Saturday, September 21, 2013

Catastrophic Emergencies

There have been so many tragic events over the last ten years all around the world. In 2004 a tsunami in the Indian ocean killed 230,000 people. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. In 2010 an earthquake killed 220,000 people. A tsunami in Japan killed at least 15,000. In Moore Oklahoma a monster tornado struck this year. The wildfires in Colorado in the past two years and now the devastating  floods that continue to wreak havoc today. I'm sure that there are more tragedies that I have not mentioned.

Just because they do not make the headlines in the newspaper or on the evening news anymore does not mean that people are not having to deal with the after effects of the catastrophe everyday. People are still suffering. Think about those who did not have insurance to replace their homes like in Hatti or right here in the United States. How many years did victims live in  FEMA trailers in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina?

I read this the other day that "it has been said that everyone is either in the midst of the battle, just coming out of a battle, or about to enter the battle. At first glance, this is often not visible. A smile often masks deep feelings. The writer of the Proverbs put it this way, "Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief." (Proverbs 14:13 NASB)

We are instruments in Gods' marching band. We use a smile to a stranger on a street corner like a flute to brighten their day. We also use our words like musical notes to encourage one another. Our wallets are like a roaring trombone easing the suffering of others.

I encourage you to reach out to those around you. Reach out to your neighbor who has lost their job in this troubled economy. It is a simple act of kindness to stop and visit the lonely elderly widow who lives down the street. It may seem like small potatoes to you, but to her it could mean the world. Don't underestimate a kind deed.   

Mercy Me "Hold Fast"

To everyone who's hurting
To those who've had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there's hope

You may think you're all alone
And there's no way that anyone could know
What you're going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we're soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes

Dedicated to those who need help

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Legacy Of The Wooden Spoon

My 26 year old wooden bread spoon and the well worn wooden spoon I inherited.

When I was first married I decided that I would master the art of bread making, so I purchased a "hippie" bread book and began my training in the craft. The book suggested that I needed a sturdy wooden spoon in order to mix the dough properly and anything else would not do, so I headed back to the "hippie" store where I purchased the "hippie" bread book and bought a fine wooden spoon. If you had to mix six cups of wheat flour into a cup or so of water you too would need the sturdiest of wooden spoons. My new wooden spoon, however, did not stop my first attempts at making bread from taking on the form and density of a large heavy brick.

Number One has a great sense of humor. He has had to endure many food tragedies during our 26 years of marriage. He has used his humor to encourage me to not give up on my natural ability to cook, but mastering whole grain bread has been a circus act at best.

My wooden spoon has only been used for bread making, so it still has a new look to it compared to my cherished wooden spoon from my "Other Mother", Number One's mother, who left us to be with the Lord in 2002. I have know idea how old her spoon may be. I know that it has been around since before I was united with my husband some 26 years ago.

It is well worn from use. I inherited it after Number One's father passed away last year. I saw it standing tall in the crock where it was held for so many years and it brought back many fond memories of meals shared with family and friends that I just had to bring it home with us.

In our family the kitchen is the center of the home. The act of sharing a meal is a very social event. It is a time to share the events of the day whether good or bad with everyone that is at the table. Sometimes the conversations would run into each other. The volume getting higher and higher with laughter from many stories going on at once.

I wonder just how many dishes it has stirred in it's lifetime? I use it daily to prepare our meals now. Every time I pull it out of it's crock from under the counter I remember the delicious food prepared by a wonderful beautiful woman who loved her family beyond measure. I remember preparing months of Meals for Number One's dad using this wooden spoon before it traveled home with us. We would visit as frequently as we could. During our visits "Other Dad" and I would sit and discuss the food he wanted to eat for the next month and then drive to the store to pick up the ingredients. We would enjoy a glass of wine while I cooked and taught him how to fix his favorite meals with the handy spoon by my side.

We miss them and thank them for the legacy of the wooden spoon that gives us frequent reminders of the love they both bestowed upon everyone who entered their home and shared a meal with them. I praise God for the blessing he has given me by being a part such of a loving family.

This is a poem that I gave to my "Other Mother" for mother's day one year. It is framed and still resides in their home to this day. I read it aloud to her to tell her again what she meant to me a couple of days before her death.

"To My Other Mother"

To My Other Mother

You are the other Mother I received,
The day I wed your son.
And I want to thank you Mom,
For the loving things you've done.
You've given me a gracious Man,
With whom I share my life.
You are his lovely Mother,
And I his lucky Wife.
You used to pat his little head,
And now I hold his hand.
You raised in love a little boy,
And then gave me the Man.
Author: Unknown


Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Next Year"

I woke up very early this morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but just kept tossing and turning in the bed and realized that I needed to just get up. I started my usual routine with a cup of hot tea and my Bible devotion. Afterwards, I went out on the porch to watch the daylight peek through the mountains as it does everyday without fail and began to realize that this whole year and part of last year has been filled with a lot of "next years".

As I sit here with my trusty ice pack on my neck and back reminiscing about the things that I missed out on in the past year (feeling a little sorry for myself) I came to the conclusion that, Lord willing, I can participate next year in working, hiking, biking, fishing, riding, traveling, cooking (really cooking), cleaning, lifting and  pretty much everything else that I have been accustomed to doing whether for fun or out of necessity.

Miss M, my foraging partner, had to go without me this last time, so next year...

I stood by the pristine waters of a nearby river yesterday, yearning to be able to toss a line in and reel in a big trout, so next year...

I watched as my friend lifted her saddle onto her beautiful horse and prepared for a riding trip into the mountains, I could only watch, so next year...

I watched as Number One left out alone for a week at a time to earn a living without me, so next year...

This is just a few examples of my "next years". With the changing of the season comes the reality that the time has come and gone for many of these activities, so next year...

I have high hopes for next year. I certainly have been building it up in my mind and as far my fleeting moments of feeling sorry for myself I just tuck them away and look forward to "next year"...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Harvesting Choke Cherries and Rose Hips

Yesterday morning my girlfriend Miss M and I went foraging. (This is the first time I have been out in the true outdoors in a very long time) Miss M picked me up around 10 am in her trusty Subaru. We had our little day packs with our map in hand and everything else we might need in case we were caught up in one of the storms that frequent us this time of the year. I brought a light hooded jacket, hat, filtered water bottle, chapstick and a small pail to haul whatever harvest we might find.

We stayed in a popular play area to avoid any contact with our more aggressive wildlife neighbors. This also worked well for us since we could forage right from the road without too much physical effort.(I still have limited strength) A beautiful river drops down this narrow winding canyon where trout abound in the frigid waters and serious fishing occurs. You know the kind of fishing where they make you throw the fish back in. I prefer the other kind of fishing called keep and eat.

The dark paths seen here were caused by heavy rain run off from a storm the other night.
 When foraging, be sure to have a trusted guide with you that has pictures and descriptions of edible plants to help you identify a safe harvest. There are toxic plants everywhere, even in your own home, so be careful not to become a victim.

Number One bought me this guide for this area about a month ago.
We were visiting a Ranger's station looking for a good map when I spotted this book. A friend of ours had mentioned to us what a thorough guide this book was and he was right.
 I do not have any pictures of the hunt, but I have pictures of the harvest. We also found black and red currants, wild licorice, raspberries, mustard and many other edibles. This was all growing on the side of the road.  I had only planned to pick rose hips to dry for tea this winter, but the choke cherries were calling to us. I knew that the rose hips were ready to pick, the choke cherries were a nice surprise. Miss M made syrup last night with her bounty and I made syrup with mine after I came home from Church.

I kept all the rose hips to dry at my house and will divide the spoils when they are ready. We are planning another harvest this week(If I am up to it) after discovering all the ways to preserve the fruits. We missed out on the other berries, it was just too late in the season to harvest any amount worth preserving. We are both new at this, but fully intend to learn as much as we can since we enjoyed ourselves so much. We both like the outdoors. I want to harvest some licorice root. It is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Three rose hips have more vitamin C than an orange. I used honey to sweeten the choke cherry syrup. I will use it to sweeten my tea, on my whole wheat pancakes and I may make some jelly.

Choke Cherries

Rose Hips

 Watch for future posts on preserving the harvest. Spoiler alert: I have a batch of pineapple vinegar brewing!!!