Chive Talking

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.” Genesis 1:11-13

I’ve been spending a little time each morning, building more raised beds, adding compost to the beds and, after mucking out chicken coops and rabbit cages and such, starting some new compost. Earlier this week, as I was transferring some of that compost into the new beds, I let out a “whoop!” that brought Mom to the door with a scowl!!??! Even when I explained my elation–the discovery of dozens of red wigglers in that compost pile–I could tell she didn’t quite “get it” as she shook her head and walked away. Even my assurance that worms in the compost bin are a very good thing didn’t convince her. She still thinks I’m addled. Worms aren’t her thing.

Oh, well. I refuse to let it daunt me.

Of course, some of the already established beds also got a dressing of this composted rabbit waste…with worms. I have a small bed about equal distance between the front and the side doors of the house. And my chives are up in it.

I love chives. I love the flavor they impart in cooking, as well as their aroma. They make a nice addition to salads. And I usually eat one raw coming out of the garden. Fresh like that, they really pack a punch. But my favorite use is in my favorite winter casserole: Spinach Mashed Potatoes. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chives; mine are usually “heaping” tablespoons but it’s all good. Usually I buy them dried from a local herb store as I haven’t quite mastered the art of drying them with a food dehydrator–until Tuesday of this week. It took a couple of tries; the first batch I cut and spread on the screen turned brown and lifeless using the recommended drying time. So I cut the time in half and voila! I have a half-pint jar of chives and will be drying another half-pint this weekend. So I’m feeling a little victory here. And this is one that even Mom can relate to a bit.

As I love chives so much for cooking, the herbalist in me has never really looked into them as a potential medicine. But, before writing this blog entry, I did do some research in some of my herbals. Not much there either except in Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s “Herbal Handbook for the Farm and Stable”. She recommends sprinkling some cut up chives into animal feed for the “expulsion of worms.” (Good thing the chives are well away from that wormy compost pile…)

And, unlike many cooks, I have no aversion to sharing that recipe for Spinach Mashed Potatoes; good food is meant to be shared.

SPINACH MASHED POTATOES

6 large or 8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (if using white potatoes; if red-skinned, may leave the skins on them).
1 10 ounce package (or equivalent from garden) of spinach
8 oz. package of shredded cheddar cheese (or, an 8 oz block of cheddar and shred it yourself; usually about 50 cents cheaper (eh, I am ever the frugal fanatic…))
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 tbsp. chives
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dill
1/8 tsp. black pepper
pinch of salt, to taste

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain. Add stick of butter, sour cream, sugar, black pepper and pinch of salt; mash (will be very creamy) In large skillet saute spinach, chives and dill in olive oil until just wilted. Fold into mashed potatoes until well mixed then fold potato and spinach mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese over the top and back in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Enjoy!

May God bless you & keep you!

References

De Bairacli Levy, J. (1952) “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable.” Faber and Faber Limited, London,
England.

A Part of the Whole

“As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.” Romans 12:3-5

In this journey of healing and homesteading, it shouldn’t be any surprise to myself that I often measure my worth by what I have accomplished each day. I pressure myself constantly to do more, over-crowding my life until I squeeze all of the, well, life out of it. And I drive myself bananas trying to fit that 30 hour day into a 24 hour time frame. As I blogged about yesterday, growing up with an alcoholic in the home, unreasonable expectations were placed upon me.

In high school, and for several years after, my dream was to be a heavy metal rock star. I wanted to be on that stage, playing my guitar, being viewed as the best of the best. I was driven to find some worth in myself and, despite having a beloved grandfather as a mentor with my writing, that wasn’t an acceptable career in those days; a metal artist was so much cooler (sorry, Poppop…). And, in my more honest moments, I know part of the musical appeal was to get under my stepfather’s skin; my father plays guitar, too.

Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon (though not a metal band), George Lynch of Dokken and, later, Lynch Mob fame, and Yngwie Malmsteen were my heros, my mentors, if you will. And I wanted to play just like them…especially George. I also sang lead. Queen of Metal, Doro, was the major influence there. I wanted to sound just like her but she’s a powerhouse as a vocalist. My own voice, by comparison, sounded weak to my ears. As mentioned yesterday, my stepfather often taunted me about my musical aspirations. However much I practiced, it was never enough. I should work harder, practice more…if I wanted to succeed…even as he directed from the easy chair. In those earlier days, if I read an article that George Lynch practiced 8 hours a day–and, of course, this jived with my stepfather’s “advice”–then I would suddenly be killing myself trying to squeeze those 8 hours of practice around 6-8 hours of work and another 7-8 hours of sleep…and mentally beating up on myself when I failed. My younger self did not take into account that each of these artists were performing for a living. They didn’t have to go to a “day” job (though I’m sure they all had one before they “made it”).

Sadly, that vicious cycle of comparing myself to others and pushing myself to do more, because I never do “enough”, has stayed with me through the years. I recently read that author, Nora Roberts, writes 8 hours a day, every single day of the week…including holidays and vacations. I don’t know how true this is but I do know I simply don’t have 8 hours a day to give to my craft, no matter how much I may wish it or enjoy it. The best I can do is 4 hours…and that’s only if homework and homestead work don’t take priority. I still try to get to the keyboard–or at least sit with a notebook and pen–every day. Again, that’s the best I can do. I do not have the luxury of staying at home all day, everyday. I haven’t gotten that proverbial foot in the door of the writing industry enough that I can afford to stay home (and maybe some would argue that’s what’s holding me back but I’m also partial to food and shelter…for me, for Mom and for my animals). That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to “find” 8 hours a day though. And, for anyone who has been following this blog since last August or September, you know I suddenly started setting my alarm for 3:30 a.m. after reading an article that Dolly Parton does her best writing at that hour. That fell by the wayside fast as first Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and then a bit of Chronic Epstein-Barr slapped me in the face. I work away from home evenings; I don’t get home early enough to support such an early rising. And that’s a fact. I’m now back to 5:30-6:00 a.m. And most of my writing time has been shifted to evenings, after all of my college homework and chores on the homestead are done, and the rest of the world is heading off to bed (fewer interruptions that way).

It’s the same with the homestead. In this case, my mentors are the folks at Path to Freedom. My homestead is nowhere near as developed as theirs; it’s certainly not a working farm yet. I have to constantly remind myself that this is a family working 1/5 of an acre. I have almost a full acre and, while Mom may plant a few vegetables, most of the work is mine. The Dervaes also started over 20 years ago; I’ve only just begun.

What all of this means is that the mental and emotional abuse I endured as a child and teen, I still perpetuate on myself today. I’m still not “enough”, not doing enough. And so, I see myself as less than those I might unwittingly put on the proverbial pedestal. Whenever I receive a compliment about my playing, my singing, my writing, or anything else I do, it always comes as a surprise and then a bit of discomfort that I am not deserving of the compliment. Such are the seeds of doubt planted by the alcoholic…and they are as perennial and as invasive as a blade of couch grass.

The truth of the matter is that my perception of self is actually quite skewered. I may not get up at 3:30 anymore, or write a full 8 hours each day, but I continue to maintain a 4.0 GPA in a creative writing degree program. I have been published before; have had a couple of professors encourage me to try publishing some of what I’ve written for class, and I’ve managed to attract a following of over 500 people with this blog in less than a year’s time. Once, while practicing with the folk group at church for our Christmas program, I was admonished by the choir director to sing softer. Our objective was to sing the Baby Jesus to sleep…not wake the dead. So much for that “weak” voice. And, many years back, my second husband’s nephew gave me quite a compliment when his mother pooh-poohed my guitar playing and he exclaimed, “But you haven’t heard Auntie Lisa play!” And, of course, having grown up with alcoholism in the home, my mind immediately rejected the compliment.

“One evening I was taken by surprise when another member complimented me. I was very uncomfortable with this gesture of kindness, feeling inside that I didn’t deserve it. When I tried to talk her out of her kind words, she refused to take them back.” (Courage to Change, 1992, p. 130).

Ironically, it is a young adult fiction story that has helped me to accept and appreciate who I am. It is a novel by author, Karen Cushman, called “Catherine Called Birdy” in which a young woman in medieval times seeks to find her purpose in life by trying to be an artist, running away with a circus (or maybe it was a fair; been awhile) and various other projects. In the story, Catherine trails a Jewish family and the old grandmother finally gets her to open up about why she wants to join their traveling show. I’m going to paraphrase a bit but the old woman admonished her that when she got to the pearly gates of heaven, she wouldn’t be asked why she wasn’t an artist, or a dancer, or someone else. She would be asked why she wasn’t Catherine. It doesn’t matter that I don’t play like George Lynch, sing like Doro, have a fully-working homestead like the Dervaes or write for 8 hours like Nora. I sing, play, write and homestead like me. Like that part of Christ’s body, as He intended.

May God bless you & keep you!

References

Al-Anon Family Groups, (1992). “Courage to Change.” Al_Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc, Virginia Beach, VA.

Cushman, K. (1994). “Catherine Called Birdy.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, MA.

Learning Peace of Mind

I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid…John 14:27

I’ve neglected my Al-Anon daily reader for awhile now…and it shows. Tonight I picked up “Courage to Change” and read today’s message. As always, it was exactly what I needed.

Today’s reading talks about how we often deny the gifts we have by wishing that things were different. Or by refusing to “accept something over which” we are “powerless” (Courage to Change, p. 129). No matter how many years I have spent in therapy, or whether or not I am currently exposed to active alcoholism, it always amazes me how quickly I can fall back on the learned behavior that I grew up with. There is a constant maintenance that never really goes away. If I ignore it, get lazy, whatever you wish to call it, that learned behavior creeps back in and takes over again. Maybe not as strongly, because there is a healing that came with the past maintenance, but it can certainly wreak some havoc…sort of like the weeds in my garden. If I don’t get out there each day and pull a few of them, they’re liable to take over.

And, really, with Mom now living on the homestead with me, it is more important than ever that I keep up that maintenance.

No, Mom seldom, if ever, drinks alcohol. She was married to an alcoholic for 40+ years. Granted, he went dry the last five years of his life. Quit cold turkey. But never attended an AA meeting or sought any professional help; he didn’t think he needed it. Mom learned a lot of coping behaviors in those 40+ years. And, living together, I find myself confronting some of them in myself, too.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for some time now. A lot of stress, mostly financial, but there is also some stress in simply learning how to live again with Mom. I’ve gone from being 50 years old to being treated like I’m 15. I know it is a Mom “thing” but it grates against the nerves at times. I also find I’m a bit territorial. When Mom moved in she offered to take over kitchen detail. On the one hand, I appreciate the offer, her willingness to help. On the other hand, I really miss my relaxing Sunday afternoons, cooking and baking for the whole week, freezing portions for later in the month, canning, preserving, and also making herbal tinctures and salves and such. I enjoyed planning out my meals before I did a grocery shopping and saving the money that such planning brought about. The simple solution would be to simply sit down with Mom and talk about it. But here is where the learned behavior comes in.

Mom will sit and listen to whatever I have to say. She will nod and agree with me, tell me to go ahead and start cooking, etc; defensively assure me that she’s not stopping me. A half hour later, she will be in the kitchen again. I’ve even gone so far as to half-jokingly tell her I was kicking her out of the kitchen, or firing her from KP duty (after the umpteenth meal of scrambled eggs, rubbery and tasteless on the inside, super-crispy-can-barely-cut-them-with-a-fork on the outside). It doesn’t matter. She’s learned to ignore such requests. Because my stepfather made requests and then changed his mind again as it suited him, which is typical of an alcoholic. Who could possibly keep up? She learned to agree with whatever he said to his face…even as she went about her own business later. She was very careful to agree while he was talking. Any opposition and, like many alcoholics, he would start yelling and screaming at her. He could also be violent. So she agreed. We all did. Because it was better than dealing with the temper tantrums.

As you can guess, we don’t communicate well. I learned to stuff everything. Actually, Mom did, too. We mutter under our breath instead…and then pretend we said something entirely different if, what we muttered, carries farther than we thought it would. A passive-aggressive approach because, living with an alcoholic, you really can’t voice your opinions, your feelings, express your wants or needs. Again, it’s the temper tantrums.

In Al-Anon, “The Serenity Prayer” is often recited:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonally happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.”

I cannot change what our past has been. But, by ignoring the myriad tools that I have been given, through both therapy and Al-Anon, I allow that past to taint the present and the future. I’ve even allowed it to affect my homestead.

Another learned behavior from living with active alcoholism is a skewered perception of what one can and cannot accomplish in an hour, a day, a week, etc. The alcoholic will ask for the impossible and then berate you when you fail. I remember when I was learning to play guitar, my stepfather used to make comments that everyone else he ever knew who played would always have the guitar in their hands. They practiced 6, 7, 8 hours a day…or more. He would then insinuate that maybe I didn’t really want to play, or that I didn’t really have any talent. Though I worked 30+ hours a week, and still managed to practice for 2-3 hours each night after work, in his eyes it wasn’t enough.

Today, no matter how much I do accomplish, it’s still never enough. I am a single woman working this land alone. I know exactly where I want to be but, because I’m not there yet, I often feel ashamed. Because it’s not a fully-working farm yet. Because, like healing from the effects of alcoholism–even someone else’s, homesteading is a journey. And, like healing, there is always room for improvement. I deny myself the gift of that journey.

And, by holding onto these learned behaviors, I also deny myself the gift of my mother, whom I am still blessed to have here on this earth. 40+ years of learned behavior will never likely ever be “unlearned”; this is where I learn to accept the things I cannot change. The only thing I can change is…myself. My own behavior. So I think “Courage to Change” is going to become a daily reader again…along with some regular meetings whenever I can either find a meeting within walking distance…or find the transportation to drive to the nearest one.

“While I am responsible for changing what I can, I have to let go of the rest if I want peace of mind. Just for today I will love myself enough to give up a struggle over something that is out of my hands.” (Courage to Change)

May God bless you & keep you!

Al-Anon Family Groups (1992). “Courage to Change”. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Virginia Beach, VA.

I’m a Martha

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat on the floor, listening to Jesus as he talked.
“But Martha was the jittery type, and was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing.
“She came to Jesus and said, ‘Sir, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me’.
“But the Lord said to her, ‘Martha, dear friend, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it–and I won’t take it away from her!”
(Luke 10:38-42)

It has been a crazy week here at the Herbal Hare Homestead with goats needing de-worming and, of course, it was Holy Week last week and I’ve spent the better part of the last few days at church, giving the readings for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

It was a blessing to be able to serve in such a way. The Holy Saturday vigil was done by candlelight and it was a truly beautiful ceremony. As I gave some of the readings, listened to others’, to Father Elson’s homily, and celebrated a young soldier being baptized, receiving First Communion and Confirmation, for the first time in a very long time, I felt my soul filling with His word, His love. For the first time in a very long time, I surrendered my will to Him and placed at least a tentative trust in Him, that He will not lead me astray, but allowed the knowledge that He truly wants the very best for me–for all of us–to fill me.

And yet, I kept glancing at the clock.

Good Friday’s Liturgy was at 3 p.m. Though the service lasted two hours, even walking, I was home by 5:30 p.m. with plenty of time to feed animals and focus on the day-to-day stuff. The walk home was a perfect time to reflect and absorb the beauty of that service. We observed the Stations of the Cross and, while my bad knees screamed some abuse at me after kneeling twice for each station (14 stations in all), all-in-all, peace settled over me and I walked home feeling contented…and looking forward to the following evening’s ceremony.

I have rarely attended a Holy Saturday vigil. Though I am usually home from work early enough to attend, I confess to placing some worldly concerns before it. But, when the request for volunteers to help with the readings came out, I quickly volunteered…and looked forward to it. Again, it was a beautiful service and my heart was moved throughout. But, like the previous evening’s ceremony, it was rather lengthier than a typical Mass and I found myself looking over my shoulder at that clock.

My farm is on a slightly later schedule than most. As I work evenings and do not get home until around 8 o’clock, feeding time is between 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. and p.m. each day. Saturday there is a slight variation on this because my work schedule is earlier; feeding time gets bumped up to around 7:30. As the hands of that clock drew closer and closer to 7:30, I began to get antsy. Goats and rabbits are both prone to bloat and must be kept on a regular schedule. My poor babies must be getting hungry. I wonder if I can slip out as soon as Communion is served without being noticed…(this from the very first pew!). These thoughts, and more, threatened to derail the peace of this Holy Saturday vigil and I found myself thinking about one of the readings given for Palm Sunday last week. It was the story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, and how Martha complained to Jesus because her sister did not help with the chores but sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. Suddenly, I felt Him knock and I realized that, while I tell myself that, no, I would be more like Mary, listening to His every word and choosing the better part, the truth is, I’m more like Martha. I worry. I stress. I drive myself to distraction over the “little things”…and miss out on the more important things in life. I have my “routines”; heaven help anything that alters those routines. I snap and squabble and mutter under my breath at these alterations.

In short, I have issues.

And it was never more apparent than during that last half hour of the Holy Saturday vigil. My initial reaction to this realization was to pray for His forgiveness for allowing myself to be so distracted by worldly concerns and then asking Him to still my heart that I might let those concerns go, to place them in His much more capable hands. And then I looked at the clock again. It took several attempts to finally draw my attention back to the vigil and truly focus in again on the blessings being given. The enemy of my soul was doing his best to draw my attention away; Jesus kept reminding me, no, look here. I am the Way.

May God bless you & keep you!

Thoughts on This Blogging Thing

It has been seven months of pretty steady blogging. And, wow, what a change in my life this has made. Sure, there have been a few hiccoughs along the way when my postings haven’t been quite as steady: a bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (still recovering from that but it’s getting better); the loss of Internet service at home; and, amazingly, once you break a habit, such as a very early rising to write and blog, it is very difficult to get back on that horse again and ride, as they say. But I won’t give up. And I love horses…and blogging.

Obviously, this post is a reflection of these past seven months. Prior to making this commitment, my blog posts were pretty sporadic, spanning months sometimes in between. Now, when I’m away for even a few days, I’m like that hungry bear coming out of hibernation. It’s become like a drug and I need my fix. These seven months have taught me a few things, too.

First, I underestimate myself. And maybe others, too. When I first started, I think the reason my posts were so few and far between was because I didn’t believe I had anything to say that people would want to read. The long list of followers and “likes” for each post that I have received these last several months–both here on WordPress and on my Facebook timeline from friends and family–have proved me wrong. And a big “Thank You!” to all of you for the boost in confidence; the support; and simply for being curious enough to read a post or two in the first place. Also, to the many friends and family members who have “shared” some of my posts.

“In Al-Anon I realized that I had a distorted self-image. I had never thought to question my beliefs, but when I took a good look, I discovered they were untrue.” (Courage to Change, 1992, 192)

Another thing I’ve learned, and there is a little voice of cynicism rippling through as I type this, is there is definitely some truth to that old adage that those closest to you have the toughest time accepting changes in you. In being brutally and painfully honest about the effects of alcoholism and abuse in my past; in sharing political views; in taking a much stronger stand with my blog about animal rights and environmentalism; in staying true to my faith in God and openly sharing that faith, I have alienated many who have been close to me and yet, ironically, found new friends who share my views–in some cases, in places I never would have expected. This last one is a gift because we can never have too many friends.

A difference of opinion can divide the best of friends. I am learning, through blogging, to be more forgiving of those whose reactions in the face of a different opinion may be hostile. I’m learning not to react in kind. A difference of opinion is simply that. A difference. It need not divide us. But I’m also learning to accept that sometimes it does…and not to take it so personally. In short, I’m growing a thicker skin yet being more willing to offer that olive branch in return. Life is too short.

I think the most amazing thing that has happened with blogging, is I am learning to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I hope I am doing so in a respectful way; I have no desire to purposefully alienate anyone…I do enough of that without trying. (chuckle) But I am no longer as afraid to rock the proverbial boat. My thoughts, feelings, views and opinions may be in the minority in some circles. But I truly have learned to say, “That’s okay”, and really mean it. I now share those feelings, thoughts, opinions and views anyway. And not as a heart-on-my-sleeve victim but simply as a fellow human being with a voice that no longer wishes to be silent. And, really, I think that’s what writing is all about: having something to say. Whether it is a blog, such as this one, a news story, a textbook or even a story made up expressly for the purpose of entertaining, writers are good with words. I hope I am…and this blog is good means of exercising that creative muscle.

As for homesteading? This blog has been good medicine for that, too. I know where I want to go, where I want to be but, for years, I have allowed others to sometimes influence of bit of my direction. If there is anyone more of a non-conformist as me, I’d truly like to meet them. While more and more people turn back to the land because of a distrust of what’s in our food and what sort of damage is being done to the environment, I am in the minority even further being a single female doing this homesteading thing and, while I raise animals, I do NOT raise them for meat. That’s a complete anomaly. They are here for eggs or dairy, or fiber for spinning, depending on the animal; they give me free fertilizer for the garden; companionship, love and laughter. That’s enough. But it has taken me seven months of steady blogging to be able to write this and to say it aloud, and to not care if people don’t “get it”. This is part of who I am and I make no apology for it.

A friend sent me something that I copied on a little Post-It note that has been attributed to author Anais Nin. I don’t know if she really said this or not but it fits: The time came that to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

“Courage to Change” Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature. Al-Anon, Virginia: 1992

Poor Mom WILL be Groaning by End of this Term

I’ve been taking a sort-of “in house” vacation these past few days. My Intro to Drawing class ended last Tuesday and my new class, Global Climate Change, does not begin until today. As frigid, subzero temps have made going out of doors for any but the most essential activities unbearable, I opted to stay in and just veg out.

Well, within reason…

The spring cleaning prompted by December’s minimalist challenge is still ongoing. I didn’t complete as much as I had hoped but I did enough to keep me fueled and to keep me from becoming a slug for 5 days.

So, why is my Mom going to groan before end of this term? The title of the class should clue most in: Global Climate Change. This is a major passion of mine. Last summer’s Environmental Science class had me so fueled, all I did was chatter about both the atrocities affected by global warming, as well as the triumphs of environmentalists to mitigate those effects…ad nauseum. This particular class is more advanced, more in-depth, in regard to the science behind the environmental movement. And I am so looking forward to it.

One of the areas the class syllabus says it is focused on is how global warming affects economics. I remember last summer quoting my Environmental Science book in a Facebook post after an aunt called me out about an article I had shared in regard to the Paris Climate Change Summit (I think that’s what it was called…). It was just after the Paris bombing and terrorism struck at the hearts of many. The article talked about how the people who organized the summit planned to go ahead with it, despite the bombing, as a show of courage and solidarity in the face of that attack–in short, they weren’t going to let it stop them. I admired their brevity, the whole spirit of the thing. There was also something in the article about how economics play a hand in some of the tensions between the US and the Middle East–not so much in regard to terrorist attacks but simple politics. I do not have either the article or the textbook–which was written in recent years (2015)–in front of me, so will refrain going into the murky waters of memory–but suffice it to say, some of what I read, in both the article and my text, resonated. Yes, we know there is more to the tensions than just this but, my textbook in particular, outlined how the Middle East is very arid and many crops do not grow. They do not have even fresh water supplies to adequately hydrate their citizens or what crops they are able to grow. They have to rely on their one major cash crop–oil–in order to buy/trade what they need. When that market is threatened, tensions increase. Again, there is more to it than that–I know that–but this is often a contributing factor. I am looking forward to learning more about this, about how global temperatures and climate change affect the different economies worldwide.

(And, obviously, being challenged about this, even by someone close to me, hasn’t altered my interest in this subject, or the desire to understand…and, yes, I know it is a hot seat; with the way the planet is heating up, I may as well get used to it–literally and figuratively)

So, yes, Mom will be groaning. Suddenly, I will be spouting phrases like permaculture and the greenhouse effect; quoting statistics about lines and bubbles in the icecaps and icebergs that show changes in ocean temps…and zeroing in on less waste of resources and living a more organic, biodynamic lifestyle. I do this anyway but, knowing Mom is of a different mindset in regard to this whole homesteading, holistic health and environmental awareness thing, I tend to go a little easier in-between these passion-fueling classes. The passion is still there, but it’s tempered a bit once I come up for air from the lessons. And, with the climate-denying administration currently entrenched in our nation’s capital, understanding where we are, where we are headed, and what we can do, even in the face of such political ignorance, in my not-so-humble opinion, is worth learning.

Yup. Poor Mom…I’ll try not to spout too many stats. Really, I will.

May God bless you & keep you!

Punctuality

I have a reputation. And it’s not one that I’m proud of. In fact, I spent part of Mass yesterday, teary-eyed with embarrassment because I was 2 minutes’ late…and it was my weekend to serve communion; someone else had to do it.

This is the story of my life. And I probably sound like a very disrespectful person, as though I do not care about other people’s time or agendas. Nothing could be further from the truth. I really do try to make it on time–everywhere. And I am going to give myself a bit of a break, just a teensy one, because once upon a time, I was at least an hour late to everything. I’ve managed to cut it down to 5 minutes. That’s certainly a big improvement, but these last 5 minutes seem to elude me. The one exception seems to be when Mom and I are traveling somewhere together; I struggle enough with my own punctuality. When we’re putting a commute across the state line and at least a half dozen pit stops from Mom before we can leave, well, family has learned to tell us to be there for 1 when they really want us there for 1:30. It’s shameful. Being late when there’s a legitimate reason (a traffic accident where you sat for a time, unable to move, for example) might be excusable but, in my case, where it’s a regular thing, it is inexcusable. It’s rude. There’s no other word for it.

As Lent is coming up soon, I’ve been debating what I can do as my Lenten vow. While everyone else seems to give up chocolate or some other indulgence, I tend to make vows that will somehow make an improvement in myself. As I’m on a very limited, fixed budget right now, indulgences are few and far between; giving up the rare treat seems a bit too easy, actually. I like to challenge myself during Lent. Of course, I have a couple of standards: an internal cleanse where I cut out sugars, bread, pasta–basically anything that might create candida in the small intestine, and I add a few extra nightly “thankful” items in my grateful journal (this is a journal that I keep beside my bed where, before I go to sleep, I write down (at present) 5 things that I am grateful from that day). But those are sort of routine. I’m looking for that bigger challenge, that one thing I can do for Him this Lenten season.

I think striving to close that 5 minute gap is as good as it gets. This weekend I was rude to my fellow parishioners, my priest and, most importantly, my God. It’s time for a change. Maybe I should even give this campaign a title: On Time for Jesus.

May God bless you & keep you!