March 31, 2013

Living as Easter People

"Body of Christ"- My needlefelted picture of a pruned grapevine framed by grape clusters hidden by leaves

 
“Love is not a duty it is our destiny. It is the language that Jesus spoke and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food that they eat in God’s new world, and we must acquire a taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all his creatures to sing and we are called to learn it and practice it now.”
- NT Wright, Surprised by Hope (and great book!)



A page from my sketch book drawn over thirty years ago


 
So how can we learn to live as wide-awake people, as Easter people? ... In particular if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up ... If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume and in due course bearing fruit”
Ibid


A quick painting I did at a retreat about a decade ago


 
“Jesus is risen, therefore God’s new world has begun. Jesus is risen, therefore Israel and the world have been redeemed. Jesus is risen, therefore his followers have a new job to do. And what is that new job? To bring the life of heaven to birth in actual, physical earthly reality.”
Ibid

Wool seed pod and flower people I put out about the house every Spring - New Life!

March 13, 2013

Ukrainian / Pysanky Egg Dyeing

Ukrainian - Pysanky Eggs
It's that time of year again. Time to order dyes or kits, though I still have last year's dyes jarred in a box in the garage. When more people are going to be coming to our home to do eggs, I get some fresh dye, otherwise just use the stored dye. 

I saw an article in a 1973 National Geographic Magazine on Ukrainian eggs, and wanted to do them. Since I knew how to do Batik textile art, I understood the process, but didn't know special tools existed. As is typical of me, I just jump in and do things. I got beeswax and melted it in a metal measuring cup and stood over the stove painting the wax on eggs. And the only dyes I new of were the typical grocery store Paas (?- I think that's what it is) dyes. Monte joined in the process when we were dating.


Monte almost 40 years ago waxing an egg for resisting the dye - batik style egg designing

Years ago, group of young couples Travis brought to dye eggs
Soon after we were married I found the traditional kistka tools and special dyes. For years now we've been ordering supplies from the same store, and have bought kits for wedding presents. We've also bought a lot of extra tools and leave the dyes out for about a month and have had many people around our dining table decorating eggs. One couple, years ago so looked forward to it they started designing eggs months beforehand. When they moved away they bought their own kit and have done it every year.


Though electric kistkas exist, it's traditionally done by heating the metal funnel of the kistka over a candle till the beeswax is melted. It does not run out until it touches the egg. It's a wax-resist process, starting from lightest and getting progressively darker. You initially wax over everything you want white and put egg in yellow, once dry, you wax over what you want to stay yellow, and so on. When done you hold the egg to the side of the candle and wipe the melting wax off with a paper towel. The eggs are raw and they dry out over time.



Egg carton of our Ukrainian dyed eggs
This picture is just one of the three cartons that got done several years ago. That was a very productive and artistic weekend of eggs - Travis had several couples come and stay several days to dye eggs (and enjoy just hanging out, of coarse). Dawson has friends come too. Everyone loves it!

I cap the canning jars of dye and repack the box. I store them along with the old silver spoons, candles and candle-holders, box of tools, instructions and pictures, and then the vinyl tablecloth. It can be pulled out anytime. Every year I say I'm going to do it for Christmas ornaments - but I haven't yet.

Several years ago Monte made a shelf for the eggs to better display than the hanging wire baskets I've always kept them in. The company I order the dyes and tools from, the Ukrainian Gift Shop, has a variety of stands for the eggs. So I got a bunch of the cheap clear plastic stands. Monte is going to make a shelf unit for each of the kids too.




 




Having done these for years, I never varnished them and finally did a few years ago. It's a final step I've always skipped. So some of the varnished ones are older and already faded. These dyes are toxic, so no eating of the eggs, but are not run-proof, so make sure the varnish is not water-base. We nailed three nails every so often in boards to support the eggs and I use my gloved hands to rub the oil-base varnish on the eggs. (The stands could be used in the oven on low temp for helping melt the beeswax off. I've not tried this - but a book I have shows it.)

3-legged nail 'stands' for holding varnished dyed eggs
More people around our dining table Ukrainian egg dying

Dawson waxing his egg for dye resist

More people enjoying creativity and our home's hospitality

Shared with: The Homestead Barn Hop, The Chicken Chick

March 9, 2013

A Guerilla Gardener

video


This is amazing. How Gardening can solve life's problems! Share it!

"Free is not sustainable. The funny thing about sustainability, is you have to sustain it. . . . To change a community we have to change the nature of the soil. . . . If a kid plants kale, he'll eat kale . . ."

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

Ron Finley grows a nourishing food culture in South Central L.A.’s food desert by planting the seeds and tools for healthy eating.

March 4, 2013

Orthorexia

I first wrote about this in 2007, but it's still so valid ... Maybe even more so!

I think about this statistic I've read about, having first heard it on the radio: 6% of American's money goes to food, while Europe and Japan spend 15-20+%. We Americans gladly fork over money for satellite TV, cell phones and other electronics, yet buy our food as cheaply as possible.  I still don't understand this diagram ...

For years I have been interested in nutrition, reading tons. Since the 60's, Mr Rodale and others started our awareness of farming practices, and health and wholeness. So much food was beginning to be processed, boxed and shipped long distances. Shelf life became most important, as well as convenience.

The more I know ... understanding where the food around me is coming from and how it's grown and made, makes it almost impossible to eat.

There's a word for this: orthorexia. It means having an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy.


Our grocery expenses are higher than they used to be. We're wanting to buy wild fish, pesticide free fruits and vegetables, hormone and antibiotic-free meat and dairy. And did you know there's now organic Twinkies!? It turns out that eating with a conscience costs more.

That's what we've told ourselves, as we try and buy as fresh and local as possible.

I know we can buy cheaper, probably half the cost. But here's the thing about orthorexia--unlike most afflictions, the worse it gets, the better you feel.

Some friends roll their eyes, as I pick up everything and read labels. Are we becoming elitists? But you know what? We feel great!

March 1, 2013

Making Maple Syrup

I just read a letter about New Englanders readying their equipment for maple syrup season. It reminded me of long ago when we helped Monte's dad make maple syrup in Wisconsin. We didn't do it a lot cuz it's impossible to plan "vacation time" when you never know when the sap will start running.

Tho Monte's cousins have established modern ways of maple syrup making and creating businesses, Monte's dad did it the old fashioned way. He hung buckets on the trees, rather than having hoses run to holding tanks in sheds. Riding the 4-wheeler thru-out the day and night to collect full buckets AND to keep the fire stoked under the large flat boiler pan, was work. It was all done out in the open and not a shed with stove burners. He wasn't doing it for a business, just enough for the family. Emery grew up on a homestead there and maple syrup was their main sweetener, so he'd gotten a bit sick of it. But moving back to the homestead and having Grandkids (and a curious wife of his son - ME) ask about the old day experiences kinda made him want to do it again.

Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to cook down to 1 gallon of syrup? The taste of the cold sap with a hint of maple flavor is very good and refreshing. And if you've read Laura Ingals Wilder books you'll know there's something called "sugar snow". It's an extra surge of sap run after the season is basically over - just a bit of freeze and thaw. They'd celebrate by making syrup from it and eating it over snow like a snow-cone.

I'm going to post a string of old photos from our experience.

Travis straining sap into old milk cans in the 4-wheeler

Travis and sap in milk cans on 4-wheeler

Grandpa talking to Travis

Collecting maple tree sap

Grandpa Emery and Heather riding the 4-wheeler

Me with Travis collecting sap from tapped maple trees

Monte's dad - Grandpa Emery

Heather with tree sap collecting pail

Travis by the boiling area checking on the fire

Grandpa Emery, little Dawson, and Travis boiling down the maple sap for syrup


Memories? The brisk out-of-doors with no mosquitoes, tics, or black flies; identifying tracks of animals in the mud; beaver coming out of dens on the breaking up ice ponds; wood smoke; pancakes with fresh syrup . . .

We don't have hard maples in Colorado. We still have some jars left, tho it's been years, that we're saving . . . Not sure for what . . . But it reminds us . . .


Shared with: Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday
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