Grapes. We've been eating them and will put the clusters in ziplock bags and freeze. Then you just eat some 'grape popsicles'. The grape vine grows along wire fencing we hang from the ceiling. It eventually shades the greenhouse from the intense summer sun.

Onion, Potato and Zucchini Soup

I made this soup last night, and several times before, since I've had to use up zucchini! :) It really is very good, and I've froze it too. (Another good use of zucchini. You can only have so much frozen zucchini bread, which Heather plans to still do.)

3/4 virgin olive oil (should form a good puddle in the pan)
3 onions, sliced
2 potatoes, diced
3 large zucchini, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
juice of 4 lemons
2 bunches of cilantro (you don't really taste it, yet it adds SO much)
salt to taste

Saute onions for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Add potatoes (when organic, I wash and keep the skins on) and saute a bit more. Add zucchini and tomato paste. Barely cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low till everything is soft. Remove from heat and add cilantro and lemon juice. Puree in pan with an immersion blender, or in batches in blender. This is good hot or cold. I didn't think this would be so great without an added broth, but it doesn't need it!

All I've been doing for awhile this afternoon is recipes!. My MOPS group is doing a cookbook for fund-raising, and of course I've added recipes. But I've been on the website proof-reading a lot of the recipes. It's been fun seeing the variety that's been submitted.

September 24, 2007

Supper Group

Last night we had our supper group at our house. Originally the five of us gals met together for what I posted earlier - 'Bible study or Divine Reading' - for several years. Then we thought of inviting our husbands for a supper. So it's an official church small group, that came about on it's own, and we've been doing it for more than two years now.

Monte says I need to post all the recipes. It WAS a wonderful Mexican meal. I'll just talk about the menu and if anyone wants specific recipes, I'll post them.

While finishing up the entrees we had appetizers and drinks ready to go for people to dive into. Typical chips and salsa, and my homemade guacamole, and Monte's fresh tomato salsa with lots of cilantro (the last of my garden's). But I have a tortilla press and mixed up masa and made some of our own chips, but we need to perfect getting them crispy. The hit was 'queso panela'. I'm always asked for this recipe. It's a round pound of cheese, queso fresca, in most stores' specialty cheese section, poked and marinated with olive oil, lots of garlic and lots of oregano. Then bake to soften.

Our dessert was ready too. I've read that if you have a great beginning and ending to a meal...So that's where I try and focus now, often veggies and dips up front or fruit. We made pureed mango and fresh squeezed lime juice with just a bit of sugar into an ice cream and served it with a few raspberries from what we picked Friday.

I grew up loving tamales and chimichangas and still do. I found authentically, chimis are really called chivichangas (they're fried burritos). So we made them. Monte usually browns the meat and crockpots it. This time he browned the beef on the grill with mesquite smoke and then crockpotted it till it could easily shred. Then sauted it with some tomatoes and onion (he'd have to tell me the rest). But that was the filling for the thin tortillas we get raw, and cook, from Costco. I made pork filled tamales with a 'verde' sauce (grilled tomatillos, jalepenos, onion and garlic, pureed, and cooked down with chicken broth, and add cilantro).

The side dishes were parboiled purple potatoes, then cooked in butter with lots of garlic slivers. Then because we had just got a bushel of mild green chilies roasted, we sauted some of these up, cut in slivers along with sliced onion and added cream. That was most of us's favorite. And then a salad with an avocado dressing I made.

We all really look forward to this getting together. We strive for once a month. In today's busy lives - from pastoring, to eldering, to church secretary, and counseling, and writing, and geology, and plant nursury seasons...It's great to have a time to unwind, to laugh, to share, to cry, to pray...with close friends.

Mice and rodent repellant

Mice problems? Every fall we have mice trying to get into the house and get trapped in walls and smell. We have a local site:, that started up when the forest fires were starting up everywhere and shifting with winds, and us locals were frustrated with the news source down in Denver. So now there's cameras posted all over and people reporting in for everything from bad weather, traffic, lost animals, recipes, restaurant reviews, etc. It was there I found this recipe.

I've not made and tried this rodent recipe yet. Monte's mom just told us about their mice problem in Wisconsin and I gave her the recipe. I just know from all the chat letters, that people said it really worked. We do need to use it, though things have changed. Since the garage got that spray-on, expanding foam insulation, for a bit we were smelling mice where we've never smelled them before. I think they're 'lost' since their typical paths have been eliminated.

1 gallon water
1 onion, chopped fine
2 jalepeno peppers, chopped fine (I often where gloves when handling jalepenos. If you forget and wipe your eyes...:( sob)
2 TB cayenne pepper
Boil 20 minutes. Strain. Pour or spray around holes and house edges.
Some people told stories of spreading the strained solid stuff in critter holes too.
Someone said adding oil, it could be 'painted' on.
Most said they only had to do a couple applications in spring and another in fall and it's worked!

September 22, 2007


I periodically look at the award winning children's books and any related to the calendar days. We can learn so much from these stories (I love Aram's children sermons at our church!). I've found stories for the Jewish celebrations to be most meaningful (and adding Christianity along with the Jewish festivals has great depth).

One story had a pretty cantankerous, nasty man, open a door all the time and sweep his dirt into the basement. And then once a year, he'd go down into the basement and bag up all the dirt. He's shown carrying these bulky large bags out to the beach where he deposits everything into the sea.

There's a ritual the Jews have added beyond what's in Leviticus 23, doing sometime during the 10 High Holy Days. It's called Tashlich, which means "casting off", and it consists of a symbolic casting of one's sins into a river or body of water. It most likely comes from Micah 7:18-19--"where is the god who can compare with you--wiping the slate clean of guilt...mercy is what you love'll cast all our sins into the depths of the sea."

Go for a walk with family and friends. Wear something with pockets and gather stones as you walk. You could even give the stones some specific names of things you'd like cleaned up in your life. Then turn the pockets inside-out, tossing the stones into the water.

I've always noticed rocks and have collected some since I was a kid. I can imagine finding a pretty one and not wanting to throw it away. Isn't that much like things in our life? "I don't want to give this up yet!" Once thrown into the water, we couldn't find that rock again. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us" says Psalms 103:12.

Have fun throwing stones into the water. Skip some stones across the water. Wanting to get rid of sins can be just as enjoyable.

Yom Kippur

Today all over the world Jews are fasting. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement--a once a year time for forgiveness of sins.

I don't know what's done today, but in scripture it's the once a year time of the high priest entering the Holy of Holies--like when Zacharias went in in Luke 1:8-23 and was told by an angel him and old barren Elizabeth will have a baby. I think they tie a rope around the priest's ankle so if he doesn't come out, the priest can be pulled out.

I posted earlier about Rosh Hashanah and the 10 Holy Days leading to Yom Kippur. These days are not so much external 'celebrations' as internal reflection. The yearly awakening of the conscience for putting things in order in homes and relationships.

Atonement means at-one-ment with God. In scripture God told Jeremiah, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it...I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jesus became our high priest and through him we may walk into the Holy of Holies into the presence of God. Remember at Jesus' crucifixion, the veil in the temple, the dividing wall into the Holy of Holies, was ripped in two from top to bottom?! We have this at-one-ment- with God, not just once a year, but at any time we desire.

It's a great once-a-year time to remind ourselves of God's grace.

September 18, 2007

Couscous salad

Another salad we really like is with couscous. My taste buds were having quite a craving for it for awhile.

In a bowl put 1 cup couscous and 1 tsp salt. Mix in 1 1/3 cups of the hottest tap water and come back and stir it occasionally while mixing up the rest of the ingredients.

Here again, like with the coleslaw recipe anything can be mixed in. But for starters, try this:
Chop 2 cups loose parsley
Mix with
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 Tb olive oil
6 green onions chopped (green tops included)
4 cups spinach cut in ribbons

Make dressing and add as much as you like:
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup half&half

I like to add cherry tomatoes
&/or roasted red pepper chopped
or mint, making the dressing of orange juice, zest and vinegar
. . . . . . .

I only use olive oil in all my cooking. I buy three kinds. The cheapest kind in a large container is virtually flavorless. A virgin kind I use for sauteing. Then I have a more expensive extra virgin kind for salads, and other times it's not cooked, and for dipping bread in - yum!!!! Good flavored olive oil with a seasoning and great whole grain bread--I crave! but can't eat a lot of or I'd be a fattened cow.

I always have a pretty wooden bowl or basket of lemons and limes. We use these ALL the time--whether just in water or squeezed onto salad alone with the good olive oil...

I also love green onions.

I love lots of things...

Coleslaw recipe

I was asked to write out the coleslaw recipe. But as I said in the last post, use grated broccoli and/or cauliflower stems with or in place of the cabbage.

1 lb shredded cabbage (about 6 cups)
1-2 carrots shredded
4 scallions or some red onion, finely chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tb lemon juice (or whole lemon)
1/2 c yogurt
2 Tb each mayo & sour cream
1/4 tsp dijon style mustard
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
(finely sliced celery)
(finely chopped green pepper)
(1/2 tsp sugar or 1 Tb maple syrup)
(cilantro and lime juice can replace the thyme and lemon)
(vinegar can replace the lemon juice)
(I like options--depending on the 'mood' of my taste buds)
(other veggies too--like radishes, turnips, cucumbers)

Mix these all together well and serve.
I'm typing this while eating a BLT salad with spinach and fresh bread croutons. Monte actually made it for me! And we just realized, I need to make more bread.

Coleslaw or Hildegard?

Yesterday I was going to post my coleslaw recipe, since we are so enjoying it. All I'll say now is that the tender stems of broccoli and cauliflower can be grated for coleslaw besides just cabbage leaves.

Yesterday was the Feast day of St Hildegard of Bingen. I know her story. And like another story I shared in August of St Lawrence, the church calendar, that the protestant movement threw out with the bath water, gives stories to remember/retell each year. It's a part of church history. People used to wake up and say, "Oh this is so-and-so's day" and remember their story--a God-consciousness. I consider it all a part of the Third Testament, of God-in-our-midst stories. A good reminder that if God was there for them, He'll be here for me.

(I had to stop and iron a shirt for Dawson. He has a formal catering job today in the Denver Performing Arts Center. I guess I need to teach him how to iron.)

I googled Hildegard yesterday, but I knew what I'd find. Though I did want to hear a representation of the music she wrote and found some (similar to Gregorian Chant). Most sites tell her story. She's a person of the 1100's, who dyed September 17 (thus her birthdate into heaven, which is the way the calendar is set up) at the age of about 83. At the age of 8 she began living in a convent. Her education was for what she needed for her daily rounds of prayer, so she did learn to read and write. She had migraines and she had visions. And in her middle age she started writing to kings and popes, and traveled preaching, and people visited her.

Some have passed off her visions to a neurophysiological basis. But not every migraine sufferer can claim Hildegard's achievements. She wrote many hymns, many letters, and many books--some of which are on natural history and science. Once she told about her visions, people, including church leaders, thought they could be from God and encouraged them to be written down.

There's a few sites I knew I would find that are feministic in nature. If I could read German...I don't know her actual usage of pronouns, but some have translated her writings referring to God as 'she'. The book I have, translates God as 'he'. But, we are all created in the image of God, both male and female, which means 'whatever' God is, we all are representations of that image. So differing pronoun usage doesn't bother me.

BUT...her story, along with some other female saints', remind me of a small book by Virginia Woolf called A Room of Her Own. She was asked to come speak at a male college (they were divided in her day). She would be reprimanded throughout the day about things she couldn't do--no sitting on the grass, no leaving the sidewalk, no entrance into the library or classrooms. She had to be met at the door by a man who had invited her. But the message of her book was the fact that women didn't write books. She talked of Jane Austin hiding her writing under papers when servants or guests entered the family room. Women were only to write letters. So if women could have had five pounds of money a year and a room of their own, there might have been more writings.

So when you start learning the stories of many of the women in the church calendar, you see that the church gave more women a voice than was normal.

A 15th century painting. Hildegard is the young kneeling child.

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
-Virginia Woolf

Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
-Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 1845

I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.
-Virginia Woolf, Diary, 17 February 1922

September 16, 2007


It's not officially fall yet, but at our altitude, we've already had frost. But luckily it was light and didn't kill my garden veggies or flowers yet. There's a little bit of me that dies with the seeming death of the outdoor plantings. I know it's not 'death' though. In fact, I made some little felted troll people that I pull out from my 'seasonal celebration bins' around this time of year. I'm so visual, and they sit about discreetly in our great room to remind me, that behind the scenes lots of life is carrying on underground, to spring forth next Spring. But you might ask why trolls? It's just from a cute children's book...

I did see a hummingbird today. But they usually leave Labor Day weekend every year. All the 'humming' ones are definitely gone. Why these few blah green females are still here, I don't know (I visualize them traveling south alone--sad). And we've seen some unusual birds this summer--some today that we still can't identify. A flock of them descended on the bird feeding area. This time of year that happens. Just like I look for the 'firsts of spring', I also look for the fall rhythms. Bluebirds and then robins seem to be in flocks, and then they're gone. So these birds today were probably on their way south, and just stopped for a moment to feed and drink. Dawson photographed a giant flock of red-wing black birds that landed on our property. You can view this photograph on Dawson's photo site:

I've been freezing stuff from the garden. I was afraid I wasn't going to get our freezers defrosted, like I do every September, but in the process of removing everything except our freezers from our garage, which was just insulated and will soon be drywalled, it was easy to empty them. I've got enough green beans froze, so we'll just eat what comes now, as it's cooling off and they'll soon totally frost out. I froze all the broccoli heads, and now side shoots will come. Most of the cauliflower is in the freezer, though some heads I left will get bigger, and I 'tied' the leaves to keep the heads white (exposed to the sun they turn yellow). I've froze spinach and kale too. Unfortunately :) zucchini is still growing. I found a great zucchini soup that I've froze a bunch of. It's different--with lots of onion and cilantro and some potato. The cabbage doesn't seem to be balling into heads yet. And there's winter squash that in years past I've put in bags in a cool dry storage and we're still eating into the spring. I haven't looked to see how many are mature, since I planted them late.

Tomatoes? I don't know why I grow them! First off, I'm not supposed to be able to grow them! They've been in their walls-of-water (warmed by the sun, channels of water to radiate heat) all summer, but I planted them late too. We're just getting ripe tomatoes and they'll soon be killed by the frost...but oh well. I try and save them by putting blankets on them. Monte has nailed up plastic so they're kinda in a little greenhouse...but they can bake/cook! I always plant them on the south side of our house which is a greenhouse room. Eventually we'll pull them out onto a tarp and pull it into the greenhouse for the green ones to ripen. I'll plant winter salad greens in their place, which are cold frames, and the greens give us salads into winter.

There is a sense of fulfillment or something...I don't know...of harvesting from your own gathering. We're going this week to The Berry Patch, which is an organic berry farm where we can pick our own strawberries and raspberries. We pick a lot to freeze (and they let you eat all you want while you pick. Yummy!!) And we have them roast a bushel of green chilies, and see what else is in their little barn store. The vehicle smells so good with those chilies, driving home! I often cut basil too, filling a pretty basket they give me, to bring home and freeze up a bunch of pesto, minus the parmesan cheese, which I add as I'm using it.

I don't can anymore. Canning causes a loss 40% of the nutrients, whereas drying and freezing loses only 15%. And then I like buying fresh. But we do have to evaluate where that 'fresh' is coming from. Read the
Omnivore's Dilemma and you'll understand a lot more. Like, if the 'fresh' is coming from Chili...Like, asparagus in season is spring for us...fossil fuel in shipping...and the across the world timing...But there are things I prefer fresh in our winter over canned food...

In looking back over this post, I see that I mention several times that I planted late this year. We planted our son and daughter-in-love's back condo yard in May. So I did get my planting 'fix'. But too...this was a weird winter and we still got snow early June! Then our first frost date is any time September, which has been September 5 with snow in the past! So I plant seeds designed for short cool seasons figuring we have about a 90 day growing season.

It's ok for summer to wind down now. I'm readying now for the next season and what it brings.

September 14, 2007


Last night was the first night of this fall's class--I'm teaching needle-felting. I always start the first class with creating a picture totally from colored sheep wool.

For years I've done felting using the typical wet process. Now I prefer needle-felting, though I still will use both processes in the same piece. Like wet felting a background, which would be like an artist's paper or canvas. Then too, if I'm sculpting a large piece, I'll often wet felt pieces, like for clothing. The needles used are about 3" long and barbed in the bottom 1/2", which push the wool fibers into each other. The more you needle an area, the denser the wool will become. And because of the sharp needles, a foam pad is needed to needle into (instead of my legs! which I've done, and then too fingers are often jabbed--so I take Band-Aids to class).

Sometimes I've added embroidery to pictures for more detail. Other textiles/fibers can often be incorporated too as long as the wool fibers can somehow hold them in place--like yarn, lace and ribbon. I've also used needle-felting to mend my wool slippers, or to add embellishments to something (like to cover a hole in a sweater).

Creating a small picture can be done in one class session. People often take some wool home to fine tune their pictures and bring them back to the next class. We next create a sculpted figure which we do in three class sessions.

This picture of a doll is one I've done for display at the yarn store, Recycled Lamb, where I'm teaching these classes. She is totally of sheep wool, though I often start the head over a small oval foam piece so it's a quick start in class and not as much wool is needed. Sometimes I'll create a wire framework too, both for bending the piece and/or stability. I did her quick. Normally I take more time on the arms and leg--having more realistic curves and form.

Everyone loves needle-felting once they try it! I need to take my camera to class because everyone's creations are so varied and fun! The dynamics of each class differs too and is fun--some are quiet while they work, while some have been quite talkative and one was a raucous class!

Some will make pretty realistic people, others will make more of an elf figure. One lady made a 'lady of the night' with a Barbie-doll figure. I've made a Gandalf and a fairy. I'll usually have them hang, or sit. My largest sculpture is from a picture of me in high school--standing on my head (it's on display right now). I like sculpting best, over just making pictures, though some of my pictures do have sculpted relief.

September 12, 2007

Rosh HaShanah

In Leviticus 23 God says, "These are My appointed feasts which you are to celebrate...On the first day of the seventh month--mark it with loud blasts on the ram's horn..." This year, since the Jewish calendar is lunar based and it never falls on the same date every year, Rosh HaShanah begins this evening.

Rosh HaShanah, or Feast of the Trumpets, is the Jewish New Year (year 5768 this year). In the rhythm of my own life I look at this time of year as a new year too. School starts, and I get the house cleaned and back together after the busyness of summer. Our January New Year doesn't do anything for me.

Because it's the beginning of the ten High Holy Days, or Days of Awe, leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it's a time of remembrance, of reflection, and of restoration--especially of relationship with God and others. It's a time of putting our physical and spiritual house in order. The shofar (a ram's horn) is blown as a call to awaken the conscience to a time of introspection, contemplation, and prayer, praise and worship.

Jews remember the story of the binding and release of Isaac every year at this feast. They also celebrate the beginning or the Birthday of the World. This would be a good time to bake a birthday cake and read Genesis 1 for the story of Creation.

God asks us more than 300 times in scripture to remember and retell the stories. The calendar can have so much more meaning when there's a recycle of stories associated with the days. When I read II Chronicles 34 and Nehemiah 8 I was shocked to find hundreds of years of gaps, where many generations of peoples did not tell the stories, and God was forgotten. And along with that would come a lack of identity of not knowing who we are.

The Hebrew feasts always have special symbolic foods for meals. I love anything that will give me ideas for supper! Rosh HaShanah is a sweet meal because of the hopes for a sweet new year ahead--like apples dipped in honey. I make a sweet challah bread. And instead of the typical sabbath day braid, it's a round loaf--desiring a full round year.

A typical greeting is, "May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year." I've often thought of sending out the yearly family news letter at this time instead of Christmas, but haven't.

"Keep your soul diligently, never forgetting what you've seen God doing, lest they slip from your heart as long as you live." Deuteronomy 4:9

September 11, 2007


My last posting reminded me of a funny story I share when I do my Home Making Beyond Maintenance talk (which I'm going to put out soon as an eBook for starters).

There's many things we do in our dailies that I think we should try and be creative with - like making the environments we spend time in, like even where we do laundry, have some beauty.

Once we sat down for a meal and Monte prayed, "Thank you Lord for this white meal".

I had thought of the 4 food groups--potatoes, fish, bread and maybe rice. Everything was white, including the plates!

We need to think color when we make meals. Not only for the nutrients, but for the beauty of it too. It's definitely a memory we've never forgotten!

Onion, Garlic, Buttermilk Dip

I was asked to write out this recipe -

1/2 C mayo
1/2 C sour cream
3 Tb buttermilk powder
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme (more tsps if you use fresh)
1/2 tsp celery seed, ground
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb chopped onion (if I've the time, I prefer to chop a whole onion and caramelize it by slow sauteing until golden brown - maybe about 1/2 hour. Let cool.)

Mix all these at least a couple hours ahead or up to a couple days. It could be thinned with some yogurt. Chives could be added or even blue cheese...

I like making things from scratch. I almost never buy herbs and spices ground, because they taste so much better ground at the moment of use. I have a wood mortar and pestle, and if a lot of spices, I have an extra coffee grinder.

Since so many young people are around our house, I've found they don't eat many fruits or vegetables. People will always eat more of them if they are prepared for nibbling before meals. And they'll eat more veggies if there's a dip (me too). There's always the typical carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, peas, and cherry tomatoes (always think 'wide variety of color' for a wide variety of phyto-nutrients). I like to parboil green beans too. And then the veggie that is everyone's favorite is to have chilled, but boiled till soft, baby potatoes (or just slice boiled small potatoes).

September 9, 2007

Last Tessuract

After a busy weekend I'm finally able to sit with the death's of two people, who's giftings I've so enjoyed.

I loved Luciano Pavarotti's voice. He'll live on for me in the few recordings I have. Monte and Dawson still laugh at me at a time they came home to my "Three Tenors" CD blasting away. I am thankful to my mother for exposing me to opera.

And farewell to Madeleine L'Engle. I still retain the image of my son Travis as a teen 'explaining' to me by taking his two fisted hands, like holding fabric, and bringing them together causing "A Wrinkle in Time", the bringing of two worlds together. I enjoyed her highly imaginative science fiction stories with my children. And I loved her "Meet the Austins" too. And I really enjoyed all her adult books--liking her thought processes and her 'jags'. I will miss her. I often went on a L'Engle jag.

September 7, 2007

The Velveteen House

I skim through so many things before throwing them away. An article titled "The Velveteen House" caught my eye and captured my imagination, remembering the classic children's story The Velveteen Rabbit.

I grabbed the book off the shelf and read the story. Reading the classic dialogue reminded me of something else I read a long while back. I had driven Monte's mom to the hospital for an out-patient procedure and sat in the waiting room. I read an AARP retirement-age magazine article on "Eldercool"-- who of the older generation is cool to the younger generations. And why are the cool cool? Basically it's those who are "real".

And like the story dialogue says, "Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
"What is REAL?" asks the Velveteen Rabbit of the Skin Horse.
"Real isn't how you are made" (they were looking at all the fancy toys surrounding them in the nursery). "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?"
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful, "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?"
"...You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Then of course the story goes on with the rabbit's journey to becoming Real.

So here I am today. I have 6 adults and 12 kids coming to our house tomorrow from Colorado Springs to just 'hang out' with us (they're bringing an RV and babysitter and food for the day). I have more green beans to freeze right now, and then broccoli before it flowers. And I have to clean the house. And here I just had to write!

I don't have the time to have a 'perfect appearance' house, or a "House Beautiful". Every nook and cranny of our house is well-used and full of purpose. Our guest room is well used. Books lining all our many shelves aren't there for color and decor, though they do offer that. The heirloom things around are used (they were Real before I got them and now we add to that Realness). I have no 'white space' in my home. But all my junk is organized in a pretty way.

We do have a beautiful house. It is 'a house to look at'. But it's the internal beauty of a house of purpose, well-worn and loved. It's a Velveteen House.

September 4, 2007

backpacking and bed

I need to go to bed.

Did I mention backpacking in my earlier today posting? I did. I went with Monte, and Dawson's friend Gary, and his girlfriend Splara's family of 5. I survived (though I am sore). We went for two nights over this past Labor Day weekend.

We live where people want to vacation! So I've decided to stay put during the summer.

We used to camp a lot to get out of the desert heat. I don't mind camping. I just don't like the hiking that backpacking usually means, and with everything on our backs. I'll sleep on the ground and in a tent, but I like some comforts of food and table and chairs, that camping near our vehicle provides. I don't want to forever sit and cook on logs and rocks. I always felt this way, but I am older now!

We didn't need to drive far, and hiked in about 4 miles (on the shoulder of Mt Evans for those of you wanting bearings). I can go forever on pretty level ground, but my legs do not like to go uphill for long. This was almost beyond my ability (Monte's proud of me, and thinking I'm not in too bad of shape!). My dear Monte gets philosophical, and talked my ear off behind me, which was romantic, and probably a good distraction.

I had to stop!!!! at one point, which was good, since we decided to take out our rain gear and take a drink. It then started to rain hard, so we nestled under a clump of trees. At 10 or 11 or 12,000 feet (Monte where were we?), that can be COLD. It made it better for finishing the hike.

The kids had been putting up the tents before we got there, and I changed clothes immediately. I saw the hypothermia potential and teased the kids (you know...the need for 2 naked bodies together for warmth!). Dawson right away heated Gator Aid!

It continued drizzling into the evening. Not fun. Our bedding had gotten damp in the hike. A fire did get going, but with nothing else to do, us adults went to bed early (can we stay asleep for 12 hours?!!). But we did sleep, not knowing the time, there was an in-between-time of awakeness (bookends of sleep). And we were warm.

No rain the rest of the time...or we'd gone home!! While most went hiking (uphill again) to go fishing at a special lake, I did a 'fungi photo shoot' of probably 100 pictures. Two things here: there's been lots of rain this year for lots of varieties of mushrooms, AND I have a new Canon Elph camera I need to explore. I actually was reading the manual in camp!

So...I loved my backpacking french-press coffee-maker Monte got me. We accidentally left my chair behind, and the walking sticks Monte wanted to try (but he carved some for the hike back). AND, I told him, as empty-nesters, I'll do this with him the rest of our lives together...just not lots of hiking or lots of up-hills!!!!!!!!!

Now I have to go to bed!!

Finding the Sacred in Home

Last week was the first MOPS meeting, of which I'm a Mentor Mom, and I was asked to do a devotional. I was going to post it last week, but time went by...we went backpacking. So here's what I shared -

I was gone from home all weekend. I always wonder when I come home in what condition I'll find the house, especially the kitchen. I don't want to be a kitchen witch!

My latest stage of life has been with teenagers. Everyone makes messes, kids make messes; relationships are messy. Messes of teens differ from those of younger kids--they make their messes late at night, when I don't want to be up or in the kitchen.

We've made an agreement--that they attempt to clean up after themselves. I like clean counter-tops, but they can leave their dishes in the sink. So in the morning I'm a sleuth, trying to guess what they ate the night before.

Over the years I've really tried hard to stop a moment and think before reacting. It's not been easy because my first instinct is to respond negatively! Everyday I'm faced with choices: am I going to react negatively to the demands made on me, or am I going to choose to respond in a way that could bring more fun and joy and meaning to me and those around me?

I could approach the morning mess with grumbling, but I've taken on the attitude that each second of life is a miracle. So the dishes themselves and the fact that I'm cleaning them are miracles. How?

I have a wonderful home that people seem to want to hang out at. These teens have had their licenses for a couple years now and could be driving elsewhere (which they do), but they always return to our house. They are coming and going into the night. I don't always know who's been here, or who might be asleep on the couch when I come down in the morning. They like our home.

This attitude choice reminds me of Mary, Martha and Jesus. In sitting with this scripture in Luke 10:38-42, two things touched me. "Martha welcomed him into her house." Jesus returns to Martha's home often 'to hang out'. There must be a homey feeling about the place--good hospitality (notice 'hospital' in the word? I think of health-care and nurturing).

We typically hear about Mary's choosing to sit at Jesus' feet, and that's a good choice. Jesus didn't tell Martha to stop her home-keeping and sit at his feet, but did reprimand her for her attitude, telling her that she was "anxious and troubled". She was too 'self-preoccupied,' maybe self-pity, and therefore not present to Jesus in her doings.

In the quotidian of my daily doings there is the opportunity to be fully God-conscious, bringing joy to the mundane rhythms of life. Each morning, is a new day, to choose to love God--who desires to be present to me in all I do. In the repetitive mindless activities, God invites me to play. It is in the routine and the everyday that I find the possibilities for the greatest transformation. Done in a different spirit, what I think I'm only 'getting through' has the power to change me.


"The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days.
O may thy house be my abode
And all my work be praise."
- Isaac Watts (Ps 23:6)

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble"
- Helen Keller

"Oi-i-i-i! Mrs. Preston! You make the lowest nobody feel he's somebody."
"You're not a 'nobody,' Hannah Hayyeh. You're an artist--an artist laundress."
"What mean you an artist?"
"An artist is so filled with love for the beautiful that he has to express it in some way. You express it in your washing just as a painter paints it in a picture."
-Anzia Yezierska "Artist" (short story)
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