Sunday, March 30, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I think it was for my dad's 70th birthday, we realized just how much they cared for him. The men asked me if they could do something for Daddy's birthday to let him know how much they appreciated him. My dad was always ready to take Amish families to destinations far away. He and my mom took families to doctors in Kansas City, to Belgian horse auctions, to weddings, for chemotherapy, and to funerals. My parents were not chauffeurs and accepted no money for this. I loved to watch my dad offer the little ones and their parents ice cream cones and McDonald's happy meals. The mutual respect there was always quite special.
So, for Daddy's birthday about fourteen years ago, one of our Amish friends approached me with the idea to have a surprise party. And so we did. We rented a van, took all our vehicles, cooked tons of food at my house, and made a procession to Amish country to pick up the guests. We were blessed with frienship that night, and my dad was truly SURPRISED as he watched the caravan unload its celebrants in his own front yard. After counting way beyong 30 people in the yard, Mom said he turned to her and whispered, "I don't think I have enough ice cream!" But we had taken care of that, along with tubs of potato salad, cakes, cookies, hot dogs... you name it.
Mother and Daddy were invited to attend two Amish weddings, and through the years we have enjoyed work, stories, friendship, and visits. Many of our friends and families moved farther away to get different work, and still they kept in touch. If family business or celebrations took them anywhere near our farm, they usually asked their drivers to stop by for a visit here. My dad had bought a gallon of chocolate chip ice cream during his last shopping trip to make sure it was available if a van of our friends stopped by on a transit by our house. The men who have worked here run from one side of the house to the other pointing out places they have hammered, sawed and labored.
During the 80's I went through the midwestern fad of decorating in Amish country keepsakes, and it was fun to watch them point quietly at my paintings of dark buggies against wintry skies. I always feared to offend them, and my parents demanded we keep their privacies and their beliefs respected and valued. I certainly hope that we have done so, and I believe we have.
The true measure of our bond came during the sad evening of my father's funeral visitation. Despite the high costs of fuel, renting vehicles, and giving up a day's labor, the Amish friends we have made demonstrated their respect and admiration and love for our family. Midway through the evening, we looked up during the visitation, and there, forming a silent, respectful line from beyond the back of the auditorium to the front where my mother and I were seated, a queue of Amish friends made their slow and sweet way through the crowd. They had rented transportation from communities near and far, extending to the Iowa border and beyond. They came to pay their respects to my father and to give my mother comfort. It was such a tribute to my dad's quiet and unpretentious ways. I have never seen such a sight in my life, and many of my friends have told me it was so moving to them to see the line of quiet dark dresses, hats, babies and old men... as far as the eye could see..... and I will forever be humbled and grateful to them for telling us all with this presence just how much my dad meant to them.
Since August several Amish friends have visited, called, and sent us letters. I have left the days of "decorating Amish" or reading much about them. I no longer collect their dolls or hang their baby shoes from my walls. But I do respect them for their hard work, their loyalty to my sweet daddy, and their kindness to my family.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Hope all of you had a beautiful day. Did anyone else have snow? It was only a flurry, and so pretty... kind of cold for all the little skeeter egg hunters, though. Our dinner was so much fun with family and two dear friends. Had lots of neat new foods. I made an awesome recipe carrot cake called Sam's Carrot Cake from Allrecipes.com and a new spring pea casserole from the Paula Deen magazine. Had chex and white chocolate pretzel mix, dipped strawberries, Oriental Coleslaw, baked beans, relishes, hot rolls, corn, green beans, brownies, and meat. It was way too much for six people, but we did a good job sending them home with goody bags!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I have so many fond memories of sunrise services, of my little son (long ago) in fine navy and white suits with white caps... and of course, of egg hunts, candy, and trips to see family.
On the Eve of Easter our table is set for my mother, my son, two of his friends, and one of mine. (The one with Sasha!). We are using my grandmother's Desert Rose China. If you peer into the darkness behind the table, you can see my mama sitting there with her walker taking a wee nap. She has been deviling eggs, rescueing my brownies, and making countless trips to the "larder" for provisions. I have been dubbed head cook for the weekend (while that sounds clever, I have already ruined the brownies by leaving out the eggs. They are kinda crunchy, oily, and nasty like that.) Mom tried Paula Deen's pineapple bars from her magazine, and we threw them away.... too floury and dry... So we were then zero for two. I made a carrot cake that sounds delish..
My childhood Easters were spent in Quincy, Illinois, with my great aunt Thelma. The most candied ham you ever tasted.. Pure delight. Lovely food, a huge rabbit of chocolate, sometimes a new outfit.. (She had grown boys but no girl to spoil, so I was always happy to pinch hit for that job.)
Our mantel welcomes the holidays with little chenille bunnies amidst the Bavairan bowls and flow blue...
An Easter Egg chickadee chorus, a gift this year from my sweet cousin. Also the green jeweled garland crushed into a bone china teacup.
I brought over this upright cabinet from home to stash stuff in my new bathroom. So far, it hasn't helped because my son brought it FULL of stuff from home... grrrrr.... boys have such cute ideas.. gotta love em, though. This little light is exactly the right amount of illumination for those lovely midlife strolls....... What's up with that? Does anybody remember sleeping through the night?
Mom bought me this cute bunny arrangement for my door. He made me smile just to see him nestling in there with all the spring flowers.
One of my good friends made this cute wreath for me about twelve years ago. I made about four more that year. I think this is the one she made though because of the little lamb. She raised lambs at the time. Isn't it cute? Baaaa! Our little nook by the bathroom... Lots of critters here, huh?
Quick! take this shot while the hot rollers and all the sprays, lotions, loofahs, and what not are stashed! I'll be cooking on and off all night and will try to post some recipes tomorrow... (Not the one for the eggless brownies!!!) Happy Easter!
I felt stabbed when I read that, the way a person feels when they hear bad news about someone in the community. This wonderful man was in my community of heart... His words live forever as a part of my outlook on life and on the important aspects of it. I had posted about his wonderful books here. And I ordered the last one Benedictus (a book of blessings) last night. And then there will be maybe a portion of the final one he was working on about Meister Eckhart... then no more. It truly makes me feel quite devastated, robbed in a way... This man was truly "soul brilliant." I usuall wanted to read his books aloud in order to allow my mind to absorb the concepts better. As I read and re-read the books I have through the years, more of the ideas he explains have fallen into place in my own life. He was always a long way ahead of my understanding, but he illuminated the path so beautifully. I found one of his last Benedictions on Sara Ban Breathnacht's blog, Joyful Simplicities. Finding her blog last night was a happy surprise. It speaks of her life now and touches base with all of us who have lived the Simple Abundance path for these many years. Those of use who love her will love this blog, too.
John O'Donohue's blessing~
When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside.
When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen.
When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world…
Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night corner…
A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Okay, so I know I'm a spoiled brat. I have been one all my life, and I suppose that may end some day, but not today. It all started this fine misty mornin' as I began to prepare my menu for our St. Patrick's Day party. We had it today because my son and I both work tomorrow. I didn't go to bed until nearly three, and I was preparing Philadelphia Irish Chicken (also known as Italian Chicken, but don't tell St. Pat!). After a bit of a nap I got up and began to ask Mom for green things to set the table... "No, no green tablecloth or placemats. No, no green dishes. No, nothing," she said. "What difference does it make anyway?" She was a bit grumpy, I thought. And I was floored. What difference? For St. Patrick's Day? Why, what a crazy thing to say. I muttered something about how difficult it was to be the ONLY one in the family who cared about holidays, about how she didn't care, ("No, I don't,"). And then I said my son didn't really care. ("No, he doesn't care about that stuff," she gloated.) And then I said I cared, but I didn't matter... (the stunning blow before trudging off down here to my "den" for an hour of supposed nap..... Dinner was all ready in the crockpot anyway. I had also made a big salad, broccoli, Irish trinity vegetables with carrots, onions, celery and taters. I had warmed some Brisket. It was all set. So I stomped off. Well, I sulked, listened to Enya, listened to a bit of Beth Moore... and generally boo hooed as in my mind I took out my big green box of Irish decorations that I have had to leave at home and caressed them in my mind. I collect little Irish men, small ceramic leprechauns of whimsy and character. I missed them this year, and with this kind of "treatment," I was simply having a big Irish pity party complete with tears and Irish mournful music. It was spectacular. Finally I went back upstairs. My mom had come through and decorated with all this wonderful stuff, dragged out her antique wild Irish rose dishes.... oh, yeah... who said sulking never pays off? haha...
She even wrapped up two 20's in the little green crackers. My mom is amazing when she isn't depressed. I personally think this was good for her. I know it was good for me.
See the little Hummel? My grandmother had given it to my dad when he started raising little baby pigs in the sixties. And the cookies in the golden potato thing? Here is the amazing recipe for those. They are fantastic, chewy and crisp
Ranger Cookies (from Taste of Home)
1 cup shortening, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 t. vanilla, 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 2 c. quick cooking oats, 2 cups Rice Krispies, 1 c. flaked cocoanut. IN a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, balking soda, baking powder, ,and salt, gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Sit in the oats, cereal, and cocoanut. Roll into small balls and place on silpat or release tinfoil. Pat slightly flatter. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown for 7-9 minutes. Cool and enjoy.
And the chicken noodle recipe was also pretty tasty and oh, so simple.
Philadelphia Irish Chicken and Noodles (or Italian Chicken)
In crockpot place 6-8 small or four large chicken breast halves that you have salted and peppered. Add 1/3 c. Italian dressing, 1/4 c. water, 1 t. dry basil, and 1 t. Italian (oops, I meant Irish) seasoning. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Add 1 whole 8 oz. pkg. Philadelphia Cream Cheese and cook for two more hours until chicken is totally done and the cheese mixes with the juices of the chicken. Spoon over noodles or rice. Yum!
Have a top of the mornin' day tomorrow!
My St. Patty's Cards and Gifts for Today's Lunch.. created for my sweeties....
Mom and I watch Martha Stewart almost every night. I TIVO it. This week she's been plugging her new cookbook about Cookies... So I ordered it on Amazon for Mom. It should be here by Tuesday... We have cookies today, so we should be able to hold out! Wink!
My son's card has a twenty folded like a t shirt... He's always doing laundry, and one of my students showed me this method of folding money. It's on e-how.com... I thought it was the best kind of green shirt for the computer guy!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
As a parable, it tells me that one can only renovate and improve and remove weight bearing supports so many times. I therefore am glad I didn't have time to curl my hair this morning... I'd hate to wind up like this old colossus.. This is the last week in the quarter, so it's a busy bee time. I think we're smack out of snow days. Guess it's time to just "hunker down" as my gramma used to say.
Stay standing, y'all.