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Turkeys Love Vegetarians

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment

As a result of a fair amount of manipulation on my part, I managed to celebrate Thanksgiving despite being 700 miles away from my real family. Like the man in the Bible who went into the highways and byways to fill his banquet hall with guests, I was thrilled to have a full house for Thanksgiving. Around this time of year, I say it a lot, “I love Thanksgiving”. Despite the mad cooking and all of the extra housework, the tingly anticipation before that first guest arrives is so worth it.

Usually, I do all of the cooking myself. Starting at least 2 weeks in advance, I plan the menu that is reminiscent of all of the childhood Thanksgivings that I loved; I know what the menu will entail, but perhaps I can put a 2011 spin on it compliments of Food Network. Cookbooks are pulled from cabinets, and recipes are poured over. On a whim, I gave in to the call of a glossy ‘appetizer’ cooking magazine that set me back $15.00 and didn’t use a single recipe from it. If I press back the dog-eared pages, any chance I could get a refund? Didn’t think so.

In a country without an official Thanksgiving holiday, we’re getting pretty good at it. My guests all chose dishes the dishes they wanted to bring (and actually brought them), everything from salad to pumpkin pie. Being vegetarians, no one missed the turkey and I certainly don’t miss having a picked-over, foil-covered turkey carcass in my fridge, saved on the intention of becoming turkey soup that will never materialize. Oddly enough, there’s still a fair amount of prep and presentation required despite the potluck theme. All I was responsible for was the soup and an apple pie. Easy. Yeah, it should have been easy. Crippled by a surprising but profound indecisiveness about my contribution, I couldn’t settle on making (or buying–yes, I CAN be that lazy) a pumpkin soup or substituting it for another appetizer. I flip-flopped back and forth between trips to the supermarket until finally deciding to make a vegetable soup in the crock pot. One hour before curtains up the diced pumpkin in the soup was still hard as rock. Little orange rocks in my soup. The crockpot was indeed on. The temperature was on high. Still, I had a problem.

Well, I’ve watched my fair share of ‘Chopped’ and the ‘Next Iron Chef’ and they make little missteps all the time. What would one of those guys do? Don’t panic–think! Grabbing a slotted spoon and a pot, I scooped out all of the hard, diced pumpkin and tossed them into the pot. That was actually a bit more tedious than I thought, but when you’re still standing in the kitchen when you’d rather be dressing for the occasion, tedium is part of the picture. A few minutes later, I had tender chunks of pumpkin and promptly returned them to the rest of the soup. I’m no Cat Cora, but I don’t think anyone noticed.

I was actually sorry to see the last guest leave, the end of another Thanksgiving season–technically. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day; it’s a verb. That’s why, those of us who don’t even live in the US can celebrate, give thanks and enjoy family and friends.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

November 26, 2011 3 comments

Perhaps it’s too late in the day to be creative, because I can’t think of an appropriate caption for this photo, shot in Sri Lanka just after the Asian tsunami.

If I Could Write Like James Kavanaugh, I Wouldn’t Be Watching TV

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t like to talk when I watch TV or a movie, but I usually have my laptop close by, on. During commercials I surf the net, drop in on my Facebook page or read emails. So when I heard this poem during a rerun of a Matlock episode (one of Hubby’s favorite TV shows), my computer was already at my disposal. In the episode, “The Temptation”, only a few lines are read, but something in that glimpse into James Kavanaugh’s poetry caught my attention. In “Will You Be My Friend?” Mr. Kavanaugh expresses what I have felt all my life when trying to balance the desire to “show myself friendly” [Proverbs 18:24 KJV] with protecting my heart against the discomfort of vulnerability and the risk of rejection or indifference. All summed up in 50 lines.

I immediately considered selecting pictures that I thought would complement the poem for a blog post, but the more I read it, the more I felt impressed to leave the poem on its own, in its purity, so that the pictures created in your mind as you read the poem can be as individual as you are. No need to force my interpretation of the writer’s message on anyone (not this time anyway).

Will You Be My Friend?
– James Kavanaugh

There are so many reasons why you never should:
I’m sometimes sullen, often shy, acutely sensitive,
My fear erupts as anger, I find it hard to give,
I talk about myself when I’m afraid
And often spend the day without anything to say

But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And hold you when you’re sad.
I cry a little almost every day
Because I’m more caring than the strangers ever know,
And, if at times, I show my tender side
(The soft and warmer part I hide)
I wonder

Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who far beyond the feebleness of any vow or tie
Will touch the secret place where I am really I,
To know the pain of lips that plead and eyes that weep,
Who will not run away when you find me in the street
Alone and lying mangled by my quota of defeats
But will stop and stay – to tell me of another day
When I was beautiful.

Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should;
Often I’m too serious, seldom predictable the same,
Sometimes cold and distant, probably I’ll always change.
I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child.
I broud and pout, my anger can be wild,
But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And be near when you’re afraid.
I shake a little almost every day
Because I’m more frightened than the strangers ever know

And if at times I show my trembling side
(The anxious, fearful part I hide)
I wonder,
Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who, when I fear your closeness, feels me push away
And stubbornly will stay to share what’s left on such a day
Who, when no one knows my name or calls me on the phone,
When there’s no concern for me – what I have or haven’t done –
And those I’ve helped and counted on have,
oh so deftly, run.
Who, when there’s nothing left but me,
Stripped of charm and subtlety,
Will nonetheless remain.

Will you be my friend?
For no reason that I know
Except I want you so.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

November 11, 2011 19 comments

Some reflections on wonder in pictures and words.

Wonder-ful Scotland

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ St. Augustine

The wonder of artistic expression

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life, learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. ~ Robert Fulghum

A New Wonder of the World - Petra

Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher; and philosophy begins in wonder. ~ Plato

Flower Letter from my Father

November 11, 2011 3 comments

Have you ever had an encounter with God? A time when you know God interacted with you directly, personally? It may not have been by way of an audible, James Earl Jones-sounding voice that made the ground below your feet shake. God speaks in many ways and if you are receptive to his voice, you’ll know. His message will be clear and specific.

Recently, I had an encounter with God on an ordinary morning in November. Earlier, while attending a women’s conference, I received a laminated, postcard-sized spiritually motivating thought, decorated with a picture of a beautiful purple flower. The message spoke about the struggles women face and through it all, we are still special to God. At the end of the card’s message were instructions to pass the card on to another woman of worth. Instead, I intended to hoard the card to myself, to use it for personal inspiration from time to time. Perhaps I’ll keep it at my desk at work, I decided. I dropped it into my purse. On the way to work, however, guilt tugged at me and I decided to give it to a coworker. When I arrived at work, however, something told me to give it to a different coworker, one who has been facing personal and work-related challenges, but she has faced each one with a smile and professionalism. I obeyed the voice inside and presented the card to her instead. She was happy to receive it, and I was happy to pass it on.

The day progressed with its usual tasks—the good and the not so fun. Late in the afternoon when I was expecting materials from a vendor, the receptionist called to tell me there was something at the front desk for me. I thought I would be collecting seminar booklet and other workshop materials that would be needed in the next day’s training session. I was so immersed in preparing for the event that it was easy to surprise me. A floral arrangement had arrived for me for no special occasion. It was from a friend to let me know someone was thinking about and praying for me. Someone in my church family and Someone who is Lord of my life. The gift was full of messages from God, like good wishes written on a leg cast after a skiing accident.

The message on the florist’s card assured me that my friend was thinking of me. A little booklet, “First Aid for the Spirit”, came with the flowers, and I bookmarked the page that read “God has made me laugh and all who hear will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6 NKJV). Sarah was speaking of her late-in-life motherhood experience, but God had given me a cheery heart and joy to share. My friend had also stuffed a wallet card inside the booklet that reminds me that I am special, one of a kind and that I can make it through anything.

Brighten the corner where you are.

I selected a prominent place on my desk for my flowers, a corner for them to brighten. I sat back in my chair and looked. In the midst of my busy office, I felt solitude, and I was able to ‘read’ the flower letter from God. The message unfolded before my eyes as clearly as if God had written on my cubicle wall with his finger. Every element of the arrangement had been inspired for me specifically, not by my sisterfriend, but by my unseen Friend.

• Like the vase—He holds my life an all that I experience. He sees through it like glass.

• The green netting represents my hands at my workplace as I gave the card of encouragement and cheer to another woman.

• The green and purple flowers represent my work environment, as these are my company’s colors.

From there, the arrangement directs the eye upward.

• The carnations are ordinary, as I regard myself, but He is telling me, “Be more like the bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae, my favorite flower).” See how she holds her head up. She’s strong. She’s beautiful. She’s special to me.”

Bold and beautiful

• There are two carnations but only one bird of paradise in the arrangement. Stop comparing yourself to carnations.

Not an expert on flowers by any stretch of the imagination, I marvel at the bird of paradise, wondering if it might possibly be close to if not actually perfect. Its birdlike head is erect, its ‘crest’ bright and colorful, spread out like a peacock’s feathers. The stem and bract are firm. It’s just lovely to look at.

I have admired the bird of paradise since I first saw them. I remember looking for them in cut-flower bunches being sold on the streets of Boston as I emerged from the subway during the day’s commute. For a few dollars they decorated my desk cheerfully. I would buy them early in the week to enjoy them for the remainder of the week. The flower also grows in a bluish color, too, but I prefer the striking orange/red/deep blue combination. When I look at it, I can see the bird’s face.

The sender doesn’t know me well enough to know if I even like flowers, so I know this gift was God inspired. He speaks to us in different—personal—ways. An open heart will ‘hear’ and know.

Threads of Gossamer

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment

If we were always conscious of the fact that people precious to us are frighteningly mortal, hanging not even by a thread, but by a wisp of gossamer, perhaps we would be kinder to them and more grateful for the love and friendship they give to us.
– Dean Koontz

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

November 5, 2011 10 comments

Windows

I went window shopping today! I bought four windows.
(Tommy Cooper)

Total inexperience is responsible for this shot. Any experienced photographer knows what went wrong here, but the more I looked at it, the more my “mistake” grew on me. I couldn’t delete it. Oh, well. A bit of whimsy never hurt anyone.