Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Monday - Bed of Roses

Brings me back to the early days with Mango, when I was first learning about Bon Jovi, U2, Bob Dylan, and Bill Staines. Good times. Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi...


Monday, November 10, 2014

Counting Gifts again...for Thanksgiving


Last year we started the tradition of writing gifts/gratitudes on decorated squares of paper throughout the month of November and dropping them in a jar. At the end of the season, we hole-punched the papers and put them on a ring. We hung it from a hook on our mantle all year. We've got the jar back out this month again, and we're counting our gifts again.


Pastor Healy preached a sermon recently about keeping our oil lamps full...about paying attention to what fills the lamp so that, at a moment's notice, we are ready. We are never left dry and empty. We don't leave the house without it. We don't put it off until later. I was reminded of all the time I spent counting One Thousand Gifts over the past years. And this, I think, is how we receive oil for our lamps: through gratitude, which, in turn, brings joy. It fills our hearts. Our cups overflow with "the oil of joy."

Music Monday - Hallelujah

This song reminds me of Friday night Shabbat with everyone sitting around singing and playing guitar. It was originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen. I really like this version by Bon Jovi. Hallelujah...


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Monday, November 03, 2014

Music Monday - Make You Feel My Love

I heard this song in church a month or so ago, and it was perfectly fitting as a spiritual song, as well as a love song. It was written by Bob Dylan but first performed by Billy Joel. Make You Feel My Love...


When the rain is blowin' in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong.

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawlin' down the avenue
No, there's nothin' that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.

The storms are raging on the rollin' sea
And on the highway of regrets
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothin' like me yet.

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
There's nothing that I would not do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Restoring the Vitamix 3600 - Plug the spigot, replace the seal...

I bought a VITA-MIX 3600 from someone on Craig's list yesterday, and I am so very excited! We LOVE the stainless steel container and the old-fashioned-looking base.

Before we could use it, though, it needed a little maintenance. Since Vitamix no longer carries replacement parts for the 3600, it also required a little innovation.

We took apart the blade assembly in order to clean and oil the parts and make the blade spin smoothly...


(We also accidentally took apart the motor and put it back together...but we're not going to talk about that here...or anywhere...probably ever.)

The stainless steel canisters have a spigot in the side, like this:


But I am not a fan of the spigot. It seems like a really great place to trap food and grow bacteria. Yuck. So, we took off the spigot, and I went to my local hardware store this morning and asked how I might close the hole.  They sold me this solution:


That's two washers (1.25") and two neoprene gaskets held together with a a washer and a lock nut.

Finally, the rubber seal around the dome was aged, cracking, and...well...gross. I saw that I could buy replacements on ebay (since, again, Vitamix no longer supports this product), but I was in a bit of a hurry to get to use my new blender. So, I went to the grocery store, found a lock & seal type container, took out the seal, and found that it fit in my blender dome! Yay!

Old seal to the left, Hefty Clip Fresh container seal on the right.

Ta-Da! Dome with new, clean seal!
And we made our first smoothie! This blender is so quiet compared to our previous blender, and it did a great job!!


Later we made squash & sausage soup from the squash Vespera brought us. LOVE autumn soups!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cultural Identity

What do you consider your cultural or ethnic identity? What traits or practices do you associate with that identity? Are there things you would like to do to enhance that part of who you are?
I chose this blog prompt because it's hard for me. And because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Do all parents begin to feel that their time is so limited with their children and there are still so many things they want their children to know and learn? Mane is in 7th grade. She's 12. And already I am beginning to feel that my time with her is stretching thin. I have only so many years left. There's so much I want to squeeze into our lives, into her learning. I remember that when we got married, Mango's mother warned me that she wasn't finished with him yet. She wasn't prepared for him to marry so young, and she was still parenting.

One of the things I want Mane to have is a sense of cultural identity, as sense of where she comes from and who she is. I think this is an essential human need - to know our place in the world. I find that many families I know struggle with a lack of cultural identity, in particular those families who have no recent immigrants. We look at the more recent immigrants around us and long for what they have - foods, traditions, clothing, holidays that define who they are as a people. Perhaps, though, our ideas of cultural and ethnic identity simply need some expanding.

Ethnically, I am primarily German and Swedish (with a little Irish, Dutch, Swiss, and Prussian for good measure). Very little of those ethnic cultures have come to me through my family, other than a stubborn German/Irish temperament, and, perhaps, a Swedish love of the dark nights of winter, wool sweaters and candles. I love the Swedish Christmas goats and Dala horses, chocolate from Switzerland, and the music of the Irish.

As a cross-cultural family, we're also part Mexican. Ha! And from this adoption of Mexican heritage, we've developed traditions of authentic Mexican food - Tres Leche cakes for birthdays, mole, caldo, enchiladas... Strangely, we've done very little with the holidays...except read about them. Food was such a daily comfort and such a foundational piece a bringing Vespera into our family that we integrated that first and best.

In terms of holiday celebrations, we actually look a whole lot more Jewish than anything else. Or, perhaps, we've adopted church tradition and Jewish tradition as a way to feed the need for cultural identity. Religious practice can be a huge part of cultural identity for people. At our house, Advent has become the anchoring season...because we light candles nearly every night, read stories, and pray. We have a Jesse tree, an Advent wreath, a stack of picture books, and...often...somewhere in the middle of it all...a chanukiah. We trace the seasons of the year from Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Chanukah, through Passover/Easter, Shavuot/Pentacost, and, of course, a weekly Shabbat.

On a different level, our "family culture" also includes homeschool, whole and organic foods, and natural living choices. It's not the culture of my childhood, but a culture that has developed over the last 16 years, as Mango and I have developed our own "culture," as our separate cultures have blended into each other.

I would love to nurture more of an ethnic and cultural identity for us, and I think I know how to do it. It's about picking up the little traditions and just doing them. Three Kings Days and Cinco De Mayo...Santa Lucia and Saint Mary's Day. It's about reading the stories and visiting the food markets and cooking the food. I have learned that it isn't really about big things but about simple moments.

I want to visit the Swedish Institute more and Mercado Central. I want to find a Dala Horse that I love for mantle. I want to learn a little German, take Mane to German restaurants, and read about German immigrants. I want to attend the Cinco De Mayo parade and make a Three Kings cake. This is who we are. Our stories shape us, whether we know it or not.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Few Things My Mother Taught Me

I've been thinking about this post for a long while. The things my mother taught me are both so simple and so formative. Most important things in life are. It isn't the big, huge once-in-a-lifetime things that make up the stuff of life, but the small every day things.

It's so cliche to say that she taught me to work hard. But she really, really did...from weeding the garden to shoveling snow, my mama did it all. She wasn't afraid to dive into a room that needed to be cleaned at school or a pile of paperwork in the office, either. She taught me to do what needs to be done, no complaining. I'm afraid I've moved away from that lesson as I've gotten older...being now somewhat more inclined to procrastination and whining.

My mother also taught me storage solutions for small houses and how to minimize clutter without throwing all the fun stuff away. She new how to keep games and craft projects and her favorite coffee mug without all the little stuff cluttering up the house. Maybe this is more about knowing what really matters and getting rid of the stuff that doesn't. But, you know, you can keep the favorite mug that you really don't need, if you keep it in the cake pan in the oven (where else would you store your cake pans? and your mugs?). 

My mother taught me to keep my mouth shut when the conflict isn't really going to be beneficial. I don't think this is about avoiding conflict or sweeping things under the rug. She could confront when something needed to be said. But, it was more about extending some grace or having some patience to see how some things might pan out. It was about holding back the biting comment when someone was all sarcastic and crabby...to give them the opportunity to settle down themselves. Because, you know, most of us know when we're acting bad anyway. We seldom need someone to point it out to us.

My mama taught me to hunt for bargains, to substitute ingredients in recipes, to make do with what I have...to turn old things into new solutions. She taught me how to play rummy and make salsa and cook beans from scratch.

Sometimes I'm surprised by all the ways that I am like her because I've often thought myself so different from her in personality. When I surprise myself with a piece of her appearing in my own living, I am so proud.