Monday, November 9, 2015

I Just Gotta Say.....


I just read a rant about adult coloring books written by an art therapist and I just gotta say WOW. Among other things she lambasts them as, “not creative, and not mindful (whatever mindful means).” I used to be a snob too. I used to look down on people who made things from kits and then claimed to have “made” something. I realize now that I was just ignorant. Not everyone is going to become Rembrandt but everyone has the divine spark the God given need to create.  Some people paint, some people make science, and some people color in books.
When I was in my late teens I found an adult coloring book in a bookstore. I still have it somewhere. It was full of beautiful owls and it sparked my creativity. I learned so much as I chose the colors to fill in the lines. At first I made owls, brown, grey and beige. I wondered if they existed for real. (This was before Google kids.) Then I made pretty bits of imagination. As I began to see how the lines formed the image on the page I began to use the fields of color the change the design. Yes someone else drew the picture but I created within the confines of their vision. Then I began to add flowers to the pictures. Was it “art?” Maybe not, but it was creative learning.
What I failed to appreciate in my snob days was that kits, coloring books, and paint by numbers give people a chance to experience creative outlets they might never have the confidence to try cold turkey. These projects allow for creative learning without a major outlay of cash on equipment and materials. I also failed to see that creativity is unlimited in application and only constrained the judgement of the mind.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Random Thoughts from the RV


So I got up Saturday morning and prepared to read my Bible. Prepared meaning I grabbed my tablet and opened the reading for the day. The reading for the day had yet another list. I had been reading lists for about a week: genealogies, lists of tribes, lists of Levities, their divisions, and roles of service. Aside from running across Jabez, and realizing that the role of the Levite priests was far more complex than I had previously, it was deadly dull work. And here were lists of David’s mighty men and so on. I struggled through the reading. Not even Paul shipwrecked on Malta could hold my interest. Then I switched to Facebook to relieve my overtaxed brain.

One of the first things I saw was a video posted by my Uncle, Jason Carlisle. It was in Spanish; it was about a shipment of Bibles being delivered to Cuba. I watched and was ashamed of myself. I was captured by the expression on the face of an elderly man, hope and worry warred, he stood patiently in the front of the crowd as Bibles were passed over his shoulder to those in the back of the room. I could almost hear him thinking, “Will there be enough? Will they pick me?” Within a boat ride of my door people are hungry to hold what I had just disregarded in my heart and pastors are without Bibles of their own. What I experienced was Godly shame. (Most of us like to call it conviction. It just sounds nicer.) Godly shame prompted me to ask for His forgiveness and to seek to change my bad attitude. Godly shame set me free to change; earthly shame chains me to a past act or situation so that there is no forgiveness and no change. Earthly shame is without hope. Only the redeeming work of Christ makes shame a good thing. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Gift


Those of you who know me know I have been unemployed for several years. God continues to provide for me and meet my needs but most of the provision comes in the form of the things I need and not much in the way of hard cash. I am not complaining but putting the story in context. Last week I became aware of a financial need; money was being collected to meet it. I wanted to help. The desire to be a part of what was happening became a seed in my heart, a seed I prayed over and hoped for. As I prayed I felt that God would provide a way to give and I pledged an amount to him. It seemed so small but I was at peace about it and prayed and asked God to provide it. I began to scheme about how I could raise the money and then God provided it in a way I wasn’t expecting. He didn’t need my help at all.
I had the money. I was so glad. God was indeed faithful to meet the desire of my heart He is so amazing. Then something began to happen to me. I started adding up the things I needed for the week; I began to feel conflicted about the money. It was the money that God had provided, giving it was going to leave a hole in my pocket. It was unexpected money and God had provided enough, just enough. I went to my Mother I explained my feelings. I did not want to renege on the pledge I made to God, but I felt I needed to say it out loud. I needed to tell someone else my attitude was wrong and I needed help to be right in my heart. I began to pray that God would give me peace. I prayed if I could  not be joyful that I could at least give unstintingly. As I prayed I felt peace begin to settle over me, but my attitude was still wrong.

I went to church and one of the first things I heard was how wonderfully the need had been met and I thought to myself, “What if they don’t need THE GIFT God provided!” I began to feel cheated! What if God’s blessing was in vain? So I tracked someone down who would know and found out I could still give The Gift. And then I had to laugh at myself. God’s mind is so amazing! In a finger snap I had gone from a begrudging giver of the “money” to a desperate carrier of God’s blessing. My God, He is so wonderful! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Evolution of a Gardener

Yesterday I spent some time with Carol Carlisle talking about her Daylilies. My Mother has a long history of interest in plants that began when she was a teenager while in 4H she joined a shrub identification group. She and her team learned to identify plants by their foliage, flowers and shape. They participated in contests around the state of Texas and went to the state championships twice. Carol began to grow vegetables in 1964 to help provide fresh produce for her growing family. Through the years she has had flower beds but she did not discover her passion for wild flower gardening until the mid-80’s.  Well I remember pulling the car over to capture a wild plant that my Mother did not have in her garden. Carol and her husband Bob relocated to Mississippi. In 1998 my Grandmother, Ruth Carlisle, moved to Ocean Springs, MS. Carol helped her to transplant her flowers at her new home. Ruth had several heirloom yellow and orange daylilies; Coral thought that they were really pretty. Not long after she saw an advertisement for a Daylily Club meeting at her local library. She soon learned that daylilies come in all different colors! The first daylily she bought was, “Best of Friends.” When asked, Carol was unable to pick a favorite variety. “There is always something new blooming,” she said. 
Carol and her Daylily Club are getting ready for their 11th annual show at Edgewater mall this Saturday. If you would like to learn more why not stop by? The show will be inside the mall in front of Dillard’s department store. The flower judging and the plant sale will be in the morning beginning at 10:00 am. The show is from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New Dog Mom


So this week I became a first-time dog mom. I have always been a cat mom before so this is somewhat new territory. Your average cat comes home with you; you show it the litter box, the cat food dish, and the water dish. The cat proceeds to howl or ignore you. Or to howl and ignore you until the cat has punished you for being kind enough to take it in. Then it sets about making you it’s servant for life. Dogs are different. They are like toddlers cute, independent, needy, and lost in their new home. Little changes throw off their routine and like small children routine equals security. This week as I was walking Baxter I received my first unsolicited dog mom advice it was an interesting experience on two levels. First it gave me a faint glimmer of what it is like to receive unsolicited parenting advice from comparative strangers and second it wound up being a little funny.


It started out innocently enough; I was walking Baxter and encountered one of our neighbors at the corner of her yard. She came out to greet my new dog and introduce her tiny bit of nothing dog.  I asked her an honest question, she answered. Then the tiny bit of nothing came over and my puppy tried to get a closer look at it. She scooped her dog up and informed me I was walking my dog wrong. I responded that Baxter was new to a leash and he was doing better every day.  Baxter began to be bored and fidgety so I gave him an animal cracker from my pocket. You would have thought I’d given him chocolate the way she carried on! How much was I feeding him? I should stick to his diet! I wondered to myself, “What diet?” How many times a day was I feeding him? In the meanwhile her husband had sauntered over and like the good ole Texas boy he is he slid in with, “Like you stick to their diets?” I have a system she declared, like a gambler who doesn't have a problem, “When I make a sandwich for me I make a half a one for them and cut it into pieces.” Then she changed the subject….   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Missing Blue Bell in Vancleave


Today I went to Greer’s grocery store in Vancleave for a loaf of bread. After I priced and compared all the loaves of bread and settled on the cheapest one. I wondered over to the ice cream cases out of curiosity. I wanted to see if there was any Blue Bell ice cream. While I was standing there listening to my inner demented person. (You know that person? She was wondering what would happen if I stood in front of the Blue Bell case and howled. She has a strange sense of humor. One day I am going to need bail money…) I heard three different forlorn voices asking employees when they were going to get any Blue Bell in. I mentioned this to the cashier and she gave me a slightly desperate look and said, “I Know!” Then I mentioned the howling. I wish I had a picture of that expression….

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Creativity


I have been thinking about creativity lately. Mostly because a number of people have told me they are not creative. One way to wind me up it to tell me you are not creative. It brings out the snarly encourager in me. I will fuss at you and if I know you well enough we will figure out what you create. It may be chaos but by golly you created it! In the first chapter of Genesis we are told we were created in the image of God. Think about that we reflect God in our makeup, in our being. We can't help but create.  Why do you think so many people long to create something? In thinking about writing this blog post three points emerged over time. One, society has so classified what is and is not creative that we no longer understand or appreciate creativity. Two, creativity is like a muscle and three, creativity is work.
There is a lot of creative thought in things we use every day. I mean think about it. Someone had the idea for a spoon and made the first one. Back then it was new and exciting; people thought, “Wow! That guy is so creative! How smart/weird is that?” Today it is just something in a drawer. The point is creative thinkers are problem solvers. We tend to think of activities like dance, drawing, painting, singing, playing an instrument and so on as creative. We ignore or downplay amazing feats of creative thought and application. I am writing this with a computer program. When I was a kid someone said to themselves, “How can I make a bunch of ones and zeros translate into letters on a computer?” Then they turned that creative thought into reality. Then (Thank God!) someone else invented spell check and grammar check so people like me could write cohesive sentences. We tend to discount linear thinkers and yet they conceive most of the truly helpful things in the world. Most of the concepts begin with the questions like what if I or what would happen if? Then comes a lot math and science from that medicines, medical devices, computer programs, and more and more are invented. You cannot hang them on wall but they are no less creative than a painting.
Back when I had to put all my stuff in storage I put my creative life on hold. I stopped reading about jewelry making. I stopped imagining projects. I shut it all away in the back of my mind for later. One day I needed to solve a problem and I could not imagine a solution. I realized my imagination had atrophied from lack of use. The creative mind like so much about us needs to be used or we lose it. We need to be exposed to new ideas and new things to keep our imagination sparking. We need to other creative thinkers in our lives to keep us asking, “How can I apply or misapply that?” People don’t create in a vacuum. Something or someone inspires us to make or to do. Even the most internal artist needs an audience for his work.

Which leads to the third point, creativity is work or maybe it is learning. (Maybe it’s both) The majority of people don’t just start drawing or painting on their own; they learn from another person, a book, or a video. For most of us in the beginning learning means copying someone else’s method or technique. Once we have learned the basics we find our own style or voice. Finally we begin to make our own projects. Then there is the nitty-gritty of getting it done. Dancers don’t just show up and dance, someone choreographs the moves.  There is a lot of practice until it is right. Costumes and a venue are chosen. Finally the performance takes place. The process of learning doesn’t stop each project is a learning experience. We learn new techniques. We learn to see mistakes as possibilities and not disasters. We learn what works and what doesn’t. We ask ourselves what would happen if I did that….   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Using Disposable Tablecloths for Plarn


I have been working with plarn for a little over two years now. I have mostly been using grocery sacks but almost any plastic bag will do. Lately someone I know who sets up public events has been saving disposable tablecloths for me. So I thought I would pass along the information on how I cut them for use as plarn. When I first used plastic tablecloths as plarn I cut the plastic into strips and tied it together with an overhand knot. That works fine but depending on the length of the strips it can mean a lot of knots. After some thought during chair yoga a diagram I had seen somewhere or other popped into my head. I tried it when I got home and the cutting plan works great. Now I am going to try to explain it to you. First fold the plastic in half lengthwise. Fold again so that the tablecloth is now quartered. The tablecloth I used in the photo was cut from a roll so the ends were not even. I trimmed it so it was more or less even. Now fold the plastic into a flat pad leaving the last three inches or so unrolled Keep in mind that the plastic is slick and you will be cutting through all the layers. Don’t roll it too tight. Holding it firmly against the table begin to cut it into strips leaving the last two to three inches uncut. When you reach the center fold keep in mind that that strip will be twice the width you cut it when folded. Now cut a strip loose at one end follow it to the join at the other end and cut every other strip loose. I have tried to illustrate this with a sheet of printer paper. I have drawn the lines to cut on either end. You should have one long strip. I used a piece cut for a five foot table. It did not occur to me to measure the strip until I had wound over half of it up but it was over 150 yards long. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Random Thoughts at Almost Midnight


I was just looking at a photo of a family celebrating their Grandmother’s ninetieth birthday; that made me think of my Grandmother, Ruth Carlisle. She has been a role model for me. Even though she is no longer here I continue to learn from her example. I have this inner vision of her as the runner from Hebrews 13. For some reason I have always envisioned that race as a relay race. Maybe a Sunday school teacher used that analogy when I was a kid. It occurs to me now that that is a false analogy because my Grandmother never put her baton down and stopped running. She passed the baton of the gospel over and over again and continued to run. I think about all the people I know of that she impacted through her actions that she prayed for and prayed with. I think of all those people passing on the gospel to others and running their race until Jesus comes again… 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Inspired By Versus Aspiring Too


When I was a in the 4th grade I got sent to a class that was supposed to make me have more self-esteem. To be honest I thought it was all a bunch of hooey. But there were puppets, so that was ok. One of the things the instructor kept pushing us to do was to choose a hero. Of course being me I asked, “Why?” Why should I pick a famous person to copy? (Looking back I was either a really strange kid or a really smart one.) What the teacher was encouraging us to do was engage in hero worship. What I was objecting to, in my limited way, was worshiping another person instead of God. Just an aside, you may not think your kids are listening at church but they are.

As a society we have been teaching our children to worship heroes. We encourage them to do the things those heroes do. To be like their favorite baseball player, rock star, or gamer. What is wrong with that? First, there is a little matter of the second commandment. Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before me. Second, people will always disappoint. You can never really know a person fully, and some days people just mess up. They are rude. They have secret failings. They do all manner of bad things because they are people and therefore broken. So what is the answer; how about we teach our children to be inspired by people instead of aspiring to be those people?  When I aspire to be someone else I study their lives, copy their dress, and mannerisms. I stop developing as the individual God created me to be. When I am inspired by someone who they are is largely irrelevant. It is what they do well that inspires me to change for the better and I am still free to become the person God made me to be. I have been following Noah Galloway on Dancing with the Stars. I catch clips on the internet. He inspires me to get more exercise. I am inspired to improve the person God made me to be. I do not aspire to be someone else. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Witness Cones II: Waiting on God Together


I have been writing this blog post in my head all day, but whenever I start I get distracted by how awesome God is and then I just have to worship Him.  Since February third I have been praying for a family I have never met. Courtney and her baby, Eli, are the catalyst for this post. I have spent the last few days trying to think how to put into words the wonderful mystery of being part of God’s family. Over nine thousand people have prayed for this woman and her baby. Think about that; we have never met but we are bound into the family of Christ by his grace. We are not just wishing them well. We can ask the creator of the universe to help them. I just can’t get over that, nine thousand strangers waiting together on the God of the universe praying for His plan to come to fruition. Waiting with a family we do not know. And God, the creator of the universe- Answered.     

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Becoming a Bag Lady

It all started with Wal-Mart bags. About two years ago I crocheted a bag out of Wal-Mart bags. Then I discovered Target bags and I was sunk. I realized I was in real trouble when I saw a Dollar General bag being used as a trash can liner and thought, “What a waste!” I started coveting other people’s plastic bags. One day I went into a store and asked for their loose bags. I got some really weird looks! What can I say? They are pretty. Yes everything from soft tan Jerry Lee’s bags to bright blue Best Buy bags, even Wal-Mart bags have their place. I want your bags! (Well... maybe not your Wal-Mart bags.) Friends started saving me bags. I eagerly open them and look in and say things like, “Oooo! A Hobby Lobby bag!” Hobby Lobby bags have so many nice colors and they are a “rare” bag. Then there are the treasured bags from other countries. I love foreign bags! I have discussions about the relative properties of plastic bags, how they cut and act when crocheted with.

Then it happened. Last week at church I hear, “Hey! Bag Lady!” and I answered….

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Looking for the Church


A couple of months ago there was a blog post circulating around Face Book about leaving the church. It has been awhile since I read it and it made a good point or two. Honestly, the whole thing just got up my nose; from the photo of the angry man looking down his nose at us to the arrogant tone of the writing. This snotty young man left the traditional church and now he was going to school us on our shortcomings. When I read these articles I always wonder who is this entity, “THE CHURCH,” they are talking about. The authors are rarely Catholics and most evangelical denominations don’t have a central governing body. Who are they so angry at? But you know when I was twenty I left the traditional church.  I wasn’t angry but I was, well searching something more. I moved to Goshen, Indiana and became part of a church that was started by a group of college kids. It was a full gospel General Conference Mennonite church. That would be like having a full gospel Southern Baptist church. We met in an auction barn. I imagine I was pretty snotty about it myself.

I had been there just over a year when I was involved in a head on car versus bike crash. It was a miracle l survived. After I got out of the hospital Jean Stuckey and her husband took me into their home for thirty days. They provided for me and took me to appointments. Jean became my advocate and helped me get the dental services I desperately needed.  My church cared for me but as a group they struggled to help me. Should they do a fund raiser? If they did what message would they be sending? What precedent would they be setting? In the end they did nothing. God used the situation to teach me something I  treasure.

Jean Stuckey was the church. She and her husband met me at my point of need. They prayed for me, fed me, encouraged me and even entertained me. The church is only as effective as the people who call it home. It doesn’t matter if it is traditional or hipster cool.  Jean Stuckey taught me that I am the Church and the work of the Church begins with me.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Missing: One Funny Blogger


The blogger’s sense of humor was last seen in early late February or early March. A search of the Winnebago produced one somber blogger. The somber blogger is an exact replica of the funny blogger but she is way too serious. Police claim the actual blogger is still in residence at the Winnebago but conspiracy theorists say it is all a cover up by an unnamed government agency. Rumor has it an FBI agent is in the area. Others say it is only a fox. Surely the truth is out there…..       

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

So, You Have Decided to Murder a Butternut Squash


I congratulate you! Butternut squash murder is time consuming and messy but well worth the effort. I have no good advice to offer as to the process; although I did read something today about roasting them slowly, in their own juices… Ok. She did not put it like that - exactly. All kidding aside I love them! I can buy one and put in in the pantry until I want it. It can be cut up ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator to be used as needed; or it can be frozen in a storage container.  They have been a really good price this year so I have “murdered” quite a few.

I have been trying to make them into noodles recently. I have to admit I have been less then successful. My first attempt with a mandolin like device resulted in the loss of most of a fingernail and a small blood sacrifice to my dinner. The food was really good though. Today I tried with my new Veggetti can you say, “Fail?” I ended up making zoodle ribbons with the vegetable peeler. I cooked them with a simple tomato and meat sauce it was really good. I have seen recipes for zucchini lasagna and I might try it with butternut squash ribbons sometime.

I have used the Veggetti to make zucchini noodles and it does a great job. The butternut squash was not only the wrong shape it was hard and brittle. It was also difficult to hang on to. The cap that is supposed to help hold the vegetable tore holes in the squash. I did however learn that raw butternut squash tastes a little like a really tough carrot. In the unlikely event I were to serve it in salad I would grate it finely. I am looking forward to playing with my Veggetti. Carrots are next on the list of “noodles” to try. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Super Christians: Ordinary People



Mariam Ibrahim became an international symbol. Although she is very accomplished she was just an ordinary woman who did what was right. She paid for it enduring months of uncertainty and terror. I remember seeing her in news clips after she was freed. She appeared to be a little taken aback by people’s praise of her courage.

 I recently read a post by a woman who who had decided to be obedient to God. In her view it wasn't really a choice she was just doing what she knew was right. I read the comments so many people were telling her how brave she was and how much they admired her. I stopped and prayed for her. I know how hard it is to be transparent when other people think you are brave. I put the link to her blog in my tool bar and checked from time to time to see if there was a follow up post.  Finally, she posted again. She spoke honestly about her struggles to believe in God’s divine plan for her life. She is an ordinary woman following God’s plan and hanging on by her fingernails.   

I think my favorite Old Testament “hero” is Gideon (Judges 6-8). He was just an ordinary guy. His story shows his fear and hesitation to follow God’s plan but through him God did some pretty amazing things. He did not start out as a mighty man of God; instead he grew into one because he learned from experience God is trustworthy.  It is human nature to want to put people who seem courageous is a glass case; to set them up as heroes to be admired. I think we miss the point when we do that. Let us rather learn that obedience through fear is acceptable in the eyes of God, through our weakness we glorify Him. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quick Zucchini Dish


So today after a very full day that included Wal-Mart. I faced the daunting task of cooking for myself. I was thinking maybe I would eat a waffle for dinner. (My inner nutritionist was waging her finger and tisk-tisking at me.) When out to the fog of exhaustion that had settled over my brain there wandered a zucchini. I had bought a couple because Mom had asked to pick one up for her. Dinner crystallized in my mind and I knew what to do.

I am fortunate enough to live in RV next to my fam and my Mom is a gardener. So in spite of the long dark winter there is a large planter of onions on the front porch. I grabbed a pair of kitchen shears and cut several green onion leaves. I walked back into the kitchen and there on the cabinet was an orange peel. It smelled lovely, so naturally I thought, “orange zest!” I sliced the zucchini and green onion. Then I grated the outer skin of the orange rind for its zest. Finally I added one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread, (drum roll here) squeeze garlic! I microwaved my dish for two minutes. The zucchini slices were cooked but still had some crunch. I added shredded mozzarella cheese and it was finished. It was wonderful! This is something quick and easy. As I was making it I was imagining all of the things that will be available in Mom’s garden soon. Add anything to hand that sounds good to you and you’re in business.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mrs. Roush versus Common Core



When I was in school in the 1970’s reading recognition was the order of the day. Students were presented with a list of spelling words they were supposed to memorize and stories to read that used those words. The student was then supposed to recognize the word and read it. I could not do it. I knew the word I knew what it meant; I had an excellent vocabulary, spelling- not so much. Then when I was ten years old a teacher named Mrs. Roush did something magic. In a small classroom, with four or five other children, she taught me phonics. She spent the first part of the year teaching us how letters work together to form sounds and how those sounds form words. We spent the rest of the time reading graphic novels. (We called them comic books.)  In that tiny classroom she gave me the key to the world.

My early schooling was and would be considered a failure. I always tested poorly and failed classes as a result. By the seventh grade I really did not see the point of school. By sixteen I had dropped out. But by teaching me to read Mrs. Roush allowed me to fail up. Because I could read, comprehend, and follow instructions I was always employable and I always worked. In my middle twenties I got my G. E. D. and at thirty-eight I began college. I graduated with honors with a degree in Human Services.

Now fast forward to today. I recently spent time talking to a former teacher. She taught in one of those tiny classrooms and she tried to give her students the keys they needed to fail up. She created a learning plan to meet the needs of each of her students. They were all making progress but that progress could not be measured on a standardized test. Administrators insisted she teach all the children in her classroom by the same lesson plan. She tried to explain to them that autistic children learn differently than children with other developmental delays. They were more concerned with standardized testing and federal dollars. She left the classroom because her hands were tied by test scores.

There are politicians and educators out there who seem to believe children are computers with legs. You plug in the same information, run a diagnostic and get predictable results. It just doesn't work like that.  Imagine a world where there are no Mrs. Roushs. No tiny classrooms to meet the needs of kids that are marching to a sound only they can hear. Imagine a world where educators no longer make magic and give little girls like me the key to the future. And you will have common core. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Doing the Walk of Shame at the Library



I remember when doing the walk of shame at the library really was traumatic. I would approach to circulation desk where a gray haired lady would be waiting. Reading glasses perched on the end of her nose; she would glare over them at me. Her expression stern, she would softly demand, "Yes?" I would hold up my shameful offering of overdue books and my library card. She would take them. Find my record and declare in a sibilant whisper, "These are overdue!" Now she was really scowling. I mutely held out the sweaty nickels I had been clutching in my hand. The god of the circulation desk was appeased. 

Today, I breeze in and hand my books to Marsha; she smiles and makes a joke. I hang my head and tell her my books are overdue. She laughs and checks my record. I ask about a new program and decide to go to a lunch program and talk about Bigfoot. I can go as long as I don't actually laugh in anyone’s face, Marsha said so....

Libraries used to be a repository of books. Today they are a repository of life. Librarians dance, sing, and play the ukulele. There are puppets and stories told in books and stories told out loud. Libraries are a place to learn. There are computer classes. Adults are learning to read and teenagers are learning to paint. The state distributes tax forms there. And there are even volunteers to help you file those pesky papers. Don’t let anyone tell you the kids are the noisy ones. I hear those line dancing seniors get shushed the most.  From chair yoga to quality quilting there really is something for everyone. The only limit to the uses of the library is money, time and volunteers. So the next time some politician or the wise guy next to you at McDonald's says we should cut funding to the libraries, lay into em and set em straight!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Witness Cones


My sister, Bethany, is a potter. She recently bought a kiln. One day I was standing around admiring some of her first finished work from her new kiln. I picked up a narrow bar with three melted shapes on it. It was simple and spoke to me of suffering. I asked Bethany, “what were you thinking when you made this?” Bethany laughed out loud and said, “Those are witness cones.” Long story short to her I had just complemented the pop out thingy from the Thanksgiving turkey. Witness cones literally tell the potter that the kiln is heating correctly. That set me thinking about how witnessing life changes us. Of course the more I thought the more complex the subject became. I have decided to attack the ways we witness one at a time.

Some days all you can do for another person is stand watch with them. They are struggling with issues in their lives that you can’t fix. In those times you can listen, be there, empathize and pray. But you cannot fix it for them and you cannot fix them. I am a listener and I am a fixer. It is so hard not to try to fix when silence is best. Watching another person struggle can leave you demanding of God, “Why!  Why are you allowing this person to suffer such pain? Why? God why? If God chooses you may get to see the impact that person’s life has on the world around them.  Other times you get to see a person grow and change as God works through the hard times. But most days you just walk with other people in the moment. In those times you stand witness to life, the good and the bad. It changes you in profound ways. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

OK Seriously Though.

My nutritionist neither is neither evil nor is she a cult leader. We actually agree most of the time but she is a bit frustrating. One of her first gentle edicts (aside from all that water drinking) was no bread, rice or pasta at dinner. In the mad search for things to fill the void left by brown rice I found myself eating some surprising vegetable dishes. Last week Copper (Super Hound and Chef’s Assistant) and I made Sweet Potato and Apple Slaw. 
Let me say I never expected to be eating raw sweet potato. (And liking it) The grated sweet potato had a very nice crisp texture that contrasted well with the softer apple shreds. I made the recipe with what I had on hand. I used a Red Delicious apple and I used Ken’s Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing; no doubt a sweeter result than the original recipe but wonderful none the less. The lovely photo in the center above is from skinnyms.com. Copper, Chef’s Assistant far right and you guessed my results are far left. Let’s just say my dish did not photograph well…..

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thoroughly Modern Mommy

This is my Mother, Carol Carlisle. I snuck this photo of her reading an article to me from her laptop. I thought about who she is and Thoroughly Modern Mommy popped into my head. I still remember when she began to study books on nutrition. I was about five; no six when the gravy stopped appearing at the dinner table. (I missed that gravy and bread.) “Empty calories,” my mother declared. (How come all the empty calories taste so good?) Mom has always been ahead of the nutritional curve.
Last week she made this salad for Go Getters at church. One of the ladies asked her to email her the recipe. I saw the email and asked her to forward it to me. I liked her style and wanted to share a bit of my mom with the world.

Here is the recipe for Cauliflower Salad--sort of!

2 pkgs. frozen cauliflower thawed and cooked (micro waved) for 3 minutes. Stir to make sure it is warmed through.

2 tsps. minced garlic

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup pitted olives -black or green

1 jar diced pimento-drained

2 tblsp. fresh parsley, chopped or 1 tblsp. dried

1/2 tsp dried oregano

pinch of red pepper flakes-to taste

salt and pepper to taste

dressing of choice

Toss all ingredients together, apply dressing to moisten well. Let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or overnight.

Now, I started with a perfectly good recipe, but I can never leave things as they are. I could have started with fresh cauliflower, but frozen is easier (and quicker). The recipe called for 2 tspns garlic, but we like garlic so I put in more. It called for olives, I started with black, then decided I didn't have enough so I put in some green ones. I could have used any kind of dressing. Our favorite is Sweet Vidalia Onion so that's what I used.
The point of all this, I guess, is that the cauliflower has very little flavor of it's own so you can pretty well make anyway you want it.  Adjust amounts of seasonings!  Add tomatoes!  Shredded carrots! Anything! Go to town!  It's all good!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

She May Not be Evil But…


So I went to the nutritionist today. She said how pleased she was with my progress. I have lost two more pounds and that made her very happy. Near the end of our visit she asks, “So how are you doing drinking the two twenty ounce bottles of water? “OK,” I say, “I manage to drink it all most days.” “Good,” she says casually, “Let’s try adding another bottle.” I look into her smiling face. She is not joking. Don’t panic! Negotiate! I smile reasonably and say, “Sixty ounces is a lot of water; could some of it be flavored with coffee grounds?” “Oh no!” she says sincerely, “Your water shouldn't be favored but you can add flavorings to your water.” Is that a psychotic gleam in her eyes? How did I miss it? This woman is nuts. “I think you are trying to drown me.” I say seriously. She laughs gaily as we head down the hall.
Yes my nutritionist is out to get me! One day I will be one of the acolytes in her weird little cult. Walking around with my snazzy water bottle saying things like, “Oh but coffee dehydrates your body!” I will wander around trying to convert poor sane people to the joys of drink only water. My friends you will be my only hope. You must save me! Yes the only thing to do will be to have an intervention with really good coffee and lots of donuts! Please I am relying on you…..

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Some Days Just Need an Eclair


It all started nearly two weeks ago; a Snickers came walking into my thoughts and settled down in the back of my mind. I concluded the only way to dislodge it was to eat it. I bought a snickers and I ate it slowly enjoying every bite. That was a week ago last Sunday and there is no food guilt on Sunday. Sometime later I don’t remember when toffee tickled my imagination. (I can imagine real good too) So I went to Fred’s and found sugar free toffee. Sugar free toffee? No! Sooo I bought peanut butter candies and I ate them. I shared a few (but not many) with mom and my brother, Gordon. So it went on, the desire for chocolate creeping into the middle of my thoughts and derailing them. I began to squelch them with coffee. (Coffee fixes everything.) I drowned them with water. (All the articles claim that works, but they lie!!!) Then on Saturday I fell and twisted everything. I was laid up and chocolate took a holiday. By Tuesday I was on my feet more or less and at Walmart doing my belated weekly shopping. So that made Tuesday Sunday there is no food guilt on sort of Sunday. And I had a green salad for lunch! So I bought Reese Peanut Butter Cups. It has just been getting worse, scared think of chocolate, Tired? Why not have chocolate? Making fish cakes? Ooooo look there’s Lava Cake! Just click on it, you know you want to…

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Looking Backwards to See Forwards

I couple weeks ago I was talking to someone about old journals and old blogs. I said that old writings can help us see where we have come from and how God has changed us. In my twenties(?) I read through all my journals from my teenage years and destroyed them. I remember at the time thinking I did not recognize the uncertain and unhappy child I had been. I wish now I had saved those journals because being reminded of where we have been helps us empathize with other people now. Today I discovered another reason for saving and reading old journal entries; they can help us see who we need to become again. No, we will never be the same. Life changes and shapes us but we can seek after the lost pieces of ourselves we have left behind on the journey.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It’s all About Birds


Awhile back I bought a twenty pound bag of birdseed. This was the economy bag and contained mostly small seeds like sorghum and almost no sunflower seeds. It was only six dollars and ninety-five cents after all; what can you really expect? I got Mom interested in feeding the birds too. It wasn't long before she had a pair of Blue Jays visiting her feeder. Some morning there would be a Blue Bird as well as the usual mob of sparrows. So Mom bought some high powered song bird mix. We took that lame low powered bird feed and mixed it together with the new stuff. Then we filled up the feeders, all day long we watched the Blue Jays and Cardinals feasting at Mom’s feeder. The little birds pecked and fought little wars in order to reach that high powered food. Then I came out to the Winnebago and I passed by my feeder. Do you know what? Some little bird had thrown all that high powered seed on the ground!

 That got me thinking about the Word of God. Little birds like little seeds that are easy to pick up and crack open. People are like that when it comes to the word of God. We like verses that we can stick on coffee cups and quote of the top of our heads. Somewhere in my teenage years I got a coffee mug that had a lovely free form dove on it. The side of the mug read, “Rejoice Philippians 4:4” I loved that mug. I looked the scripture up and memorized the 4th and 6th verses of Philippians 4 so that what I ended up with was something that went like this, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I liked that; it was happy. In my mind it meant that God was going to answer my prayers my way.

When I was nineteen I read the Bible through. Imagine my shock when I rediscovered Philippians 4. I had missed the point I had taken the best and thrown it out! What God had to say was so much better than my shallow re-interpretation. Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It promised me God’s peace. Wow! What an amazing thing! God’s peace can help me when the world is falling apart. God’s peace can meet me when I am faced with unbearable grief. God’s peace can comfort me when there are no answers to, “Why?” God’s peace is powerful food.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Enter if you dare

I once told my cat her mind was a fuzzy quagmire of kitty thoughts and I believe my Mom might have said something like, “like owner, like cat.” I could however have a faulty memory. For a while now several of my friends have been encouraging me to start a blog after reading some of my random posts on Facebook. They are generally short and pithy. They are the result of what I have been thinking about that day or what has been cooking in the back of my mind that week. Whenever I have the urge to write something longer I resist it. Just encase you didn't know blogs are work. For example I have made an error in grammar by using encase instead of in case. I am sure I have made punctuation errors as well; spelling and grammar were never my strong suits. Lately several ideas that require longer entries than should be posted on Facebook have been cooking in the back of my mind. So I went looking to see if my old blog was still there. I have renamed it because it has become the receptacle of what lurks in the back of my mind. Here it is for all the world to see, welcome to my quagmire.