Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April In The Rear View Mirror

What I thought would be a weeks’ work turned out taking a whole month of hard work. 

Yes… I would be talking about the shed…

Himself had thoughts to clean it out WAY more thoroughly than I had planned.  So while it has taken much longer than I planned (like all month), it is so much better than I had planned!

However, extra time in the shed meant yard stuff didn’t happen. 

So May will turn into an overall yard clean up and landscaping month!  Which isn’t so bad… maybe Spring will finally be here to stay.  We have a lot of plans for the yard.  

We spent Easter here in Tennessee, taking part in many events during Holy Week… Maundy Thursday, Passover Seder, and Easter sunrise service. 

Except for one unexpected overnight guest, we didn’t entertain this month.  We plan to make up for it in May!! 

No Whole Foods classes for April.  They were all cancelled!!   We made it to Mule Days tho.  What a hoot!  Definitely on our calendar to go back next year on a different day to see other events. 

May looks like it is going to be a slower paced month with a lot of putzing outside.  Gotta take care of those ‘May flowers’!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fun In The Sun

Port Townsend, WA  
May 2011

Children having fun on the beach.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lilacs Have Bloomed

This has been a wonderful spring for my lilac bushes we planted on both sides of the shed.  They have been blooming like crazy… enough so that I could even cut some to bring inside.

While we worked on the shed, we have enjoyed looking at (and smelling) them.  I kept meaning to bring my camera out to take some photos but that shed work kind of gave me tunnel vision.

So when I ran outside to get some shots before our first big spring storm hit, I was surprised to see they have mostly faded.  

The old-fashioned lilacs had just one that was still looking good.

The others are pretty faded.  But you know what… they are still lovely.

This one is still setting flowers. 

Love the way the white outlines the petals.

This tiny flower bunch is on a reblooming lilac.  I’m a bit disappointed with it.  It does bloom a lot… but it hasn’t grown much. 

I was so focused on working in the shed that I didn’t cut nearly as many as I wished I had.  I’ll have to make a note for myself to bring more inside next spring!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Can We Forget?

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) begins this evening.  It is a day of mourning for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust. 

Himself and I spent time in Budapest, Hungary in 2003.  While there we visited the Great Synagogue (Dohany St. Synagogue).

It is the largest active synagogue in Europe… second largest in the world.  Built in 1859, it can hold 3000 worshippers. 

But during the Holocaust it became a concentration camp.  It is estimated that from the original Jewish population pre-Nazi era of 861,000, about 225,000 survived.  The courtyard became a mass grave for thousands of Jews who died during their imprisonment. 

Today, in that courtyard, sits the Tree of Life Holocaust Memorial.  Appropriately, it is a weeping willow. 

Made of stainless steel and silver, each leaf bears the name of a Hungarian Holocaust victim. 

In front of the memorial is a black granite arch.  The arches are in the form of tablets, representing the lack of the Ten Commandments in the lives of those who committed the atrocities of the Holocaust. 

It is inscribed in Hebrew:  “Whose agony is greater than mine”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Telling the story . . . (guest post by Himself)

Part of the art of storytelling is not just the story but the way it is presented.   Two people could tell the same story but, if told separately to you, you would likely get two different takes on it.   Is that ‘bad’?  Not necessarily.  Not in the context of what you may be going after -- the art of sharing a story.   I learned that when collecting family history from the elder members of my family.  With so many pictures for them to peruse and comment on I didn’t have time to write down data on each picture.  Nor could I write fast enough or clear enough to catch all that they were saying.  What to do?  Tape-record the stories!

Although it took time for the older family member to stop glancing at the tape recorder in nervousness or consternation, the pictures laid out before them soon caught their interest.  Then you got your first smile.  Followed by a big grin.  And then the stories started.  Words flowed, as did laughter and sometimes tears.   You might even catch the slap of a leg on tape as Uncle George (or whomever) grinningly reacted to a picture that got its first leg-slap 40 years ago after its first telling of some escapade that he was a part of.   Of course, his partner-in-crime (my own father) had HIS version of the story too!   With his own leg-slapping.   Did they match?  Usually not, but it didn’t matter.  It was that time together and the telling of the story.  

All of that older generation is gone now -- but I have on tape their voices, their laughter, and their memories.    Back in my own home I could then transfer the recorded data to specific pictures.  One can pick and choose what to actually add onto or under the old pictures – perhaps leaving space for ‘another version’ of the story from another relative!  (A suggestion is to grab your own pictures & tape recorder and please, get those voices and memories on tape from your own family members . . . while you still can.  I cannot emphasize how special it is to listen to them years later.)

A technique in recording your own stories and/or writing them down?   A suggestion is to listen to people you like listening to.  It could be an older relative’s quiet voice, or as different as a comedian telling a story in a way that you never get tired of.  One I like in style & presentation is Bill Cosby.  He not only tells a story with humor that makes you smile, but he gets a point across in a way that makes you think.  And remember.  Nothing wrong with recognizing and perhaps honing a style close to your own that helps laying it out – either factual data or maybe just the story.

One person’s style I observed and enjoyed was a guy named Frank in Scotland.  While Teri and I were touring a historic house in Sterling, Scotland, he was the tour guide.  After touring many places, walking around and ‘just listening’ was by now routine for us.  However, I noted myself listening with more interest to this guy – not because the house was more fascinating than any of the other historic houses or castles.  No – because Frank himself was!  Think the old-fashioned Ichabod Crane . . .     A strange looking fellow, he used that feature to his advantage.  While wringing his hands with expressions of despair and dismay one moment to wide flares of his arms and looks of elation the next, he kept all of us enthralled as he took us from room to room and event to event.   He carried on like he had personally experienced the dramas of long ago but was delighted that he was back in the here-and-now to share them with us.  Only when he finished did he ‘break character’ and say with a smile, “Ladies & Gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed the tour as you listened to my stories, lies and exaggerations!”   It was then that I realized why I had enjoyed this particular tour the most; we had experienced a lesson in history by a master story teller. 

Was everything he said (and how he said it) totally historically ‘accurate?’  Probably not.  His tales were fantastical.  But I found myself wanting to not only follow his stories, but believe them.   And wanting to hear more.     And, like Frank, I enjoy sharing an exaggeration . . .   Or perhaps a lie or two . . .   


And the stories continue . . .


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Country Pantry Amish Bulk Food Store in Guthrie, KY

This unassuming little building holds one of my favorite food shopping places. 

Country Pantry is an Amish bulk food store.  It is on Hwy 181 off of Hwy 79 going east out of Clarksville.  The address is 9115 Guthrie Rd., Guthrie, KY.

Only three aisles long, it is cram packed with flours, beans, sugars, grains, and on & on!

Do you want raw almonds?  Got ‘em!  How about wasabi peas?  Got those too!  Lots of dried fruit are to be found also.

There are flours I’ve never heard of…almond meal flour, rice flour, brown rice flour, spelt flour, buckwheat flour…

Rices, lentils, beans… oh my!

Barley, quinoa, and couscous too.

Doesn’t matter if you need a little or a lot.

Here’s my happy place… bulk herbs and spices for a fraction of the grocery store prices!  I’ll buy a tub of whatever and split it with my Mom and Sis.

Then there are the refrigerators full of meats and cheeses and butters.

It is well worth the trip to the country so I can fill MY pantry!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Heath Calhoun: Home Town Boy and Olympian

Clarksville welcomed home our own Olympian last Saturday.  A super Olympian in my books…

Heath Calhoun won a silver medal in the Sochi Winter Olympics in the men’s sitting super-combined ski event.

Yes… sitting.

Heath is a Para-Olympian and a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division out of Ft. Campbell.  He was injured in Iraq when he was hit by an RPG round.  His injuries resulted in him losing both of his legs above the knee.

There was quite a turn-out for his homecoming.  Heath flew into the local airport and was paraded through town.  He was escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders and I think every other motorcycle rider in a hundred radius.

The public was invited to line the parade route to welcome him home with flags and lots of noise.  And then to a party at the local Harley shop.

Well, that was an invitation I couldn’t resist!

Himself and I found a nice place to park and were waiting with our flags and an air-horn I found at the Dollar Tree.  

Pretty soon here came the bikes!

Bikes as far as your eye could see!

And finally… the man of the day.  You can just barely see him in the front passenger seat waving at us.

It was way too crowded at the Harley dealership so we drove on by.  But it sure looked like it was a great party.  I heard he stayed until everyone who wanted to visit with him had done so.  He also let kids put on his silver medal and posed with them for photos.

He sounds like a pretty nice guy to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Starting the Easter Weekend: Maundy Thursday Service

We started our Easter celebrations with a Maundy Thursday church service at the beautiful United Methodist Church.  Besides wanting to take part in the service, it was a chance to finally see the church since its reconstruction. 

In January 1999, a tornado hit our downtown area.  It destroyed the sanctuary of the church.   As you can see, it was just gone.

The new pipe organ.  They used it during the service and I loved listening to its deep tones.

The baptismal font was damaged in the storm.  It’s hard to see in this photo, but the corner that is above the 5th chalice is broken.  It was decided to leave it that way.

New stained glass windows.

I think these were restored.

The service we attended was lovely and sad.  Maundy Thursday commemorates the “Last Supper” and the prayers at Gethsemane and Jesus’ arrest.

Most moving was ‘the stripping of the alter’, where all linens, ornaments, and Bibles are removed.  It represents how Christ was stripped after His arrest.  And the bare alter is also to remind you of how bare life would be without Him.

After the alter was stripped, the congregation left in silence.

It was a very thoughtful start to the Holy days.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sharing in a Messianic Passover Seder

(Passover Seder plate)

On the Saturday before Easter we were privileged to share in a Passover Seder hosted by a Messianic Jewish congregation near here. 

You might ask, “Why a Gentile Christian would want to take part in a Seder?”

 Because there is so much to learn!

Consider that Jesus was a Jew and ‘the last supper’ was the Passover Seder.

There is so much that we Gentile Christians lose in not understanding the Seder.  Especially the portion we call “The Lord’s Supper” or communion.  

Our meal was hosted by Pastor Jonathan and his wife Sara.  Jonathan is from a family that has 19 generations of rabbis.  He is the first generation of Messianic Jewish pastors. 

The matzah tash… a cloth container used at the Passover Seder which has three separate sections.  A piece of matzah (unleavened bread) is placed in each section for the matzah tash.

The ‘four cups’ and the hand washing basin.

Just for a smile… this is the Seder plate for some children who attended the meal.  This Seder plate holds (from top right in the 1 o’clock position):

A roasted hardboiled egg – symbolizes the ‘chaggigah’, a special festival offering.  Many regard it as a symbol of mourning, particularly for the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE.  It also symbolizes eternal life, as its shape has no beginning and no end.

Karpas – in this case, parsley which is dipped in salt water.  “The parsley reminds us of life, which is created and sustained by God alone.  It also reminds us of the hyssop used to apply the blood of the lamb to the doorposts and the lintel of the Israelites’ homes.  The salt water reminds us of tears.”  (Jonathan Sacks)

Zeroah – the roasted lamb bone shank.  It symbolizes the Passover lamb sacrifice which was roasted and eaten during the Passover meal.  There have been no sacrifices since the second Temple was destroyed.

Charoset – a mixture of chopped apples, chopped nuts, cinnamon, honey and sweet red wine.  Is to represent the mortar made by the Hebrew slaves as they built for the Pharaoh. 

Maror – the bitter herbs (horseradish).  “Eating the bitter herbs reminds us of the bitterness our ancestors experienced during their hard labor in Egypt.  As we remember the bitterness of their slavery to Pharaoh, let us also remember the bitterness of our own slavery to sin.”  (Jonathan Sacks)

The first photo here shows a traditional Seder plate.

Before the Seder started, there was some traditional dancing to the Lord.

The Seder was opened with a word of prayer from a 93 year old Jewish man who came to know Yeshua (Jesus) at the age of 85.

Each table has a “Father” and “Mother” who lead the table through the Seder. 

Here “Mother” performs the B’richat Haner or lighting of the candles.

We moved through various parts of the haggadah (order of Seder) such as the washing of hands, partaking of the karpas, and so on.  We also have gone through two of the four cups.  The first cup is Kaddesh (the cup of sanctification) and the second cup is Makkot (the cup of judgment).

Then it is time to eat the Seder meal.  When we are finished the table is cleared so we can continue the Seder.

Here we came to the Yachatz or the breaking of the middle matzah (the afikomen).  I could do pages on the beauty of this act and how it is a representation of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps that will be a future blog post.

One half of that broken matzah is passed around the table, to be eaten by the participants.  This was the point in the Seder that Jesus said “This is my body…”

The other half of the afikomen is wrapped in a white linen and hidden away.

Later, the children go looking for the hidden matzah.  

When they find it, they bring it back to the “Father” who redeems it (pays for it). 

Is this sounding kind of familiar? 

The third cup is drank… the Hag’ulah or the cup of redemption.  Here is where Jesus introduced the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).  

After more teachings, the final cup, the Hallel (the cup of praise) is taken.

We then sang songs of praise and there were spontaneous dances of joy.  Thanks were given to God for His goodness.

And with that, the Seder was complete (Nirtzah) with the traditional Jewish statement of hope… Lashanah Haba’ah Birushalayim!!...

Next year in Jerusalem!!