Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Bag Ladies

When Michele and I went to Sunny Valley this Friday, we had no idea we were going to be asked to paint the ceiling in the "Welcome Center," so naturally we did not bring any old painting clothes, but as need gives birth to invention, we discovered a way to get the job done and save our good pair of jeans.  The very same jeans we wore to dinner at the Wolf Creek Inn the night before.  The solution was a 50 cent rain poncho from "Dollar Tree" and waste basket bags carefully layered over the legs and shoes. The rain ponchos gave the added protection to the tops of our heads though it couldn't keep our faces and eyeglass from being speckled with "Country White" paint. We successfully completed our task before dark and Michele still got the bathrooms cleaned.  That's one amazing friend.  Imagine meeting these two be-speckled bag ladies after dark in the woods around Wolf Creek. Haaarrrrrr.
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tamales for the New Year

I had made tamales only one time before Elizabeth encouraged me to make them for New Years.  Consider four women in one small kitchen chopping, mixing, steaming, shredding, grating, sautéing, spreading, folding, and tying.  Imagine pots and bowls on ingredients stacked around cutting boards and bags of foods. The air is filled with warm, spicy aromas and everyone is busy doing two or three things at a time.   
Elizabeth chose two varieties from her mother's tamales cookbook.  One was for chicken and the other was vegetarian.  I cooked the chicken in the morning and then left with Sanford for a road trip to Sutherlind.  The three other women, Lynnea, Elizabeth, and Tammy (Elizabeth's mother) arrived around 1:30 to cook and assemble everything else.  By the time I stepped into my kitchen at 2:00 p.m., there wasn't a clear spot to set a glass of water.  We were scheduled to be at my mother's house at 5:00 pm with tamales.  Ha!  Besides the usual problems of figuring out a recipe you are not familiar with, the kitchen sink decided to protest.  While washing a pot, the hot water refused to shut off.  Justin and Sanford came to our rescue.
So now we have tool boxes and tools and two extra bodies in the already cozy kitchen AND no water for washing off hands.  Some precariously balanced cutting board crashed down onto Sanford's tray of screws and bolt supplying us with the setting for a good "I Love Lucy Show."  
The boys calmly gathered the hardware and fixed the sink and the girls got back to assembling enough ingredients to feed a football team. 
We realized that we were not going to make our dinner date by 5:00 p.m., however, by 6:00 p.m. the kitchen was clean and the second batch of tamales were nearly finished cooking.  We all headed over to my mother's house with pots of tamales keeping us warm in the freezing fog.  

I can honestly say that these were the best tamales I have ever eaten. 
I have a new appreciation for the women who make tamales for a living.
Next time my neighbor knocks on my door offering tamales for $2.00 a piece, I am going to think, "Wow, what a bargain.  I should buy a dozen."
I offer a big word of thanks to Elizabeth and Lynnea and Tammy for making such a fun and memorable time by issuing in a new year in the company of friends and honest, wholesome, delicious labor.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Light of God dressed in a blanket

What do you get when you cross curtains and blankets with Christmas?  You get shepherd costumes.  I am wearing one of the costumes on loan to Ashland First Baptist Church from Box R Ranch.  I am also wearing my mother's long underwear, wool socks, turtle neck shirt and wool sweater.  I was very warm and plump.  My friends, Carol and Trisha,and I had a great time parading around as shepherds at the first Live Nativity.  I think half of the church congregation helped in one form or another to express the wonderful mystery of God we celebrate at Christmas.  The creator of the universe enters the world, that had rebelled against him, as a helpless baby in order to suffer a cruel death so he could offer a cure for any one wanting it.  Amazing!

We had it all, angels, a star, farm animals, Mary, Joseph, inn keepers, and a manger.  Let's not forget the shepherds.  We also had hundreds of luminaries, cookies, hot cocoa and a campfire, which also got canceled due to the fact that we have so many firefighters attending 1st Baptist and we didn't get a permit for such a thing.  Fortunately, firefighters know how to get permits for campfires and therefore we ended up having one well contained campfire.

Were we successful?  Lisa Caplinger's goal was to involve her church family in loving her home town of Ashland with the love of Christ, who is the reason for Christmas.  If meeting her goal defines success, then I would have to say we hit the bull's eye. Now multiply this effort and consider all the ways this body of Christians demonstrated the love of God this Christmas and one would stand amazed to realize that Christ is still alive and well and living in Ashland, Oregon in the 21 century.

I am so glad God doesn't hold us responsible for making people choose the light. There are still many, many folks living in our midst who don't even know they possess a terminable condition requiring the Christ who came at Christmas.  Jesus only tells us to be a light, letting Him shine through us into the darkness.  May the light of Christ shine in Ashland and Talent and the whole Rogue Valley until the cure be made known.  This can be done all year long with, or without, a shepherd's robe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Finding Beauty Where Ever I Live

On March 7 I planted flowers in a previously barren corner of dirt by the front door of Greenbrier Cottage.  This week the Columbine bloomed.  It is the first time I recall having Columbine blossom for me.  I consider it a gift of remarkable beauty.  Since that first planting, over 2 months ago, I have also added a window box with Pansies.  The Nasturtiums have nearly crowed the Pansies into concealment but the purple and yellow continue to peek over the round leaves in companionable serenity.  I have always wanted a flower box and now I have one. 

The Petunia basket my mother gave me has opened its magenta blossoms and seems to be thriving in the cool, wet spring we are having in Southern Oregon.  In fact, the whole front yard has turned into an "Oasis of Beauty" as I had hoped.  It may not be remarkable to the casual observer, but to me, it is a testimony of God's Grace.  It is the story of redemption.

When we moved here last August, there was nothing but dry fox tails and black walnut hulls littering the yard.  Today new grass has replaced the fox tails and fragrant blossoms have taken root in the once barren soil.  It has transformed Greenbrier Cottage from an ugly shack to a darling cottage.  Even the Snowball Bush I feared had been killed by previous tenants proudly supports a hummingbird feeder under its dazzling blossoms.  And this is only May, just think what June will bless me with.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Soul Food

"If thou of fortune be bereft.
And in thy store there be but left
Two loaves - sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul."
                                         James Terry White 1845-1920

I went to the Grange Co-op yesterday for grass seed and these flower starts just jumped into my cart.  I had to take them home.  After planting the grass seed yesterday, I started on the flower borders today.  Most of the plants were labeled for "full sun."  No problem, most of the areas where I wanted to plant them were in full sun today.  Half way through the planting I realized these dear little flowers will not be in full sun this summer.  The black walnut tree will shade nearly every inch of my front yard at least part of the time during the day.  Oh, well, so much for my plans of turning the entrance of my house into an oasis of beauty.  Last week-end, I did plant six rose bushes along the chain link fence.  Four are climbers.  I also planted a fragrant flowering vine on either side of the gate arbor Justin gave me. 

Oasis or not, I will have beauty to feast on.  
I will find it where ever it blooms and 
fill my hungry soul with it, 
to sustain me during the wintry times of dormant darkness.  

Sowing Beauty in hope of reaping a Feast and 
feasting on Beauty where ever it is found.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Violin lessons at 50 something

Never too old.

Beautiful bull calf

Here are pictures of Beauty and her calf.  These pictures were taken January 23, one month after she gave birth to her first calf.  I didn't get to attend the birth but Mary Ellen did.  All went well.  Beauty is a good mother.
I love this picture.  Beauty is standing by her calf.  The hill behind Bramble Creek Farm is directly above her.  Wagner Butte is to the left.  This picture was taken on the Deluca farm where Beauty now lives.  The Delucas named the calf "Moostrom."  Isn't he a fine looking boy calf?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Learn to Dance

Sanford and I went to our first International Folk Dance on Friday.  I have wanted to go for years but always found some reason to hesitate.  I always though I would enjoy it but Sanford wouldn't.  I was wrong.  Sanford liked it.  I loved it.  We will go again.  The following poem expresses better than I can the essence of folk dancing.  My wish for all is that we may all learn to dance.  For an idea of what folk dancing is visit the Mori Shej and Jacob's Ladder video.

I ache to hear sometimes, a music very strange from what the radio plays:
not of bouncy cheer, but rather Joy, not angry thrust, but melancholies in
minor, full of ancient achings seeping from the ground, and rising to the

A music of no person, but of people. A music beyond the pleasures and
pains of any one life, that sing of the cycles which require centuries. A
music not of answers but of awe,  not just of love nor only of youth, but
Life entire, not but of she and he, but everyone, not simply Now, but of

I need music of the dark and Light both, a music with abandon coming down
from when the world was wilder, music that gives all, yet yearns to say
more than maybe music can.